There is a crisis affecting our generation, and it is has to stop. No, it’s not the property market or the fact we spend all our money on avocados and Meal Deals, though I do wish I could solve the former by foregoing the latter. We have become obsessed with being busy. We moan about it, brag about it, feel guilty when we aren’t it and seem to generally feel the need to live our lives at a million miles an hour, fuelled by a Starbucks Venti Pumpkin Spice Coconut Milk Latte and a to-do list so long that it rivals the Great Wall.
We’re all guilty of it; I love to have a little rant in a Monday morning Instagram caption about the fifty five different things vying for my time that day. I am constantly writing list after list and whilst it’s true – I am busy – usually I’m expecting myself to achieve things that the Duracell bunny on crack would struggle with. The result? I finish the day feeling a bit deflated with a sense of impending doom about tomorrow’s list and a Google search history that includes ‘Dumbledore time turner’. Meanwhile, everyone else is conned in to believing I’m an ultra-productive Super Woman.
We put so much pressure on ourselves, and through the power of social media onto others, to feel as though we must be busy all the time. If we’re not doing something productive, worthwhile, instagrammable, was there any point in even getting out of bed today? The consequence is that we are unable to enjoy real down time because we spend it feeling a bit guilty about the unanswered emails and that stain on the carpet that should’ve been washed out a week ago. We start comparing ourselves to so-and-so who “Absolutely killed it today!!! 💪🏼🙌🏼😏” and the vicious cycle continues.
The reality is that it is impossible to be busy all the time, and beyond that it is seriously unhealthy. I try and be as open and honest as I can be and yes, some days when I intended to do sixty five million things I actually ate too much pasta for lunch and then had an unintentional two hour nap. Quite frankly, that sounds like a dreamy afternoon to me but it’s no good if it’s spent feeling bad about all the things I didn’t do. Personally, whilst I do genuinely enjoy being busy, I get overwhelmed when life is tugging me in every direction imaginable and I become almost paralysed by my own unattainable standards and to do list. As a result I end up doing sweet FA and then beating myself up about it.
I’m not suggesting we should all just bin off our jobs, stop doing the laundry and spend our days Netflix binging, but sometimes we DO need days like that. We need to stop bullying ourselves into saying yes to things we don’t want to do, stop pressuring ourselves into jamming more than is really possible into our schedules and take some time to chill the fuck out. Actual quality time spent doing absolutely bugger all, totally guilt free, is so important for our future productivity, energy and emotional well being.
Having struggled with my mental health, I’ve had days where if I’ve managed to stand up and make it as far as the shower I’ve climbed a mountain. It taught me to appreciate small achievements and schedule in proper time off to myself, whether that’s to watch Gilmore Girls, turn into a prune in the bath or go to bed at 8pm (bliss). Yet somehow I struggle to transfer that sense of self-care into my working life when it comes to planning my schedule, self-setting deadlines and juggling my work load. Yes, I am busy. I know you are too, but I also know I’d be a damn sight more productive if I took the time to breath, to assess what’s reasonable in the space of fourteen hours (this gal needs ten hours sleep) and to be kinder to myself in the process.