As I write this, it’s pouring outside, some of my friends are out on the town, my boyfriend is with his mates watching the ‘all important’ England football match and my brother is out on his stag do. The world is a busy one and pretty much everyone I know is out doing something. As for me? Apart from writing this, I’m watching one of my favourite comedians, putting the world to rights with my mum and making plans, with the few friends who have stayed in, to go out soon.
Over the last month or so, I’ve been really unwell with bad anxiety attacks (lets save that for a less rainy day, shall we ?) and it’s shown me that I really don’t know how to do ‘nothing’.
As stupid as that might sound, I recently attended a course and, as part of it, they asked us to make a list of our daily morning routine – I of course relished this part, I’m openly obsessed with list making and organising things! However after making my perfectly drawn-out 13 point list, it soon became clear that I was constantly doing at least two things at once, whether that was watching TV while I did my hair or mentally answering emails while I brushed my teeth.
I once read an article that said we’ve become a generation that ‘needs’ to fill our time. It was suddenly cool to be overly productive, if you weren’t filling every minute of every day were you really living? And it’s true; I went through a 3 month spell of trying to fill every single day on my calendar, just to make myself feel like I was at maximum productivity.
So after being ill, I had to take some time to rest, lowered my working hours, slimmed down on plans and started to relish resting at home in my pjs. However after one day of relishing this freedom, that old age guilt crept up and soon I was thinking about all the things I could have done, like food prep or tidying, painting my nails or going the gym. So despite being ill and ‘doing nothing’ being what my body NEEDED, I just couldn’t shake that feeling.
We’ve living in a world that thrives on productivity, that’s why we check our work emails at home (or even – shock – on holiday?!) and that’s why we fill every day to the limit even if we are tired or reaching a burn-out.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meal prep and packing two bags, laying out clothes ready for the next day is my special skill and I can tidy my room to the point it looks like a completely new space. But at what point is too much? When you’re eating your lunch while you work, ‘instagramming’ it and texting 6 people all at the same time ? Or when you’re staying out till ridiculously late every night just to fit in seeing someone different, trying a different restaurant and wearing a freshly styled outfit every day ?
I have learned that sometimes, filling every minute is just too much. Sometimes you need to shove ”Big Bang Theory” on and let your mind rest. If you’re a naturally productive person then that’s okay and if you’re not then that’s okay too.
Here are my top tips (learned the hard way!):
- Do the little things that make your life easier – make your meals the night before, iron your work clothes on Sunday so it’s done, get ASDA to deliver your order. Saves time, saves hassle and in the long run saves that oh-so-toxic stress.
- Don’t let anyone stop you from having a pj day. People may judge that onesie or that over-sized shirt ‘n’ shorts but screw them. Sometimes its all about top knots and cups of teas. And, if that’s what your soul needs, then who is anyone else to stop you.
- Learn your limits. For me it’s when I’m not getting enough sleep – three nights of cocktail parties and meals are all well and good until you hit day four and sleep has turned into a myth. For others it’s when you’re so busy you realise you haven’t eaten all day . Seriously though, who are these people, my life is all about that food ! But still, know your limits and know when to have a break.
Whether you fill your time with meetings, life prep and general business or just sofa surfing and working through as much of Netflix as you can, there’s no harm in it if you’re happy!
But seriously try, just for one day to do nothing. Don’t plan ahead or host several whatsapp group chats (although how GOOD are they?! Screenshots everywhere!) I imagine you’ll find it a heck of a lot harder than you imagine.
Meanwhile I’m off to do nothing and watch TV ( AKA make a brew, tidy my room, wait for football updates and plan a house party).
‘Doing nothing’ is a skill, and finding the balance is even harder. But just try it, you might even enjoy it.