Busy Being Busy

At this point in time I am almost certainly the busiest I’ve ever been, and I’ve almost definitely got the least to show for it. Whereas in the past, my work was very much tangible, recently I’ve found myself running around like a headless chicken for 90% of my day and still have a full to-do list at the end of it.

So, what’s the scenario?

I’ve been working on my overall development (creatively, musically, personally), as well as that of the team I look after, and people I work with. I’ve become a careers mentor to a very talented student who’s in her final year at my old university. I’ve been recording an album which is almost complete. I’ve been doing a bit of photography and travelling. I’ve been talking about mental health. I’ve found myself having no time to write. (Seriously, my last blog post was in bloody August).

In amongst all of the late nights and early starts, I’m dealing with the commute and uselessness of trains—which I worked out takes up 25 hours of my week on average.

I can handle it.

However, I’ve found myself unintentionally neglecting the people I’m closest to purely because my schedule has seldom worked with anyone else’s.

I’ve always believed that having too much spare time is worse than not having enough. The reason my current situation bugs me is because this lifestyle is challenging my belief and standpoint about ‘busyness’. Since college I haven’t stopped. Even when I’ve stopped I haven’t really stopped.

I’ve put that down to three main things:

  1. I used to think it was because I couldn’t be in my own company. Having too much time to myself—and too much time alone—was my idea of hell. I needed to stay occupied. Thankfully over the years I managed to dispel this, and now have a new-found appreciation/fascination with quietness. Maybe I’ll write about it.
  2. I always put pressure on myself to be better. Every song I made, every image I took. “My work’s a representation of me, so it needs to be the absolute best. Anything below that is pointless.” I needed to improve consistently. If there wasn’t progress, there was no point to any of it.
  3. I wanted to be the best person you could possibly ever meet. I wanted to help you as much as I could. I wanted my words to be relevant. I wanted them to fix the situation you were in, or at least direct you down a solid path. I wanted you to leave a meeting with me and feel positive about yourself.

Points 2 and 3 are things I very much still do, and they form part of a new balance I’m struggling to… balance.

I’ve asked for a lot of feedback recently, and all but one person told me that I needed to stop being so hard on myself. This has been the most difficult thing for me to change. It’s so entirely ingrained in my being that I can’t seem to let it go. In order for me to have high expectations of the people I work with, I need to set even higher ones of myself. Perhaps it’s me trying to justify how I can say or demand the things I do. Who knows. Either way, I guess I’ve failed to get my head around it, and that in itself is what’s been tiring me out as of late.

I very rarely (read: never, stupidly) practise what I preach when it comes to personal well-being, and I guess I’m lucky to have incredible people around me that pick me up when I forget. But man, I cannot stress the importance of giving yourself a break sometimes.

Now what?

Well, I promise this blog has more of a purpose than just me ranting (although I think I needed it). I compiled a list of things to keep in mind when feeling overworked, stressed, pressured, concerned etc., and found it really did help. If you’re feeling how I’m feeling, I hope you find some use from it too. Onwards,

  • Be selfish. Make time for you, to do nothing.
  • Take it easy. Life flies by as it is, enjoy things for what they are and don’t get too caught up in your own head.
  • Smile. It suits you.
  • Analyse your time and spend it BETTER! I recently calculated the amount of hours I spend working, travelling, performing etc. It opened my eyes at just how much I neglected the things and people I value most. I’m now working on giving people that deserve time, more of it.
  • Take advice on board, even if you don’t agree with it. Sometimes it’s good to see things from someone else’s perspective.
  • Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
  • Keep things in perspective. Chances are there are a lot of fucking people who have things a lot harder than you and I.
  • Rest. Because a good night’s sleep is seriously underrated.
  • Be a positive influence. Whether that’s advice, being a shoulder to lean on, or making someone smile. Do it. Inspire others to better themselves by the little gestures.
  • Listen. Next time you have a conversation or meeting with someone, put your phone away out of reach and listen. But actually listen, rather than putting your focus on making sure they think you’re listening. It gets slightly counter-intuitive.
  • Breathe.
Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.