Lately it seems that I haven’t had enough time. Time for what you ask? (not that anyone’s actually asking…) Time for anything. Time to read, time to play, time to train, time to study or go to classes, time to see friends… I’ve been wondering. Will I ever have enough time to do everything I want to to the level I want to? No. The answer is obvious. Then why do I get so stressed when I can’t finish all the books before I need to return them? Why do I get so anxious when I can’t do all the iLectures and readings before an assignment is due?
This has been a key issue in my thoughts over the last few days. I’ve been stupidly busy with work (it may not seem like much, but I worked 40.5 hours in the past fortnight, which is essentially double the work you normally get) in an attempt to pay off my PS3 (yay!) and to repay Mum’s credit card debt due to a week-long holiday in Margaret River (yay!). Money at the moment is my priority, even though I know that there will be better paying jobs in the future. But right now especially, money is useful, and I would like to store up as much of it as I can over the next few weeks.
So, with half or most of my week being consumed with work, that’s left not quite as much time for study. Is it that simple? Is that the cause of my stress- too many commitments? Possibly. But I think it’s more a symptom of the unhelpful thoughts along the lines of “I need to get x, y and z done by this time today”. I spend most of my life planning out my days, more loosely than I used to. In high school for instance, I scheduled every 15 minute block of time I had in order to meet as many of my commitments as I could, and I still didn’t have enough time for my homework. Scheduling and time management isn’t so much the problem as the urge to do. I have a compulsion to get things done, even when they might not matter. I keep wondering what would happen if my computer exploded and lost all my files, or if the house burnt down and destroyed all my games/books. With nothing left to do, would I simply search for new activities to pass the time? Always, always I must be doing something “productive”. Even my leisure time is productive- I’m playing games I’ve intended to, even if I don’t enjoy them, just for the sake of completing them so they can be checked off the list in my drawer of Games I Own But Have Not Completed. Surely there must be a better way of living.
But I just can’t let go. I know (in theory) that spending time with loved ones doing things you love is the happiest way to live. Instead I drown myself in tasks like shopping, spending vouchers, signing up to this site, cancelling subscriptions to that site, emptying email, doing iLectures and readings, reading books A, B and C before 4pm… It’s just killing me, and I don’t know how to stop. It feels good to get lots of things done sometimes- to check everything off the list and to bask in the feeling of accomplishment. But there’s always more to do, tiny tasks that only take 5 or 10 minutes, but with enough of those, you can spend hours doing nothing.
It seems that every day, we (as a society) drag ourselves upright while we’re still tired and find enough energy to survive as long as we have to before collapsing again. The metaphor I see in my mind is of a kind of tinman whose parts inside that are keeping him running are slowly shutting down. Rather than taking a day to oil himself and do some minor repair jobs, he simply puts on some casings to hide his malfunction and loads himself up with borrowed energy, maybe in the form of batteries or the tinman equivalent of caffeine. Day after day after day he does this, until he gets too sick to get up.
Maybe I should just take a day off every now and then? But why does the thought of all that spare time scare me?