Stretched

It’s been a week of setting my alarm to 5.50 am (taking into account 1 snooze of 9 mins so I can get out of bed by 6), but actually only waking up closer to 6.30-7. It’s been a week of waking up groggy, with a daunting to-do list spinning in my head. It’s getting tiring just keeping up because unlike the way it is with most people — listing things brings order and control, or at least some sense of it — making that list has been my complete undoing. At this point, that list owns me. The list is fucking with me, playing nasty games. I tick one thing off, and three things get added in, I tick another two off, and a few more things fly in. All that’s missing is the voice that says “lets see how you’ll keep up with me, now” every time the scores change.

At this point its To-do List – 10, Revati – 1.5

The more I simplify, the more things get complicated. The more I step back, the more I encounter. The more I off-load, the heavier things feel. Is that even possible? Sure feels like it to me these days. The last two months have been nothing short of crazy and doing fewer things so I can do them well seemed like the only way to go. So I pared down the frenetic days of my life. But somehow, and as always, that too gets the better of me. Because with the things I have on hand, I have this tendency to get so involved, it consumes me whole. I’ve been called an energiser bunny on acid way too many times in the last couple of weeks and I’m beginning to think there is some truth to it.

Except, the energiser bunny is supposed to go on and on and on. I know, to some it might seem like I can do the same, but I am tired. Officially tired. In the summer this year, I stripped my professional engagements down to nil, for primarily for two reasons. There are two projects on hand that need my time and undivided attention and I wanted to be able to give them that. So I stepped back, offloaded what I thought I could easily do without and focused on tasks at hand. Seems like the answer to managing time better no? Yet, the balance is skewed. The damned list just never diminishes. Old things are just replaced with new things. And I have felt the brunt of it over the last three weeks more than ever before.

I’ve realised I’m a do-er. If there is something to be done, I’m all in to step up and do it. Especially if there are other people and a common goal involved. I am not the sort of person that likes to be told something ten times before I get to it. If I am assigned a task, I want to have it done before anyone has to remind me about it. If I see someone else not pulling their weight, I will step in and take over without asking for permission. So there you have it — I suddenly realised why no matter how much I simplify my work, it somehow it gets complicated again. I pare it down, and pretty soon its a big messy pile again. I de-clutter, only to find myself in the midst of the chaos all over again.

I have a mug that sits on my desk even today. It holds my pens and pencils and it reads “Why sacrifice yourself when you have a whole team to choose from?” It was a gift from my friends at EY and was their way of mocking me for always being the bakra to step forward and take responsibility to do things — no matter that it meant stretching myself beyond work hours and reasonable expectations of someone at my level on the corporate food chain even. I rarely reaped the benefits of that extra time spent, but somehow it didn’t matter because I didn’t always have my eyes on the perks. It was first professional experience that had consumed me in a way that made me lose track of time. For the first time in years I had found my feet, my flow and even when I was swimming at the deep end of the pool, struggling to keep my head above the water for the most part, I was drowning with water gushing over my head, the moments that I came up to get a mouthful of air, I felt a rush so deep that I didn’t want to stop.

The only other times I have had this happen to me, when I have been happy to be in the deluge, drowned in work, struggling to finish it but thriving on the high of working towards a finish line was for a short while in my job here in Goa. And now, IFBM. It has consumed me to the point of fatigue. I go to sleep ticking tasks in my head, I wake up with a freshly grown list of things to do, and I scramble to put them down before they fly out of my head. I set aside an hour a day to answer emails, post updates on the facebook page, write a blog posts or two and promise myself I’ll be done with it. I mean to spend the rest of my day working, but somehow I get consumed in answering emails, following up with sponsors, chasing after goodie bag contributors, helping participants register, yada yada — add to an uncompromising obsession with fitting in gym, the sometimes unreasonable insistence of cooking all meals AND also fitting in the odd social obligation and an outing for fun here and there, and Before I know it, its the end of another day that I have done no work for myself. I have failed abysmally in dividing my time and attention between the only two things I have on hand. One needs it more than the other, but things never turn out as they should, do they? So I have given in to the flow of things and let one consume me, and elbow the other out. Even though it should be the other way around. I have never been very good at being selfish with my own work. I see so many others around me pull it off with style and I recognise it. Yet I am unable to learn and adopt it into my own life.

I have so much to learn as far as prioritizing my work goes. Isn’t it always that way? Things that don’t have a deadline looking large over your head, or have a client hounding you for a tangible deliverable, or don’t have an do-by date always, always get pushed back, while things that have a more real outcome come to the fore.

But I am feeling stretched right now. I have three email ids configured on my phone. I am managing two facebook pages, and four blogs now. Networking for the meet has also opened the floodgates to my otherwise locked out facebook id. People have crawled out of the woodworks to add me. I have been outed. I realise at this point I cannot creep back into my hole, so I am going with it. But the result is I am networked to my frikking eyeballs. I am feeling so stretched and spread so thin. Any any thinner, and I might snap.

I want to just hit pause, sit with this massive pile of stuff to do, sort it out one thing at a time and call it a day. I want to put everything aside, and focus on the one thing I have wanted to do, but is getting compulsively ignored. I want to just breathe a bit. I want to shed this compulsive need to keep all the balls in the air, all the time. Because it is finally getting to me. I want to put the list away, once and for all. I want to stop being a slave to ticking things off. I want to stop being a do-er, just for a bit.

That mug stares me in the face every time I look up from my computer. Why sacrifice yourself when you have a whole team to choose from?

Why?

Because sometimes you just have to, no?

And even as I have spent the last fifteen minutes banging this post out, the scores have changed.

To-do List – 15, Revati – 1.5

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17 thoughts on “Stretched

  1. When I read the title as stretched, I thought it was going to about a new fitness routine where you’ve incorporated stretches and how energized and flex you feel.

    Clearly, I was wrong..

    I did think that once IFBM is done, you’re going to be at more peace; however the pace at which the list is moving, things look to be grave..

    I think you might have to dedicate a weekend or so to just rest,chill and recharge.. Go out somewhere, maybe?

    1. After IFBM is done I have no plans. Literally no plans, for once in my life. My family is visiting me, so I plan to be on holiday for a while, and then resume the madness :D

  2. I am exhausted just reading this post especially the part which says ” I have three email ids configured on my phone. I am managing two facebook pages, and four blogs now.”.. but IFBM is almost there another two weeks.. and then you can get back some of your sanity!

    1. I know, I know. I keep saying I need to breathe and just get through the next two weeks. It doesnt help that I am excited like a little schoolgirl going on a class picnic, about this meet :D But yes, after that I am looking for some down time. Real down time.

  3. OH MAN.. three email id’s .. and two facebook and 4 blogs .. JAHANPANAH you are great .. No wonder you feel stretched out ..

    I cant cope with one blog and email id’s .. thankfully I went off FB ages ago and that was such a relief .. :)

    sorry for being a bit thick here but what is IFBM..

    No wonder I am not that stretched :) I dont even know what it stands for ..

    You need to chill have some ME time in the ALL work Time :) take care and all the bestttttttt

    1. Indian Food Bloggers Meet – the thing I have rambled on about in two other posts :) Yes, I need some ME ME ME time too!
      Thanks, i need the good wishes at this point!

      1. :) Oh ok ..well just proves my level of dumbness has stooped even lower..

        I read the last posts days ago , I have SLEPT in between :) and unlike your snooze which is only 9 minutes mine go for a longer time.. I have a snooze of a snooze tooo ..

        take care

        1. Hahaha, yes the snooze of snooze happens here too. I plan to wake up in one snooze, but it has never happened :P I snooze at least 3-4 times before I even plan to start waking up. Ouuff.. so much time waste happens in snoozing!

  4. One word. Boundaries.

    In fact it’s one of the most common things women just don’t enforce, because we are so unbelievable bad at saying no. Because we don’t want to let people down, or God-forbid be thought of as a bitch!

    I’m going to tell you a secret that will make that to-do list go away and you relax.

    Self-care. Make that your #1 on your list. No ifs. No buts. No excuses.

    The more crazy our world gets, the MORE this is critical for us. How can we bring the best to the people and work in our life if we aren’t looking after ourselves.

    And the best part – when you have self-care as a regular part of your life and routine, when you pause and slow down – it’s in those quiet moments that you will often have your brilliance.

    Ok, enough of the aunty lecture. First go sleep and then do my my free email course on my website – 5 easy steps to get more energy, time and balance in your life :P

    I’ll send you the downloadable cheat sheet direct if you want xx

    1. Oh yes. I am TERRIBLE at saying no. And I am terrible at drawing the line and making boundaries. I am good at acknowledging what needs to be done in order to get my stuff done, but I really struggle to make it happen. Yes, multi-tasking is overrated — I hate it, but it seems to be the order of the day, no?

      I did see the email course, but I dont have the time to look at one new thing now until August. Can I do it then? Send me the cheat sheet!

    2. BTW the only thing that has given me some sanity and has kept me going and more happy than not, is no compromise on exercise. By hook or by crook, i take myself to the gym 6 times a week. That, and cooking. It gives me some me-time to decompress, turn off the world for a bit and just do something I can enjoy in the present.

      1. That’s awesome – I love it. For me, exercise ALWAYS seems to fall off and I’m trying to make that my non-negotiable :)

        I know even when it’s doing things you love (I’m guilty of doing that too with my biz!) – we still need to take the time to look after ourselves. There’s a really fine line between the rush we get from getting fully immersed into something and bringing it alive and burning out.

        Do the course when you can but will send you the cheat sheet x

  5. I know you’re feeling the not-nice burn but I think what you’re doing with the IFBM is amazing. Sorry it’s taking over your life but it’s only for a little while. And now you can’t make fun of you workaholic husband.

    1. Actually I have let IFBM take over my life quite willingly. The rush of this busyness and the fact that we got this off the ground from scratch has kept me going, and I love it. But its the consequence of it — neglecting my writing and the rest of my life — that I am feeling terrible about. But I guess I have to stop wanting it all, all the time :)

      I wish you could come! I am now looking forward to it with a slightly unhealthy level of excitement haha

      And yes, funnily VC pointed out that I have had no time for him of late, even in the rare quiet moments that he has been around and available :)

  6. Pingback: Confessions of a procrastinator | hAAthi

  7. how did I miss this? All I can say it step back… the important stuff is over… the loose ends will tie themselves… if it is frying you this much then I think you really need to step back without thinking of anything else

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