Today, I want to open up a conversation about the art of not doing anything. Yep, you read that right.
Not doing… anything.
Burnout amongst millennials is on the rise. A survey last year found that just 29% of millennials were engaged at work, coupled with the fact that work-life balance is totally out of the window for many of us. The national rate of unemployment has unexpectedly fallen to 4.1% while the number of those that are self-employed or working freelance has shot up, marking a welcome shift in ways of working and a significant decline in the conventional 9-5 job.
Whilst this might be music to your ears, it does mean that the glorification of being busy is pounded upon us more than ever.
I rarely actively log on to Twitter these days because it feels frantic. Individuals sharing incredible news and announcements, news alerts letting us know the world is indeed still on fire, constant promotion (of which I admittedly contribute to as well)… it is far too much.
I was chatting to a non-Internet, non-blogging and non-fashion industry friend the other day and discovered she had booked some time off work.
“Oh, where are you going?!” I excitedly asked.
“Nowhere, the spare room needs clearing out and I really want to watch a series on Netflix for once!” she responded.
And isn’t that a revelation right there?
The second I got back in my car, I made a note to write about this topic because it is SO weird that I’ve been conditioned to side-eye those with no grand plans for time off.
It started when I began working full-time in an office back in 2012. I was a) terrified of asking my manager for a holiday form, b) even more terrified of handing it in, and c) began to collate thoughts via my colleagues’ office conversation that those 22 days of annual leave were SO PRECIOUS OMG DON’T WASTE A MOMENT.
One of our colleagues loved booking 10 days off in one stretch. If you do your annual leave maths correctly, that can equate to 16 days off in one go, and is a coveted position to be in if you’re a keen holiday gal. Yet she would always use it in this way: a week for being at home, and a week to see friends. Our office would be in uproar! Why don’t you go on a long-haul holiday? Use it wisely! Oh if it were me… and so on and so forth.
Today, I couldn’t applaud that colleague more.
About a fortnight ago, I was beginning to feel as though I was scraping from the bottom of my barrel. I was going through the motions of my working day and lifestyle, barely eating because I thought it’d give me a little more time to do the-work-I-wasn’t-doing. And it culminated in probably the worst panic attack I’ve ever had.
Let’s just say, right now, I’m championing the idea of taking preventative measures for burnout.
I’m probably not working as much as I should be right now. And that’s by my book, and admittedly on my terms too. I’m one of those people, as I’m sure you’ve cottoned on to by now, that almost always has a plan, a back-up, goals, dreams and wishes. It’s been a pretty big deal to release my vice grip from my business just a little, to offer myself some breathing space. Although I’ve worked consistently all year, annoyingly I went through a phase in the summer where I delivered all of my monthly deliverables to my clients… and wasn’t paid once between July and last week. That’s near on 3 months with no income. So, you could say I felt pressured to keep up the work, take on more work, and spend all of the time in between chasing payments for the work. *insert awkward smile emoji here, right?*
Through taking a step back and embracing doing nothing in my personally defined leisure time, I feel like I’ve been able to see the bigger picture.
Hindsight is beautiful and I feel incredibly lucky that this here blog is what kept me fed and just about paying my bills (just the one, I had to borrow from my parents for everything else) in those months. Instead of those hours sat at my desk after hours, literally crippled with fear, doubt and anxiety (that’s a story for another day!), I cosy on up in my armchair and read for hours and hours, losing myself in beautiful albeit fictional worlds. I find pockets of time that I can use to promote the blog, which ordinarily I wouldn’t have time for, and discover fresh inspiration to pour back into my business and blog. I hang with friends and spend hours solving
crimes their problems and discussing mine. And best of all, I’m almost caught up on about 5 Netflix series (solving crimes and my Making A Murderer itch is totally scratched!
Not doing anything, you’re a pretty great concept.