So many of us are constantly stressed and tired. We feel like we can never switch off and are ‘working’ from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them.
I did one of those Buzzfeed-type quizzes the other day, the kind that you always see on Facebook, which was asking questions about your vice foods to tell you what kind of personality you have. Ok, I know it’s ridiculous and was probably the brainchild of a drunk koala bear but bear with me. I normally fare well in this kind of quizzes. I used to love this sort of thing in teen magazines when I was, well, a teen. What’s your ideal career? Who would be your dream boy band boyfriend? And so on. They normally tell me I’m brilliant just as I am and that’s why I love them.
But this new one? It told me I’m a stressed workaholic. Seriously. All the other results were happy and floaty and ‘oh you’re so creative’ or ‘you’re the kind of generous person that devotes your life to a cause close to your heart’. But me? Anxious, neurotic and pulling my hair out, apparently.
And it’s true, I definitely feel the stress from being busy. I’ve written a lot recently about trying to cut back on social plans, saying no and pushing back on anything that might compromise my health and worsen my migraines. But I noticed that for every one thing I’m removing from my life and each thing I’m saving time on, I’m filling with something else. I’m creating gaps in my diary and then swiftly filling them.
So I’m busy, I’m (relatively but not worryingly so) stressed and I’m tired. But I keep piling more on my plate.
Combine that with the pressure and competition, almost, of sharing your “I’m busy” badge of approval proudly on your social accounts – we’re all competing to show we’re more busy than each other, right? – and it’s surely a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, add to that the supposed “furniture of the future” and we’ll soon be hassled and hunted down by technology everywhere we go, even when we retreat to our homes.
That’s right, apparently future household furniture will be fitted with technology and synced up to our devices. No longer will we be able to put our smartphones down on the coffee table for a ten minute break from Twitter, if we can indeed even master the willpower to do that. When we do try to switch our brains off, the coffee table will be ‘talking’ to us, encouraging us to buy that thing sitting in our virtual basket or respond to that 9pm urgent email from our boss. (NB not my boss, she’s great).
I read in a recent issue of Stylist magazine that this really is how the future home will be.
Burnout is inevitable and it’s surely only going to get worse as we welcome technology within the minutiae of every aspect of our lives. Changing your baby’s nappy? There’s an app for that. Putting away your clean washing? No need, your tablet will read your mind and do it for you, mere mortal. Ok so our technology can’t do those things (*yet* as far as I know…) but it doesn’t seem implausible, does it?
I’m even starting to feel like keeping on top of chores is becoming a chore in itself. Any blogger worth their salt now has a Bullet journal which is an all singing, all dancing planner that helps you to schedule and organise every tiny detail of your day, week, month or project. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good notebook and planner (I still have a Filofax which I love) and pretty stationary as much as the next hipster blogeer. And part of me would love to hold and caress a Bullet journal but I also can’t help but think the mere act of deciding how to use it, setting it up and keeping on top of it would cost me time – and stress – rather than save it.
I recently rewatched an old episode of Black Mirror, the dystopian and futuristic TV series created by Charlie Brooker that considers the darker side of technology. If you haven’t seen it, check it out immediately on 4od. The episode I was watching was the White Christmas one. Don’t read ahead if you don’t want a spoiler of sorts…
A high maintenance character is effectively cloned. A tiny digital copy of her consciousness is created and is put in charge of organising her daily schedule and all household chores so the real version of herself doesn’t have to lift a finger. The digital copy is essentially a mini slave, trapped forever in this dystopian universe unable to do anything but serve her master.
My point is, in a way, it feels like that’s where we’re headed! We’re becoming versions of ourselves that are hard taskmasters, bound to work 24/7: sending emails, organising meetings, servicing the car, cooking dinner, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, looking after the children, going to the gym… the list goes on!
We can’t do it all. Something’s got to give. We need to accept defeat or stop taking so much on. And we need to stop being so harsh on ourselves. We need to slow down and we need to learn to say no. And we all need to stop bragging about being busy, it’s not big and it’s not clever! I hope that one day we can brag about how little we have to do and how much spare time we have on our hands.