Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day Off Syndrome

Welcome to my life.

Well, my mind's version of my life, anyway, which is what often runs the narrative.

I have a day off coming up tomorrow, the first in over a week. I taught a four-day writing retreat last weekend, then traveled for a day (not a day off, especially when flying across the country!), then participated in a four-day teacher training. So tomorrow, Monday, whooo boy. Do I ever want to sink into you with nothing to do.

Only there are emails. Lots of them. Behind on clients' images and words, in need of catching up. Not the whole day - I don't do *that* anymore, at least (some of my workaholic-ness is put to rest). But I'll need to do some. And those online classes that need to get up and running. And, and and...

Already the battle has begun.

What's the battle? I am interested, though careful not to get too fascinated with it, as that gets me nowhere. It goes something like this:

"Ah. A day off. Finally!"
"I know! I can catch up with some work that's been sneaking away from me and stressing me out."
"But. I. Uh. I need some time NOT working, you know?"
"I know. You'll get it. But we also have to catch up on self-employed shit, you know?"
"Can't you do that later? You've given priority to other shit like this retreat and that retreat. Why not take a day off?"
"Because I will be more relaxed if I do two hours worth of work out of a whole day."
"It's. Just. One. Fucking. Day."
"Yes. And I. Will. Continue. To. Stress."

In other words, though for a long time the voice that suggested I use "days off" to do work sounded suspicious, it turns out she's right, so long as she's kept under wraps. A day off feels no good if I have work looming over me. I just spend the whole day "not doing work" which feels worse than a bit of work.

So tonight I set up a few things, get my priorities in order. EG: No, you can't have twelve complex projects on the front burner, sweetie. Pick one or two and specific aspects that need to be done tomorrow and two dozen emails. Be realistic.

I dither on my computer, sort old photos tonight, kind of reminiscing combined with a slight work-like thing, something that satisfies my need to putter. I get a good night's sleep (I hope), sleep in, get breakfast with friends then right off, first two hours alone, do the work. Just get it done. Set a timer, and keep checking in to make sure what needs to get done first is getting done. If not, I'll feel the two hours were a waste and I "got nothing done," which, according to what needs to get done, is somewhat true.

Then, I will go for a run. Do some yoga. Read a (fun, not studying or for teaching) book. Photograph the SoCal wildlife. Then go south to visit with my mom's best friend from elementary school.

That'll be vacation! Ah. That's the life. Except that one class I have to teach online on Wednesday and...

Sigh. I know. I know it looks bad, sounds bad. But I'll tell you what. It works. It works when I remember it's the kind thing to do: that I love my work and staying connected to it in a relaxed way is good for me. It's all about remembering, keeping priorities and yes, also about not working sometimes. Turning off the computer, calling it quits for 24 hours on any devices. Being with my sweetie, or in this case, seeing the Pacific Ocean. After all, I did pack my swimsuit, though it is not a bikini.

Talk about stress. Wearing a bikini would stress me out more than any overdue emails.

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