Has anybody seen my balance? I definitely had it last week when I was in the Canary Islands – although I guess it’s a lot easier to be balanced when you’re holidaying in the sun. But since I got home, my balance has gone AWOL.
My first blog post on return from my brief sunny break was going to be about the benefits of switching off. For the first time in a long time, I gave myself a whole week off work, emails, phone calls and even texts (the latter wasn’t deliberate – my phone carrier accidentally turned off my roaming!). It was only seven days, and I confess I did a phone interview for a feature I’m working on from the airport, but it was seven days of early nights, good sleep, sunny walks and swims in a very cold sea. Seven days of, dare I say it, a reasonable amount of peace and serenity. It was a good old-fashioned holiday and exactly what I needed.
But since I got back, it’s all gone a little awry. On my first morning home, I had to rush to get on a train to avoid being late for an appointment – fumbling with gloves, Oyster card, phone and keys and hurrying down potentially icy steps with a mountain bike over my shoulder. And things have got worse since then.
I appear to be suffering from binge-working, as opposed to binge-eating. I’ve taken on too much, have too many deadlines and any thought of self-care or putting my needs before my work has gone out of the window. It’s frightening how quickly that can happen. I haven’t been to the gym this week, have had few social engagements and have been at my computer from early in the morning until late at night. Of course, a lot of my over working is driven by perfectionism – if I wasn’t so worried about getting everything just right, the perfect word or turn of phrase, and so fearful of making a mistake – I’d finish my work in half the time, and I’d also sleep a lot better. My sleep last night was disturbed by alternative words and turns of phrases for a story I’ve just handed in.
This unbalanced way of working definitely isn’t why I gave up my job as a full-time news agency journalist to become self-employed. I’m a harder task master than any of my bosses ever were. I left full-time employment to work at my own pace, but this current pace wasn’t quite what I had in mind!
By publicly confessing that things have got a little out of hand, however, maybe I can start to change. And perhaps I already have. After all, I generally come to my blog for some solace – even if it still involves typing and looking at a screen – and I haven’t been here all week. Blogging for me is much more loving and gentle than racing to meet deadlines or writing for other publications with their various style and editorial demands. And I cycled to my studio this morning via the park and sat for 10 minutes on a sunny bench, watching the ducks make their way across the icy pond. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll make a decision to set a few hours aside this afternoon for me. We’ll see.
But whatever happens today, I hope that by the next time I post here I’ll have relocated my balance. And I’ll have realised that it’s really not worth losing again.