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Breaktime: On overworking

Long time no write.

Mid-2019, after many years spent working on sets in a variety of jobs, I decided to not take any long-term gigs on sets anymore. The idea and goal behind it was simple: all these years, all these projects I had worked on, while fulfilling and rewarding, were not my own. I wanted to work on my projects, draft, rewrite, brush the final touches. Start pitching an unlucky project here and there. The reality is, working on a set and writing at the same time is very hard to do.

When the opportunity came to get a part-time job, I thought, this is perfect timing. Get a small job on the side, get some cash, and focus on writing. No harm there.

Reality is often far from theory. At least in this case it was. The job was time-consuming as well as demanding. Months later, I was left wondering what I was doing there, so far from my goals. I had written virtually nothing since taking up that "small" part-time-but-really-a-fulltime-job.

Isn't it so easy to be swept up by life's waves? Before we even realize it, we've come ashore an island in the middle of an unknown ocean.

That's not to say that the experiences on unknown islands are not rewarding. Let's say 2019 is one of those islands.

2020 came. And, I don't know what hit me. When people ask me now, I say: "I was hit by an epiphany. It's like I knew what would happen."

What really happened was that I was spending hours in a job that was not related in any way to my life goals, to my projects, and not even related to anything that I had spent years studying in university!

So I quit.

My goals in finding a job after that were clearly defined:

* be related to film production (life goal) or marketing (studies, interests)

* not take too much time so as to allow for leisure activities, and writing

* help me save for a down payment on a house.

Luckily, it actually did not take too long to find a job that fit these criteria. Even more lucky, while the pandemic hit 2 weeks after I started, I got to keep my job.

It also didn't take long for me to start spending much more time working. I am addicted to work. Without work, I feel like I am not accomplishing things. It's only when I work for days, weeks at a time, that I feel absolutely okay spending an entire day not doing anything.

But why do I have to go through these lengths to allow myself breathing room? I was reading blinks on Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee which deals with the importance of not doing anything, and how ingrained into our societies work and busyness are. Ultimately, the more overworked we are at work and in our personal lives, the less efficient we are and the quicker we burn out.

It made me realize that the issue was not that these jobs were particularly more time-consuming than any other job (arguably, the film production one is).

I am at the core of the issue. I allow myself to work these longer hours, to give these people more of my time. I could always say no, but I don't. I go above and beyond. That's okay once in a while, but not every day.

The reality is, writing is a full-time job. Having 2 full-time jobs and allocating time for workouts, leisure activities, dinners is hard.

So how do I balance it all? How do I get to put time in my schedule to do nothing, and everything? I don't know yet. But, I will make it a point to document more not doing anything.

It's not okay that I spend 5 extra minutes sitting on the toilet just because I get to do nothing there and not feel guilty about it. I can spend those 5 extra minutes not doing anything outside and feel great about it.

How do you balance it all? How do you do nothing? Any tips?

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