Addicted to Busyness
I once asked a boy on a date. He answered back that he could fit in dinner in a few weeks but he was busy with a class he was taking and volunteer work and paid work… and maybe dinner was too much time. Maybe he could only squeeze me in for coffee. I told him that he certainly sounded busy and maybe this wasn’t a good time to start something new.
I thought about that boy last week while I met a friend for coffee, my to-do list burning a hole in my back pocket. It was a self-congratulatory thought. I may have a long to-do list, but I still make the time to have coffee with friends and fold the clothes properly. Good for you, Melissa.
I like being busy. I like not only having my normal to-do list, but around holidays and travel and particularly busy times, I make a to-do list for my to-do list. I take a piece of blank white paper and fold it into eighths. Then I label each square with a date and pull tasks off the larger to-do list and slot them into dates on the blank sheet of paper with utterly ridiculous time constraints.
This is one of those times when I have a to-do list for my to-do list (which always makes Josh and I sing, “he’s got a wig for his wig, he’s got a brain for his heart, he’ll kick you apart, he’ll kick you apart!”). I love carrying it in my pocket. I love taking it out and remaking it so it’s neater whenever I have to move tasks around. I like crossing things out after I do them. I like going to bed knowing a lot of things were crossed out.
I like feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list. I think I may be addicted to it. And like most addictions, I seem to need more and more to get that stressed out high. I used to be able to reach my breaking point if I had a meeting that was going to take up 8 hours of the day. Now an 8 hour meeting barely phases me. I need to tack on baking 117 cookies after said 8 hour meeting and 2 loads of laundry. And even then, the stressed out high isn’t a given. Sometimes I feel like I’m always chasing it and never reaching it anymore. Sometimes I think that I need to get a non-house-trained puppy… that has the potential to get me my stressed out high.
I say that I want a neat Google Reader, except whenever I finally get the unread blog posts down to zero, I start getting antsy, hitting refresh until someone posts something. I feel like a kid with a lemonade stand on an unbusy street, waiting for someone to walk past. I feel better when there is a folder or two of unread posts, something to look forward to when I get a moment to sit down and read. I say that I want a neat email box, except whenever I respond to my final outstanding message and archive it, I start checking email more frequently, impatiently waiting for the next one to come in to give me something to deal with. I feel better when there are five unanswered emails waiting for a response.
I know a lot of people say this, but it’s actually true for me: I can only be productive when I have an insane deadline, one that does not seem do-able at all. I need to have too much on my to-do list so that things get done because when my to-do list gets too low, I get so distracted and antsy that I get nothing accomplished.
I say that all I want is a vacation where all I do is relax and read. It sounds so good from over here, with my long to-do list for my to-do list. But I know that once I get wherever I’m going where I’m going to plop down and relax, I only feel anxious being non-productive. In not moving anything forward. I need to ease into the relaxing thing; take 3 days of so of the trip to feel my heart racing over the idea of wasted time (think of all the things on my to-do list I could do!) until I finally settle down and say, “wow, vacations are great.” And then I only relax because I realize that if I’m away and nothing is getting accomplished, there will be a long to-do list to tackle when I get home.
Are you addicted to busyness or do you like a slower pace?