Feeling low-level anxiety about all the things I could be doing today, as I wait for a big 2pm phone interview. Some work I thought I’d be doing today shifted into tomorrow and the day after. So, there are things I could be doing, and should be doing, and probably will get down to in a few minutes.
In many ways, I guess my problem comes down to having two speeds. I’m either having to prepare, plan, research and write to a tight deadline, or edit something, read something - or else I don’t have anything directly pressing to do. It’s not that I find it difficult to relax, I can read a book or play a game, but when I do sit down, I often think about the things I could be doing. I suppose it’s part of being a grown-up. There are things to tidy, file, fix, clean. Bikes, ceilings, dust, stories. People to communicate with, things to plan. Exercise to do. Money to make.
So, this year, I’ve gone through my in tray and filed most things, this has taken me half a year to complete! I’ve gone through papers and scanned them and filed them, this has taken several years.
Now I have a slight letup in my workload, though I do still have things to edit, a long project to work on, interview transcriptions. Videos to edit. Lots to read. Interestingly, I never seem to factor reading into my working day, and maybe I should. Papers, news, blogs, novels, Wired magazine articles. Educational videos to watch.
I imagine, the art is being content with what you’ve done, and what you haven’t. Knowing there’s sufficient time to do what needs to be done. And relaxing with that knowledge, trusting. There’s enough time for work, time for rest.
I remember one occasion where I was working as a journalist, and about to fly to the states for a three-day conference. A freak weather event closed the airport in the US. Heavy snow. Very heavy. My flight didn’t go. I heard about it at the gate. I suddenly had three days back. I wandered around like a ghost, enjoying time, going wherever. Seeing people. Feeling like I wasn’t really there, a deliciously guilty feeling, and enjoying every moment.
I like travelling because of just that feeling. You can’t really do very much apart from travel and be yourself. When I’m on a train or plane, there is little I can do. Might be different for you. Emails, writing, planning, sure. But not really. It’s noisy, and hard to concentrate on that stuff for any length of time. So, I like to read books, people watch, listen to music, send the short messages I’d been meaning to send. Enjoy being content with just travelling.
But I’m not travelling today, I’m at the desk. Trying to work out whether I’ve just wasted a little time, or invested it. Hopefully the latter. Either way, I’ve decided to pick up the editing now. The deadline is end of tomorrow, after all.
Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?