So as you may have guessed from the infrequency of updates lately, things have been rather busy at the Little House on the Hill. Or more specifically, for one of the occupants.
In some ways it's par for the course for me to be juggling multiple jobs, plus community group involvement, seeking approval for our new shed, updating my "tickets" for work and doing whatever else it has been that has swallowed the past couple of months. I like to do many of these things. I feel I want to do many of these things (although sometimes that feeling has changed between agreeing to them and getting them done!) and for some, my jobs require I do them.
But I'm also feeling a bit worn down by them all. Which makes me reflect on just how un-sustainable it is to be over-busy. I realise that everybody's tolerance and juggling abilities are different. And we all have different interests, obligations, work commitments and relationships. Build-It Bloke and I have more flexibility than most, with no kids and relatively tame financial commitments ... and for us, both of those come from conscious choices we've made. I do aspire to a simpler life. For me, earning less but having more time to do the things that matter to me, and that make me happy, is a desirable outcome.
So that said, this recent busy-ness has really shown me that these goals, and indeed sustainability generally, suffer when the proverbial hits the fan. What do I mean? Well, firstly it wears me out, both physically and mentally. This makes everything seem so much harder. For me, I feel like I've got too many things to keep track of. I may be attempting lots of things (and perhaps even appearing to pull them off) but I don't feel like I'm doing any of them particularly well. And that takes the zing out of doing them. What's more, even if it is a job well done, there's no time to enjoy it - you race off to the next thing.
Then there are the flow-on effects. I cut corners in an attempt to squeeze more in. I eat "convenience foods" (pre-packaged, pre-prepared or takeaway) because I don't have the time/energy/patience to cook real food. Incidentally, often the fastest food around here can be found in the backyard (way closer than the supermarket and even a takeaway option), but of course if I've not found time to tend the garden, or the staples that turn it from raw veg into a meal aren't in the cupboard, that option isn't on the list! Then in my haste I take the car instead of the bike because it's quicker. But I miss out on the exercise and 'time-out' that a cycle commute offers, and I'm tempted to squeeze in another appointment or job with the 'extra' time. Even the amount of waste we create goes up, because we buy more packaged stuff and have less time to consider putting that packaging to a second use once we're done with it, let alone finding a work around or sourcing something secondhand or local.
While the temptation is to say I didn't 'choose' those outcomes, (rather I was choosing the shortcut and those less-desirable outcomes were unintended consequences; by-products of busy-ness, if you like) the reality is that the choices I made did bring them about. If I don't like the outcomes, I need to make different choices.
So, I recognise that being over-busy isn’t sustainable for me personally. It’s not only the effort required to do those many things, it’s that it mucks up so many other aspects of my life that are also important to me. That means I need to consider my priorities and take further steps on my seemingly eternal quest to learn to say ‘no’, especially to things that bring too many undesirable outcomes. Wish me luck!