Okay, so the title of this post is maybe a tad melodramatic. And ever since reading about the epidemic of busyness, I am trying to make a point not to glorify feeling overworked and “on” all the time–an occupational hazard for the realtors I work with, yes, but still a choice in my opinion. And I’m not sure how to write about this without sounding like a massive humble brag, which I don’t want to do. But honestly, my stress level has been on moderate to high since we got back from vacation two weeks ago and it’s beginning to wear on me.
Science Guy and I have had a lot of conversations this week about time and stress management–which in themselves can be time-consuming and stress-inducing, but more on that in a second. He frequently works 9-hour days in lab and has to go in for a few hours on weekends. I work in the office from 8:30-5:00 and, for better or for worse, my job description is not particularly portable, so I generally turn that part of my life off after business hours. (Both Bossman and Bosslady have taken turns being gone on vacation ever since I got back, though, so there’s been more “on-call” time after hours these last two weeks.)
But Science Guy enjoys what he does nine hours a day (most of the time) and will have a Ph.D and viable career options to show for it when he is done. Far from hating my job, I genuinely love my work environment and coworkers and find real estate quite interesting…but I honestly have no long-term aspirations for office management or realty. My heart is in creative and philanthropic work, but I don’t yet have the experience and skills to make a full-time go out of that. My mind and spirit seem built for the freelancer lifestyle, but I am realistic enough to understand that is not an easy path nor is it particularly viable in our current situation. My top priority in the middle-term is to be able to stay home for at least a few years with my children when I have them, and perhaps my best chance of doing so will come from working a stable job and banking as much I can until it’s time to stay home. At the same time, I am afraid of painting myself into an administrative corner while my photography business and creative energy stagnate. So I end up looking for or creating work that hopefully allows me to keep my skills sharp and build my portfolio.
The upshot of that has been that I was working my butt off day and night, and I am glad that has changed since I met Science Guy. Not only is he better at “not doing” than I am, he also gives me many good reasons to get off the computer and live a little/a lot. But in the last few weeks I’ve felt like there aren’t enough hours to go around, to give to my job, and my business, and my community, and my relationships, and that translates to feeling like I’m not enough. Which is a yucky feeling, and also a distortion that I recognize but which I’m not entirely sure yet how to defuse. I’ve been working on a pricing bootcamp and learning about how to help my business take off but still work on my own terms, and I’m trying to have faith that will come through for me. (Having seen my dad tread water with his business for ten years and ultimately go back to working for The Man, this is really scary.) I’ve taken a few volunteering things off my plate and given myself space and grace to not GO TO EVERYTHING if I don’t feel I can be fully present. And yet…stress. Anxiety. “I can’t do it all,” which cascades in my head to, “I can’t do anything.”
I developed a slightly-less-than-healthy financial anxiety while working part-time and being cheated by my former employer two years ago, so my budget is reassuringly mapped out though not strictly followed. The financial stress I experienced in my previous work situation was artificial, and I’m trying to see my time stress the same way. There is time…I know there is. I’m just not entirely sure where it’s all going versus where I want it to go. Since I believe that all of life’s problems can be solved, or at least addressed, with a color coded chart, I sat down and made a time budget in Excel.
I worked all of numbers in the pricing bootcamp based on the assumption that I had twelve hours a week available for my business. Twelve. TWELVE! Because I still need to have a life while I’m double-timing my job and my business. And because I want to learn to work smarter so that when I do get to the point of being able to take photography full-time, it won’t actually have to be full-time-plus like so many entrepreneurs encounter. I tried to build in set time off (Science Guy and I still don’t see eye-to-eye on the definition of this, but that’s because I find baking relaxing and he just finds it tasty) and I found that I do have more of it than I thought. Like my monetary budget, this is a guide, not a rule (because I know how well I respond to those) and everything is an experiment. We’ll see how it goes!