Since this new year began, I’ve been working on the idea of less. Less work, less worry, less clutter. Just . . . less.
One of the hardest things about freelancing is taking time off. Ironically, it’s also one of the things that makes me so good at what I do: I don’t stop until the job is done.
Burnout is real, however, and when your yearly performance evaluation specifically brings up “overworking” and asks you to “continue striving to find balance,” the issue obviously needs to be addressed. I’ve spent the past month doing exactly that.
My new “on” schedule makes me available:
- Monday – Friday 5:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Saturday 5:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
- Sunday 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
I’m not online the entire time, but I do check texts and emails at regular intervals.
My phone, however, is usually always off. Why? Because when it’s on, I’m on. I can’t focus on things like homeschooling, parenting, or even living life in the moment. It’s just too tempting to take a little peek and see if there’s anything new that needs attention.
For me, the phone is a distraction. And thankfully, it’s not critical to my daily tasks.
As I’m learning to cap my work hours, I’m also learning to waste less time worrying. Another suggestion I was given during my yearly evaluation was to remember that work is not a life-or-death situation.
“Never lose sleep over a project.”
I admit that one takes some effort. The thing that helped the most was experiencing the sheer panic of a large, completed editing document that somehow became corrupted. I’d never dealt with a situation like that before, but thankfully, my boss had, and she breezed through it, taking charge and coming up with a creative fix. What it taught me was that if she wasn’t worrying herself to death, why would I?
Whatever the situation, it’s manageable.
As far as less clutter goes, because of the limits I’m placing on work hours, I have more time, energy, and focus to continue organizing my living space. I don’t want to stay in this apartment forever, and I clean today with the intent of not packing unnecessary things tomorrow.
As a bonus, the more I declutter, the more I realize just how little I truly need.
At the end of the day, I think most of these lessons in less are really lessons in control. Surprisingly, letting go of control is easier than I ever expected. It feels . . . liberating. A burden, lifted.
And anyway, control is just an illusion.
I never had it, and neither does anyone else.