Today has been my first real day off in months.
Not that I haven’t taken days off, but they’ve felt like stolen days. Guilty days. Days where I’ve felt like I should put a few hours in on that project, just to try to get ahead a little, so that I wouldn’t feel so stressed throughout the rest of the week. Mostly just because of a constant stream of work that has been good because I need work to make a living, but also not good because I either took on too much or didn’t manage myself well.
A great deal of the problem is probably just that I’ve been bad at getting down to work and then sticking to it. The great danger of being self-employed and working from home is that I’m constantly tempted by the book on my bed stand. I could take a short break to read a chapter, and no one will know.
Sometimes I take that break because I’ve noticed it’s better to take breaks when you need them, and I’d much rather spend a half hour reading about Russian history than tabbing through Buzzfeed clickbait. But there’s always a danger that I’ll take more of a break than I meant to, and as a result I lose my evening to work, and while the hours I’ve logged in my timer still only add up to a normal day, it feels disheartening because so many of those hours are happening later in the day and in to the evening.
So this past week was, for me, a veritable marathon of self-discipline. I worked hard, stuck to my timer, and logged a full day’s work by 7PM or earlier every day. By the end of the week, I’d cleared all my tasks—and then some. Meaning I had absolutely nothing to hang over my head for the weekend. Even more of a relief: there’s no reason next week can’t go the same way. And the week after. And so on and so forth.
It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but it’s coming close. People talk metaphorically about having a weight lifted from their shoulders, which makes sense. I feel like after I’ve set down a major burden, only my body hasn’t had time to adjust. I’m trying to stretch the aches out, shrug my shoulders, move more freely. But the phantom weight is still there, reminding me of its presence.
I’ve always preferred to think of it more geologically. It feels like post-glacial rebound: you don’t feel the massive weight of the ice sheet until it melts, and then the earth lifts, slowly, imperceptibly, but with noticeable and far-reaching consequences. I’m not sure what those consequences will be yet, and I’m trying not to let post-New Year’s optimism push me ahead of myself. But I know that I’ve let bad work habits build up a lot of stress lately, and if I can change that, it’s one of the things most likely to have the greatest positive impact on the rest of my life.
I read two hundred pages today, bought some clothes, watched a documentary, messed around with my camera, and I still have time to catch up on Sherlock. It feels so good.