This may sound strange, but I’ve always found comfort in motion. I start swaying my friends back and forth during long hugs, I will always choose the stairs over an elevator or escalator, I’d rather add time to my trip if it means I can circumvent stand-still traffic and can keep driving, I never feel more myself than when I’m dancing, and I don’t think I’ve ever sat still without fidgeting. Even in yoga class, I can’t hold a pose longer than a few seconds without moving some part of my body. There’s just something that feels good about doing something.
I actually find that this pattern of thinking is rather Newtonian. An object in motion stays in motion, and object at rest binges The Office for two straight days. When I have a lot going on and am forced to work, I will always choose to continue to do something over stopping the productivity train. This is why I love having a standing workstation and a gym in my office. Standing up in the morning helps me make it to lunch, and going to the gym during lunch helps me make it to the end of the day.
Conversely, when I have less going on, I am much more tempted to sit back and chill…until I start getting antsy and searching for more things to do. Sometimes, it’s guilt that makes me want to do all of the things while relaxing, but usually, I just prefer to be productive. Finishing even the tiniest tasks helps me feel like I’m doing something. If nothing else, I can find other places to send my writing or check the UpWork app for more freelance opportunities.
I’m never sure if it’s a good thing that I’m able to find more freelance jobs from my cell phone while I watch TV. On the one hand, it increases my productivity. On the other hand, it encourages me to sit in front of the TV. And let’s be honest, I didn’t need another excuse to do that…
The problem is that I am consistently incorrect about my schedule. One minute, I’m thinking about how busy I am and how little time I have, then the next minute, I’m searching for more things to do. I am constantly bouncing back and forth from being stressed that I won’t complete anything on time and applying to more projects. Last month, I told my mom’s friend that I didn’t have extra time to help with her business, then made a deal to write a book with her. How did that happen?
I think this stems from the fact that — if I’m not in a depressive episode — I feel the need to completely fill my calendar to the brim. Every bit of awake downtime has an activity. Whether I’m reading before work, working out during lunch, seeing friends, doing post-work yoga, writing, or having meetings with various people, somehow my entire week is usually planned before Monday.
As soon as one event comes out of my schedule, I must immediately find something to replace it. Oh, I’ve stopped going to therapy for an hour every other week? Time to hire a nutritionist to meet with weekly and take on another writing project! Makes perfect sense!
I think this pattern started during college. When you’re surrounded by fun activities and ambitious people (not to mention people who just want to play “The Busy Competition”), you can’t help but to cram as much into your day as possible. I completed multiple majors, a minor, and held down several jobs at once, partially because that was the culture, sure, but also because I just like to keep busy! There’s nothing like the feeling of coming home after a long, productive day and laying down knowing that I did everything I could during my waking hours.
I’m also a small bursts of energy worker. I get bored easily, so it’s nice to have several projects going on at once so that I can bounce back and forth between them. I figure that I can’t possibly be bored with all of the things I have going on at once! For me, the best way to stay productive is to have different options of ways to be productive. And the best way to do that is to severely overload my schedule until I have no option other than to be productive…right?
Of course, when you’re constantly and obsessively working on any and everything at once, it gets tough waiting on other people to complete things. Don’t you understand that I can’t move forward until you complete your piece of this? And don’t you understand that, if I can’t move forward, I’m going to spontaneously combust?!
What it comes down to is that, in my mind, moving forward is necessary, moving backwards is impossible, and standing still is stagnating.
Of course, I would love to get to the point where I can stand still without feeling like, if I don’t keep moving, I’ll just stay in the same place for all eternity. But for right now, I will keep overloading my schedule and running around like a chicken with my head cut off…up the stairs, while everyone else waits for the elevator.
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/