I wonder if any of you can relate to this. I seem to have it ingrained in me that when someone asks me to do something, or when I suddenly get reminded about something on my to-do list, it needs to be done now.
When I’m at work and I get an email from a colleague I feel an instant pang of stress because I know it’s going to be something to add to my list, and instantaneously I feel like that request is going to take priority. I like to call these micro-stressors, a term coined by Dr. Chatterjee.
I feel these micro-stressors in my personal life, too. I can be relaxing at the end of a long day, watching a film, listening to some music or even meditating and suddenly I can remember that thing that I still need to do. It can be laundry, replying to a text, filling out that form or making that phone call.
And instead of letting that feeling pass, I will act on it, jumping up out of bed or pausing the film to do that thing.
It’s difficult to prioritise things in an overloaded world where our to-do list just never seems to stop growing. Besides the stuff we need to deal with at work, we underestimate the amount of life admin we have to deal with. Banking, running errands, paying bills, household chores, replying to emails and texts etc. There is just so much to do all the time.
And we live in a society that romanticises productivity and being busy. It’s all about results and filling every second of our day up and achieving all of the things all of the time.
So what happens? My own self-care begins to fall by the wayside. My dedicated time of relaxation becomes time-spent doing chores or paying bills. Or even if I force myself to continue doing what I was, I just can’t focus.
This is why I have turned off 90% of notifications on my phone and why I have set workflow monitoring tools to minimise distractions when working on my laptop.
By using these tools I am able to consciously utilise my free time more efficiently with fewer distractions, prioritising what’s important to me and prioritising my mental self-care.
This is something that I have a lot of work to do on. Even just writing this post I was mentally distracted by intrusive thoughts on what I should be doing instead of focusing on what I am currently doing.
Not everything needs to be done now. Your thoughts are just thoughts, they are not commands. To be able to take charge of your mind instead of your mind being in charge of you is a product of practice, dedication and discipline.