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How to get out of your inbox and onto the sofa

Updated: Apr 11

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 48

I'm running a course in November on how to overcome overwork and overwhelm and I called it initially how to overcome these things. Then I thought that sounded way too serious and then I changed it to how to "Stop feeling Exhausted all the Time". And I've just realised that I probably should have called it "How to Get Out of your Inbox and onto the sofa". Because the truth is that very few of us actually know how to rest.

And we have so much to hold and so much to do the whole time that we spend very little time playing around and daydreaming about what rest could be like, especially if you're freelance and especially if you have any caring responsibilities or any tricky health things, the moments where you do have any earning capacity have to be maximised so much that there's really any time to luxuriate in the concept of rest.

I'm going to be spinning that idea a little bit throughout this course and trying to look at ways that maybe we could get more done more quickly so we can get back to the rest bit. The good bit, the fun bit, and our mates, as quickly as possible. Rather than measuring our worth and our value by how much we get done and how productive we've been.

I've talked about this before, but I really noticed and I really try and catch myself now when someone asks me how my day was and my inclination to reply with how much I got done. Like I'm just some little productivity conveyor belt. And actually, I don't want to determine my worth by how many things I've achieved. What I want to do is to think about who I am as a person, according to how many of my friends I remembered to reach out to today, or how many times I laughed, or how many times I stopped mid-sentence because there was a leaf with a really pretty pattern on it that took my breath away. These are the kinds of measures that I want to choose myself.

And what I hope to encourage in other people is for you to get your own little mini list of what makes a good life for you, what fills you with vibrancy, what isn't to do with how many things are on your to-do list and how many things that you've crossed off that fill you with a real sense of who you are.

I think that quite often when it comes to our work lives, we can have this sort of false horizon, this mirage in the future of thinking, well, I can't rest until I've got all of this stuff done, when actually there are very few work environments where "done" really exists. What it means is this particular task that you're working on gets completed, and then something else comes and fills its place. And it's very rare that we have a clean desk and a clean inbox and nothing, no work coming in and for most of us, no work coming in would mean no income, so it's actually not something that we want to aspire to. But we do have this idea that if you can just get over this hill, then there's going to be plain sailing, and actually, there's just a whole load more work.

And this quite often manifests, I think, with people saying, "Oh, I just want to get ahead of myself". But it's not that I can get ahead of myself so I can rest more or so I can do some more fun things or so I can hang out with my family. It's I want to get ahead of myself, then I'm not quite so super-stressed in work tomorrow or next week. It's about managing and trying to lower the feelings of overwhelm in the workplace rather than choosing to do something which isn't work with that time.

Maybe we could look at this another way, maybe we could look at it from a point of view of how we could lower that pressure and intensity in our everyday working lives without having to put in extra hours to alleviate that pressure. Maybe we could make sure that every hour that we put in works towards that as a goal, so we're not having to do extra work in the hope that we won't have to do more work. The way that we twist our brains around is internalised capitalism and I think many, many of us have fallen prey to things that don't necessarily align with our politics. And the reason why we started doing all of this huffing and grinding in the first place, is then we can live more comfortable lives and look after ourselves and make sure that that life is full of joy.

And I am not convinced that there is all of the joy in all of the world to be found in your inbox. Maybe it is. Maybe you got a lovely, lovely inbox that each email fills you with nothing but happiness, always willing to be wrong.

But if you would like more play in your life and more reading of books and more sharing food with folk you love, maybe there could be some new, fresh tactics that you could try to approach the way that you're planning out your weeks and the way that you're thinking about the workload that you have in front of you and the way that we're prioritising tasks and the way that you're prioritising your own self care. I'd love to work with you on this. If you want to come and play in November and then it's going to go into our gorgeous new fresh membership that is coming up for the New Year.

If you would like help with any of this, please do drop me a line. You will hear more about the course just after this. I'm wishing you rest this week. I'm wishing you to send an extra five minutes under the duvet with a book that you love or radio show or just finding something out there in nature that really makes your eyes twinkle a little bit.

I look forward to speaking to you next week.


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