I considered writing a review post for 2016, but the overall tone of the year was, for most of us, bleak, and I simply couldn’t find the energy to dwell on it. Discussing how I want to apply what I’ve learned from 2016 to this shiny, new year seemed a more worthwhile endeavour.
Simply put, my depression and anxiety combined to kick my butt at several points last year, and I let them. All too often I tried to press on, to work smarter, to reset goals, and the end result was more anxiety, less energy, and little or nothing accomplished. God, or Fate, or whatever you choose to believe does this kind of stuff, intervened in November. In the space of the same week an author whose email list I’m on (and who is open about their depression) revealed that they were dropping their NaNoWriMo plans as the pressure to which they were subjecting themselves was affecting their mental health, and I discovered Michael Nobbs, an artist and podcaster, who encourages people to work at a gentler pace, and take self-care seriously, in order to live a more creative life. At this point I chose to ignore the NaNoWriMo target, and try a slower approach. The final piece of the puzzle was an article by Oliver Burke (Why time management is ruining our lives). It put into words what I had increasingly been feeling: that productivity is just another form of busyness, which keeps me from what’s truly important, and causes me stress.
Am I abandoning all targets, deadlines, and structure? No. But I am choosing to add more slack into my day, to embrace inefficiency where this will help my well-being, and to say no more often. In practice this will involve building in the 20 minutes a day habit, and drafting on paper, which I prefer; accepting that this means typing it up at a later stage. It will mean limiting blog posts to my 2017 Reading Challenge reviews rather than feeling guilty about not posting more regularly (and considering anything I do choose to post as a bonus). It will mean not signing up for challenges like NaNoWriMo. It will mean accepting that I cannot get better by faking being better, but I can take steps to cushion the bad days.
These are not resolutions, these are vague declarations of semi-intent. Happy New Year.