I’m writing this from my desk, where so far today I’ve sent out the Emerald Street email, edited four pieces of work, received a mortgage offer, had a meeting with a freelancer, bought some lunch, organised plans for my birthday and dragged my writer Aisha into a highly amusing (our words) Instagram Story. It’s 1.26pm.
You see, I enjoy getting things done. When I make up my mind about something, I would like it to happen now, preferably yesterday, and never tomorrow. And until now, I saw my insistence on achieving stuff as quite an endearing quality. It’s probably why I started my career as an assistant, and my friends will, on occasion, refer to me as the “fixer” – which, thinking about it, perhaps isn’t the finest nickname. But it’s nice to be thought of as someone who can be relied on to sort things out and sort them quickly. I enjoy the consistency of my ever-busy life; I find it difficult – unsettling, even – to have a quiet, unoccupied mind. Mostly, business means I’m taking control over something, anything, lots of things – and when we live in a world where the daily news cycle seems designed to make regular people like you and I feel powerless, it’s soul-bolstering to achieve stuff. It’s almost a relief.
“I’m just a doer!” I’ll tell myself, as I proceed with any and all of the following: reading the entire plot of a new film because I have no time to get to the cinema; apologising in advance for something I haven’t done yet (quicker than waiting to see if I need to apologise at all); following up on a follow-up email three hours after sending it; texting my friends about absolute nonsense with the confident urgency of someone who has, like, *no* time. They usually read something like these recent thoughts I had on the latest developments in Netflix’s Riverdale:
14:19: I’m not caught up!
14:19: I’m two episodes behind
14:19: So I am VERY intrigued
14:23: Oh lord
14:23: I can’t wait
It’s in my work notebook where this inability to live slowly really crests. Each morning when I get into the office, I look at the list I wrote the day before and write out everything I didn’t get done in a brand new one, as if I’ll somehow manage it all because it’s, I don’t know, a Wednesday. Last year, this turned into an absurd ritual whereby I would make myself feel inadequate, on the daily, because I hadn’t completed tasks that were too long, too important, or – let’s be honest – never a priority in the first place.
I’ll bet you have a version of that list, too. Perhaps it’s when you don’t finish your paperwork, or forget to text a friend back because you were too preoccupied with making your way through the pile. Beating ourselves up has become just another job to tick off.
But this year, I’m going to take a new approach. I’m going to *try* (because that’s all we can ever do, really) to slow down and let things happen around me, at the pace they need to. I have a feeling I might even enjoy it. And so, I’m making another list, a list of all the things I need to do – maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in two weeks’ time. And I’m not going to turn the page until they’re done, whenever that might be
Welcome back. Let’s savour 2018, shall we?