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My Addiction to Being Busy
February 3, 2019

Today is my 31st birthday. I specifically scheduled no work* for my birthday weekend, instead planning a weekend of relaxation.

(*=I work 9-5 during the week as a graphic designer and I’m an author and freelance blogger in my free time.)

I binged Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. I watched a movie. I sewed. I didn’t touch my blog (until this moment) and I didn’t work on any freelance writing stuff. It was nice.

And I have felt guilty for two days. And I even feel guilty for feeling guilty.

Birthdays are a time of reflection. Last year’s reflective birthday blog post was… a bit dark, but this one is about facing a truth about myself: I’m addicted to being busy.

I have a full-time job. I should not feel guilty for not working during the evenings.
I listen to guided sleep meditations because if I don’t have the soothing words of a narrator to focus on, I get too in my own head.

  • I haven’t worked on my novel in months. What if I’m avoiding it because I know deep down the premise isn’t as good as I thought it was?
  • I have those articles to write. What should I write about for those?
  • I haven’t updated my blog in over a week. I should really get on that.
  • I only have two months left to work on my cosplay. What if it’s not as good as I envision it?
  • I wonder how long that new project I’m going to take on after my cosplay is done is going to take more time than I think.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time knows how I jump from project to project, hobby to hobby. I start blogs and then abandon them. I’m always bouncing to the next thing. I think that tendency is related to this problem.

Want to know how messed up my brain is? I just realized my student loan tax papers were available online and I feel guilty I could have done my income taxes this weekend.

They’re not due until April. And it’s my BIRTHDAY.

(Don’t worry. Since writing that sentence I printed off the form so I’ll ready to roll early this week. Aaaaand now “do taxes” is in my schedule. I’M SO MUCH FUN.)

You know those “10 Signs” listicles that show you symptoms of something? I found a bunch for busyiness addiction and I got a lot of the symptoms they list.

  • I’m bad at relaxing.
  • To Do lists are my life.
  • I feel guilty when doing nothing.
  • I get a thrill from a completed checklist while an incomplete one causes me anxiety.
  • I have ambition FOMO.

I’ve been a 9-5 employee for almost eight years and I still feel that tug of wanting to work from home on my own schedule. I’ve done the freelance thing and it didn’t work out. Having a regular 9-5 is probably the healthier option for me. And yet…

I never said this symptom/addiction made sense.

I’m tired. I’m burnt out. I’m tired and burnt out from my own side hustles. For the second year in a row, I cried on my birthday. This year, it started when my patient and darling husband had the audacity to ask me “What’s on your mind?” while we were walking the dog and I was being unusually quiet.

Anxiety, man.

I’m not going to get into the reasons I keep myself so busy because I’m still exploring them but guilt is involved. I have to figure out where all this guilt is coming from and why it creeps into my mind every time I sit down to watch a TV show, whispering in my ear, “You should be doing something productive right now.”

Something has to change. I have to change.

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  1. Kim Hamilton

    You really, really need to have some down time and relax a bit. I knew you wouldn’t be able to sit all weekend and not do something “productive”. Things all have a way of working out and getting done. Even as a younger girl still at home, you seemed to have started this insane “busy” addiction back in grade 11 or 12. Grade 12 for sure. Think back at what you were doing! Maybe you’re not happy unless you’re BUSY!

  2. Tara

    Happy birthday. Remember that your brain actually needs rest time so it can be productive and creative – just look up the resting state network. That and it’s important to be kind to yourself. Anxiety lies. It’s lying to you when it says you should I feel bad.

    I repeat: anxiety LIES. But damn it’s convincing isn’t it?

    I’m just a stranger who spotted your blog on Reddit a while back but I want to say I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling like this. I hope you managed to enjoy your birthday at least a little bit.

    • Jilly

      Thank you, Tara. 🙂 I appreciate that.

  3. Pat

    I’ve been trying to be less anxious this year.
    Typing that, now I feel stupid. I think though that my mindset has been better.
    Not being able to relax and that feeling that you need to be productive instead is very relatable. I’ve tried to not focus too much on the lists/things I need to get done until I know they are actually important. To be honest, I’m still not any more organised.
    In general though, as humans, I don’t think we’re made to be so busy and placing importance on so many things, especially at the same time, but easier said than done. Like I think the older I get I’m realising that no time is really wasted as such.. And there’s definitely no time to waste on regret.
    Happy belated birthday btw 🥳 I’ll be 33 in 5 days.. eep

    • Jilly

      There’s nothing stupid about trying to be less anxious, nothing stupid at all! Mindset is half the battle. The other half are made up of those chemicals in our brains that make things difficult. *hugs bottle of anti-anxiety meds tightly*
      “I’ve tried to not focus too much on the lists/things I need to get done until I know they are actually important.” Yes, this is definitely an issue I’ve been dealing with. My current task management setup in Evernote is really helping. And sometimes I just get to a task and think “Why did I ever put that in here? That’s not going to help me with my goals. DELETE.”
      Happy early birthday to you!


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Jillianne Hamilton writes delightful historical fiction and historical romance featuring rebellious ladies and happy endings.

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Jillianne has done a fabulous job creating a loveable and down-to-earth heroine in Molly Miranda and followed through with a really strong plotline packed full of twists and turns.
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Hamilton handles the story with a deft touch, balancing action, laugh-out-loud zingers and romance with zippy pacing and a character you can really root for.
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