Who needs spare time? Not me.

Photo Credit: Talha Qadir
Photo Credit: Talha Qadir
Photo Credit: Talha Qadir

Hello, my name is Tessa, and I’m a workaholic.

That might not sound like such a big deal, or even something very negative. But being able to admit this to myself recently has given me a new perspective on how I spend my time, and has gotten me thinking about how I might be able to work towards working less.

In the past, I would always justify my heavy workload as a result of having trouble saying ‘no’ to people, or I would tell myself that I needed to work more for the money, or because I was just ambitious and driven. But I have since realized that this is not what it’s about.

It seems that I just like to be busy. I’m learning to acknowledge it, control it, and accept that it’s just the type of person I am. Some people much prefer to stay at home, watch lots of TV, and have all their evenings and weekends free of any formal plans. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve always been drawn to fill my time as much as I can.

One side effect of this sort of compulsion is that I have trouble relaxing — I mean fully relaxing. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a ‘to-do’ list hanging over my head, and I am always considering how to squeeze tasks in between other tasks until I have no room left to breathe.

I always consider how to squeeze tasks in between other tasks until I have no room left to breathe.

There are definitely upsides to this. I have learned how to be efficient and use my time wisely, but I’ve also realized that I tend to plan out every moment of my day, filling my time with so many activities that there isn’t time left for all the little things that I keep meaning to do “in my spare time.”   

Another upside is that I’m never bored. There are always things to do, and as an only child, I’ve always been good at finding things to occupy my time.

I used to always tell myself that after this semester, or after this assignment, my time would clear up. As soon as this particular task is out of the way, I’ll be free and life will be great. After a while I’ve come to the conclusion that, while those thoughts keep me motivated, they are untrue.

Other things always seem to fill those spaces in my schedule, and that’s just fine. I don’t need everyone to understand why I’m a part-time student with a full-time job, a part-time job, and many other projects on the go simultaneously. It’s worked so far, and becoming more aware of how I allocate my time will help to make sure I save time for myself and those I care about. 

Ultimately, as long as I can keep myself in check and don’t overdo it, and as long as I still enjoy what I’m doing, I’ve learned it doesn’t matter if I have a crazy schedule, and it most certainly doesn’t matter if others think so.