I love productivity. I eat it for breakfast. Recently I’ve hit this odd point in life where everything feels heavy.
I’ve taken on too much and tried to hit too many milestones in a short space of time. This has placed me in a strange phase of life. I’ve got nothing to complain about. Family is good. Money is okay. Work is great.
But I’m simply overwhelmed.
It feels like I’m a concrete statue that can’t move.
None of this should surprise anyone
4 months ago my daughter was born.
She came out of her mommy screaming. She can’t sit still. In the birth room of the hospital, they put her on the scales to be weighed.
She wriggled around and nearly crawled off the scales and onto the floor. At 5 minutes old. The maternal childcare nurse keeps telling us “she’s developing way faster than normal.”
Looking after her is full on. There’s not as much time to write, which produces enormous guilt.
If I stop writing then what will happen? Will my income dry up? Who knows. The nightmare plays in my mind.
I imagine myself having to walk back through the glass doors of the old bank I worked at and begging for a job to clean their toilets and work my way back to the top.
Then I wake up in a sweat and my wife says “are you okay?”
I’m okay. I’m just overwhelmed.
Only a year ago I got married. I have no idea about long-term relationships because I’ve never had one. So I try to treat my wife the best I can. Sometimes I do good, other times I blow up at nothing.
There’s a new challenge I face
I hate debt.
So I recently took out a $1.1M loan to buy my first home. That may sound like a lot of money but in Australia it buys you an off-white shack.
The property settles today and I get the keys. It should be a joyous experience, but because the house was built 1975 there’s a lot of maintenance work that needs to happen.
I’m about as good with a hammer as Elon Musk is at being modest.
So I have to hire tradies to do the work for me. There’s a construction boom in Australia so none of them want to work for less than $50K.
To solve the problem I’ve called in favors. I found a semi-retired guy to help out. He can work but it’s going to be expensive. He’s also a churchy so he probably won’t lie, cheat, and steal from me (I hope).
Normally I wouldn’t care about living conditions. My expectations with living standards is one level above homeless. The walls could be kicked in and I’d probably be fine.
But now I have a baby I have to raise my expectations.
The house has to be safe for her. The one we bought has a toxic smell from the paint on the floor the old owner used to make the house look presentable for sale.
The only solution I can find is to sand off all the floor paint and start again. This is expensive and we have 12 days to complete the job before we get kicked out of our rental.
Once the paint is gone I will have to put carpet down. It’s expensive.
Normally it would be fine, but when you’ve got a massive mortgage every expense is more stressful.
Welcome to homeownership, I guess.
Once all the repairs are done we will move in. Because of the rental crisis in Australia, my in-laws will have to move in with us for a while.
Five people in a tiny shack.
Should be fun. So much for alone time. The in-laws are nice but they don’t speak English. Trying to tell them something simple like “shut the door” is a 30-minute game played with google translate. Sometimes google gets it right. Other times google says the wrong stuff and we get more confused.
In the old days I’d disappear interstate for a month on a holiday to relax the mind. With a newborn baby it’s impossible to do that. A 15-minute car ride is enough for her to transcend into tantrum mode. She doesn’t like travel.
Let’s hope she doesn’t have a fear of flying like her dad.
The final life event I’m dealing with is the task of being active online. Reaching millions of readers each month is great for the ego.
But it’s a huge productivity challenge. I feel like I have to respond to every comment or email because I don’t want to be rude.
So I spend the early hours of every morning doing it. The task never seems to end. As soon as I’m at inbox zero, another email comes in to screw up my perfect score. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. It’s just a lot of work.
I should probably hire a virtual assistant to help.
I meant to get one months ago but I can’t seem to overcome the scarcity mindset I have around outsourcing. In a few more months I’ll have no choice. What I do online will have outgrown me.
If I don’t get some help, I’ll be needing some psychological help.
The compounding nature of overwhelm
Each of these life events on its own isn’t a big deal.
But when they happen in a short space of time they can slowly transition into overwhelm. That’s where I’m at right now.
Many of you reading this have probably felt the same at some point. The only solution I have to overwhelm is to do less.
That might seem crazy.
In the last week I’ve emptied my calendar, ghosted more random people, worked fewer hours, and spent more time napping and exercising.
I have a project list in my daily to-do list. It used to be jam-packed. Now I’ve removed every project and item from my to-do list.
The only item to remain is “move house.”
This simple act has helped a lot. It gives me one activity to focus on so I don’t lose momentum, but also feel like I have a plan.
Once I move house I will think long and hard about what to do about overwhelm going forward. Stay tuned.