Efficiency and Stress

Yesterday and today I was completely booked. Task followed appointment followed task with very little time to reset in between. That used to be normal, but it hasn’t been my experience for months. It did not take long for me to feel a bit frazzled. I wasn’t overwhelmed, but I could feel the stress in my body as extra resources went into keeping track of what came next and making sure I completed each thing before task switching. Yet I remember having far busier days. I remember the adrenaline feeling of having dozens of things to do and getting them all done. The key words here are “stress” and “adrenaline.” They are hugely important ways that the body shifts to manage whatever life throws at us, but they’re designed for short sprints, not long haul marathons. The low level of stress I felt in my body today was constant in my pre-pandemic life. It was the reason I kept talking about needing to slow my life down, find spaces.

I don’t want to keep the pandemic, nor the barrier it places between people and many of the things we want/need to do. Yet I feel like I gained something from having long empty days. Those long days often were full of anxiety, fear, and thinking. I frequently felt overwhelmed with adapting and the state of the world in general. Yet those stresses felt different in my mind and heart than this thing-after-thing stress. I’ve just now realized that efficiency is a high-energy state. In order to run anything efficiently, energy needs to be spent on maintaining optimization. If I always try to organize my life efficiently, I will run myself ragged, and I will miss out on the serendipitous benefits that come from natural flow. Those long pandemic days let me experience life sans efficiency. I moved through my days mostly without task lists or schedules. I learned that motivation can exist without deadline pressure.

Life is shifting here at Chez Tayler. With Howard’s schedule no longer driven by the daily comic, I’m able to step back and let Howard handle more of his own admin tasks. Perhaps some of the house admin tasks will also shift to him. We don’t know yet. We are both trying to be conscious about what patterns we settle into. As we launch on new creative projects, there are going to be times when I need to be in full project manager mode. I’m going to have days like the past two, where I need to task switch and move efficiently. However I also want to make sure that not all of my days are run that way. I like high energy creative work and I need to have unstructured contemplative time. Having that framework in mind is good as we’re establishing life post-Schlock Mercenary, mid-pandemic, and pre-whatever comes next.