I love blogging. I decided when I started that I would commit to posting once every 8 days for at least a full year. You may be asking, “why not weekly?” In my head, that didn’t feel achievable, whereas for some reason adding an extra day did. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself, or reduce my chance of success. To me, blogging regularly shows commitment. However, as it turns out, blogging isn’t only about chucking some words down on a page and pressing post.
What’s So Overwhelming About Blogging?
I enjoy all the other tasks that go along with running a blog, such as:
- tweaking the theme
- adding plugins
- reviewing Google Analytics
- implementing SEO
Yet in addition, there is still: reading other blogs. Listening to podcasts. Commenting on blogs. Replying to comments on our blog. Contributing to forums. Participating in social media.
Furthermore, each post involves writing the draft, then doing any required research, then polishing, creating graphs, finding pictures, creating a banner, optimising for SEO, running through an editor to improve the style of writing, finding a good heading, adding tags…
After our enforced holiday Christmas shutdown, I returned to work. During the break, I had plenty of time to do each of the above with no pressure at all. Not only that, but I could pursue other interests. Since discovering the FIRE world, there is so much that I have learned, and so much that I still want to learn. But going back to work has severely curtailed my ability to do all that as the mood takes me. Boxing creativity into a set period of time seems to dull it somewhat.
Back to Work – The Overwhelm Sets In
Now I’ve returned to work, I feel overwhelmed. The blogs I want to read are backing up. There are hours of podcasts I haven’t had time to listen to, and I am writing my blog posts in the few days before they are due. None of that even takes into account the other interests I have, or the yearning to build up a second income stream doing something that we love. I’m beginning to feel frantic that I can’t keep up.
Because all this is meant to be fun, I took a step back, and made the hard (for me) decision that it’s OK not to do all the things. I need to focus on what is the most important (writing and publishing my own posts), while some of the other activities will have to get pushed down in the pile. I may never even make the time to get to them (paraphrasing Paula Pant “You can make time to do anything, but not everything”).
Usually I have my routines regarding when I read posts, when I comment, when I log into the Rockstar Finance Forums, when I get on Twitter. I subverted these last week to focus on getting the post written. Every spare piece of time I had, I wrote or researched or created graphs, and I made it. I kept to my commitment. And you know what? It reduced the feeling of overwhelm. Also, it turns out that there wasn’t anyone one out there with a big stick counting the number of blogs I hadn’t read (except the big red counter on my iPad – begone with you!). There was only me. I’m making my own issue, creating my own pressure.
Another disadvantage of trying to maintain the frantic pace is that I can’t keep up with all the good ideas I read about. I mark something as important or interesting to read/ponder/follow-up later, but I never make the time to go back and review it. I’m skimming everything on the surface, not giving myself the time to do self-analysis or deep thinking about a topic. By constantly hurtling forward at breakneck speed, I’m missing out on the chance to read and digest and learn. If I balanced my time better, I would free up some thinking space.
A Change of Mindset
This weekend I went to visit a friend from school. Beforehand I was worried about how I would fit in all my self-imposed tasks if I were away for the whole weekend. Luckily, I woke up to my own crazy thinking, helped by the fact that I want to spend more time with friends and family this year. I decided that I would switch off while we were up there. No blogs. No podcasts. Not thinking about money or FIRE (although once those FIRE glasses are on, it’s difficult to stop seeing through them!) I wanted to be fully present for my friend, and enjoy the time we have together.
Even good habits can become bad if overdone (including FIRE!). There is a fine line between a way of life and an obsession. Blogging and financial independence is turning into an obsession. I have to work on finding some balance between being able to be present and live and enjoy life in the now, and continuing to learn and grow and make plans for our future.
Have I turned the corner and turned into a perfectly balanced individual? Mr. ETT would certainly say no. But at least I’ve taken the first step, which is recognising that I have a problem. Now I have to remind myself to be mindful of my activities. I took the photographs in this post in the Lake Macquarie area last weekend. They show what I would have missed out on if I had given in to my self-inflicted overwhelm and spent the weekend in front of a machine. Why on earth would I have even considered the alternative?
What do you do to combat overwhelm?