Let’s start with a few quick questions…
Have you ever had one of those days where you need to get about a MILLION things done and you wake up with a burning passion to smash it all out, only to get to about halfway through the day and realise you’ve spent most of your time tackling other “things” that get in the way (kids, chores, life admin)?
Or what about a beautiful sunny Sunday that you spend outdoors relaxing with family and you spend the entire time thinking about how you actually should be getting a head start on meal prepping and planning for the week?
Or finally, have you ever thought to yourself “I should working right now” whilst relaxing and then thought “I’m tired, I should be relaxing” when you were working?
Say yes to any of the above? Well then you’ve experienced the phenomenon I like to call “Time-Guilt”. What is that you ask? Well the number 1, new age, first world problem facing all of us right now.
No, I kid.
But seriously, Time-Guilt is the term I use to describe any moment that I am using my time to do one thing but feel a deep, dark feeling of unavoidable guilt for not using my time in a different way.
Anytime I’m sitting at work several hours after knock-off time trying to smash out just a little bit more work and I’m feeling guilty for not going home and having a much-needed date night with my boyfriend – that’s Time-Guilt. Anytime I’m heading out for drinks with friends on a Saturday and I’m feeling intensely guilty that I didn’t choose to stay home and put in a few extra, much-needed hours on my business – that’s Time-Guilt. Anytime you are feeling guilty for using your time a certain way, that’s Time-Guilt. And Time-Guilt is bloody toxic. Once you start experiencing Time-Guilt, it seems like you are going to keep on experiencing it in a downward spiral of anxiety that just never stops! It sucks the joy out of activities that you love, it slows down your productivity, and it makes simple tasks seem monumental.
Even as I write this, I can see how dramatic I must be coming across about Time-Guilt. I suppose it’s because this is something that has affected me a lot over the last twelve months. In trying to do my absolute, perfectionist best at everything, I’ve spun myself right round into a feeling of not being able to accomplish anything. The worst part is, sometimes I find myself feeling like completely incapalble and end up wasting valuable work time worrying, stressing, and not really accomplishing anything… which brings on it’s own feelings of Time-Guilt and how I’ve neither worked nor relaxed and should feel guilty about that. What. A. Rollercoaster.
Well Emma, is there a cure? I hear you ask. Honestly, I’m not sure, but I’m damn well working on it. It is certainly something I’m going to be writing about more in the future, because, the thing about Time-Guilt is that it seems to disappear the more you discuss it. It’s hard to feel guilty about spending quality time with your family (instead of catching up on emails) when you articulate exactly what it is you liked about spending time with your loved ones. And any extra hours spent working on your side-hustle instead of staying out late partying are well worth it, so no need to feel guilty there. Time-Guilt festers in that dark part of our mind that also likes to remind us that we’re “not good enough”. So the first step I always take, when feeling this way, is to talk to another person about how I’m feeling. Along the same lines, journalling is also a great way to dispel any feelings of Time-Guilt.
So now that you’ve read about Time-Guilt, have you experienced it? Do you have a unique way of dealing with it? How do you support a loved one who is feeling this way?
This is just the first part of a series of blog posts on Time-Guilt so stay with us as we unpack it further.
Until next time,