The other night on the way home on a casual Monday, I wrote myself a little to do list for that evening. I’d been so busy at the weekend and at work that there was a ridiculous amount of life admin to do and for various reasons it really needed doing that night.
But as I wrote the list I realised how tedious it was that I had to fill my precious, short spare time with such ridiculous things. ‘Shower and dry hair’ even made it on there that night, as I usually leave it to dry by itself (to save time, natch) and obviously this looks rubbish come 7am so I wanted to put some effort in for a meeting. By the time I had finished writing the list I was feeling utterly deflated – off went my hopes of putting my feet up and getting stuck into my new book.
It got me thinking about just how much there is to DO as a woman in 2016. Having it all (or attempting to) has essentially become doing it all, and it’s bloody exhausting.
I’m not suggesting we all stop washing our hair. But at what point is something going to give? Time has become so tight, and as I’ve got older it’s the thing I’m starting to treasure the most; I resent having to use it on commutes and on people who don’t reciprocate their time back when you need it. Time is really all we have, it’s the thing money can’t buy and the thing we are all running out of. So why do we fill it with so much life admin?
Stylist recently reported on the stats that revealed the average 30-year-old woman has just 17 minutes a day to herself. While I’m not sure I’m quite as time-poor as that, it’s not much better – the first 12 hours of my waking day go to commuting and work, which leaves me with about four hours to play with before I’m desperate for sleep. At least half of that goes on the aforementioned life admin, or something else that I feel I ‘should’ be doing.
Here’s everything I could think of that, as a single woman in 2016, I have on my to-do list:
- Watch must-watch TV (on catchup, because who ever gets home on time for it all?)
- Check online dating apps, bang head against wall, repeat
- Go on dates if previous point is successful; most likely waste an evening on someone you’ll never see again
- Read books, magazines and articles by all the brilliant people you follow on Twitter (this could easily be a full time job)
- Blog (I try)
- Have a hobby (it helps with the online dating chat, plus makes you a bit cooler these days)
- Paint nails, go for a wax and other general beauty things (as a beauty journalist, this really has to happen)
- Shower (yep, this has to go on the list now)
- Food shop (worst thing on the list)
- Cook (wait, no, this is the worst thing on the list)
- Have actual chat with flatmates that isn’t just ‘Hi, I’m tired’
- Chat to family so they remember you exist
- Reply to 278 Whatsapp messages, 5 texts, 33 Facebook notifications and 18 messages on Facebook Messenger (why does it have to be a different app?!)
- All the emails, all the time, on three different accounts
- Wash clothes in order to attempt fabulous work outfits
- Shop for clothes that I don’t hate
- Return clothes that you inevitably do hate
- Work out (HAHAHA)
- Do the washing up (there is so much of it. Where does it come from? I don’t even like cooking?)
- Keep an eye on finances and make mental note to get buses more when you see how many Ubers you’ve booked lately
- Catch up with friends who are all in different groups and work different hours just to make it extra fun
- Sleep (remember that?)
- Look up, every so often. Tech neck is a bitch
So without sounding whiney… what about me? As it’s my 30th year (yup, I’m going to take the whole year) I’m trying to give myself a break, be a little more selfish and do a little more of what I love – without, hopefully, pissing anyone off. After last year’s health scare in my family and nearly 8 exciting years of working my arse off in startups, I need to focus on spending my time on making myself feel better, being with the people I love and generally be a better person.
Because doing it all won’t make us the best we can be – it’ll make us the most exhausted, and probably the most grumpy versions of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; I love to say yes to things, to keep busy (my mum always says of me when I was a child: ‘You were very… busy, all the time, always doing something’) and to share those experiences with others. After all, we might not have much time, but we’ll only have it once, so I’m all for making the most of it.
But I’d also love to read all those books stacked up on my bookshelves, to write more, to walk around London more without being in a rush, to not waste my weekends ticking off that admin list in the bank or the Post Office, and just generally to ‘be’. To have time that doesn’t feel like it’s already assigned to something I’m obligated to do. Now *that* is something I’m putting on my to-do list. Who’s with me?