Of Burnout and Busyness


"There should be a law that there's a pajama day every few weeks. - Alyson Hannigan"

There’s very little in my life quite so pleasurable as kicking off my shoes and sliding into pajamas after a long day. The comfort of pajamas is like being wrapped in fabric made out of pure peace, relaxation and joy. It signals to some essential sector of my brain that the “performance” portion of my day is over. From the moment I pull on pajamas – sometimes matching, sometimes not – I slowly unravel. Visions of a closed office door, headphones on my ears and words being typed into Scrivener fill my head.

For the past few weeks, while on some back-to-back quests in HabitRPG, I’ve been focused on accomplishing things. Continually adding to the list of what I should / need / want to complete on a given day. It makes me cringe to think of all the pressure I put on myself to achieve that level of productivity. And in the race to keep up with what I assume is “normal”, I almost always end up sacrificing personal satisfaction and peace.

Even on weeks where my body is completely unable to function without downtime, I struggle with the idea that I don’t deserve that hour of writing unless I’ve done something to earn it before or after. This is generally why 90% or more of my task list will be completed before I allow myself to write, even on a perfectly quiet day. Because of this – and probably in part because I am an INFJ – I am notoriously unskilled at preventing burnout. I know all the things I should do: set boundaries, say “no” more, schedule down time – all fine ideas.

Except following through has always been easier said than done. I tend to push myself to work faster, harder, longer until I wipe out and end up wanting to sleep for days. Crawling into bed and falling into a mini-coma for 48 to 72 hours. This “go-go-go!” mentality screams of the Cult of Busyness that seems to have taken hold – particularly, I’ve noticed, with younger women on social media. Where there are countless posts of people bitch-boasting and humble-bragging about how very busy and in-demand they are. All day, every day.

It makes me grind my teeth and growl under my breath whenever someone starts going on about how “busy” they are. Usually pointing the finger of blame at everyone but themselves. I do my best to avoid Chronically Busy People, or at least limit my exposure to them. Mostly because I have a limited bullshit threshold, and over-exposure leads to me saying things I cannot take back. Because when I see someone proudly brandishing the Busy Badge, I don’t see a person I want to spend valueable time with. I see someone who can’t say no, can’t respect their own values or needs, or who needs “busyness” to bolster their own self-worth.

In order to combat falling into the Void of Busyness, I’ve decided to declare today (and yesterday) mandatory pajama days. Whittling my list down to very specific things I want to do to – drink tea, read, write, sleep – and one absolute essential – my supplement routine. They are now tagged with “critical self-care” on HabitRPG, and everything outside that tag will be purposefully be forgotten about until Friday.

Every two months – to start with – I’m going to do my very best to schedule Pajama Days, letting the lists and the Busyness fall down where it may. Allowing myself to savor staying home, drinking tea and things I enjoy – but often take for granted – for a little while. Then, when my regularly scheduled life rolls back around, I’ll pick up the things I value and leave other people’s expectations and (hopefully) some of my own, on the floor.

With the dust bunnies. Where they belong.


Categories: INFJ, Life, Writing
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