Ruth Spencer: Time is of the essence

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Research says that the nagging stress of having a bunch of little things to do can take six years off your life.  Photo / Getty Images
Research says that the nagging stress of having a bunch of little things to do can take six years off your life. Photo / Getty Images

You're so busy. So busy! Sometimes you're not even actually doing anything, but the sheer weight of all the things you could be doing crushes you like a bag full of wet, unfinished crochet projects.

Research says (and just go with me on this, you're too busy to fact check) that the nagging stress of having a bunch of little things to do can take six years off your life. While that might sound like a blessed release from six more years of cleaning the cat's litter box, you deserve better.

Take a lesson from the world of big business. No, not killing orangutans or inventing delicious poisons that come with fries, but outsourcing.

Consider Facebook. You're probably considering it right now in another tab, or it's open on your phone while you get your brunch egg all over this page. How much time and energy could you free up if you never went on it? Get a social media intern to bookmark amusing cat gifs, heart pictures of your cousin's baby, and send cake emojis to all the birthdays. You don't need to take that quiz to find out which Celtic Goddess you are.

The answer is always none of them.

Don't thank me. Save it for your gratitude journal, that litany of positivity you keep by your bed so you can forget to write in it. Do you get a surge of failure-guilt at the thought of its blank, thankless pages? There are only so many days in a row you can write "I'm grateful for my job" while your brain fills in the rest of the sentence "except for my boss, and the work I do, and the actually going there part". Outsource your gratitude by finding someone a little worse off than yourself and have them write down all the things you should be thankful for. Maybe you really are #blessed, after all. Then again if they're coming up with entries like "not currently under a curse" or "lack of cholera", go ahead and be ungrateful.

In fact, hand over all your self-improvement to an assistant. Technically this means it's no longer self-improvement, but you're too busy to care. Have your intern lie on your Shakti mat when you just can't face 20 more minutes of pain in a day that's turning out to be a 24-hour pain marathon. Have them do a few downward dogs, eat a probiotic or do some oil-pulling. Make them drink a green smoothie, preferably after they spit out the oil, or some mindful colouring-in so your partner stops mocking your $30 colouring book. Your harried brain may find new clarity with all these tasks cleared from your schedule, and a sense of calm may be reached in the zen of being free to have wine and chips in front of Graham Norton.

Don't let your assistants near the wine though. That's your wine. If you're so busy you're tempted to outsource your joys, cut down on what you're trying to achieve. Forget Eat Pray Love; it's Eat Shower Cope, and that's good enough for today.

- Canvas

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