Games you can’t win


I read this article, Stop being busy by Oliver Burkeman (who I rate quite highly) some weeks ago and like all good articles, it has had me thinking.

We live in a world where busy is either glorified (have you had a conversation lately where someone doesn’t say – “things are just so busy!” or similar?) or crucified.

I am busy, busier than I’ve ever been actually.  Part-time work, full-time Mama, being a good partner to my darling Mr, chief cook, cleaner, study, the craft biz, exercise, extend family time, time with friends, even things like this blog….that’s let alone carving out space to think and be and do the things I enjoy like read.  I asked a friend yesterday if it’s even possible to achieve all these things without exhaustion setting in…it’s not of course. Not unless I can clone myself or stop time to catch up. Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning faster than the world itself is.

Of the book he reviews in the article, Burkeman says:

Most time management advice rests on the unspoken assumption that it’s possible to win the game: to find a slot for everything that matters. But if the game’s designed to be unwinnable, Schulte suggests, you can permit yourself to stop trying. There’s only one viable time management approach left (and even that’s only really an option for the better-off). Step one: identify what seem to be, right now, the most meaningful ways to spend your life. Step two: schedule time for those things. There is no step three. Everything else just has to fit around them – or not.

This idea that the “game” is unwinnable though is new to me. I had previously thought if I were organised enough I would find the time to fit it all in….but it’s just not possible and I was setting myself up to fail in thinking that way.

The word I wanted to focus on this year was “peace”. And in so doing, what I really meant was avoiding overwhelm and accepting things for what they are.  In finding this advice and letting it sit I’m realising that the peace is going to be found, for me, in the “or not” stuff.  The real challenge for me is in stopping the guilt or the “should” feelings when the “or not” happens.

There’s more though….isn’t there always? Recently, Mr 5 and I have been chatting about how it’s important to run our own race, be the best version of ourselves we can be and not worry about what others are doing.  Like all good advice we give our children, it’s the truth but not quite as easy as that. And then, reading Dr Seuss together the other night, we read the quote pictured above….he said to me, “I think I understand Mama, we never really win the game do we? We just have to keep trying harder to make ourselves better, forever don’t we?”

Games we can’t win cos we play against ourselves. There’s no scorecard beyond what our internal voice tells us and we may as well stop worrying about the “or not” right?

4 thoughts on “Games you can’t win

  1. Megan Blandford (@MeganBlandford)

    Gosh, this is hard to come to grips with – that we don’t have time for everything. I’m in the middle of trying to set more realistic expectations of myself, for me and for the people I do work for, so I needed to read this today. Thanks lovely. x

    1. catbeloverly Post author

      It’s REALLY hard!!! I’m not wired this way naturally at all. I think all the harder as we both have a lot of things we want to achieve. X

  2. Nina D

    I love this post so much. That Dr Suess was very wise! It’s hard to be everything you “want” in the time we have without going mad from the trying.


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