Abundant Life | Manifestation Affirmations

Adrian chiles Show caption Rush hour … since enjoying having time on our hands in lockdown, it’s now a precious commodity again. Photograph: d3sign/Getty Images/Posed by models
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Every day I go to bed thinking tomorrow I will finally get everything I need to do finished. But each night I retire to bed defeated. Something needs to change

Wed 12 Jan 2022 16.48 GMT

There was a time not long ago when we had plenty of time; now there’s too much to do. Lockdowns dragged on for ever when we were in them but feel shorter as they edge further into the past. I have heard lockdowns described – often by the kind of people who protested they were unnecessary – as a middle-class luxury. This made me feel even worse about how much I was enjoying the whole experience while so many people’s circumstances made it unbearable for them.

What I was luxuriating in was time. I had time to sit, time to read, time to cook, iron, doze, exercise, garden and all the other things I can never normally fit in. Once I had done all those things, and added in some new hobbies – darts, language learning, etc – I was at risk of running out of time all over again, ironically. But I wrested back control; I knew I had to because the preciousness of time had become clear to me.

Now, though, despite my best efforts at buttressing, the dam has burst; the demands on my time have come flooding through. The watery metaphor is apt, surely, because inundated is the word we often use to describe our workload when it’s overwhelming us.

There are so many people to see, jobs to do, places to visit; so much work to prepare for, stuff to write, food to cook. Please don’t think for a minute that I’m doing any of these things well. I’m not. I’m just doing more things worse.

Each evening I retire to bed convincing myself, based on no evidence whatsoever, that tomorrow will be the day I finally get everything I need to do done – and done well. I set my alarm to go off ever earlier to give myself a little more, yes, time. Each morning starts promisingly enough with the compiling of a list of jobs. The task at the top of the list is attacked with some gusto and may even be completed. The next few tasks will be started but not finished, as time to get on with subsequent tasks seems to be running out. By midday, entirely new tasks appear on the list; by mid-afternoon several plates are spinning and smashing and being replaced; by late afternoon, the dozens of jobs under way are all unfinished and others haven’t been started at all; by early evening, defeat has to be acknowledged and the white flag is run up the flagpole. Exhausted, I spend a couple of hours expending what little energy I have left on self-flagellation. Then to bed, in preparation for the following day’s brave new dawn.

I am told that one solution is to dispense with the mundane stuff and really prioritise. But the mundane stuff is my only refuge. The last couple of days have been typical. I am helping my brother with some building work. He would say “helping” rather than helping. At the same time I have had several pieces to write; hungry mouths to feed; shows to prepare for; and other unforeseen stuff seeping in by text and email. I was tasked to demolish a low wall but, after a couple of hits, got distracted by something, put the lump hammer down, and couldn’t find it again. I was switched to clearing-up duties but lost first one set of gloves then another. Going back into the house to look for some more, in my efforts to remove a wellington boot, I pulled a hamstring. I limped past the ironing board and saw that some needed doing. For the only time all day, dealing with one T-shirt, four handkerchiefs and several tea towels, the prospect of real happiness loomed. But my reverie was interrupted by my brother hammering on the window, enquiring, in industrial language, what on earth I was playing at, which was a fair question. And so, the ironing too remained unfinished. It’s time something changed.

  • Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist












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