Complaints · DISCUSS.

Brownout & Beige Sofas (I’m taking a mini-break)

I’m thinking of taking a holiday. But you already had a giant holiday in Asia, you can’t just live on holiday! Not that sort of holiday (although Southend Airport has announced flights to Malta, so if you hear about me making any bad financial decisions, it will involve a payday loan and a budget flight to Valletta). Since I got home I’ve been on a job-searching-life-affirming-I-will-spend-my-days-doing-things-I-love-let’s-have-a-fresh-start mission, and so far it’s gone pretty well. I have two internships, new hair – well, new colour in my hair – fewer ugly clothes in my wardrobe and a new car. Taking a break from my Etsy really helped me get some perspective and it’s doing better than ever. There’s loads of freshness! New things! New me!

Except this afternoon I trudged back from town wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms that really should not leave the house, and I felt exactly the same as I did when I was freelancing. I was still worrying about my bank balance, I was still working eleven hour days and sleeping through alarms. I had the precise feeling that made me go to Asia and look for a fresh start in the first place. The only way I can describe it is that it’s the emotional equivalent of a beige sofa. There is nothing wrong with a beige sofa. Plenty of people are very happy with beige sofas. I’m just never going to willingly own a beige sofa. It’s fucking beige.

Now my savings are gone and because I’m refusing to do anything that isn’t relevant to my career interests, the internships are all I’ve got for the moment; I’m earning a lot less than I was before I went travelling. I should mention that the eleven hour days are entirely my own fault – since I still have so much free time I’m putting together a business plan for my shop and swapping banks doing all the behind-the-scenes business shit that I might not have time for in a few months. So although everything is pointing in the right direction, I’m still pressed for cash and stressing out about it. I’ve even started stressing out about stressing out, which is a new low.

I read that there’s a thing people get called ‘brownout’. Unlike burnout, which is a recognised condition, brownout is what they’re calling it when you’re technically fine – you’re putting in the hours, you care, you’re miles away from a breakdown – but you’re overwhelmed and disengaged. Even though you’re checking your email 8000 times a day and #poweringon, you’re not actually getting that much done. Apparently technology and a change in work patterns since the recession is to blame. Wonderful.

I think I’ve got a touch of brownout. In retrospect think I might have had reoccurring bouts of it over the years, but you can’t really beg time off work because you’re feeling a little lethargic. Also, I love to work. I could spend all day working on my Etsy listings or drafting blog posts or whatever. I’ve got an empire to build and a new car to pay for and I will see you tomorrow at 8am!

Back to the holiday. Regardless of whether or not I’ve just diagnosed myself with a problem that may or may not actually exist, I think I need to rethink my working practises. The empire won’t get built if I’m too busy thinking about how I don’t want my life to be a beige sofa. Even with all the free time, I’m not writing that much more than I was before I went away. I’m still struggling for blog ideas and wearing ghastly tracksuit bottoms. This was not part of the plan. So this weekend and next week I’m going to take a mini-holiday. I’m going to turn off my pointless alarms, see my family at my cousin’s 21st and decide how I want to proceed with the empire building. I think I might start with an out-of-hours notice on my email accounts and an app that blocks Twitter after 9pm.

Has anyone else experienced this? Do you have any tips? I’ve never kept hours before. What are normal hours? HELP. I’ll get back to you, um, within two-to-three working days?!