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Convincing illusions of chaos and overwhelm

I’ve been bested by conjunctivitis – a theoretically minor infection which has nonetheless thrown me off my rhythm and made everything feel overwhelming. It’s not the fault of conjunctivitis that equilibrium in my life is so easy to disrupt, but I have felt properly disabled these past few days.

I have to use an ointment four times a day which causes me not to see very well for about an hour afterwards. My eyes are itchy and resisting the urge to rub them takes up a lot of my mental resolve. And even when I haven’t just applied the stuff or don’t feel like there’s a spoonful of sand in my eyes, I can’t see clearly. And because I feel so sorry for myself, I’ve indulged in all kinds of non-helpful behaviours involving chocolate, staying up late and blowing off routines.

But today is the last day of it. On the eye redness scale of Normal – Just Had a Good Cry – Pulled an All-Nighter – Voldemort, I’ve come down to Just Had a Good Cry, and may look normal tomorrow.

The toddler with his comfort animal du jour.

I’m intrigued by the feeling of overwhelm, however. It’s mostly subjective – a few things have maybe fallen into disrepair but basically Everything Is Going Fine (my comfort mantra of late). But because I’ve felt out of sorts and out of rhythm, there’s a sense of huge quantities of stuff floating around me and not being able to get a hold of any of them. I feel like cataloguing everything and classifying it into buckets. Something like 1) really have to do 2) vague sense of obligation but not actually expected by anyone 3) ideas 4) other.

I don’t think it would be helpful in reality to do that exercise. What Cal said the other day about productivity systems equating to busywork has got to me a bit and at the back of my mind I now question some of the things I do. Do I have a weekly review practice because it really helps me to stay on top of things or because it calms the feeling of overwhelm? And if the latter, are there better ways to do that? Is it a mental switch that I can pull and decide to not be bothered about? And use the time to knit, watch TV and read books?

Damn you Cal.


  1. Tulara Tulara 13 October 2022

    I think the answer to the productiveness of personal organisation is that everyone’s brain is a bit different. If organisation calms overwhelm (it certainly does for me regardless of whether things Go To Plan) then it will only every help productivity! Otherwise there’s too many threads to hold and context switching always slows things down. Perhaps cal has less need to be multithreaded

    • Meri Meri 13 October 2022

      That’s a good point. But what if there’s a ‘pro’ level where you could just recognise that, yes, organising makes you feel better, but it’s not the best use of your time so you just get on with it instead? I just don’t understand how those pros do it, if they don’t spend at least a bit of time collating everything they have to do and thinking through when they are going to do it. Clearly I’m stuck at the amateur level…

      Cal has really messed with my core beliefs!

  2. Tulara Tulara 13 October 2022

    There was a winky face at the end of that ;p

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