Working on planes

Checking typos in this blog in between flights

It’s 6pm on a Sunday. I’m on a flight to Brussels and while I watch Netflix grasping my phone between my legs, and balance a pack of KLM snacks in my other hand, try to finish a report for work as well as looking over the blog of a volunteer — it strikes me that even though I am 22 000 feet in the air, not much is different.

Were I home, I would be doing the same. I would be balancing pings on Whatsapp, watching TV while I edit someone’s blog, write my own blog and keep an eye on what’s cooking at the same time.

Just before I boarded the flight, I was delayed at the security check point because my lipgloss had rolled out of the plastic security bag. With me, were 50 others who stood in line, shouting over the staff. While I was waiting for my bag to get checked, I received messages from someone who I was advising via Chayn. As I ran to my gate reading her messages, I got a received an email about the event I was going to Brussels to attend and they needed me to answer right away. Looks like a scene right out of a movie showing a busy bee independent woman who manages to hold all the ropes but then loses them all, has a meltdown, realises she should spend more time with her kids and finds a man that solves all of her problems. That’s not me.

I digress. So, I’m sitting on the plane, balancing my mobile, laptop and KLM snacks.

The truth is that I will be doing none of these tasks well, and in time but when I post about this on facebook or Instagram (a classy coffee shot with productive to do list checked off), I will get praise for being a ‘super woman’ and ‘productive on a Sunday’. My status update will make some of my friends think that they should be doing more with their weekends and others will nod thinking they’re in the same boat. But there are those that will look at this and think ‘but it’s a sunday!’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’. You might call them lazy. But they’re not. These are the winners! They have managed to see past the cloud of neoliberalism and recognise what rest days are supposed to be: days where you rest.

Multi tasking takes a physical and psychological toll. What is the true cost of us juggling far more than we need to? Stress. Lack of sleep. Poor quality of work. Less time with friends and family. Fatigue.

For me fatigue is the worst. It’s so much more than just being tired.

Many people of us don’t have a choice. We need to work extra because we’re trying to keep our families afloat financially. When I talk about multi tasking, I’m not talking about you.

Two years ago, I was working. And running Chayn. And also co-running EmpowerHack. I was not a happy person to be around, though I was labelled ‘productive’. To ensure I did not miss my deadlines and helped others make theirs, I tricked my brain to work 16 hour days by splitting my laptop screen and watching Netflix in one half of the screen. Tricking my brain to think I wasn’t ‘really working’ was the level of emotional, physical and mental baggage. This was unsustainable. I stopped after 1 and half year and it has done wonders for my mental health. I still struggle but it’s nothing compared to the nights my eyes would water from fatigue as I would finish 3 hour calls at 10pm only to work another 4 hours to catch up more work.

But I digress.

So I’m sitting on the plane waiting for the KLM crew to take the empty snack wrapper away so I can put my phone next to the laptop. My legs were tired. As I write this blog on the laptop, the two Indian women sitting next to me look at me with admiration.

“Look at this girl with her laptop and headphones! Working on the plane.”

And all I want to say is ‘No, this is not good.’ I should be chit chatting like you or just watching TV.

So what do you think I did? Did I put down the laptop and continue watching the *flawed* Marco Polo or did I continue writing this?