Eff Cramming (a.k.a. In Defense of Playtime)

It seems like everywhere I look there’s a person, product or program telling me how to cram more stuff into my day.

How to get up at the crack of dawn so that I can have more hours to workworkwork.

Or how to burn through my to-do list faster, better and sexier than ever before.

Or how to rip through my inbox like someone knee deep in the middle of a meth binge.

Or how to stand on one leg and juggle whatever I’m doing so that I can stuff more work into every hour of every day.

And, seriously, I’ve hit a saturation point with all of this.

I heart working smart

It’s not that I mind productivity stuff.

Not at all. In fact, I’m a big fan.

Because knowing how to work smart is awesome.

And knowing how to get the stuff done that you need to get done without losing your shit rocks muchly.

What doesn’t rock is the sometimes not-so-subtle suggestion that I should be cramming more stuff into my day.

That it’s normal. And smart. And just how things are done.

And so naturally I should want to do it this way.

And that if I don’t I’m either thick, lazy or nuts.


Eff it

My answer to all of that?

Eff cramming.

Eff trying to jam as much busyness into my day as I can before my head explodes.

Eff falling into the trap of thinking that getting something done fast is more important than feeling good while doing it.

Eff buying into the idea that being able to rock my to-do list or blitzkrieg through my email is somehow related to my worth as a person.

Eff believing that pushing myself ‘til I puke is proof of my dedication, passion or drive.

Eff. Cramming.

Can I get a witness?

Does any of this sound familiar?

Because I keep hearing from people who are as sick of cramming as I am.

People totally over pushpushpush being their norm.

So I’m putting my foot down.

For myself. And for anyone else ughed out by cramming.

A manifesto. With bubbles. And bike rides.

I’m invoking the holy name of Joey Ramone. And summoning the powers of all things punk rock.

I say it’s time for a revolution.

A revolution of thought. And action.

A revolution of relationship. With ourselves. And our world.

A revolution not just against the idea of cramming, but a revolution in defense of space. And breathing room. And playtime.

A revolution where we are at least as dedicated to lounging around as we are to launching stuff.

Where we schedule in time to blow bubbles. Or ride a bike. Or watch the birds.

Where we regularly say to someone, Sorry, I have to get off the phone now. It’s playtime.

Where we get that adding in pockets of do-nothing-ness into our day isn’t just nice, but essential.

Where we adopt looking at clouds and listening to our favorite music in our pajamas as our new super secret strategy for productivity.

Where looking at gorgeous art or eating delicious food or hanging out in a beautiful place is how we refill and recharge for our next round of awesome.

Where it becomes not just ok, but a matter of policy, to end our work day early when we need to fill up, chill out or just veg.

Eff responsibility? Uh, no.

I’m not saying we should slack off or set fire to responsibility.

I just think it’s crazy smart to seriously cut ourselves some slack.

And to be as responsible to ourselves as we are to our clients and our inboxes and our to-do lists.

And trust me. I’m not saying that it’s easy to say eff cramming.

Simple, yes. But not easy.

I get that.

I get that life is moving faster than ever before. And that we all have plates that are piled to the ceiling with stuff to do.

And I get how easy it is to work ourselves into the ground. Whether we work for ourselves. Or someone else. It really doesn’t matter.

I get how easy it is to give in to the anxiety. That tension that hangs out just below the surface of your inner bits. Whispering in your ear about how badly things will go if you don’t keep pushing. And how taking a break, even for a second, would be career suicide.

So I totally get how scary it can be to even think about easing up.

And I also get how much you want to do your Thing. Because you love it. And it’s awesome. And you want to give it wings. And get it out there in the world.

I get all of that.


The revolution is here… and it’s embossed!

But consider this an invitation to say eff cramming.

A gold embossed invite. Printed on fancy pants paper. With a matching envelope. And a stunning likeness of Joey Ramone emblazoned across the front.

The revolution has begun.

Your presence is requested.

You are cordially invited to get off the crazy train and get back to gorgeous.

Eff cramming.

Please RSVP with a fist pump and a rousing hell yeah!

No leaping required

And if leaping headlong into eff-cramming-ness feels too scary, it’s totally ok not to leap.

Just think about leaping. Or stepping. Or even just dipping your toe in.

Any baby step you take in that direction rocks.

Because, seriously, in all of the bajillions of sound sessions that I’ve done, I’ve never ever had one single person come to me because they want to find a way to cram more work into their day.

Everyone I work with and talk to and hang out with wants more awesome in their life.

Cramming isn’t the way to make that happen.


If you want more awesome to show up, you have to leave room for it. You have to give it somewhere to go. Some wide open space that it can settle into.

Think about your very favorite song in the world.

You might love the singer. Or the guitar track. Or the drums.

But what makes the song a song is the space between the notes. The gaps where every bit of gorgeousness can be heard.

Silence. Space. Breathing room.

That’s what makes the music.

A song without silence is just one big cacophony of sound.

A life without playtime and downtime and youtime is just one big pile of suck.

So I say ¡Viva la Revolución!

Care to join me?

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27 Responses to Eff Cramming (a.k.a. In Defense of Playtime)
  1. Katie Schroth
    March 10, 2010 | 8:35 am

    I love what you shared. It just makes so much sense.

    A couple of years ago I began “walking” in a local reserve at noon. That is such a highlight of my day, especially when things get nuts in the office.

    Yesterday I got back to the office and mentioned that the new handicapped accessible swing at the pond was done. I was bemoaning the fact that you will no longer be able to look down while swinging and see the frogs and fish in the water as the swing is set back a bit. Someone looked at me kind of funny and said I thought you walked every noon. Like really walking – walking for exercise.

    I laughed and said that I walk to the swing and sit!

    But you know that feeds my inner me. Great exercise I think!

    Thanks for sharing some really great advice.

  2. Abby
    March 10, 2010 | 8:44 am

    So good, thank you so much! This was totally what I needed to read while feeling beaten down after again taking on too much. This helps me on my path to work less and just “be” more. Thanks again, Fabeku, for the reminder.

  3. Sulwyn
    March 10, 2010 | 10:20 am

    Thanks for the reminder… I’m stuck where I am sick enough to not be able to cram much into my day, but feeling guilty about the time I am being forced to take as I sit or lay around building my dreams and preparing to launch out when I am once again able. There is so much guilt out there over not being constantly on the go and uber-productive that it makes it difficult to remember that productivity can happen even if it doesn’t look like it on the outside!
    .-= Sulwyn´s last blog ..Wishcasting Wednesday – No =-.

  4. Cairene
    March 10, 2010 | 11:21 am

    Happily RSVP-ing to your invitation to join the revolution:

    HELL yeah!

    .-= Cairene´s last blog ..Clearing My Circles of Influence =-.

  5. Sarah
    March 10, 2010 | 11:49 am

    Right on! Sign me up.

    For me, I think a lot of the pressure towards cramming is about deserving, as in, if I’m not cramming, I don’t deserve to have the things I want. Ugh!

  6. Ana
    March 10, 2010 | 12:29 pm

    Hell yeah! :: fist pumping wildly in air ::
    Thank you for this very very important life reminder.

  7. Shawna R. B. Atteberry
    March 10, 2010 | 12:46 pm

    ::fist pump:: HELL YEAH!

    Thank you for saying something I’ve been thinking of for last four years.
    .-= Shawna R. B. Atteberry´s last blog ..Writing Is NOT for the Wimpy of Heart =-.

  8. Julia
    March 10, 2010 | 1:06 pm

    I’m RSVPing! And then I’m going for a bike ride. Hell Yeah!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Crowning Glory =-.

  9. Wulfie
    March 10, 2010 | 1:58 pm


    Everything you said is true. I don’t have a business to run or anything like that; I’m working up to it. And from all the sites and people I know who are running their businesses I’m always astounded by how many people are actually too busy running the business to actually DO their business. It makes the person less present for what they’re actually trying to do. Less present to listen and be aware. That makes absolutely no sense.

    So yeah, Hell yeah.

  10. Rachael
    March 10, 2010 | 2:04 pm

    I AM SO IN. And I feel better already. 🙂

  11. Julie Jordan Scott
    March 10, 2010 | 2:35 pm

    Yes! Yes! Yes…

    or is that better stated with a FIST PUMP – Hell, yeah!!

    I saw the Ramones in concert oh, what – ten years ago? Or more? More. Loved every minute, even as I was probably one of the oldest people there.

    Hell, YEAH!
    .-= Julie Jordan Scott´s last blog ..Wordful Wednesday: Adventures in….. what? =-.

  12. Lisa Baldwin
    March 10, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    Spaciousness! Dude. I’m so in.

    Adding my hell-yeah and my pumping-of-the-fist. And maybe even a boo-ya or two.

    .-= Lisa Baldwin´s last blog ..Hush =-.

  13. Josiane
    March 10, 2010 | 5:15 pm

    Hell yeah, you can count me in!

    I seem to be unable to get a lot done in a day; it’s hard, and it makes me sad. On the other hand, I really can’t see how I could cram in more stuff, and pushing myself isn’t an option. I need spaciousness and breathing room. What I need to work on is filling my days with what really matters, and only that – and that includes playtime, of course! I have some serious inner spring cleaning to do, though, in order to free myself up of the busyness that doesn’t support me, and make space for the gorgeous things that do support me. That will indeed be revolutionary!
    (By the way, thank you for providing me with a terrific tool to help with the inner spring cleaning – the help was, and still is, much needed.)
    .-= Josiane´s last blog ..A (huge!) shift in perspective =-.

  14. elizabeth
    March 10, 2010 | 8:32 pm

    Hell yeah! I am so in.
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..my puppy, my heart =-.

  15. Michelle
    March 11, 2010 | 12:06 am

    Fabuku, you moved me to tears with this. Seriously. Because I’ve been dealing with cramming all day long. (And all week long, and oh, for the past eight years.)

    And tonight after the many hours of proofreading and then the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, the store, the post office, returning phone calls and emails, updating my schedule, making dinner, and doing the house work, I sat down to write a post and found myself fah-reaking out because I was just. too. tired. to do any creative work.

    And how sad is that?

    It’s time. Time to say eff cramming and renegotiate Things.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..How to Write a Product or Service Description that Gets More People to Buy your Stuff =-.

  16. Dave
    March 11, 2010 | 6:57 am

    R.S.V.P. –> I’m in!

    I’ll bring Nachos and beanbags for everybody to flop on.

    I loved reading this Fabeku. Life is already crammed enough, it doesn’t need me to try and pile more in there. I’ve also found that the more I try to cram the less actually gets done, and what does get done feels a bit crappy and lifeless.

    The whole reason I’m trying to do my own thing is so I get to say no to cramming and build space in my life for what matters.

    I’m a recovering leap-into-it-guy, but now I’m trying to learn the art of floating into things. It’s much easier on the nerves and doesn’t hurt when you land.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..6 Impossible Things: #1 Rose Ladder =-.

  17. Suzanne
    March 11, 2010 | 8:48 am

    YOU, are truly my hero my friend, brother!!!
    I love this and it needed to be spoken a while ago! and well now it has!
    I really just don’t get the whole gotta get, gotta do, gotta plan thing. Hell even in the world of the stay at home mothers/fathers it is a race and competition to see how can juggle 2 (or 10) kids activities. bake a batch of cookies for the school trip, organize the 7th grade talent show,…blahblah. And for WHAT!? Ya don’t get me on this tangent!
    I am sooooo glad to hear you speak up I take your invitation and I say ¡Viva la Revolución!

  18. Peggy
    March 11, 2010 | 9:09 am

    I made your Eff Cramming my thought for the day and passed it on to my family and friends. Seems like we all do that every day so I thank you.

  19. Jess
    March 11, 2010 | 10:33 am

    I am *SO* with you. You’ve put into words a thought I’ve been tasting a lot lately. And this post has just found it’s place on my calendar for regular re-reading reminding… the only other blog post that’s ever had a spot like that on my calendar is a similarly-styled thought shared by Charlie Gilkey:

    You Are Not A Robot!

    Much gratitude and appreciation for your rocking-space-creating-have-some-fun-in-life post, Fabeku!

  20. Nate Novgrod
    March 11, 2010 | 11:49 am


    Sorry [it said my single amen comment was too short]

  21. Tracy
    March 11, 2010 | 5:28 pm

    Thank you for this. Especially the bit about needing to make space for the stuff you want more of. Because otherwise it’s like inviting a friend to dinner but not setting him/her a place at the table–not very welcoming.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..On Mark-Making: Post-It Notes from the Universe =-.

  22. chris zydel
    March 11, 2010 | 6:58 pm

    Right on, my semi-burned out creative brother….. right ON!!! *madly fist pumping while jumping up and down to “I Want To Be Sedated”*.
    .-= chris zydel´s last blog ..Love The Muse You’re With =-.

  23. floreta
    March 16, 2010 | 11:52 am

    i’m totally on this train!
    there was a really interesting article i read about animals and play and how play is NECESSARY for species, including humans. actually, i think it was a TED speech now that i think about it. point being, play helps us stay creative which helps us stay productive!! it’s totally win win.
    .-= floreta´s last blog ..The Interview, and How I Will Shave My Head and Practice Depravity Whilst Writing Erotica at a Holy Place =-.

  24. Fabeku
    March 16, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    I love that this struck a chord with so many of you. Hell yeah! And rock on!

    @Katie – Your “walking” story made me laugh. Like the real out loud kind vs the LOL kind. And big woots to feeding your inner bits!

    @Abby – I’m glad the timing was good for you! And I wish it weren’t so easy (for all of us) to take on too much.

    @Sulwyn – First, sorry about the sick. I hope you’re feeling better. And second, sorry about the guilt that comes from resting. If it helps, you have complete and total permission to not be productive at all. And to rest as much and for as long as you need. Really.

    @Cairene – Glad to have you in the revolution! One of the things I love about you is how you get time in such a different, deeper, way more helpful way. When I hear you talk about time, I feel like I’m able to connect to it as a rhythm. And find the groove that works for me. Which is way better than feeling pushed along by time. You rock!

    @Sarah – The deserving stuff is hard, isn’t it? And you make a brilliant point about how that just adds to the cramming when we don’t feel like we deserve the awesome (that we so totally deserve). If it’s not annoying (and if it is, feel free to skip it), I just want to be a voice saying you deserve awesome! Lots and lots and lots of it!

    @Ana – *fist pumps back!*

    @Shawna – Totally welcome! *fist pump*

    @Julia – Hell yeahs! Revolutions! Bike rides! Rawk.

    @Wulfie – Great point. Being busy isn’t the same as doing your thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure that half the time busy wildly detracts from doing your thing. One more reason to opt for more playtime methinks.

    @Rachael – Yay! The cool thing about this playtime revolution is that it really does seem to offer immediate gratification. Things almost always get way better right after even a few minutes of playtime.

    @Julie – You saw the Ramones live? That is huge enough to make me want to scribble out a stream of yays in all caps. But I’ll restrain myself. I will add another fist pump to the mix though.

    @Lisa – You added a booyah! I heart you.

    @Josiane – I hear you. Sometimes I feel like I get less done in a day than other people do. And it feels crappy. I’m trying to use that as a clue that I’m believing the cramming nonsense again. Which, of course, is a chance for me to say eff cramming. And when I do, I don’t feel crappy anymore. I say a great big go you! for clearing out the busyness that isn’t gorgeous and doesn’t support you. That’s awesome in all kinds of ways and on all kinds of levels!

    @Elizabeth – Rawk! (Maybe you can be the revolution’s official photographer?)

    @Michelle – Oof. That’s a lot of hard there. The busyness can be overwhelming, can’t it? Especially when it doesn’t leave any time for the creative stuff. Sorry about the hard. And yeah, I vote for saying eff cramming.

    @Dave – Nachos! Dude! I love what you said about getting less done when you cram. I really do think that cramming as a productivity tool is a big myth. It just doesn’t seem to shake out. Not in any sustainable way anyway. And right on about not having to cram being one of the great reasons for doing your own thing. Now pass the nachos!

    @Suzanne – Totally. It does seem like the cramming thing is like an infection that parents get and kids get and everyone gets. Ew. Time for an eff cramming vaccination? Yes, please.

    @Peggy – Go you! Thanks for spreading word of the revolution. That’s awesome! (Maybe we need t-shirts?)

    @Jess – I’m glad the post had some goodies for you. And yeah, Charlie’s post is awesome. Charlie rocks a lot. He’s a productivity guy that doesn’t push the cramming thing. At all. He so gets it. Which is one of about 1000 reasons why he’s one of my favorite people ever and one of the smartest cats I know. I also love that Charlie talks about meaningful action. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of cramming.

    @Nate – Hey, no worries. I’ll totally take a long stream of amens in support of eff cramming.

    @Tracy – Exactly! It’s exactly like the dinner thing. Can you imagine spending hours cooking the most delicious meal ever and inviting everyone you lurve over and then pouring all kinds of ick and ack and gunk and junk all over the table? Oof. I think making space is so so so important.

    @Chris – I’m happy to say that joining the revolution effectively cut burned out off at the pass. Woot! (And biggie sized bonus points for working I Wanna Be Sedated into this discussion!)

    @Floreta – I’m with you 100%. I keep reminding myself that playtime is not a luxury. It’s not some pointless indulgence. It’s vital. Just like eating and breathing and sleeping. Playtime totally feeds the gorgeous!

    Thanks for all of the fabulous comments and notes of much smartness. This is something we’ll be revisiting a lot, I think.

    In the meantime… ¡Viva la Revolución!

  25. Cranky Fibro Girl
    March 26, 2010 | 3:50 pm

    “Or how to rip through my inbox like someone knee deep in the middle of a meth binge.”

    Best. Description. Ever.

  26. Fabeku
    April 1, 2010 | 3:20 pm

    @CFG – You make me smile. Thanks for appreciating meth binge humor. You rawk.

  27. Marianne
    April 5, 2010 | 7:26 pm

    Hell yeah.

    Sorry – no fist pump. I just look a bit limp when I try them. I’m more a victory dance kinda-gal.

    But this is a revolution I can sign up to, whole-heartedly.

    No more meth/to-list binges.
    Lunch breaks and walks on the beach.
    A cup of tea watching the clouds before I get on the computer in the morning.

    Hell yeah. That’s the kind of awesome I want more of in my life.
    .-= Marianne´s last blog ..Shame-free Yoga Part 2: Can shame be a positive learning experience? =-.

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