Earlier this week I wrote about the energy crisis, the one that a lot of us are experiencing around about now. Reading this note from Tom Eaton, it’s clear that this is what killed off Hayibo: the writers were just too tired.

Tiredness is interesting, because there’s more to it than the obvious contributing factors like long working hours and not enough sleep. I don’t know about you, but these are some of the things I just. don’t. have. the energy to deal with:

Verbal diarrhoea. Ja, I know, we evolved to talk – but I’d rather not. The sound of a ringing phone fills me with horror. I know perfectly lovely people with whom friendship is impossible because they just talk. too. much.

Politics. And by this I mean politics of any kind: office, family, national. There’s a good word for what politics is: enervating. I just don’t want to know.

As for Mangaung, will it just be over already? So we can have some certainty and get on with it – even if the certainty is that things will get more kak?

Lack of trust. This is the big one, I’ve come to realise. Not being able to trust others is incredibly draining, especially when you’re being asked for an effort for an outcome which isn’t assured. For me, it’s at the root of confidence, which in turn is listed as a key driver of productivity in this Wall Street Journal piece on how to be happy at the workplace. Nothing happens without trust because without it, you start asking the most dangerous question of all: what’s the point? And there’s never a good answer to that one.

Angry People. Some people are galvanized by anger. They spend their lives being Outraged or Offended or otherwise Indignant. There are a lot of angry people in this country, and half of them hang out on the comments facility of News24. I don’t want to know any of them.

People who want to sell me things. Or who want things from me. I hate being sold to. Loathe it, in fact. The other day I unwisely gave my number of Ahmed, a Senegalese handbag trader I met at Oriental City Rivonia. Since then, he’s been sending me Please Call Mes and phoning me (last night at 11.15pm) and I’ve been ignoring all of it. I just don’t have the energy for you and whatever you might want from me, dude, even if talking to you might be good for my French.

Not seeing progress or meaningful change. This is why a lot of South Africans are either angry or tired or drunk.

Not having something to believe in. When we stop believing in something – even ourselves or our capacity to shape our own destiny in some way – we give up. I hate to go Oprah on you, but we need something beyond immediate survival when we get up in the morning. If we don’t, it gets really hard to get out of bed.

Being disconnected from the fruit of one’s labours. This is one of the major frustrations with what I do for a living, and one of the reasons I quit my job. You can only churn out so many PowerPoint slides and present so many strategies without seeing any of them manifest in reality before your soul finally develops gangrene.

Lack of signal. You laugh, but this has been one of the biggest drains on my productivity this year. As luck would have it, I live in the Bermuda Triangle of signal because there aren’t enough towers (thanks, neighbours, and your NIMBY paranoia). Vodacom have very kindly put up booster aerials and lent me an LTE modem, and if they ever need someone to bitch and moan to the Sandton Chronicle about the tower issue, I’m there. But the ideal of the mobile worker able to be productive anywhere remains a long way off.

There you have it. Not a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a start.

And because – yes – being negative is also tiring, I know I need to balance this out. So I’m also compiling a list of things that have the opposite effect. Despite the lack of sleep and the self-doubt, there are some things that give me the energy to go out there and do mad things without any good reason. If they didn’t exist, I’d never do anything at all, so I’m really grateful they do.

I’ll share the ones that work for me tomorrow.


  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.


Sarah Britten

During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.

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