... whisteling, singing, dancing (well, let's call my movements like someone being electrocuted, dancing shall we?)
All those “Feel Good Indie” playlist songs that made me feel like crap in August? well ... fuck yeah I feel good now. There is currently no song that can make me feel down. Do they bring me good and bad memories? Sure. Sad? Nope. In the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling so good as I didn’t for a very very long time.
I was asked why that is and my explanation is my new relation to work and the ability to let work go regardless of how much pressure there is and how much work there still is undone. Leave the office at a normal time and not even think about work as soon as I’m out of the office. Of course, there will be things popping up in my head from time to time. I try to write them down if I can and deal with it the next day or after the weekend. If I can’t write them down, well that’s ok as well. Regardless if the kids are with me or not, I seldom (one could use the word never here and apply a few exceptions, but let's stick with seldom) worked past 17:00 some times even left work at 15:00, had a long video call with a friend and started picking up my girls after that. There is no working in the evenings, nights, no squeezing in a quick thing here and there in between kids going to bed and me going to bed.
I’d rather pick up a book, a newspaper (yeah, the printed version), listen to music, or try to write something. I ignore the tv most of the time which doesn’t mean I don’t watch TV anymore, I’m just not that interested.
This does not mean there are no exceptions, of course, there have been days (very few) where I worked longer and one day where I worked until almost midnight, but it was what it is supposed to be. A planned exception when some maintenance had to be done without interruption of live systems or an emergency where something broke and needed urgent fixing. It was not a desperate attempt in trying to catch up with some unfinished work. Holy crap do I have a lot of unfinished work and even more unread email, but I can accept that I am not able to finish everything no matter what. I am accepting that I get a lot more done by actually working less and that the quality of my work is much better than it ever was by actually working less and giving my brain time to unwind and do something else in my spare time. I even went shopping, as in shopping for clothes, in a real shop, not online. Looked for things I liked, tried the stuff on, and didn’t feel the urge to throw away everything to get back to work. But yeah, I still finished shopping in under an hour.
Worst case, I have to drop some clients to keep up with this new way of doing things and that’s totally ok. It’s better for the client and better for me as well. There is no point in trying to make everyone happy, that’s not going to work and will, in the end, make nobody happy, most of all me. This applies to work-related things as well as to private things.
This has a huge impact on my free time, my mood, and almost every aspect of my life. My mind is also free and not in a permanent “I have to do something” mode. I now even have time to cook, I try to have something self-made every day. This doesn't mean I cook every day, I do try to sometimes make things that last for 2-3 days.
Sleep ... well this is still not optimal, I manage to fall asleep within a few seconds, however, I have this thing where my mind goes to 100% activity as soon as I wake up, so even if I’m not stressing about things, it still finds things to think about and keep me awake.
something like this:
But to get back to the doing less part ...
Doing nothing is fine, reading some book that is not business-related is fine. Kindergarten shutting down and not being able to work is fine. Actually, holy crap, the first day the kindergarten was closed was one of my best days recently, and this only due to the fact that I accepted that there is no way in hell I could work so I didn’t even try. I took the spare moments when I got them to relax and the rest of the time I played with my little daughter while the big one was at school. These were all things that I couldn’t think of as being something possible in my life in the past years. I fully understand that there are people where their job does not allow for such freedoms, but I do have this possibility and I never took advantage of it.
The thing is that this knowledge is nothing new. I read enough about these ideas, the basecamp style of working less, the “Deep Work” Book, the problem lies in applying everything I learned.
Or to quote something from the book "12Week Year":
It’s not a knowledge problem; it’s an execution problem
So, to sum this all up. Not working Friday’s Mai - end of August, working fewer hours, got better work done, feel like I accomplish something every day even though I work less, my mood has improved, life has improved, so far it sounds like it’s a win-win-win-win situation.
If I were to give my younger self some advice then it would be: “say no more often, it’s ok to not give a fuck”