Resetting work boundaries

Newsletter #4

I’ve been working 12-hour days since the start of the year and I’m exhausted. (This isn’t a humble brag about my hustle. I honestly think it’s more gangster to boast about how little I work, than how much.) Because I had less work last year, I had more time to devote to self improvement and implemented quite a few productivity habits as a result. Once work came in, I made the conscious decision to let all my newly acquired healthy habits slide and focus on working. It’s been quite a ride, but 6 gruelling months later, I’m now ready to hit reset and put some boundaries back up.  

Here’s a list of things I stopped doing this year that I’m going to restart:

1. Putting my phone in another room when I sleep 😴- I started doing this late last year and immediately felt the benefits. I both slept earlier and got out of bed quicker. I also felt more refreshed after sleeping. Unfortunately, I started sleeping with my phone next to me again, and instantly got sucked back into the awful habit of obsessive message checking and mindless video watching. The mental fatigue this behaviour creates is real, and it sucks. 

I recently made a charging station in the corner of my room, and have been placing my phone there before I sleep. It’s made a difference, and I hope to continue doing this. 

2. Make time for fitness 🏋🏻- I quit my gym at the start of the year because I disagreed with the trainer’s methods. While I was still a member, getting up and going for workout classes helped me maintain a regular schedule. When I stopped, the consistency in my schedule suffered. Some days I start work at 8:30, and others, 12:30. 

I haven’t made a big effort to do this yet, but I’m going to start setting regular gym hours again. I hope this helps me keep more regular work hours.

3. Stretching before I sleep 🙇🏻 – When I started putting my phone in another room before sleeping, I needed another activity to help me wind down before bed. I picked stretching. This turned out to be an amazing decision. In 2019, I unhealthily replaced stretching before sleep with doing work and conference calls before sleep. As you can imagine, this was not an upgrade to the quality of my sleep.

This past week, I’ve been making a concerted effort to start stretching again. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, as phone addictions are much easier to start than stop. But I do it on most nights, and can already touch my toes again. 

4. Random meditation 🧘🏻- I used to enjoy meditating. I didn’t do it every day, but at least multiple times a week. I’d do it on the train, when I wake up, or when context switching between different types of work. These days, when I close my eyes to begin meditating, I can actually feel my mind wondering, and its inability to settle down and focus. The difference in the state of my mind has been disconcerting. 

Despite how difficult it’s become, I’ve made more of an effort to meditate recently. While I used to be able to meditate for up to half an hour, I now just do 5-10 mins, and call it a win. We all have to (re)start somewhere, and I’d rather be proud of myself for doing it at all, than get mad at my diminished ability to sit still.  

Finally, here’s one thing I’m planning to start doing for the first time:

Scheduling focused work times for specific tasks 💻- Over the years, I’ve gotten decent at scheduling meetings, deadlines and weddings into my calendar. But I’ve never actually designated time to do work. It’s never been a problem till now. As the number of weekly meetings and stuff I have to manage have increased, I’ve found it harder to do work that requires deep focus. Not only do I get interrupted frequently, but I also end up interrupting myself by flitting back and forth between emails, slack and the work at hand. 

By scheduling blocks of time for deep work, I hope to increase my output, and spend less time doing unimpactful “management” stuff.  

I’ll let you know how this goes

To be honest, I don’t expect I’ll follow through with every single thing I mention above. There will still be the errant phone zombie night or unfocused work day. And this is okay.

In the long run, I think the small but steady successes will add up, and the occassional failures won’t matter.


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