Even though I’ve managed to ship quite a few things in recent years I struggle to find the time for my personal projects. It’s not that I’m unorganised, I have an ordered list of things to do next. It’s not that there’s no time, I’ve been a minimalist for many years and I’ve cut our most time thieves from my life. But I still struggle.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and Charbel, a designer I admire and was fortunate enough to have as a mentor through 500 startups, shared this insight with me:
I spent a day or so thinking about this before I realised that I might not be able to do my creative work when I’m blasting through todos while low on energy.
That’s why I’m testing out a new thing. Starting this week I’m no longer planning out my personal projects too much. Instead I’m planning Creative Time, and picking any project that excites me, and I’m working on that. The focus is going to be on always shipping something, but since excitement often wanes, the things I ship will probably be small.
I’ll try this strategy for a month and let you know.
This is a full blogpost from JSomers, I found it so valueable, I wanted to both store it here for my memory’s sake, as well as share it:
These are excerpts (emphasis mine) from William James’s 1890 classic, Principles of Psychology, Chapter IV, “Habit”:
The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of our enemy. It is to fund and capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest of the fund.
For this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.
Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.
No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one have not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better.
As a final practical maxim, relative to these habits of the will, we may, then, offer something like this: Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved.
SometImes I find myself completely drained. Devoid of any initiative or sense of purpose, I struggle to do even the fun things. I’m not talking about depression, just evenings or parts of days where I have no energy.
I’ve always thought that this means I’m tired. That I need to rest more, or better, and allow myself to come back naturally. I am, after all, not getting any younger.
But a thought hit me earlier. This never happens when I’m doing stuff and actually completing things. And as a former cognitive psychology student I know that motivation comes after action, not the other way around..
So I have this vague suspicion that maybe I’m not tired. Maybe I’m just bored. Not bored as “in need of entertainment”, but bored as in “my life is on rails”.
Maybe I need to do more challenging things. Or maybe I just need to sleep more. How do you tell the difference?
This summer I had a two week vacation, most of which I spent stressed out or tired. So naturally, I spent the two following weeks thinking about why.
One of the main reasons, I think, is that I’m procrastinating from resting by constantly feeding myself media. I guess it’s time for another media fast. Try it, can’t promise it will work wonders, but I venture to think most people could benefit.
I think the main obstacle to staying consistent is lack of feedback. When there’s no feedback, I start thinking about other things. And suddenly that project is neglected, or my health plan is out the window.
But we can create systems of feedback. The easiest way is just to ask a friend “mind if bounce my progress off you?” Or “would you be my accountability partner?”
I might start experimenting with that.
Sick today, but not so much I couldn’t get to work. Still annoying.
Had a couple of great lunches the last couple of days. They were more or less over shadowed by a sudden pain in my shoulder, neck, and brain yesterday when I was at the gym. I’ve never worried about having a stroke before, but that really felt... serious.
It wasn’t though, thankfully. Probably just my body stiffening up from lack of movement since the blood clot is stopping me from working out.
Today I got a package with Stout Empire stickers, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel I guess.
Today was a really great day. Can’t put my finger on why, as I was tired, did some but not great work. And generally just had a normal Monday.
But it was great. It’s important to pause and enjoy that when it happens. Like Neil Gaiman says, the greatest piece of advice he ever got was; “ ‘...this is great. You should enjoy this.’ And I didn’t.”
Take a deep breath. Let things be as they are a moment. And enjoy it. I am.
A little work. A lot of reading, and spent a few hours in the sun on the balcony. We did blankets but damn it feels good to be in the sun again. Spiff likes it too.
Saw endgame today with Agnes. Really great end to an era. Not really psyched about marvel movies anymore. This was a worthy end.
Also, we had a beer and celebrated the Fourth.
Today I closed BlankPage. My main project for the last five years. It was a hell of a ride, but never made enough money to live on. And the boring admin just kept growing.
Thank you everyone who wrote on my little project. My life will never be the same.
Together with Agnes, I run a social media influencers account call Stout Empire where we test, review, and recommend stouts and dark beers. It’s a lot of fun. And yesterday was a bonanza.
Our current favorite brewery, Dugges, had a tap takeover/beer crawl event where they premiered and revisited some very exciting Dessert Stouts. We tried all of them.
Thankfully we also met the founder of Dugges. So it wasn’t just a stout fueled night, but also a bit of an investment.
I spoke about text input in Js and all the things that can go wrong. Most of it was what I learned making BlankPage over the last few years.
It was a ton of fun talking in front of people again. I wish I had spent a little more time preparing, some of my delivery fell flat. And the audience knew a lot more tech than I had expected.
We live and learn. Thanks to @sthlmjs for inviting me!
Had easter dinner with Agnes family yesterday. Barbecued lamb, which was absolutely amazing. With an excellent chilean red, and a ton of strange candies mostly from Tokyo.
It was a great night.
It’s the last day of Easter weekend. And spiff is getting tired of having us home. I on the other hand feel invigorated and psyched about work and investment!
Today is all about clearing out. Todo lists, old trash, and dust bunnies.
Strangely satisfied by cleaning our windows. The light is twice as nice now.
Spiff wishes you an Easter. Not much of a happy one, for him. But me and Agnes are spending it in the best of ways. Chilling out, reading, having a drink, and walking around in the sun.
Spiff the menace (our cute, but evil, dog) woke me up early. I don’t mind much, the jet lag is still not quite over so I was already sleeping lightly.
Today we’re celebrating Easter with my family and new nephew. It’ll be great to see the family after Tokyo and the engagement. Though I’d be surprised if we talked about anything but renovations.
Possibly my favorite discovery from Tokyo was Tapioca Bubble Tea. It’s a strange concoction of flavored milk tea, soft tapioca pearls, and ice. But it’s both very refreshing and tasty.
We found a place that sells this in Stockholm, and we’re both irritated by the terrible service (the line was 30 minutes long) and surprised by how good it was (almost on par with Tokyo!). Cha Talk bear Rådmansgatan, check it out!
Then we spent the night rewatching Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Always the hopeful and dark classic.
Just before Easter, we got a warm sunny day. The leaves almost burst. And Swedes took to the streets wearing way to little and probably all getting colds. It’s a tradition in this nation after a winter that seems to last forever.
My little family even had a drink and a smoke on the balcony. It was grand.