Vacation & Proposals in Tokyo


I’m in Tokyo for a couple of weeks with Agnes, and I’m having a wonderful adventure, but also the first proper vacation I’ve ever had. No real work for the entire period. A few calls, a few drinks, and a few emails. But no planning, no deadlines to keep, nothing. Besides feeling weird, it’s also making me spontaneously bubble with ideas. Can’t wait to start working again. But I’m also really happy to see what a little rest does to me.

Also took the time to propose to Agnes. It was a surprise to her, but a 6 month long plan for me. It all worked out amazingly, because she said yes.


What are you optimizing for?

A thought struck me today while rushing from the my doctors appointment to my office. I was listening to a podcast and checking out the stock market. I was distracting myself from a pretty dreary subway ride. But I was also using the time to be productive, plan out my tasks for the afternoon so that I could optimise my time.

Todo lists. Email. Quick meetings. Lunch at your desk. 6 minute abs. Fast Food. It’s all about optimising our time. Finding a way to cram more stuff into our days.

The thought that struck me was; what am we optimizing for?

One day you will be scanning the headlines and listening to a podcast in 2x the speed, and that will be it. That was life. Optimised to the extreme. Forcedly pushed into ever longer caffeinated days. But optimised for what?

I think I’ll take my dog for a slow walk. After that I might have a glass of wine with the love of my life. Maybe call my mom. But whatever I do tonight, it will be because I wanted to, and unoptimised.

Blood clot

During Christmas break I ate too much and drank too much. Like most people in Sweden, Christmas is a time for gluttony. And being a recovering compulsive eater, I’m not exactly holding back.

To counter the unhealthily lifestyle I hit the gym a lot as well. Nothing makes extra room for cookies and chocolate like a few sets of heavy deadlifts.

This year though, I felt over exerted. I felt drained come New Years. And when I woke up on New Year’s Day with a throbbing right hip and thigh I sort of shrugged it off and knew I’d get back to normal in a few days. Coming back to healthy food and rest would solve it. It always had.

Only this time. It didn’t.

This time, my right leg swelled up to cartoonish proportions. I still assumed this was due to over exertion, and just did a bit of stretching and took it easy. Three days in though, my life partner Agnes started getting worried. She convinced me to call the health hotline, and in less than an hour we were waiting at the emergency room. A blood test later and I was injected with blood thinners, told to take a taxi home for the night and be back early for an ultra sound of my thigh.

Turns out I have a 20-25cm blood clot through my thigh into my hip, and possibly a malformed vein in my hip. I’m now on blood thinners and trying to come to terms with the fact that this will change my short term life dramatically.

Normally blood clots affect people at 60 to 80 years of age, with more risk if they smoke and are over weight.

Not really that common in 34 years olds who eat fitness diets and lift heavy weights as a lifestyle.

But I guess I beat the odds on that one.


2018 in review

2018 was a life changing year for me. In the last days of 2017 I met Agnes, whom I instantly fell hopelessly in love with. Something I’ve never experienced before.

I quickly changed my plans for 2018, cancelled trips, got a year long consultancy. I’d be staying in Sweden for 2018. And I haven’t regretted it, though I dislike the cold intensely.

A year is hard to boil down, so I’ve split this review into three sections, enjoy.

Timeline of Events

What I learned

Fitness & Health

Timeline of Events


January was a blur of rapid changes. Setting myself up to be with Agnes. I also gave a talk on the Ethics of Design at a major networks offices in Stockholm. It was well received.

February was spent celebrated my mothers 70th birthday and working like mad to put my own projects on hold, while getting to grips on my client project.

In March I was the sole witness to my friends wedding, they wanted a small one, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been there.

April my client took off to Rome for a conference, Agnes joined us for the last day and a half. It’s my second time in Rome and I love it. The history nut in me is excited about everything, and the food is fabulous.


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The summer of 2018 was generally considered to be the best summer in Sweden for a hundred years. I’ve certainly never experienced anything like it. For a solid four months we had sun and warmth. It was epic, but it also lead to overheating offices and a lot of summer colds. Agnes spent our two week vacation in a fever.

In May some friends from 500 startups visited Stockholm, it was great to reconnect and hear about life inside the US startup world again.

In June Sweden is never really dark, it’s a magical time. I did a lot of great work when everyone else was trying to find refuge from the heat, and we even managed to go sailing. Something I’ve been yearning to get back to.

July was a furnace of heat, which we spent living on the balcony. Walking the dog as early and late possible so he wouldn’t over heat, and visiting the archipelago.

When August rolled in and the evenings started darkening again I could hardly believe how much fun I’d had over the summer. We lived on that balcony until it was cool enough to go to sleep for almost two months. it was beautiful.

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As the shadows lengthened work picked up speed again in Sweden. The fall was a lovely cavalcade of colors, and in September we spent some time in the archipelago enjoying autumn and feeding the little dog too many hotdogs. I did a Netcast about the Future with a couple of friends of mine.

On our first date, we talked about Oktober Fest in Munich. So when oktober rolled around, we went and had an absolute blast. We made sure to visit Neuschwanstein when we were in the area. If you haven’t seen Bavaria in the late summer or early fall… You should. It’s like a fairytale.

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I don’t like the cold and the dark. In fact I get colds easily and slightly depressed. Thankfully Agnes kept me awake and excited about Christmas. Which was amazing (the dog did not like it though). I also had the opportunity inn November to visit Marbella for a workshop with a Swedish startup. That was a very welcome respit from the dark.

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What I learned

Over the year I’ve discovered many ideas and had several insights that I’d like to share. Some of them are rediscoveries, which is both amusing and slightly worrying. I’ve detailed most of them on my life strategies page. This is the broad strokes summary:

Consumption and wasting time is extremely comfortable. But mostly time we will regret spending. Most consumption will not create memories for life, but rather just tick some minutes away. Stepping back from consumption completely can show which is which. And give you time to create, which is my next point.

Creating is always scary. More than anything else, I spend a ton of time trying to prepare myself for the real work. This is simply just procrastination. You cannot be prepared to create, or do real work. You just have to do it. I’m going to try to be aware of this during 2019, and really ship work.

Learning is fun. And anything that is fun can be used to distract yourself from the real work. Are you sure you need to learn more before doing the thing you’re putting off? More often than not, the answer is no. Just do it.

Love is rare so enjoy it. Beauty is not, so enjoy that too. Life does not need to be a grind. Anything can be beautiful and we can even learn to love the hardest work.

Fitness & Health

If you’ve followed me over the years, you’ve probably noticed that I spend a lot of time and energy on fitness. I used to be heavily overweight in my teens and have had problems with food and health ever since. But in 2018 I can proudly say I’ve been both healthier and fitter than ever before. The journey is never over, and I’m excited about 2019 in this regard too.

Five day media fast

The week before Christmas I decided to try a radical experiment. I was rereading an old book on productivity that recommended a week long total media fast. And for some reason, I put the book down and did it.

The fast is designed like a media diet. For 5 days, you are only allowed to consume music and less than one hour of fiction in book form (perfect for me as I read when going to bed). That is no TV, no shows, no podcasts, no audiobooks, no Facebook nor Twitter. Nothing readable at all, except directly related to any work you are doing right at that moment. No research. No distractions. The idea is to force yourself to completely give up mindless consumption of information.

I honestly didn’t think this would be very difficult since I didn’t consume much TV, don’t really listen to music all that much, and see very few shows. Turned out I was massively underestimating how much media I consumed.

The first few days felt… wierd (for want of a better word). I had to stop myself putting on my headphones several times, there was nothing to listen to. I spent many long minutes just looking at people while waiting. Waiting for the subway. Waiting for my coffee. Waiting for some website to load.

On day three it started becoming difficult. I went home that night and didn’t do anything.
For hours.
Eventually I started reciting lines from old movies and books just to distract myself. I wrote down thoughts like I was pitching someone. And I’m pretty sure I started to stress my girlfriend out. In a phrase, I was bored. Incredibly bored, but not tired. Which came as a huge surprise!

I was more productive than usual. I got more done in less time. But the interesting thing is that was less mentally drained from work. Even doing taxes took less willpower than it ever has before.

I’m not sure I can continue living without media. And I am pretty sure the benefits will wear off if this was to become the new normal. But having experienced the difference has been eye opening.

I recommend you try this media diet. It’s only 5 days. And you might learn a lot about how you spend your mental energy.

You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away.

The key thing to remember about me is that I’m still a student. I’m still in boot camp. If anyone is reading any of my thoughts, I’d keep that in mind. Don’t take it all too seriously. If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away. What are we, anyway? Most of what we think we are is just a collection of likes and dislikes, habits, patterns. At the core of what we are is our values, and what decisions and actions we make reflect those values.

— Steve Jobs

That’s one hell of a quote to think about today.

Etching patterns into your mind

From Playboy’s interview with Steve Jobs:

Playboy: Why is the computer field dominated people so young? The average age of Apple employees is 29.

Jobs: It’s often the same with any new, revolutionary thing. People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. It’s a rare person who etches grooves that are other than a specific way of looking at things, a specific way of questioning things. It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare.

We have to actively work on etching effective patterns. And we can never stop.

A handfull of great ideas for a better life

Some time ago Tynan wrote a list of life rules for Zen Habits. Perfectly in line with my current project of trying to discover what strategies or principles I should live by. This is a great post in it’s entirety, just see this excerpt: 

1. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. I believe that without his word, a man is nothing. This rule applies to things I tell others I will do as well as things I tell myself I’ll do.


5. Walk out of movies, stop reading books, leave parties. If I’m participating in some sort of entertainment and I realize that it’s not going to be worth the additional time spent, I leave. The fact that I paid $10 and watched half of the movie is irrelevant. The real decision at hand is: how do I want to spend the next hour of my life.

— Tynan

Optimisation your life away

I’ve thought a lot about optimisation of the last decade, always looking for better tools, productivity systems, and efficient ways of doing many, many, things.  Until a few years ago when I started thinking about over-optimisation instead.

I now believe I’ve been using optimisation as a crutch, to procrastinate from doing the important, but scary, things in life. 

Optimising up front is usually a bad idea, it’s a worse idea for every day life. Optimising should have a clear outcome of freeing up time.  If it doesn’t, maybe you shouldn’t be spending your time on that?
Maybe that time is better spent on the real work, or life?

Leo said it better.

(Update: This is a life strategy worthy idea.)