Week 4

It’s week 4 of taking my 5-day work week, and compressing it into 4 days! This will be the last “weekly” instalment of this blog series, but I’ll be doing a follow-up in a month, and then a month from then.

So, how did the last week go?

Hmn… 🤔 It’s a bit of a mixed bag…

Let’s start with the bad news: I went through the week feeling pretty depleted, and sleep took a pretty big hit. The week before I was out of the city, and while it was nice to see family, it wasn’t exactly a restful visit. As a result, I ended up starting the week less energized than usual. Because I needed more rest, I had trouble starting my days earlier, which meant finishing them pretty late, and that wasn’t ideal.

On the flip side, I took some time to reflect and I noticed that I’ve been doing some of my best design work lately! It’s more creative, audacious, and solid, and I’m having more fun with it as well! ✨

As for the weekend, it was nice and varied. I caught up on sleep, hit the gym, hung out with friends, cooked some tasty food, and made progress on a few side projects. Monday was also a day off for Canadian Thanksgiving, so it made for an extra long weekend! This does throw off my schedule a little bit, if I want next weekend to be a long weekend, but it’s not unworkable.

All things considered, I’d say it was a good week overall ☺️… I just need to make sure I get proper rest, especially if I’ve had a busy weekend!

As for the last month, well, given that I’m still writing about this and I haven’t felt the urge to stop, I’d say it’s going really great!

My initial goal with this new schedule was to improve my work-life balance, and not feel so rushed on the weekends. I’d definitely say that that was a success! 🥳Also, early fall is consistently the busiest time of the year for me, because I love autumn food. There’s pies to make, apples to pick, cranberries to sauce… and not to mention all of the fall chores like preparing plants for winter, washing windows, and putting away patio furniture. Despite all these extra things to do, I haven’t felt particularly overwhelmed by them. I can spend a whole day going to the market, peeling apples, and making apple sauce, and I still have 2 more full days to do whatever I want! 🎃🍃🍂🧙‍♀️🍁

I also had a feeling that proper sleep habits and routine would be very important to make this work, and so far I’ve been right about that. It’s not impossible to have poor sleep and maintain an intense work schedule 4 days a week, but it is significantly more difficult. The weeks where I’ve been well rested were a lot easier. 🌙

As for productivity and motivation at work, I was pretty neutral in my expectations. My goal wasn’t to be more productive, but I’ve found that for me personally, the new schedule leads to more periods of flow-state, more often. Every week is different, but on average I’ve been pretty impressed with what I’ve been able to get done! 💪

So far this has been a really great experience, and I’m looking forward to checking back in in a month letting you know how things went! I’d also like to plan some experiments around a true 4-day work week, rather than what I’m doing now which I’d describe as “optimizing the fuck out of the 5-day work week via flex time.” It’s been really good as far as optimization goes, but I think we can still do better 😉

Week 3

It’s already round 3 of working 4 days a week! 🙌

Once again, it’s been a big week with lots of RealLifeStuff™️, and that really put the new schedule to the test! I had a training session with my coach Wednesday morning, a date on Wednesday evening with a really cute guy, and I was out of the city for the weekend for a funeral. Definitely a full week, with a big range of emotions!

I had some trouble working the full 37.5 hours, but I didn’t really find that surprising with everything going on. I would have taken the Friday off anyway even if I hadn’t been trying this new schedule, just because it was such a big week. I’d also worked more the week before, so it balanced itself out. ⚖️

Sleep wasn’t the greatest, but again unsurprising given how my week went. What I did find surprising was that I still managed to have a productive work week through it all! 💪

I started to notice a few patterns as well. I seem to have the best focus and energy from roughly 11AM to 2PM, and from 4PM to 7PM. I don’t know if this has to do with the natural cortisol rhythm, or lack of meetings, but there’s definitely a difference. Mondays and Tuesdays also seem to be lower-energy than the rest of my week for some reason.

So far I’m happy with the new schedule, and I’ll be back with another update next week! 👋

Week 2

It’s week 2 of trying out the 4 day work week! And what a week it has been!

Sleep was definitely not my forte. We had the most pointless election ever, I had a dinner with a friend mid-week (which was great but ran late), and just generally I felt like I needed more time to relax in the evenings, so it was difficult to get the rest I needed and start my days when I had planned to. The changing temperature also hasn’t been helping.

I’ve been snoozing my alarms a bit more in the morning too, but I realized that was because the default alarms on the iPhone are just awful. Like… Why would anyone want to be woken up by a full-blast jarring sound and not something more gradual, I asked myself. Well turns out there are better alarms, but they’re hidden in the bedtime settings (with no indication that all the better alarm sounds live there 😑). Gradual alarms have been standard on Android for a while. Anyway, I’m going to try that and hopefully it’ll help with morning sleep habits.

Despite sleep stuff, I was pretty productive and motivated. The week started a bit slow, with quite a few meetings, but Wednesday and Thursday were 🔥 and more than made up for it! Surprisingly, the days don’t feel that much longer. I have a feeling it’s related to when my energy peaks throughout the day, but I’m going to pay closer attention to that next week.

As for the weekend, it went really well! I had two really good workouts, did some chores, got a haircut, spent some time in cafés working on an interior design project, and even had a date on Sunday! All of this wouldn’t have fit in a typical 2 day weekend, so this week was definitely a win for me 🙌

So far so good for the 4 day work week! I’m going to keep documenting for a little while, so check back in if you’re interested in this gripping saga 😉 (I’m thinking weekly for 4-5 weeks, and then maybe monthly?).

🍬Bonus thought: Why do so many of us wake up to alarms? It seems pretty shitty of society to normalize rest being forcibly interrupted. I kind of had a 💡moment this week and realized that I’d like to get to a point where I don’t need alarms in the morning. This will probably take time, but a seed has been sowed 🌱

4 Day Work Week

Like lots of people, I have a job that’s 5 days a week, Monday to Friday.

Every weekend I take some time to plan out the following week (what I’ll eat, what I’ll do, etc…), but a few weeks ago I got stuck. The events leading up to that point? A multi-month crescendo of feeling like 2 days off every week wasn’t nearly enough.

Sometimes, when I would end the week well rested, and my plans lined up perfectly, 2 days would be fine, but most of the time I’d feel like I had to make some impossible choice.

Rest and relaxation? A social life? Passion Projects? You can only pick 2! (or 1 if you have lots of errands to run!)

I decided I was tired of choosing and felt like it was time to try the 4 day work week. Basically my plan was to take all the hours I’d normally do in a week, and put them into 4 days instead of 5.

At first it sounded scary (working an extra 2 hours every day???), but a trip to the office helped me regain some perspective. Between commuting, preparing lunches, picking outfits, and transition times, I’d spend 7.5-10 hours a week just to be physically present at the office each day. Pre-pandemic, I was literally doing the same “scary” schedule, but with only a 2 day weekend! I could totally do this!

I made a new schedule: starting earlier, taking a shorter lunch, finishing a bit later. I moved my workouts around, so that I’d only have one during my workweek instead of 3. I also started meal prepping in such a way to maximize leftovers, and started being more regular with my sleep times. Somehow this new plan also means getting way more sleep overall, even during the work week. I now have 3 days without alarms at all, and only 1 day where I need to get to sleep early to get to the gym in the morning (down from 3).

Ok, this all sounds great in theory, but how is it working in practice?

Well, I wrote this on Sunday, after my first run through the 4 day week, and so far I feel more balanced than I did at the same time last week, but I feel like it’ll take a bit more time to get used to it and really say for sure whether this works for me or not. I’ll be checking in here once a week, so look out for that.

Some noteworthy things about the last week, in no particular order:

  • I got so much done at work! I expected things to be about the same, but I had a surprisingly productive week.
  • It feels a bit awkward announcing the new schedule to co-workers, especially when many of them are working 5 day weeks.
  • I had amazing workouts, since I wasn’t pressed for time.
  • I did a bunch of tedious but important house tasks on the weekend, that I would have put off otherwise because I want to have a life.
  • I planned a dinner with a friend.
  • I laid in the sun in a park and didn’t stress about all the other things I could be doing with that time.
  • I did some long-term planning that I’d been putting off for a while.

I’m curious to see what next week will be like, but so far things look promising!

lil’ update

I haven’t been the greatest at keeping the blog up, but I wanted to give a bit of an update of where things are at!

So, last time I posted here (5 months ago! 😳) , I was working on fixing my issues around sleep. They aren’t completely fixed, but I’ve made significant strides, and I’ve definitely improved that area of my life! 🙌The biggest thing for me was taking my phone out of the bedroom on weeknights, and also trying to be as consistent as possible with my sleep times. I’d resisted for a long time, telling myself that I have the willpower to not let having my phone in the bedroom affect my behaviour, but that just isn’t true (or at least it wasn’t at first).

Bedtime routines aren’t purely a question of force of will. We head to bed when we’re at our sleepiest, and when we wake up it takes time to become fully alert. The choices that we make in those moments are mostly dictated by habit, and sometimes breaking/making habits under those conditions is no trivial task. The difference it’s made in my life, having more quality time in my day, is huge!

Next order of business is project related. I’m redesigning my design system name generator so that it looks and feels a lot more polished than the original version. It’s a cool project as is and it’s functional, but it doesn’t represent where I’m at design-wise.

Here’s a sneak-peak of some of the very-much-in-progress design:

It’s obviously not done, but I’m happy with how the aesthetic is coming along! I was hoping for a mid-June release, but I needed a break and now July looks more likely.

Finally, I’m starting something called the Spotlight Series, a 3 month accountability program put together by Michelle Akin. The goal of the program is to focus on building an audience online, getting clarity on what you want to be known for, and overcoming the things that are getting in the way of sharing with the masses.

You’ll be seeing more activity, either here on Twitter, as a direct result of that! 😄

Anyway, that’s it for today! 👋

Tracking my sleep (again!)

I’ve never been that consistent when it comes to sleep, so it’s no surprise that the topic came up quite a few times during the daily creative challenge I took part in last week. The challenge that Michelle Akin put together is called “Break Up With Your Bullshit,” the BS being all of the excuses people make for themselves. After taking some time to think about it some more, I’m pretty sure my relationship with sleep is actually a bullshit factory 🏭. It’s not one of those trendy brick ones with loads of greenery and skylights; it’s a big, hulking, coal-fired thing and it needs to be shut down.

See, lack of sleep is an amazing excuse. Not focusing well at work? Blame sleep! Not losing weight or making gains? Blame sleep! “Don’t have time” for that cool project? Blame sleep! It’s the perfect scapegoat for literally everything.

I’m no therapist, but I have a theory that this is just a defence mechanism to avoid responsibility for failure, and that I’ve become extremely comfortable having it in place. I have no underlying medical conditions or good reasons not to be sleeping well. I stay up too late because I want to do as many things with my day as possible. I feel like I didn’t do enough things with my day because I wake up too late.

I don’t have daily opportunities to catch up on a lot of lost sleep either, so if for whatever reason I stayed up late Sunday night, or just didn’t sleep well because of bad luck, I can look forward to a pretty subpar week. At its worst, it means essentially running on one cylinder, and not being able to complete complex tasks that require parallelized thought.

I’ve tried to dismantle this thing a few times (I made a blog post about this in 2017!) , but for whatever reason I never stuck to it. I’m really tired of this dynamic, so my next major project is going to be to try to fix this.

I’ve been actively trying to convince myself not to do it this week, telling myself things like: “blog posts about your sleep? Why would anyone read that? 🧐” or “You’ve tried to fix this for years, what makes you think this time will be different?” Bullshit sticks up for bullshit I guess. 🤷‍♂️ Anyway, I don’t particularly care if it’s good content or not, and past failures don’t guarantee future ones. I used to be someone who couldn’t stand most types of physical activity, and now I’m someone can’t stand missing a workout, so that excuse also doesn’t stick.

I’m convinced that fixing my relationship with sleep is the single biggest positive change I could make in my life, and whatever it is that I was going to do with those perpetually borrowed late night hours is a lot less interesting that what I could be doing with some well-rested ones.

I’ll be tracking my sleep daily here (at least until I can figure out how to make an embed that isn’t terrible). My goal is to be in bed by 11:00, and to get about 7.5 hours of sleep on average, at least until a habit is built.

For now, I’m off to bed! 😴 Can’t wait to see how much of a change this makes!

What’s next?

The daily creative accountability challenge is nearly over, and it’s been quite an experience! I just wanted to take some time to do a little wrap-up, talk about what went well and what was difficult, and propose something for the next chapter.

I consider that I’ve reached the initial goal that I’ve set out to achieve (1 post a day on average during the challenge period) but the results were not evenly distributed. Some days I didn’t post anything. Some days 2 posts came out. Some posts were incredibly long and content-rich. And some were sparsely furnished.

So what went well?

  • The blog is running again, and I intend to keep it that way.
  • I got a bit of drawing into the mix.
  • The project forced me to get more organized and audit everything that had been left unfinished.
  • I definitely cut through a lot of bullshit excuses that I had (the challenge is called Break Up With Your Bullshit after all)
  • It was inspiring to see what others were doing during the challenge (mostly through the private Facebook group)

In the to be improved upon department:

  • The production rate (1 post a day) was not sustainable. Not even close. In order for a daily challenge to succeed you need to be able to arrange your life to set enough time aside every day, and also have some sort of back-up plan or pressure-release in place for the days that aren’t so easy. I was already going through some major life changes before the challenge started, so from the get-go I wouldn’t say my tank was full, energy wise.
  • Related to the above point: I can be really stubborn about achieving some of the goals I set, to the point of sacrificing a lot of sleep to “make it work”. I’m seriously considering doing a temporary pivot with the blog just to address this issue, that’s how important I think it is.
  • I didn’t program anything. Not even a tiny codepen 😔To be fair, I don’t think the sample is big enough for me to say this is a problem as such, but I should I’m going to make it a priority to dive back into some JavaScript in the short term.
  • The daily format was not conducive to the core intent. Posting something daily is a lot of overhead, and doesn’t leave a lot of space for actually advancing my projects. There is value to doing regular check-ins for accountability, but the ratio has to be just right.
  • By the end of it (and right now 😭) I was squeaking out posts at like, 1:00am, and not posting about it on Twitter because everyone’s asleep. Just… Why?????

Coming soon, to a blog near you (this one!):

I think it’s obvious that I won’t be maintaining the daily blog format. Going forward I’m going to commit to a weekly one, with some extra content that might show up if I’m in the mood for it. The next major post will be on Nov. 28, because I am rewarding myself with a break. I’ll also need to think about how I’ll bake accountability structures into the mix, and what changes that might mean for the blog. The fact that it’s just one giant stream of linear content just reinforces the need for a redesign.

So yeah, that’s it for this very intensive chapter of the blog, and I’m looking forward to sharing the next one with everyone who’s reading ☺️

(If you see any typos in this it’s because I published without proofreading in order to get to bed sooner 😬)

Icebergs🧊

The initial goal with the blog reboot was to make an average of 1 post a day, for the first 2 weeks, and adjust the rhythm afterwards. This was supposed to be an input goal, meaning that the end result isn’t what’s important.

A blog post, at least in a daily format, is not a very good input goal. It’s an iceberg; you don’t know exactly how big it’s going to be until you start writing, and the things I’m writing about are also icebergs. As a result, some posts took well over 4 hours, which anyone working full-time can’t sustain daily without cutting corners somewhere.

And that somewhere has been sleep.

Uh oh. 😳

I didn’t move any of my personal projects forward today, and that’s ok. It would be disingenuous to paint a rosy picture where every day is perfect, and I don’t think that kind of content helps anyone. Anyway, off to bed! 😴

Tungsten day 2

I didn’t make a ton of progress today, but I still want to document 📋
The colour palette got some orange added, to simulate that big warm glow that incandescent bulbs make.

And I made some super rough filaments, with a few nested layers of glow to make that white-hot effect. These will be custom SVGs, but the glass parts of the bulb should be fairly doable in CSS.

Tomorrow: the bulbs 😬. Not gonna’ lie, I’m not entirely sure how I’ll pull that off to make a complete bulb. The reflections on the glass will be tough!