In the past month or so, I’ve had things pick up at my day job significantly. The short of it is that an app I’ve been “directing” (to use John Gruber’s terminology) is making its official launch after almost a year in the works. On top of that, my development team is tackling a project that apparently has been in the works for 4-5 years but we’ve never been able to crack it. We’re likely a few weeks from putting that out into the world as well.
Needless to say, this is taking up a considerable amount of brain power and energy. This has lead to a couple things:
One, I’m finding it hard to disengage from work. There is so much going on and I’m so invested that it’s hard to leave work at the office. I’m not working long hours from home or anything, but it’s constantly on my mind, which is annoying.
Two, decision fatigue is a real thing, and after a day of making hard decision after hard decision, I get home and don’t want to decide what to have for dinner, much less how I feel about the new stuff going on in the Apple world.
And three, despite being annoyed by a bunch of stuff and feeling overwhelmed at times, I’m doing undoubtedly the most creative and engaging work of my career. This is the stuff I was dreaming of doing all those years when I was working retail, so it’s a joy to be actually working on this stuff.
At the same time, I’m trying to get my relaxation time most under control and focused on low impact things that are more substantial than before. I was previously listening to a boat load of podcasts and spent a considerable amount of time browsing Twitter. These things are good, but they have a way of exploding. You find one, then two, then three podcasts, and before you know it you have 40 subscriptions and you’re listening to dozens of hours of shows per week. And while Twitter does a pretty good job of surfacing the most interesting tweets first, you can scroll your timeline basically forever and never run out of content if you really want it.
I felt I loved Twitter and podcasts, but that I was leaning on them too much and was not getting enough out of them. A few podcasts are great, but at some point you’ve heard everything you need to hear about topic X, Y, or Z.
So I’ve used Screen Time to set a soft limit of 30 minutes on Twitter per day. At first I was surprised how fast I got there, sometimes hitting it before I was done with breakfast (yikes), but it’s helped me reign in my use. According to Screen Time right now, I’ve averaged 33 minutes on Twitter per day over the past week. Not bad.
I’ve also made a concerted effort to listen to more books than podcasts. I did the hard thing and unsubscribed from about 20 shows that I didn’t feel were giving me enough back, and moved my podcast app out of my dock for the first time in years. Audible moved in, and in the past few weeks I’ve listened to Authority, Creative Selection, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy At Work, The Paradox of Choice, and just started A Darker Shade of Magic. I also re-joined my work’s book club where we’re reading Jitterbug Perfume.
And I’m trying to run more…which sucks but I always feel good about doing. Also, running is a great time to listen to audiobooks, so it’s kind of a “kill two birds with one stone” situation, which helps me get out and do it.
This is a lot of writing to explain why I’m not writing that much right now, but I hope you understand where I’m coming from. It’s not an issue of hours in the day; I could still record a podcast every morning and write a new BirchTree article at night if I wanted to. The problem right now is that I don’t have the mental capacity to keep the same routine I’d built up over the years.
I fully expect to get back on the horse as the year winds down and things slow down at work. I’m combating a few of my compulsions to work too hard and make my work my life, as well as adjusting how I spend my free time so that I’m decompressing in a more rewarding way. Resetting these parts of my life should hopefully help me get back to a place where I want to write every day, but I’m not there right now.