My Happy Place, Why I Write & The Power of Breaks
The Past Month
🎂 Celebrated 3 family birthdays in CLE
🎟 Unveiled our new SeatGeek brand
🍵 Worked at a coffee shop for the first time since COVID
🇺🇸 Saw The Boss on Broadway
🎢 Challenging and stressful, yet rewarding and exciting, times at work
My Happy Place
I love reading and working from coffee shops. Yesterday I went to one for the first time since COVID.
I didn’t even realize how much I missed it. It was absolutely glorious. So good that I’m back again today to write this newsletter.
It’s amazing how a change of scenery can have such a big influence on mood, inspiration, and ability to focus.
Are there any habits or traditions you stopped doing this past year and should consider reintroducing into your life?
Evergreen Thoughts: A Year Later
Last Summer, quarantined with my in laws in NJ, I spammed all my family and friends to sign up for this newsletter. Thank you for signing up.
12+ issues later and I’m still at it. It hasn’t always been easy. Let’s just say I’ve become very familiar with staring at a blank screen struggling to turn cryptic notes from my past self into something sensible. At the same time, it’s also been everything (the realist in me) expected, and so much more.
Below is an overview of what I expected to get out of this newsletter and what my experience has been so far:
🧠 Distilling and Sharing My Thoughts: My main motivation for starting this newsletter was to distill my thoughts and share them with others in the off chance people found them useful or interesting. This part of the process has gone pretty much as planned. In particular, I’ve really enjoyed how the writing process gently nudges me to write down and clarify my thoughts and interests throughout the month.
🤑 Becoming an Internet Celebrity: In the back of my mind there was a glimmer of hope that my posts would go viral and I’d amass a huge following that allowed me to write for a living. As an introvert who hates the spotlight, I’m somewhat happy this dream did not become a reality.
❤️ Establishing and Deepening Friendships: My favorite part of writing this newsletter is somewhat unexpected: connecting with you all. Appreciation-and-recommendation filled emails. Shared context that sparks fun conversations and bad jokes. Reconnecting with past coworkers, Twitter friends, and schoolmates. Meeting new people who are as irrationally excited about productivity and health as I am. I love it all, and it’s truly the best part of writing this newsletter.
This past month has been particularly busy, making me contemplate if I want to continue sharing my thoughts. While we’ll see how much longer this experiment goes, this last benefit is surely the reason it’s lasted this long. So thank you 🙏.
The Power of Breaks
Things have been extra busy and stressful. The perfect time to put my list of productivity and health related tips to the test.
There is a specific technique I’ve put a renewed focus on. And it’s been quite helpful. At least whenever I manage to fight off my natural tendencies to do the exact opposite. The habit: taking breaks. And more importantly: fully disconnecting during these breaks.
The first step of this habit is actually taking breaks. I like to work in 20-30 minute increments, sometimes referred to as Pomodoros. However, at some point I skipped one of the key parts of this technique: 5m breaks in between sessions.
Last month I shared a favorite recent read: The Power of Full Engagement. It emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery in order to achieve peak performance. Inspired, I started experimenting with when and how I take breaks throughout the day.
🥴 What Happened, Part 1: I stopped whatever task I was working on. However, instead of fully disconnecting, I just starting doing other tasks: frantically responding to slacks, triaging the latest batch of emails, reflexively opening Twitter and going down a delta variant rabbit hole. As you may expect, these activities did not help me fully recharge. In fact, they did the exact opposite.
🧘♂️ What happened, Part 2 (Work in Progress): Instead of just switching to another task, I’m trying really freaking hard to truly disconnect. No slack. No email. No phone. I’m still figuring out what type of activities work best, but so far I’ve found the following activities helpful: breathing exercises, stretching, lying on the couch, doing quick/easy chores like unloading the dishwasher or putting away clothes, browsing coffee table books, etc.
The busiest days are when this technique is most helpful. These days are also when taking breaks and truly disconnecting is hardest. While I still have a long way to go to harness the full power of this technique, I’m impressed by the early results and the way fully disconnected breaks improve my work output, quality, and mood.
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