Looking for balance in life, work, and relationships. #1000 days because the first 365 were pretty easy.
63766 words
antoszek.me

Respecting Rest

392

The main problem we have with rest is that we don't treat it with respect. We don't respect it's importance, it's value.

We treat work as this kind of a holy, majestic thing we do. We talk about work whenever we can; for a lot of folks, where they work defines who they are. In the western world, we very often start conversations with: "Hey, I'm Jim, I work in accounting". Not "Hey, I'm Jim, I'd love to learn more about y'all today".

We do not have unlimited power. Maybe, sometimes, some of us would like to, but currently, this is not possible. A balanced life is exactly what it sounds like: the right mix of opposing/different things. And it's just like that with work and rest: both should be treated with the same amount of respect, attention, devotion, and emotion.

Ain't no day without night.

Closing A Chapter

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Letting go of something we ourselves have created is never easy. There is just this special connection between you and something you created from start to finish. And the bigger the project is, the more time you've poured into it, the harder it is to let it go away graciously.

Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.

My biggest Internet project to date, Produktywny Uczeń just finished it's first podcast season. It was a decision I was wrestling with till the last minute: should I end? or should I go on?. Theoretically, I could've. Summer is approaching, which means I'm going to be free from all academic stuff for a significant amount of time. Of course, I mainly want to focus on meaningful rest & spending time with my friends & family, but in the end I'm also going to work on a few projects.

It was hard for me to let go because it felt like I just started. I published the first episode on September 23rd, 2019, and published 15 episodes since. That's not so much. But, ultimately, I realized that writing, recording & producing that podcast took too much time to keep it up during the summer. I know I have to generally slow down in the coming months, and I have a few completely new projects in line.

Every good book has chapters. They're individual pieces of a complete story. A story worth telling has its ups and downs, left and right turns, accelerations and slowdowns. But, eventually, every story will end. Before it ends though, everything unsaid has to be said.

Time to write a new one.

No Responsibility

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This is the last post about my sabbatical. Promise :D

The week is slowly ending, and so is my break. It has been the first truly planned breaks (excluding national holidays) I've had in a long, long time. I feel so much in love with it, that next academic year I'm going to work in these 6 or 7 week cycles, where I take a week long sabbatical at the end. Rest is essential, "powering through" never really works.

There is one very important lesson I've learned during this break: no planning. See, there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing stuff during a break. It's okay to read books, do work around the house, spend time with your family, or even do some work work. But there is one rule; they can't be activities past you planned. You shouldn't be spending the entire morning writing a podcast script because you planned to do so. You can only do that if you feel like it right in the moment.

Why?
This rule has two effects:

  1. You ease off any tension. You don't get the slightest feeling of responsibility for things planned in the past. You can truly rest.
  2. You don't limit your own creativity. If you truly want, then you can go on and create stuff. But right when you stop feeling like it's the right thing to do, you cease the activity. No obligations whatsoever.

Without rest, there is burnout.
Without creation, there is chaos.

The Next Destination

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June has always been a month of reflection for me. A few key events collide in June: my birthday, the academic year ends here in Poland, and a few of my closest friends also have their birthdays. It's a 30-day period of finishing up not-yet-done things, reflecting on the whole past year, and deciding where to go next.

While I do also get this feeling during late December/early January, it is usually stronger in June. So, basically, I get two major reflections a year.

But, while in December I do get a real break (Christmas & New Years), there is usually no such break in June. That makes the whole reflecting and summarizing thing much, much harder. Year after year I was promising myself go about it differently this time. Only to fail continuously.

This year I said: enough, I have to do it differently. And so I did. Right now I am still on my sabbatical, and am planning to take the next week very lightly. My birthday is this Wednesday - so I'm going to take that day off, too.

Reviewing the past & understanding what can happen in the future is an absolutely amazing skill. It's something we're too way too often inclined to ignore. It's not something we're taught at school. Sadly.

I Needed Some Sun

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Life has been good for me during quarantine, I can't complain. There are many, many others that had and continue having it worse. A lot of things surely have been unusual, but overall I managed to get through pretty well.

The past week was horrible. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I was so drained out that focusing on anything was almost impossible. Yet I was trying to push through: going to all my meetings, trying to complete my daily tasks, keeping up with routines, etc.

This week I decided that "pushing through" does not make sense. I needed a break. And so, since Monday, I've been taking an official "sabbatical".

The first three days weren't that great. Maybe it was due to how incredibly much I was burned out, or maybe due to some outside events. I don't know. I was feeling pretty miserable and couldn't set my mind & body straight.

Today was different. While maybe it still wasn't what I'd call "a day well spent", it was much better. Just now I was trying to figure out what was the reason for this - maybe something I did? Something I said? Something someone else did? The answer is much, much simpler: it was the weather. Today was the first sunny day (with some afternoon storms) after a longer period of 4,5 very cloudy days. It's June for God's sake!

Again and again I'm noticing that no matter how hard you want something to happen, sometimes some little "nudge" needs to happen first. A tiny earthquake which sets out a massive tsunami.

We're very powerful beings: we can change. Unfortunately, not always that changes can come from within us; sometimes some assistance might be needed.

Please, be careful; don't obscure your vision, you're going to miss the sun when it's out.

Without Noise

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I'm currently re-reading Digital Minimalism, a fantastic book about living a more focused, less stressful & more mindful life by using technology in a truly purposeful and thoughtful way.

1.5 years ago I did a planned digital detox - 30 days with no social media & limited online presence. It's one of the key steps in becoming a digital minimalist. During that thirty-day process you reevaluate the role of social media and all the other digital stuff you might use. It's a tough experiment at first, but definitely worth it in the long run, as it will help you answer the question: is this really valuable to me? A lot of us jump onto new platforms, tools, apps just because they're popular. Not because we've vetted the potential value they might bring into our live.

I thought I couldn't live without social media. I had this grim vision of broken friendships, being in the dark about things going on in my social circles, and just feeling lonely and disconnected.

But damn, I couldn't have been more wrong.

During those thirty days I felt more focused, more connected with the people I care about, and more intentional about the things I do. We're made to believe that social media is something fundamental, that it is the only way we can have a vivid social life. This idea has been heavily promoted by the social media companies themselves, both through marketing, and through user experience design. They're trying (and succeeding) to make their platforms as addictive as possible. To make us visit them hundreds of times a day, and to have us see ads, for which they get paid. Zuckerberg likes being rich.

A life without social media is like a life without noise. It's a life that can be lived to its full potential in every way possible. The few benefits we get from social can be easily replaced by dedicated online forums, news-reading apps, or such outrageous ideas like seeing people IRL. Or, in the worse case scenario, we can always just limit our use. 15 minutes a week of Twitter with a clear intention in mind is not a bad thing. It starts being a bad thing when we start associating our mood with it.

Turn down the noise. You won't be able to hear real music otherwise.

Untangled

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Life is hard. Especially when we're juggling many things at once - balance is hard to achieve.

386 days into writing this blog and I'm still looking for it - what a chore!

Our brain is not a machine. It's more of an elusive, sometimes oblivious to facts, easily distracted, impulsive mess. We can't see things always how they are, we can't sort incoming information into carefully created boxes. It's all a never-ending mess. Everything is tangled together like different yarns put together haphazardly into an old shoe box.

As time passes, this tangled mess of thoughts, emotions, memories & hopes gets only bigger. Stuff piles on. More stuff results in more complication.

The only way of keeping balance is once every now and then going through the process of untangling. Of decomposing piece by piece everything currently occupying our brain actively. Methodically, thought after thought, memory after memory, we go through the entire mess trying to find leads. Leads in this sense are all of the concepts worth exploring further. The memories we should cherish, the hopes we should be working towards realizing, the thoughts that deserve more attention, and the emotions we should be filling our lives with. Everything else deserves to be either carefully archived away, or completely discarded.

Clarity is not something we can achieve once and enjoy forever. It's a trait that needs to be constantly worked on, just like good health and balance itself.

Go on, untangle.

Cleanse Your Mind

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Woah. What a weekend. One of the worst, but ultimately the best since a long time.

For various reasons, it was just hard. I couldn't really get myself to do anything in any aspect of my life. It was the true epitome of feeling bad, knowing what caused it, but doing considerably little to change it. Well, happens.

At the end of the weekend I got a chance to have a real, honest conversation. Something I kind of lacked during the past few months - let's be honest: opening up via Zoom is just not as easy as face-to-face.

This weekend made me realize that I'm in desperate need of a thorough mental cleaning. That I've been speeding ahead all of this time, while dealing with all the troubles quarantine has brought upon us. Maybe that was my coping mechanism: over-achieving.

Rest is important. I never doubted that. Yet I seem to be very often ignoring it's importance. Thinking hell, I'm gonna get through this no matter what. Only to soon realize this approach is incredibly unsustainable and leads to quick and dramatic burnout.

This week, I'm taking a break. An unplanned one, so a bit difficult to pull off. But hopefully it'll be a good one.

I'm hoping to write longer, deeper posts. We'll see how that goes - right now my brain is still in the "calming and untangling" phase.

Peace 🖖️

I Don't Want To Be Famous

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I don't, truly.

I started to get more and more into the "content creation" world sometime around a year ago. I started making podcasts, writing blog posts, organizing events etc. And I started to surround myself with people that do the same. Don't get me wrong: most of them are truly amazing people, but I think I can't 100% get along them.

I remember being asked by one person some time ago: why don't you put your face on your productivity website and start building your personal brand? What you're doing here is counter-intuitive!. See, on Produktywny Uczeń, my biggest project to date, there is very little about me as a person. I know that page is in Polish, but still, you can take a look and see for yourself: after a brief intro into the content, there is a considerably small "subscribe" button (the most aggressive tactic on the entire website), and below that there is the content itself. Which, itself, is completely free and ad-free. The only information you'll find about me is about is a small link to my website.

The website itself also doesn't provide that much info about me. I believe that what's there is exactly the right amount of my personal stuff that should be available online. If someone is interested, or was referred by a friend, they can simply email me and I'll happily reply.


I see many, many bright & talented people jumping into the personality ethic wormhole. Starting to care more about the things we own, the things we do (work), but not about our character, our positive traits etc. We forgot what it means to be a good person.

I also rarely see myself falling into that trap of judging people by what tools they have, where they work, what they did, where they live, and many more. It's a horrible, rotten way of looking at life. Yet it's the default for an increasing number of people.

Fame and misfortune.

Doesn't sound interesting to me.

Absolutely Nothing

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Sometimes, it's good to do absolutely nothing.

I'm one of those people that can easily fill up all of their time with stuff. Got some spare time? I'll grab a book, listen to a podcast, talk to a friend, go for a walk, or, less often, clean up my surroundings. Most of these things are good, and I should be doing them. But they stop being so valuable when they start filling out every single living minute of one's life.

I did not do any of these things today. In fact, I did absolutely nothing.

But all that not-doing-anything, incredibly unproductive time, that made me feel bad at first:

It's a Saturday, so you should be spending time with your family, not laying on the ground doing nothing you dumbass.

finally gave me space to listen to myself. I've had a chance to reconsider things I already made up my mind on. A chance to see things I could not see running from place to place. Creation comes out of boredom.

In the end, the day left me with a little insight. I am going to work on it immediately, as it is something I've ignored for too long.

I had already discovered that insight some time ago. But hey, life is circular. Doing nothing is the balance to doing everything.

An Unnerving Thought

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In my search for balance, I've been coming back many times to the where, or rather, when, are you living?. Technically, we all live in the present. Yet so many of us spend time constantly re-living events from the past, or hypothesizing about things that might happen in the future. We rarely even notice this, to our dismay.

There's nothing wrong in dreaming about the future sometimes. Or intensely thinking about our memories from the past, sometimes. But there's a lot of wrong in doing that too often.

Because that means one, simple thing: our own present is not satisfying enough. The things around us, the people we have on our side, our daily routines etc. are not interesting enough for our monkey brain to focus on them. That's when we, often unconsciously, escape to a different time & place. Constantly worrying & planning for the future. Trying to figure out how things would go differently if we didn't make that one decision a few years ago.

For me, that little thought is a bit unnerving. At least when I notice I'm spending too much time not in the present. It's like this little reminder that not everything is as good as it looks. That maybe I'm indulged too much in my own ego, not seeing things clearly.

There's this one line in Westworld, the HBO show: Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?. To even think such thoughts is unnerving to some. But it's also eye-opening.

As it should be.

Cyclical Life

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The longer I live here on this planet, the more I'm starting to believe that almost everything in life is cyclical. That both our own selves, and the natural world around us are constantly going in cycles, revolving around a not-so-clearly defined center.

It's this rotational energy that propels the world forward; it makes us move forward on the timeline. Time ruthlessly move forward every second, while we wander around in circles, always going back to the starting point.

But is it, truly, always the same starting point?

I don't think so. Even when we come back to the same conclusions, to the same emotions after a journey (in time, space, mind, soul), we're always in a different place. Because we've learned a lot. We went places. We have a different outlook on the world after doing something.

After day comes night, after summer comes fall, after success comes failure, and after a breakthrough comes monotony.

By cherishing the cycles, we keep moving.

Total Congruency

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For me, these past few months have been a time of deep reflection, refinement, so to say. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I've been doing wrong during the past few years. Went back-to-back through all of the thins that happened, all of the decisions I made, people I met etc.

And during this pretty weird period, for the first time in a long, long time, I felt congruent with my whole self and the world around me.

It's the feeling that tells that you're doing the right thing in live. That you're who you should be, and that there's no reason behind trying to escape and finding a new, wholly different you. That the people around you are alright, too. That you shouldn't change everything, all the time. Yes, change should be cherished and encouraged, but at the same time, no one will find peace by running away constantly.

I've felt that feeling a few times before. In various situations, various moments of my life. But this time, it's been going on for a surprisingly long amount of time. How fun.

I'm going to undertake major changes in the next few months. I want to feel more congruent more of the time.

Paramount Suffering

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Some things just hurt. No matter how tough, how unmovable you might consider yourself to be, things will hurt you. Sometimes, we may feel like everything hurts. That's when we suffer.

Suffering is an awful state. No matter if inflicted by other people, or by things out of our control, it always sucks. It compresses our whole being to a mere projection of who we truly are.

I'll be honest: I kinda live under a rock. I hardly ever read the news, use social media sparingly; I just prefer to keep a distance. Only today have I finally watched the video from George Floyd's murder (because that's how it should be called). And I'm not even American, or have ever lived there. But it shook me to my core. I can't comprehend in my mind how could someone treat another person like this. And I know that this is only one example of hundreds of thousands of these pain-inflicting moments that happen every year.

I dearly hope, from the bottom of my heart, that this time it'll inflict change, too.

Chasing The Snails

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I've been thinking more and more about growth and what it truly means these past few days.

How often do we think that we're growing, improving, when we're just building up our ego? Just satisfying our desires to be seen?

This is a trap no one can avoid. As humans, we're all flawed. It's truly impossible to always to good things and do them without any ulterior motives.

The snails. Well, they're simply those who do not indulge themselves in "overnight success", they simply walk slowly, step by step, towards a future they believe in.

And I think I sometimes am chasing them. I'm running desperately trying to outdo those who walk slowly. And yeah, maybe I'll outrun them, but I'll miss the finish line too.

Don't run fueled by envy, walk fueled by resilience.