Work, Time, and Happiness

I recently came across a blog that discussed something called the Pomodoro technique; it a method that addresses focus and efficiency. It’s selling point was how to get 40hrs of work done in 16.7hrs. It seemed like a scam, but like most short-cut techniques, they’re not really short-cuts–it’s about being disciplined.

Reading 3/4th of the way through the blog, it started to appeal to me as it provided a framework for a lot of the things I’ve been trying to answer in my life:

  1. What is happiness and what are my drivers of happiness?
  2. Why am I finding more joy, but feeling guilty when I set my own work schedule?
  3. How do I manage this constant desire I have to find a compatible partner and a solid social circle?
  4. How much do I need to invest in my health and manage my time around it?

Having started my career on a trading desk at a global financial institution, working hard and long hours was respected and expected. The saying “work hard, play hard” was the trend, and people believed in it. It was draining, but that’s the culture that was imbued in me. Fast forward 10 years, I’m nowhere close to the exponential or linear career path I had expected and planned for myself. A lot of it is because I simply did not find the rat race fun and appealing. The appeal of social respect and money wasn’t valuable to me or part of my core value set. It has been a tough struggle finding a balance on how to manage my desire to bring value to the world, while satiating my personal wants. The things I’ve learned through my decade is that every aspect of your life needs to be fulfilled, and one needs to find a way for oneself to meet it. Don’t neglect anyone of them. It’s not about sacrifice, it’s about not being lazy and single-minded.

The blog aforementioned highlighted for areas that need to be fulfilled, and I’m a big supporter of this general framework:

  1. Physical Energy: How Healthy Am I?
  2. Emotional Energy: How Happy Am I?
  3. Mental Energy: How Well Can I Focus On Something?
  4. Spiritual Energy: Why Am I Doing This? What Is My Purpose?

I struggle with these everyday on a task level. Physical energy is the easiest one to address, because I love to run and be outside. I’ve been pushing for emotional energy via dating, and it’s a struggle and requires patience, but also not a difficult one to tackle. I think the Pomodoro technique will help me figure a solid way to be mentally stronger. Having multiple things to do, without clear prioritization is a constant struggle that only gets larger over time in today’s integrated society (my world). So I’ll give this a shot.

Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Preparations:
    • Timer
    • No Distractions (e.g. headphones, quiet place, etc)
    • 5 Minutes each morning to plan out the Tasks (start with 5, move to 8)
    • 30 Minutes each week to look back and plan for next weeks
  2. Guidelines:
    • Choose a single task
    • Set for 25min
    • Work for 25min straight then put a checker next to task
    • Take a 5min break
    • Repeat 3 times, then take a 15min break

The 4th area for one to focus on, Spiritual Energy, is a tough one. But it’s one I constantly ask myself: What am I trying to accomplish? How do I want contribute to society, the world? What’s wrong with the world where I really want to help? As I learn more about the world, and see more, the answers to this question is constantly evolving. I don’t have the fortune (or misfortune) of those that have an epiphany one day, rather, I’m finding my purpose through a journey, and pivoting at each juncture. My purpose may simply be a lot of minor ones impacting a small number of people upon each juncture as it has been, and I’m okay with that. Or one day in the future, it may be a single big purpose that drives the direction for my life.

 

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