It's Friday morning; the first thunderstorms have passed Rotterdam yesterday night. I'm sitting at my dimly lit kitchen table.

I haven't been in a writing mood for some time now; it felt as if there always has been something more urgent to deal with. There were some unsuccessful attempts to get back writing. Through them, I figured out that I have a hard time keeping my writing focussed. I just can't help but turn articles into multi-day—sometimes weeklong—projects.

Instead, write the way you would assembling IKEA furniture; keep it light and quick to keep it fun. Assembling Billy's for a straight week is a great way to put one's mental health down the drain quickly. Khoi Vin probably sums it up best.

Enthusiasm manifests itself readily of course, but indifference is equally indelible. If your commitment doesn’t encompass a genuine passion for the work at hand, it becomes a void that is almost impossible to conceal.

My hope is that the fewer words I have to put on paper, the more fun it will be for you and me. After all, there's so much stuff that happened lately. Starting off, my 6-month sabbatical hike in the States got canceled just two weeks before departure due to the COVID outbreak.

As a consequence, I had to move in and out of three different apartments in less than a month's time. I also had to readjust to the idea that I was suddenly going to stay in the Netherlands. I'd already say goodbye to everyone at work, my parents, family, friends, and significant other.

Meanwhile, as the pandemic hit Italy, Spain, and eventually reached the Netherlands, stores and offices closed their doors. Working from home suddenly turned from the exception to the norm.

Going to a fully remote setup took some practice. I went through a rebellious 'I can wear pj's to work' phase, just to discover that any lack of routine just makes you feel bored and apathetic in the long run.

Designers discovering Google Meet — colorized by @sekachov

So from May and on, routine became a mild obsession. I tried a lot of experiments, and most of them had a natural way of easing out of my routine after some time again. Only the simple things seemed to stick around.

  • Try to go to bed on time, sleep 8 hours a day, rise early
  • Do something before work; read a single chapter from a book, go for a quick morning swim
  • Take frequent walks (a great way to get rid of the PJ phase)
  • Keep a sense of time and progression by doing morning planning and (sporadic) journalling in the evening

Focussing on these routines helped me get adjusted to the remote lifestyle. The sense of focus and proactiveness that I was missing for a long time slowly came back. Consequently, personal projects outside work started popping up again.

  • I've dumbed down my smartphone to the digital equivalent of a glorified pager to keep my bad habit of checking in on social media at bay
  • After reading this incredible article from my alter ego, I learned the ins and outs of Notion and applied them to create Casper HQ™
  • Got interested in playing some basic piano tunes on Garageband (iPad) and graduated to a real keyboard
  • Read more books outside of the design sphere than I ever did, which was refreshing
  • As corny as it sounds, I was able to plan out and act on my personal learning goals, which of course had their place in my Notion page for all of you wondering

Okay, time's up. Gotta get to work now. Talk to you later.