Documenting my life

Month: June 2022

Time is finite

Short post on a topic I have been thinking about recently: time passing and how to make the most of it.

I am in my thirties and I rarely think about the fact that my time to explore, enjoy life etc is limited. I am priviledged in many ways, I am healthy and I feel young, so I don’t truly always live every day as if it were the last.

Lately, however, I have started seeing things with a different perspective: if, for example, I go on one week-long holiday a year and I assume I will live to 80 (although I probably won’t go on holidays then, but who knows what life will look like), I have less than 50 holidays left. Although 50 is a huge number, it is still finite and makes me want to choose carefully what I do with my time off.

The same goes for the people I know: it feels like there will always be more time with them, but friends and family might move abroad or life happens and all of a sudden you regret not having done more with them. Fortunately many times this is happening because of a positive life event, but it can still be disruptive and unforseen.

Although the concept of “memento mori”, i.e. “remember you will die” is usually seen as pessimistic and depressing because it can equate to “life is short”, I find it can inspire to be bold and do more exciting things, think carefully about how you spend your time and be grateful for the opportunities you have.

I must credit Tim Urban: I read this great post by Wait But Why years ago, and it has probably been brewing in the back of my head since – highly recommend it.

I have heard that the book Four Thousand Weeks is on this topic, I will read it and I will link to my review here.

The mental load – how to stop procrastinating

In this post I will discuss how the concept of mental load helped me not procrastinate and what strategies I find help me achieve this.

What is the mental load?

The concept of mental load is generally used in relationships or when living with flatmates. 

It describes the fact that there is, usually, an imbalance in how each person is expected to contribute to the household life, where some tasks or things done in preparation for something else go unseen and unnoticed.

For example, if a man and a woman live together, especially if they are partners, it’s generally more common for the woman to be expected to keep track of what needs to be done. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t share chores equally, but it could mean that the woman is aware of pending tasks and keeps track of to dos, while the man might need a reminder.

One of the reasons why this topic has been brough to awareness recently is that it’s exhausting. From the outside, the chores can be shared equally, but really, keeping track and feeling responsible requires energy,  and this isn’t always acknowledged.

The mental load of procrastination

With procrastination, we push things off to tomorrow or next week and then again and again. Sure, it’s easier than doing something which is boring or difficult. At the same time we have to keep track of this task. Make sure we don’t eventually forget or miss the deadline. Every time we have a spare moment, this to-do creeps up, nagging us.

It’s even harder when we worry we can’t do something and that’s the reason we procrstinate in the first place. In this case, you add the prospect of guilt or shame and failure to the mix, and the mental load increases even more.

I remind myself of this when I find myself procrastinating and I think back to the many times when actually doing the thing took was simpler than I thought.

Sometimes I prove myself wrong and find out I could do the thing just fine. What a success and feeling of accomplishment! And even if I do make a mistake or “fail”, it’s something I can acknowledge with certainty, and figure out what the next steps will be. This is definitely better than being in that “what if” state and lingering with no set action plan.

In any case, the energy procrastination takes up is almost always more then what is required to actually doing the task itself.

Here is my reminder to myself and anyone reading: put on some music and chip away at that thing weighing on your mental load. As they say, it will be a weight off your chest (and your mind). You will be thankful you did. Below are some of the things I do.

Strategies to avoid procrastination

  • TWO MINUTE RULE – extremely simple and self explanatory: if something takes less than two minutes to do, do it straight away. This has helped me not procrastinate those small annoying tasks that just keep nagging you until they’re done. Doing a task immediately means it will not become an “open tab” in your head, that you need to keep monitored, albeit subconsciously.
  • “DON’T SIT DOWN” rule – As we all know sitting down often means relaxing, especially after a long day. If there are things that need to be done, it’s easier for me to do them right when I get through the door, for example. I know I need to take my makeup off and brush my teeth – if I do so as soon as I get home it feels effortless, because the laziness that can me when I am on the couch has not had an opportunity to hit me yet.
  • When it comes to tidying, I have found it’s easy to do when everything has a home, as they say. You are not trying to think of where that thing should go or if the best place for this object is on the shelf or a random drawer – you are simply automatically moving things around with no need to think.
  • 10 MINUTE CHALLENGE – Another thing that has helped me is to set up a 10 minute timer and make it a challenge to tidy up a specific area. I usually also have a podcast or music in the background, so the boring/neutral task of tidying gets overshadowed by the pleasant task of listening to something I enjoy.
  • FUTURE YOU – I think about my future self and how she will appreciate me putting in the effort now. These tasks won’t be part of her mental load and she will be grateful I did them

The importance of taking ownership

I followed an event on zoom recently, held by an online content creator. It was essentially a webinar, so they were talking over a PowerPoint presentation, explaining different concepts and sharing information, specifically regarding one of their areas of expertise.

There was one slide which, I believe, contained one of the key points of the whole event. And this slide had a mistake. 

The first thing the content creator said was that someone was going to get fired

I was really surprised by that statement, even if it was a joke. 

I must add, they immediately said something along the lines of this being their responsibility, ultimately.

But still, that initial reaction really stuck with me and I wanted to try and unpack why.

As mentioned, this was said as a joke and they later reiterated it was ultimately their own responsibility, so this is not a personal criticism or attack, but simply a way for me to share the reasons why this stood out to me and what I have learnt in the last few years.

1. Avoid finger pointing and take ownership

Although “anonymously” (i.e. without calling someone out explicitly, of course), it rings close to finger pointing. Usually (I can’t speak for this case specifically) this means blaming someone specific and letting them take the blame, shame and expecting them to fix it. Generally the issue is more nuanced and there might have been a series of events that led to the mistake. As someone who is in charge of a presentation, you need to validate the slides you use. If you trust someone else to prepare them and don’t double check, it is still your responsibility. Ultimately it’s the presenter’s responsibility to guarantee the quality of the event, I believe. I think the idea of being a team and the importance of working together towards a goal is a key pice to keep in mind, usually.

2. Don’t use fear as a weapon

I really appreciate when a manager, leader or anyone in a position of power does not rely on guilt and shame, but rather tries to support and be compassionate. 

A great leader eliminates fear, a terrible leader weaponizes fear

Gary Vaynerchuck

Of course if someone you work with, especially if you are their manager, makes a mistake, you should let them know and work towards this not happening again. But ensure this is done in private and with compassion

3. Ask Why?

The main way to avoid repeating mistakes is to understand why sometuing happened and how to prevent it in the future. This will help get to the bottom of the issue, and it might turn out that the blame is not on the person that seems to have made the mistake initially.

There is a famous technique called Five whys, which is an iterative process that will help you investigating the root causes of an issue. I saw a post on LinkedIn which had an example similar to this:

Problem: I was late to work

  • Why 1: there was traffic
  • Why 2: I got in the car during rush hours
  • Why 3: I woke up later than usual
  • Why 4: the alarm didn’t go off
  • Why 5: I had forgotten to check and change the battery

Going back to the webinar example, maybe this presentation was done in a rush? We can dig deeper and try to understand why. Is it the person who prepared the slides’ fault? Maybe they had not discussed priorities or someone requested a last minute change which did not go through the slides. As mentioned before, the situation is usually quite nuanced and it’s important, I think, that the manager or leader encourages improvement and growth, rather than using worry and threats, even if jokingly.

What do you think? What would your reaction to someone else’s mistake be? Let me know in the comments below!

How to get out of a rut

As a few people have noticed, I have not been consistent with posting new articles on this blog lately. I must say that I have made significant progress in other areas of my life and I am very proud of it, and it’s natural to shift priorities from time to time. In the previous post I discuss a few reasons as to why I stopped posting.

In this article I will go over what I have done to get myself out of this rut, if you will. Only time will tell, but I think I have identified a few key points that have been helping me lately. Of course, please be mindful that every situation is different. In this case, this blog is a personal passion project of mine, so the stakes are low and I know I enjoyed publishing the first articles.

Go back to the why

The first thing to do is to reflect on your motivation for why. In my case , thinking back to the reasons for starting a blog in the first place, what I wanted to get out of it and why. This concept is something which is well known and it could seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to remind ourselves to check in with our why. In some cases you might even re-evaluate your core motivation and reasons for doing a certain thing and start going a new direction. This could be as extreme as deciding to quit/pause the project altogether: I think this demonstrates a lot of perspective and bravery and will allow you to focus on higher priority things. Or will find that a reminder of the initial goals and motivation is what you needed to fuel your next steps – great!  In any case, you know what you want now, where to focus your energy, and why.

For me, the first article published is conveniently titled Why am I starting this blog?. Reading it back and thinking about it was a good reminder of why I started the blog and how I believe consistency is key. So I decided to get back into the swing of things and really focus on the blog in the upcoming weeks.

Another thing to do is to talk to a friend or family member, as this can help evaluate the situation from an outside perspective. They will be able to offer their point of view and support and theh can help you figure out your next steps.

Get clarity 

When a task feels daunting, I stop and reflect. Often I find it’s overwhelming because I am unclear on what the different steps are and how I can break down the project into smaller tasks. In this article arguing if motivation is what we are missing, I quote James Clear

Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.

This can happen without you realising. It’s usually good to take a step back, realize you don’t need to go from 0 to 100% in the next hour or day, but you can anyway make good progress, that will compound. 

In my case, I saw “restart blogging” as a huge task of publishing weekly posts for months in a row, sharing the content on different platforms, planning articles in advance for when I went on holiday and so on. Of course, these are all separate tasks. I don’t have to have months worth of articles ready by tomorrow. I can set up some time to share the content. All this was now not an overwhelming project, but a series of activities to plan and tick off one at a time. 


Once you know what you need to do, it’s important to define when you are going to focus on different things. I think having a strict schedule works in some cases, depending on your personality and the task at hand. But even if you prefer to be inspired in the moment, it’s useful to block your calendar to ensure you will dedicate this time to this project.

This is also helpful because it means you have a default response for what you will be doing on Tuesday evening, for example. No need to think about it, it’s already been decided by past-you. It could sound weird, but it has worked for me in the past.


I find that tracking my progress is motivating, as I can see what I have accomplished already, how much effort I have put into something and the results that came with it. I suggest writing it down using either a notebook or a digital tool. I usually pair this with the plan I do every week as part of my weekly review (which I had also stopped doing, unfortunately).

Enjoy the journey 

You decided to work on this project for a bunch of reasons, which are now clearly defined, as per point 1. This is something you want and hopefully like to do. Of course there will be parts of it that will not feel easy or interesting, but it’s important to try and enjoy the journey as much as possible. And appreciate what you are doing and accomplishing along the way.

For me, I had forgotten that I actually enjoy writing. I like focusing on something which is challenging but not extremely tough and seeing the progress made. Writing helps me think and connect the dots. It’s tiring but also relaxing, in a way, because you are forced to put all your attention on one thing. Link to Deep Focus and Astronaut book.

For other parts of this project which I might find less interesting, I can set up a timer and challenge myself to complete a task in 25 minutes. I can make myself a coffee and eat something while chipping away at whatever I need to do. I can go to a café and sit outside in the sunshine for an hour, before seeing some friends. 

You can buy yourself something you wanted for a while as a reward for completing a big and challenging task.

Find ways to make the process fun, if it isn’t already, and appreciate it!

Find pockets of time

Hopefully you’re having fun and enjoying the process most of the time.  In the moments when you are not enthusiastic about a specific task, you will probably be able see progress and this will be motivating. So much so that you will start to look for time in which you can work on these tasks that build up your project.

It is 22:06 at the moment, I have just finished an online class and I felt slightly tired and could have easily started putting on my pjs and spend the rest of the evening on my phone. Instead I know I want to write this article and get back on track with this blog, so I opened Notion and started working on this draft instead. And now that I’ve started, I am actually enjoying it.

Another thing I noticed is that sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “it’s too late now, what is the point” trap. Something had gone wrong at 10 am and now the whole morning is ruined. You couldn’t go for a run because it was pouring outside and so you lay on the couch the whole day. Or, in this case, I had a class until 22 tonight, so the rest of the evening is gone. In some cases it’s good to have a buffer between different activities and time to reflect, relax, do nothing. But I find it’s incredibly easy to dismiss a portion of thr day because of something else that happened or will happen around that time. In these cases it’s useful to remind ourselves to find pockets of time and take advantage of this, since it all adds up and you will feel satisfied in the end.

Get in the flow of things 

I find that the more I leave a task and procrastinate it, the more difficult it seems. Once I start, instead, I often find that it is not, in fact as tough as I imagined it to be. The weird thing is this happens also related to activities you already know. I have been writing this blog for months and I liked the act of writing, elaborating my thoughts etc, but it still seemed so hard to start again. Probably I’d just gotten out of the habit. I have noticed just how simpler it feels once you are back in the flow. As mentioned before you start looking for opportunities and your perspective shifts. One thing leads to another also in terms in inspiration and ideas, topics to discuss and things to share. When writing one thing I think about another topic that could also make a good article and so on.

I hope you can take some of these pointers if you are in a rut – I know I will come back to it if needed 

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