Recently I read the Tempo Book by Venkatesh Rao, one of my favourite bloggers. It's about how changes of pace in yourself and other people affect you in daily life, both in the immediate short-term such as when you're in a meeting, or in the very long term, such as planning out different phases of your life. I found quite a few parallels/applications to my own life so I definitely recommend it.
The thing I realized since coming to work at Potato is that my working tempo tends to affect my home/living tempo. My work tempo tends to vary a lot from month to month depending on what we're doing. Usually it's fairly busy, with crunch times every once in a while, and relaxing times occurring at about the same or slightly lower frequency than the crunch times.
I find that whenever I am in a busy period at work, I artificially make myself busy at home too. I'll suddenly feel the need to do two things at the same time, all the time. Or I'll suddenly be motivated again to work on that personal project I neglected for so long. Although the triggers for this sudden activity may be the busy periods at work, they don't happen at the same time. Usually they happen just after, when work has quieted down a bit. Perhaps I'm missing the business and am trying to continue the trend at home?
The reverse is probably also true, but perhaps less noticeable: when not busy at work I am not busy at home. This particular period is a bit of an exception because I have to deal with a ton of things before I'm moving out, but I can't think of another counterexample to this statement.
I'm not sure if the relation is one-way or two-way; does my home tempo affect my work tempo? When I was working from my parent's home during a brief holiday it did. I had trouble motivating myself for work then and in the end decided to work less hours but at a high intensity. This is not usually the case though. I guess my home tempo tends to be more stable than my work tempo, which is why home doesn't affect work so much.
The reason I wanted to blog about this is very simple. If you're used to working at a higher tempo, you start to equate doing stuff at a high pace with being happy. Suddenly you feel like if you do less that you can't be happy. This is very untrue but can get you stuck in a high-speed depression if you're not careful. After giving yourself time to adjust (days, usually) you'll find that living at a slower pace is perhaps more satisfying than living at a fast pace. At least, that's the conclusion I settled on, your mileage may vary.
If I had to graph my happiness versus things I got done, there would be a negative correlation between them after a certain amount of activities. Below x activities per day I feel like I'm not doing anything and wasting my life; above x activities per day I feel stressed and like I can't do the things I really want to do. The value of x and the comfort zone around it will vary from person to person.
My tempo is going to change in the next few months: for the first time in my life I will keep a steady work tempo and will introduce a variable life tempo. I'll be going on holiday, moving from place to place, while trying to do my work remotely. I've never attempted this for such a long period before. I'm giving myself the so-needed disconnect time at the end of my holiday, but for the first few weeks I'll be trying to do my hours as usual.
A new experiment! I'll let you know how it goes.