What does your best morning look like?
I ask because I have been thinking a lot lately about morning routines!
This is the first week that I’ve spent affectionately referring to as the duffel bag lifestyle — which is to say that at five every morning I chug a thing of pre-workout, fill up a duffel bag with what I need for the day, and head out to the gym, not to return for another fourteen hours or so.
There are a couple pieces about this that work well:
There are, of course, some pieces that don’t:
It is unclear to me whether or not this is a sustainable way to start the day. Maybe this will pass; maybe it won’t. I think the important thing is to at least try and eke some sort of ownership over your groggiest points, to exert effort on the onset of things.
Let me phrase this a different way: in the past year I have transformed myself from someone who luxuriates in the absence of an alarm clock on Sunday mornings to someone who woke up at six this morning (six, not five — that’s sleeping in!) to get a head start on the day.
I grabbed dinner and drinks with my friend A a couple days ago.
He’s in a similar place that I was a few years ago: in a job which he has, for lack of a better word, solved — the work is easy and placid:
It’s not bad.. It just feels like I’m doing something wrong. I can leave for a week and nobody seems to mind, which is great. But I feel like I’m missing out on getting better.*
I know I’m going to leave. I haven’t quite mustered the reasoning to do so, but unless something changes it just feels — it feels like I could do this for the next five years and then wake up and I’m thirty and I haven’t gotten any better at anything at all.
I told him that the nagging feeling — the thing that finally got me to leave Amazon — reminded me of playing a video game after you’d beaten it, which is sometimes comfortable in a mechanical and warm way but rarely a way you want to spend forty hours a week. (Or, in his case, like thirty-five hours a week.)
A couple weeks ago, I half-jokingly told a friend that working on Buttondown had mostly obviated video games for me. It occupies a lot of the same mental space: every commit a little endorphin burst, every vanity metric a Skinner box. I enjoy solving the problems it poses, and I enjoy seeing the numbers go up, and it turns out that’s mostly all I need!
This was a productive week for Buttondown — or, rather, it felt like a productive week for Buttondown, which is okay! Sometimes the placebo of progress is just as good as the actual thing. Here are some of the things I did:
That’s a lot of stuff!
But if there is one thing I struggle with when it comes to personal projects, it is coming to grips with the twin ideas of progress and completion. I started working on it around a year ago; if I knew that, in May of 2018, it did the things it does and it has the users that it has, I would be thrilled.
And, don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled! But it feels like there is so much more work to be done, because there always will be: tiny bugs to squash, features to noodle around with, use cases to explore. As the surface area of the application grows, so do the little chips in its sidewalk.
More than anything, it feels like one of those dreams where you walk along a road towards some destination and no matter how long you spend walking, the visage of the destination never shrinks or expands in the horizon. It’s always a fixed distance away. And it’s a pleasant walk, but still.
This is the point of the newsletter where I end with a graceful coda of how I manage this inherent tension — the nature of all software to expand like air in a container, always eager to fill the space to which it’s afforded.
I don’t quite yet have the answer. But I feel blessed to be sitting in Left Bank, a sleepy little café in Georgetown, with the biggest issue on my mind being how to collate a list of GitHub Issues.
I’ll head back soon, and pack my duffel bag for tomorrow, to start imposing a little structure on the day to come. It looks like it’s going to be a good week.