The Blurred Lines
It all started with the guilt, then remorse and finally mayhem. Sleep was re-branded as wasted time, and I slowly lost count of days, as my nights fused itself with the days and the guilt of not having done enough plagued my mind. I yearned for daylight, as I stayed cooped up in my room, dallying with idea of the current commit being the last one before I let the sun kiss my skin, but yes, those were just lies, and soon I became a shell of my former self. This madness had to stop. I had to collect my self up, and define my boundaries.
Well sorry for the over dramatised prologue, but this post is going to be anything but dramatic.
It all started with the predicament, ’How to maintain the work-life balance in a work from home scenario?’, specifically when I was a stout supporter of no work from home as it usually ended up blurring the fine line of balance between a non guilty ’work’ hour and ’life’ hour. The initial days were guilt ridden, where one side of my brain constantly reminded me to work, and the other reminded me to live. It eventually reached a point where nights were the new days, sleep no longer was a routine, and the six hour mandated sleep paved the path to a more stringent three and half hour regime. The game was afoot, and I was fraught with a new problem.
Getting Things Done
The initial days started off with a pile of unmarked
TODOS, which piled up pretty fast, and I found making unreasonable expectations out of myself. I had read through the act of Getting Things Done, which I felt was a good way to manage my day to day activity, but never motivated my self to implement during peace time. I din’t implement the exact same thing, but a tad bit different workflow, which I have written about here. Life was better now, I had a clear view of what I was set to do, and what I could pick up if my day fell short of work. Soon my daily agenda went from looking like
to looking a bit more full and organized.
TODOS were scheduled and had dates associated with them, and soon I realized that I could squeeze in more and more tasks, just by scheduling them. Soon my personal study and official study were planned and life seemed smooth, and eventful, until the guilt started plaguing me again.
’What if you are not putting in enough time?’, ’What if you are slacking?’
The clear distinction of the work environment with your home environment helps in distinguishing work from life. I had enjoyed that clear distinction for a long time, and all of a sudden all my gears were stuck at the same thought. ’Am I putting in enough time.’ Since work from home is not strictly 8 hours of continuous non interrupted work time, but a bunch of broken up mandatory morning hours, a slight bit of the afternoon tied in with your other daily chores, and eventually a prolonged night hour, where you bargain ’just another hour’ with your self to get work done with a lingering hint of guilt, which peeks from time to time, just to remind you of all the time which you have slacked on. I was suffering from this new found syndrome, where I ended up scheduling pretty much more than I could chew on, and eventually reached a stage where sleep was re-branded as wasted time. There had to be a method to this madness. The madness was reigned in. I integrated the habit of clocking/logging my time spent with each task. It did reduce my guilt, as I knew I was not slacking any more. Eventually the life part returned to the work-life balance.
Knowledge Graphs: Learning to research
Everything till now had brought meaning to madness, and had set me on a path where I had things under control. I could get things done, without worrying too much about how and when to include it into my daily workflow. An order emerged from chaos and the dust settled to a new found routine. The day ended with me making plans for a new day, and the new day started with me following the plan like a clock work, but an itch was left unattended. I had to optimize my self, I had to create a workflow, which helped me in utilizing my time in the most effective manner.
Meanwhile, I had been actively researching knowledge graphs to use in AI, and knew how closely it resembled our own brain’s way of storing information. The research predominantly got me preoccupied with applying knowledge graphs to Artificial Intelligence and I had forgotten that I could use a similar approach in managing my own knowledge, and information, and hence become efficient. It was during this period of time that I chanced upon Roam Research, which had been doing something around the same idea of networked notes. From Roam research I ended up exploring org-roam which is loosely based on Zettelkasten. Now I am on the lines of exploring Zettelkasten, and getting it to work for me.
The Editor of a Lifetime
This section is a bit on the personal side to me. Through out this madness, there was one thing which has been constantly and silently been there, and I am quite grateful for the fact that, I could mould it to fit my needs, no matter how ridiculous my needs are. Emacs has helped me be more productive now, and my entire workflow of scheduling/planning to researching to a dedicated IDE for daily project works live within this little tool. The configuration is still young and lot more can be done, but I think for the time being, the graph of gain I get with configuring vs the effort of configuring is still tilted towards the gain.