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The Code of Life

The [Input|Output]s of Mark
The Code of Life
By Mark Askew • Issue #28 • View online
I had a recent job/life crisis.
The prompt for my recent, but brief, crisis, was the reading of Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber. The premise is that we’ve filled our lives with meaningless, bureaucratic jobs aka bullshit jobs. Not all jobs are bullshit—some are partial bullshit. 
If you know me, you know I am a proponent of the four-day work week, and this book was an even stronger case for it. Do I believe my job is a bullshit job? No. However, the crisis came when I asked myself what I would rather do. With the two copyediting classes consuming all of my time and a demanding day job, I was feeling rather burned out. This resulted in sixteen days off work since the start of 2022 and a complete and utter consumption of video games. It was the simple decision. I didn’t want to think about work or about class. So I played a lot of video games.
Once I acknowledged I was in a funk, I took control. I recalled the wonderful book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. In this book, she discusses that you can do anything you want. You don’t have to choose between the day job and the side projects. You can remodel your schedule to allow you to accomplish both. One method that she recommends is to journal—and I love journaling.
In this journal—what she calls a daybook—I explored my preferred work schedules and other professions I was curious about. I outlined all the things that I enjoyed doing and want to do more of. It brought me back to a couple of things:
I like my job, the company, and the people I work with. As with any job, there are parts where you can get slogged down into the negativity. To combat this, I am keeping an air of positivity around me. Instead of “I have to do this,” I say “I get to do this.” Further, I remind myself of the things I do love and try to make time for it—I’ve documented this. As a result, I restarted my weekly reviews to highlight things I enjoyed for the week, and I will move back into using daily themes: a day specific for training, documentation, etc. These are just a few things that rekindled my joy, and I explored them all in the journal.
Side Projects
I love side projects. I have to be working on something or else I would break down from boredom. In the journal, I explored a few professions, such as being a writer and editor. I documented what my daily schedule would look like. This amounted to a 4-6 hour work day that accommodated my night-owl lifestyle. Here is one example:
  • 9-10 Wake-up
  • 10-11 Stretch, Walk
  • 11-1 Writing/Editing
  • 1-3 Workout & Lunch
  • 3-5 Writing/Editing
  • 5-6 Planning/Review
  • 6-8 Dinner & Chill
  • 8-10 Coding / Video Editing
In my writings, which I detailed my day a bit more, I doubled-down on my focus for writing: short stories and nonfiction. 
Programming has become another area that I would like to focus on. Back in my day—and we are talking decades here, but not THAT many decades ago—I used to do web development: I built and designed websites. I’ve always stayed close to it—my job is in relation to dev ops—but I stopped writing code so long ago. As an area of focus, I have started actively practicing programming by re-learning web development languages and tools created since my departure from the coding world. This would be a nice skill to have that I could use in my day job and any side projects I can think of. 
Video production/editing is another area that interests me. I’ve made a few videos here and there and I enjoy video editing. I just don’t do this as often as I would like. I typically rate this much lower in priority; therefore, I drop video projects much faster than anything else. I’m learning a different video editing software, which may have reignited this passion. I’ll be doing more videos—they will be low budget, of course. I don’t have all the time in the world.
Doing it All
Is there anything that I’ve missed?
Am I dooming myself with too much to do?
Good question. The answer is no. 
“Slow is Fast.” This is the message I keep on my computer’s desktop. I may want to do all these things and I may dabble in them, but I am taking my time. Writing is still number one, and the rest are things to explore for variety. They’ll come and go, but these are areas I will always come back to. Exploring them all in my journal really helped me break down these interests and see if I was still on the right track. In addition, using the idea of slow productivity, as noted by Cal Newport, reminds me it’s not a race.
What are the things that you want to do? How are you achieving them?
Message me, and let me know. Until then, take care.

Latest Discovery
Magicavoxel - Voxelmade
On The Blog
The Last Week: I share a few pictures from Instagram in how I spent the week.
New on The Productivity Lab
Theme System Journal – The Productivity Lab
Additional Note: We will be taking a few weeks off from TPL to focus on life and other projects. This will be the last episode to share for a little while.
Currently Reading
Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber: I already finished this book a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share again.
The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson: This is book 6 in the series Malazan: Book of the Fallen. So much good stuff is happening.
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Mark Askew

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