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Quick notes and brain dumps

How can I be more sustainable in my work?

This latest crisis doesn’t only give me a headache sometimes, it also gives me (a lot of) time to think. I have been walking around thinking about how I can make a difference. And the first thing that popped up was to contribute more to a sustainable economy & society. I already do my best with things like separating waste, and trying to limit my use of water and energy. But I do not do much about it through my work. That’s an opportunity, right?

I started asking colleagues and friends how they think we could make our field of work more sustainable.

What can we do?

During a discussion I started with my mastermind group with the question: Do you have any ideas about how we [developers & designers] can attempt to work more sustainably?

During the discussion that followed one of them came up with a definition of sustainability: “Is it finding a balance between people, planet & economy?” I kind of agree with him, if you count all living beings as part of ‘planet’. Wikipedia defines three similar domains: environment, economic and social.

Then we came up with a few themes and keywords:

  • Remote & distributed work
  • Digital wellbeing and humane design
  • User tracking (privacy)
  • Right to repair
  • Sustainable energy usage - emission free hosting, low energy consuming hardware, like ARM-based architecture in devices like phones / raspberry pi
  • Less consumerism

Those first three resonate the most (or easiest) with me and are an important part of my work already.

Remote & distributed work

I think there’s so much potential to work in a way more flexible way than most people are used to. And I am convinced many organizations will be discovering the value in that during this time of forced working from home.

Humane design

Focusing on features that actually help people thrive and improve their wellbeing, is something I’d love to see happen more instead of focusing on how to win and keep attention by using dark patterns that are thoroughly regulated in casinos while we set our kids loose on Facebook.

Privacy

In privacy a lot more is happening already, with recent changes in European laws. You might complain about those cookie walls, but they give us insight and opportunity to choose if and how we let ourselves be tracked.

How can I make a difference?

This is just a personal exploration and I might write a bit more about this in the time to come. This friday my Mastermind buddies and I will have a call about it and in preparation for that I would love to get your input.

How would you suggest I can, through my work, contribute to a more sustainable economy (and in the end, save the world)?

Let me know on Twitter, Linkedin, or send me a mail on contact@bramwillemse.nl! đź’š

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Doubts during a crisis

When will this end? How badly will I get sick? And my friends & family? Should I cancel my new kitchen? And my yoga subscription? Should I take any paid job that comes along? Should I move house? Should I cancel the renovation? Is it fair that I receive welfare now? Should I sell my Airpods Pro?

I know the answer to that last one, and no I refuse to sell the house. But damn, it’s all a lot to figure out.

Living by the week

In week 1 I functionally panicked and radically cut my costs, and called in all available help to figure out my options.

I relaxed a bit in the second week and started to look for ways how to handle this. Like buying groceries in bulk (which I never really did as a spoiled Amsterdammer) and ordering more online.

After feeling like I needed to change everything for two weeks, in the third week I realised I am safe for now financially and I have some time left to figure it out.

Here in the Netherlands we’re in the fourth week of this crisis now and I am gaining back trust in myself, I have actually invested a bit in my home office and feel ready to face it.

Now what?

I am skilled, I am social and I am able to help people through times like this. I have a promising house and a great budget to make it beautiful.

I will have to generate some income sooner rather than later. And thoughout this spring and summer I will have to invest the rest of my energy in my house. It’s a lot, but I will take it by the day, week or month.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Keep going. ✊

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A note on meditation

Meditation has made a positive impact in my life. It helps me to start my days from a state of calm and keep it throughout the days, weeks and months, whatever I do. It helps me explore the relation between my body and mind. And it’s a way to keep tabs on what I think, how I feel and what I want to do with all that.

When talking about my health and about stressing less in life and work, I can’t not mention yoga & meditation. In 2017 I picked up yoga again since moving to Amsterdam in 2013. This year I got back on my twice-a-week streak and I couldn’t be happier about it. Properly punishing my body running, it really needs a regular, good stretch.

Yoga and running both contain meditative aspects, helping me become more conscious of my mind & body and to find a flow and balance in life. So I guess it was only logical for me to dive into meditation itself.

Getting into meditation

Since 2016 I tried multiple types of meditation. I got into it after my travel buddy Pritam gave me a coupon code for a year of Headspace, a very nice and popular app offering a wide range of guided meditations. I also loved a series that had me meditate on 6 different audioscapes, specifically engineered to bring one into certain mindscapes. As intended, I practiced this for half a year and it at least gave me a daily half hour to wind down and let my thoughts pass. And of course, in yoga there’s a lot of (active) meditation.

Waking up

This year (2019) another good friend, Stef, pointed me at an app by Sam Harris recently, which has really changed my meditation experience. Their own introduction is as follows:

“There are hundreds of meditation apps on the market, and several do a fine job of teaching the basic principles of mindfulness. But most present the practice as though it were an ancient version of an executive stress ball—whereas it’s more like the Hubble Space Telescope.

The purpose of meditation isn’t merely to reduce stress or to make you feel better in the moment—it’s to make fundamental discoveries in the laboratory of your own mind.”

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher and author. One might know him for his criticism on religion, Stef had already been listening to his podcast ‘Making Sense’ for a while. But he also wrote a book and created an app with a non-religious approach to meditation, both called ‘Waking up’.

I find his guided meditations to be more down to earth than Andy’s from Headspace. The latter are super dreamy & floaty and more important: they now feel very superficial to me. And only now I understand why I grew tired of Headspace.

Don’t get me wrong. Headspace is a great app! But by combining the guided meditations with lessons and conversations, I feel like I’m not only practicing but also learning how to dive deeper and why it works. There’s so much more to learn!

By finding ‘Waking up’ I believe I have found a way (back) to daily meditation. This way I hope to explore and expand my mind and to unlock a bit more of it’s potential.

Keep on reading

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