Home-working failures, watching Hamilton, and embracing a life of simplicity

I’ve sort of shifted to using this newsletter as a space to quickly capture a few thoughts around two or three things I’ve found myself thinking about in the past week or so. I hope there’s something here that may capture your own imagination or trigger some thoughts. As always, I love to hear any feedback you have. Drop me a note any time: samradford@hey.com.

Home-working failures

Though for many the transition to home-working has been a new thing, I actually switched to working from home last August. I’m a big fan. I think I’m significantly more productive and I like the extra flexibility it offers. The lockdown arrival of my wife and two kids into my working-from-home environment has definitely complicated matters though! It’s significantly harder to do what Cal Newport would call deep work when you can hear your kids screaming about whose turn it is to have the TV remote – or whatever the latest drama is. 

The other thing I enjoyed previously was walking the girls to school. It’s a mile each way and that mile back – alone – was a great chunk of headspace. For some reason I’ve not found it easy to force myself to just get out and go for a walk without a purpose. I’ve also lost some of my discipline around the hours I work. I end up starting earlier and finishing later, and don’t always feel very productive in that time at all (see above about the challenges of deep work). Of course, you can’t change what you can’t see. I know I need to get into a healthier pattern with work and life, so I hope this greater self-awareness will be a trigger for some change. 

Related to this, I read Remote by the founders of Basecamp this weekend. It’s an earlier book to It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work that I mentioned in my last newsletter. It’s fascinating to read a book about remote working written in 2013. It’s way ahead of its time and worth checking out if you’re grappling with working from home. 

I’d love to hear your top working-from-home tips too; let me know: samradford@hey.com!

Hamilton (and why we need to protect our theatres)

Like so many others, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of the televised stage-version of Hamilton on Disney+. I fell in love with the soundtrack when the show hit Broadway and had tickets to the opening week of its London release in December 2018. I watched it with my wife, Rachel, on Saturday night and was blown away. Again. It is such a stunning production. The music, the choreography, the storytelling – it’s all mesmerising. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius. His ability to bring a piece of history to life and make it feel relevant and contemporary is truly incredible.

Sadly, seeing such an astounding theatrical production was also a reminder of the threat our theatres currently face. It’d be a tragedy to lose our theatres. They help us see the world with new eyes and fresh perspectives. So, UK readers, do please join me in writing to your local MP to let them know they need to act to protect the arts in this country.

Enough is enough

I’ve been thinking about simplicity this last week. And it’s hard to think about because it’s so exposing. I look at all the stuff in my life and I can’t help but feel a sense of shame. How much of the stuff in my life do I really need? I realise how, in theory, I believe that consumerism won’t ever satisfy, and yet, in practice, my life betrays a full buy-in into materialism as a source a happiness. 

I see it in my girls too and their endless need for more. We’ve been trained to be dissatisfied. Our whole economy works on the basis of coercing us to buy stuff on the premise we’ll feel better as a result. There is a high in the moment, but we’ve all felt the reality of just how quickly that high passes and we’re then thinking about something else that we ‘need’. 

How do we escape this? How do we say no to this treadmill of never having enough and finding the place of contentment where enough is enough? I know I won’t get there in a day, and perhaps not in a year. But a life lived in endless discontentment, always needing more, is no way to live. I want to change.

Thanks for reading,

No matter how idilic your desk may look, there’s still a whole host of other challenges to make home-working work in a healthy way.