Newsletter #51 - Wrapping up 4 weeks in The Netherlands and Belgium
We spent the last four weeks in the Netherlands and Belgium
I did that while working Japanese hours.
The first 3 weeks I woke up at 2.30am, started work at 3am and worked until 11am.
The last week, due to daylight savings time (or "winter hour" as we call it in Belgium), I woke up at 1.30am, started work at 2am and finished at 10am.
It was intended for one week, but I ended up doing it for four weeks, as I was waiting for my visa.
After work I had the daytime off with my spouse and my 1.5 year old.
We went to the beach, cycling, to the playground, to the bird park, to the shopping mall and many many other things.
It felt like I had two days to spend every day, which was great.
Though maybe I suffered a little lack of sleep here and there ...
Journey pics below if images speak more to you than words
The longer story
I love a little experiment, and working at night during 1 one week definitely fits in the category of weird experiments I like to do.
The experiment got stretched, as it took 15 days to process my visa rather than 2 days (TLDR Embassy overwhelmed with applications).
This brought an additional array of learnings:
(1) When I plan to work during the night and have fun during the day, I built up a lack of sleep, which is ok for one week, but not sustainable for four weeks.
(2) This conflict between short and long term planning also arose in my habits. If I had known I would stay four weeks, I would have brought running gear, I would have brought more clothes overall, I would have taken a co-working subscription from the first week, I would have planned my meetups with friends and family more ahead, ...
But I didn't know it would take 4 weeks. Even worse, every single week I thought I would fly back that same weekend, so I only planned ahead for a couple of days.
As a result I camped at the Starbucks during 3 weeks and wore the same 2 pants during 4 weeks.
(3) Adapting to new environments takes time. Figuring out how to ignite my brain at 3am, where to work, how to go get dressed without waking the baby up, .. easily becomes the Top Idea in My Mind.
It's refreshing to have new ideas, but at the same time it creates a dent in productivity. I've written before about travel being disruptive (newsletter 27). Though this time the dent in productivity might also have been caused by the lack of planning and because of the next point:
(4) When the visa finally came in, I noticed it gave a massive positive boost to my morale. Being dependent on a process I didn't control or didn't have any transparency into brought down my energy more than I would like to admit. The last week (previous week) I was in high spirits because I didn't have to think about the visa anymore.
(5) I replaced running with long walks. Because I stopped working at 11am, it felt like I had mountains of time to get home, so spending around 1 hour walking home felt relaxing!
(6) I missed connecting with people, only in the last week when I found a co-working, I managed to have casual conversations again. Despite being very verbal, people in the Netherlands are not very used to making small talk at Starbucks or other public places. Or maybe it's just the gray, windy and dark time of the year which doesn't invite for a lot of spontaneity.
People provide energy and ideas, even when just having casual interactions. I felt I missed that.
(7) On travel days, like last Friday when I wrote the bulk of this email, the energy is always high! It's playful stress, it's yolo, it's being goofy. I don't know why it happens but it always does!
This was actually the longest streak back in Europe since we moved to Thailand 5 years ago.
Since yesterday evening, we're back in Phuket, end of my extended experiment, and end of our stay in Leiden, the Netherlands and Bolderberg, Belgium.
I planned to launch a product every month. I postponed October's launch to this week as I wanted to launch a list of cool places to live, but I got the idea to map them first. I also asked a question on Hacker News but got very few useful anwsers.
I requested api access to the bridges which can open in the Netherlands, to built a "bridge-open" alarm bell. This is an example of the kind of random ideas which pop up when I'm in high spirits like this week.
I just learned my co-working in Bangtao, Phuket will stop operating in two weeks. If you know anyone who wants to share an office, give me a poke!