Issue 26 Apr 09, 2023

On work/life balance


I came back to snow and sleet in Stockholm the other day, from a short trip to Nice, France. Stepping out of that plane into a winter that won't ease up properly here in Sweden was, well, horrible. I don't think I've understood how much I've missed sunshine, having a drink outside, and walking on dry streets. Spring can't come soon enough.

Our trip was a short vacation, and the first time we went anywhere by plane since before the pandemic. It felt great to travel again, although it's troublesome for environmental reasons. I've missed seeing other things, new things. It's as simple as that.

Running a small digital agency means that there are no proper vacations. While you don't have to be on stand-by for things (unless you've planned things incredibly poorly), it's not like we can forget about email and things for five days in a row. This, the idea that everyone's always available, is a problem for most, and that's why you've got people talking endlessly about the work/life balance.

Let me tell you, work/life balance isn't something I've thought about for a long time. I wouldn't be writing about it in this letter if it wasn't for one of our clients who insisted we wouldn't work on our vacation. We're always there for them, and they're a joy to work with. That a client, who initially wanted help while we were away, is prepared to push announcements because of our vacation, speaks volumes to their idea of how you treat your partners. They didn't want us working when we had time off, and they didn't want us feeling that we had to be at their disposal at all times. It's a great client.

We did the announcements anyway, and a few other things while we were away.

Why? Because it is indeed all about balance, but not necessarily what people think about when they talk about work/life balance. To us, being able to help our clients is important. It's just as important, however, that we don't have to process upcoming things, adding stress to the back of our heads. I don't find it stressful to publish a press release at a certain time, with media assets and the like. It doesn't ruin my vacation that I have to sit down in the shade with my iPad, and copy-paste for a bit. If we had decided to push the release to the day we got back home, it would've added stress. It also wouldn't be in line with how we run our agency, it's not the kind of service we want to provide, especially not to clients who are respectful and kind towards us.

So, press releases, two interviews, and some minor other things happened during our vacation. Sometimes on said bench in the shade, at other times in the hotel room, or at a bar. Wonderful, warm and rewarding surroundings, all. The best office I've had in quite some time, I've got to tell you.

If that's not work/life balance, I don't know what is.


ðŸĶĪ Substack is launching a tweet-like Notes feature (without permalinks at the moment, and in beta), which means that Elon Musk's Twitter decided to mess with Substack links. It's silly and ridiculous, watching two locked-down platforms bicker. The Verge has a ton of (sometimes silly) posts on the matter. Key take-away: Start (and own) your own domain, blog and/or newsletter, and don't rely on other people's platforms.

🔐 MIT Technology Review argues that the new EU legislation for Big Tech (primarily social media) is making the internet a safer place. We'll see about that, but it sure will make companies like Meta and Twitter more accountable for not acting properly on illegal content.

ðŸĪ– In AI news, a journalist at the Guardian tried to rely on ChatGPT for a week, which at least shows that AI will be a big thing for recipe sites. The AI art piece in the New Yorker is less flippant but still on a positive note, whereas the stream of shitty AI generated short stories to literary magazines further shows how AI is being used and abused.

📠 I don't know, maybe it's time to build a cyberdeck? Fair warning, this is a rabbit hole.

ðŸ’ļ Or take it a step further, like my brother argues in his piece on why he's choosing to live in poverty, and is happier for it.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, or tweeting to @tdh. Thanks!


📚 You'd think that the short vacation in Nice would mean that I finished The Rules of Attraction (by Bret Easton Ellis), but nope, I read about ten pages this week. Go figure.

ðŸŽĩ Don't ask me how I managed to miss the self-titled (and only) album Hindu Love Gods, by Warren Zevon and (most of) R.E.M. It's a great cover album, albeit not as good as Hollywood Vampires. Great find!

📚 I'm almost caught up with Liasion. It's pretty good.

ðŸŽŪ I've been doing short Breath of the Wild sessions this week, with the little guy. The last of the Divine Beasts is getting spanked tonight.

The trip to Nice, and Easter, made this week a bit crazy. I'm in our cabin now, taking it easy. Next week will be hectic, but at least there aren't any small things piling up that I could've ticked off easily on my days away. I'm grateful for that.

Until next week, take care.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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