Finally a short break. I’ve been at the office from six in the morning, turning on all of the office lights that sharply brighten the edges of desks and monitors, tables and chairs stuck between leftover to-do lists. I don’t really identify myself as a morning person. But for some strange reason, I’m able to completely finish 75% of my day’s work within the two hours taking place between 6–8AM. It all comes down to perception I guess.
Working in a dynamic and fast-paced environment forces you to quickly discover a certain kind of productivity. How many hours does it take for you to write a plan? (four hours). Now try doing it in three, my supervisor says. Bottlenecking your own time can make you the most productive person in the world, in exchange for more stress and pressure.
Mornings like this don’t come often, they probably take place once every few weeks. What’s interesting is that most of the time they start with an incredibly late night, probably between one to two in the morning. Dreams rarely take place, it’s always a constant black or an incredibly short series of moments. Sometimes I would sleep and wake up so seamlessly, it would feel as if I’ve been completely awake the whole time. But then just when you thought you’re about to rest, it’s 5:00 AM.
Having a total lack of sleep sometimes gives me enough energy to immediately wake up from my bed. Give a few snoozes on my alarm clock and by five o’clock I would already be dragging myself to the bathroom for a shower. It normally takes fifteen minutes for me to completely clean myself up, soap and shampoo with a brush and face wash. I never question whether fifteen minutes is good enough, I just hope and wish for the best.
But it’s the walk to the station that I absolutely love. You’re in this space that’s in between night and day, before sunrise. It’s entirely empty and quiet but you know you’re not alone. There’s no sound of footsteps but you can see people in front of you, walking to the station with just as much determination as you have. There’s a lot I have to get done, I need to work.
Commuting to work can often be the highlight of my day. I’ve always enjoyed watching other people move about their lives, and imagining their background story and context. What was he really doing? Why is he wearing his shirt like that? Why is she constantly refreshing her WhatsApp conversations? My great English teacher once told me that a great way to practice building narratives would be to simply catch a bus, look and imagine.
Once I arrive at my desk, lonely and silent with no hint of air conditioning, I’m at my most productive state. No one’s here, even that sounds like an achievement for me. And then there’s no one else here, no one who’s going to disturb my current workload. Working here for two years gave me a brilliant insight into the dynamics of work: you will always end up with more work than you originally planned for.
Beautiful isn’t it? Afterwards I give myself two hours to complete take ownership of my time and complete the pending work that’s been sitting on my Wunderlist for over three days. Once it’s over and I tick off the list, it feels amazing.
But then there’s the burnout process. Suddenly it’s only 8:00 AM and I’m already feeling like I’ve done most of my work. What am I going to do now?
So then I write. And it’s great. I should just keep on writing, effortlessly with no direction but the motivation to write more than I’ve ever written. Maybe then, I’ll get into the habit.