3 November 2019

I may have a problem recognising stress. I don’t know how widespread a problem this is among professionals, but I may be one of the sufferers.

For weeks now I’ve openly acknowledged that my brain is in a state of “heightened activity”. What I mean by that is it’s constantly whirring and buzzing in the background – processing, making connections, coming up with ideas. Which is a somewhat pleasant feeling.

But I guess at some point I should recognise that heightened brain activity can turn into stress. Maybe it’s further along on the same spectrum. Or maybe it’s a different spectrum which however is closely interrelated.

No idea which is which. Or maybe it’s neither!

In any case, I must admit that the pleasant effects of heightened brain activity have worn off. And now I’m just tired, and maybe… stressed?

I have some theories as to why I have such a hard time admitting I’m stressed (if indeed I am). First, I’m not actually sure what stress is. And therefore I don’t know if what I’m experiencing actually qualifies as stress. Second, I guess I associate stress with negativity and therefore am reluctant to admit that I’m stressed. Somehow that seems to imply that I’m not enjoying what I’m doing (not true) or that I’m doing too much (probably true).

Anyhow, at the end of Friday my brain was certainly a mumble jumble of mess. As a result, I’ve opted to postpone working on subtitles and turn this weekend into a re-charge.

Most of yesterday (Saturday) was spent reading (I finished another excellent Ishiguro book!) And this morning I chilled with my dad over morning coffee (I might have also offloaded a little about work). And in a few hours me and my parents are watching Lion King the Musical – really looking forward to that.

Weirdly enough, yesterday as I was looking for an article to set as reading assignment for my English student, I stumbled across Mark Manson’s piece on how to be productive by working less. Reading that made me reflect on what I’m doing at work – or more accurately, what I may be doing wrong.

I don’t think it’s right to have five and a half hour meetings – yet that’s exactly what happened on Friday: we went straight from 3pm to 8:30pm (hence the mumble jumble brain mess).

In retrospect and having read Mark’s article, I think there was a more optimal way of accomplishing what we did in half the time, if even that. And maybe the (maybe) stress could be caused by how I’m doing things? Or the (maybe) stress is leading me to make sub-optimal judgements that turned into 5.5 hour meetings?

Anyhow, having had this realisation, I’m starting the new week with a new resolve: no more 5.5. hour meetings. Luckily I have a very supportive manager and a mentor at work – I’ll be going to both of them for thoughts and suggestions on how I can do more in less time.

And also how I can prevent “work creep”. What has characterised these few weeks of heightened brain activity is work thoughts creeping up after hours and during weekends. I’d be doing something and suddenly I’d have an idea: Ah! I should do this for that project! Completely out of nowhere.

I take this as an indication that my brain is thinking about work in the background, which really shouldn’t happen. I want to find a way to switch off my work brain. I think it’s healthier that way. And I’ll be going to my manager and mentor for help on that.

Having said all that though, I’m enjoying work immensely. There are so many new and exciting things to do. And the people are so much fun to work with. And now, thanks to placing second at the People Hack competition which I’ve written about here, I’ve got a project of my own: my Agoda baby!

Three months in and I’m leading a project that could make a difference, seeing my idea come to life. I think that’s pretty cool. (And also likely a major contributor to this stress/no-stress state I’m in.)

“With great power, comes great responsibility,” as the wise Uncle Ben said.

Not that I’m saying I’ve got superpowers or anything. But I’m certainly feeling the weight of responsibility in driving this project to successful completion.

Maybe I should just admit: I’m stressed. Then find ways to overcome it. No point dithering and side-stepping the issue. The longer it takes me to recognise the state I’m in, the longer it will take me to address the issues and move past this.

Plenty of people around me have noticed that I’ve slipped into an untenable state: my partner, my manager, even my manager’s manager. And all have expressed their concerns and suggested I take steps to move back into healthy work-life balance zone.

Okay, I’ve made up my mind: I’ll bring this up with my manager in our check-in tomorrow and ask for help: “I think I’m getting stressed. How can I address this?”

Yes, let’s do that.

Love (and hoping you’re not in the same dilemma I am),


30 August 2017

Another big news: I went in for a second interview yesterday at what I’ll now call the company, and I really liked what I heard. So this morning I shot the managers who interviewed me an e-mail saying, word for word, that “I’d really like to take on this challenge if you’ll give me the opportunity”.

I had turned down said opportunity once before, in an e-mail from what seems like light years ago. This was after my first interview for a Coordinator role. They hadn’t given me the job, but I withdrew my application before I could find out either way.

I thought long and hard this time, and finally decided to go with it. It’s a scary new journey (if they take me), but ultimately I believe it’s one worth taking. The position I interviewed for this time is a crossover between a project manager and an analyst role. I’d be in charge of – and I’ve said this a million times to a million people in the past 24 hours – coming up with and implementing measures to ensure effectiveness of training, within and outside the classroom. The job would be project-based. I come up with them. I run them.

Sounds good, right? I’m not sure if you know this, but I’ve always been interested in behavioural economics. I could say I was ‘obsessed’ at one point. Game theory and all. I used to tear through volumes and volumes of ‘pop economics’ books and lap up theories about how people make decisions and what influences them. And now, in what appears to be a culmination of my studies, I’ll get to apply the science in a real-world situation. A mass experiment, if you’d like. And get paid for it.

So it’s a pretty sweet deal from the personal interest side of it. The downside of it is that I’ll have to work in a quiet partitioned office (which I hadn’t been so keen on in the past). On the (literally) bright side, the office is nice and small, airy, and I can have the table by the window (according to my would-be boss). The glare from the sunlight will be horrible there though, so I don’t know. Whoa, slow down. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The real downside of it is that I’ll have to give up a large chunk of my subtitles work. I think I’ll be okay with the provider I’ve always worked for. But the other company I’m not so sure about. There’s a set requirement of how many programme hours their freelancer has to undertake per month. It’ll be really difficult, probably impossible, to reach that requirement, so I may well have to give up being their contracted freelancer.

In any case, it’s decided. I’ve sent the e-mail. There’s no going back. Now what’s left is to sit tight and wait for their call, be it the heralder of yes news or no news. The wonderful thing in all this is that there is no bad news. There’s just one scary path, and a comfortable one. If I don’t get the job, I’m perfectly happy with what I have. If I get the job, it’ll scare me to death but I’ll learn a lot along the way, wherever that way may lead.

So, let’s wait and see. We also never got round to discussing the salary. I’ll be happy if they don’t skimp and offer what I asked for. But I also can’t help hoping for just a little bit more…

Humans, what greedy creatures we are.

With love,


11 October 2014

I have not been this busy since… since this time last year actually. I was working then. Part-time. Now that I think about it, I’m not too sure why I was so busy. Maybe it was due to lousy time management on my part. Maybe I was trying to do too many things.

It could have been anything. One year goes by in a flash, but that doesn’t mean I remember everything that happened last October. The mind works in mysterious ways.

*pause for all of us to reflect on the wonders of the mind*

Are those synapses firing yet? If not, give it a bit more time.

If yes, let’s continue.

do know why I’m busy this time around. First reason: I am starting my first real job on Wednesday (15th October) – *round of applause* – and I have two books to finish between now and then. I’ve made it through almost half of one book – *another round of applause* – and I really should be able to get them both read by the end of Tuesday.

Second reason: have I told you I signed up for an online Digital Marketing course? Probably not. It’s called ‘Squared Online’. Here it is. Since my digital experience so far is limited to two blogs and a baby, I thought I would educate myself. The shiny name of Google associated with the course was also extremely persuasive – I was still on the job hunt back then; I mean, it couldn’t possibly hurt! Right?

And I do not regret the decision. Two weeks in, I am finding the course stimulating and enjoyable. I feel like I am having my eyes opened to a brave new world (loved that book). But with the course comes homework. That I decided to start a blog (my third and latest) to accompany my 7-month journey as a Square (pardon the course lingo) didn’t help.

So yes, the past three days have been almost entirely spent on the course and prepping for my new job. The good news: I have now finished the project for the first module of the course, which is the most time-consuming activity I’ll have to get done in the next 3 weeks. It’s a two-minute video to introduce myself to my fellow Squares (course lingo again), which took me… four hours in total to make.

Since I’ve spent so much time on it, I might as well get as many people to watch it as possible. So here it is:

I’ve just realised I haven’t actually told you guys what my job will be.


From Wednesday, I will be an Internet Marketing Analyst at a tech start-up based in South East Asia. Pretty cool, eh? I think so too.

Incidentally, this is not the job I went to the interview for (and got) last Friday. It goes to show: you never know what’s going to happen. You just don’t.

Wish me luck!

I’ll be back to let you know how things go.



p.s. I just realised I actually talk about the job in the video. Oops. Well, too much of a good news can’t hurt, right? 😀