18 March 2021

It’s Day 6 of quarantine. Tomorrow I’ll reach the half-way mark.

In a way it hasn’t felt that long. Six days confined to a room sounds like it’d be a very boring and stifling experience. But it hasn’t been like that. Days did tend to get boring toward 5/6pm, but for most of the day I’d keep myself engaged with various activities: work, reading, speaking on the phone, drinking wine/beer.

But in a different way, it feels like I’ve always been in this room. This room has become my reality, my present. Bangkok, parents, the flight—these are distant memories that I can whip up at will, but don’t occupy my mind much otherwise.

I’ve always been this way. I tend not to linger on places. I left Thailand for the UK when I was 17, and back then I remember not really missing home at all. And then I left the UK for France, then back again, then back to Thailand for good. People would sometimes ask if I miss the UK, where I spent a good 7 years of my life, but I really don’t.

Was life better there? In many ways, it was. London is a magnificent place to live. But once I leave a place, the break is clean. I don’t let my thoughts linger on it. I turn my attention wholly toward whatever present location I find myself in, and I get on with it.

I think this is a blessing. I rarely feel nostalgia (and when I do, it’s usually for my year abroad in Paris, specifically for this one memory I have of walking down the street near my college and thinking, “This is picture-perfect. I’m walking in a movie.”) I don’t really miss places, no pangs of sadness, nada.

So, 6 days after leaving Thailand, I don’t really miss it. Do I miss the people I leave behind? Also not. I’ve been messaging everyone and having catch-up conversations. I’ve spoken with my mom at length on the phone twice (on Saturday after I arrived and today) and once with my dad (in our regular Sunday morning slot). So I don’t miss them at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a long conversation with mom as the 55 minutes we spoke today. The forced physical distance has paradoxically reduced the emotional distance. I feel as close to my parents as ever.

I wasn’t going to open my laptop today; I had decided to take a day off my screen. But I’ve spent the day reading this book, Brain on Fire, and the author’s recount of her diaries sparked a strong urge in me to blog. So here I am. It’s a brilliant book, by the way. Fascinating. It’s one reason I wasn’t going to open my laptop—I was glued to my Kindle.

But another reason is I think I deserve a little time off. I’ve been working pretty hard this week, and the monotony of the work routine is getting to me a bit today. So though I’m already on my laptop now, I think I’ll give my work tasks a break. Get back to it fresh tomorrow.

Sometimes what’s needed is simply a day off.

Hope you’re all well.



25 December 2020

I love Christmas. Always have, and probably always will.

Growing up in Thailand, Christmas was fused with New Years into one long, festive holiday season. Christmas/New Years equalled presents. Fairy lights in the garden that dad and I would painstakingly put up (and even more painstakingly remove). My school of 13 years, being Catholic, used to have Christmas celebrations. We also had friendly, but fierce annual competitions of which class can glue/staple/tape together the most elaborate Christmas board.

Then I went to study in the UK and Europe, where Christmas was always a magical time of year, and I just loved soaking up the atmosphere. Lights on Oxford Street. Christmas decor in malls. Christmas markets. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, presents around the tree. I loved it all.

So today being Christmas, it’s a special day for me. And I’ll take this special opportunity to reflect on my experience of 2020.

The Move

West Lake, Hanoi, December 2019.

2020 was supposed to be the year of the big move to Vietnam. Thanks to Covid, this has not happened. But preparations never ceased and I never wavered in the decision. Now finally the jigsaw pieces appear to be falling together and I’m set for a March 2021 move. Fingers crossed all goes well.

The Job

September 2020, Bangkok.

2020 was a life-defining year for me career-wise. I landed the job of a lifetime, and often I still can’t believe I’m working for Mark, an author whose work I truly admire, and now that I actually know him in real life (albeit only digitally for now), really a genuinely awesome person.

The Friends

Fancy staycation with my closest friend, December 2020.

2020 has been a year of deepening new friendships and reconnecting with old ones. It’s probably the year where I’ve had the most fulfilling social experiences. Funny that in a year where most of the world is locked down and socially distanced, I’ve had my most active year socially. I’m thankful the Covid situation was quickly under control here and I was able to have those many lunches, coffees, and dinners with friends.

The Family

The home office, much of 2020.

2020 was also a year of spending time with family, from Agoda going remote in March and much of the remainder of the year. I was living at home, eating mom’s cooking, working comfortably in my new home office set-up (pictured is my swanky new laptop stand which I’m very pleased about buying).

Val’s Bespoke English

2020 was also the year I launched Val’s Bespoke English, my premium tailored English tutoring service.

I’d been teaching privately for many years, but 2020 was the year I decided to formalise it and properly advertise.

And I’ve been pretty pleased with the results so far!

All in all, 2020 has been a pretty good year to me. A year of new experiences, new beginnings, and personal growth in various ways.

Here’s to 2021. May it be kind to all of us.



5 December 2020

It’s been a roller coaster of a few months, in some ways and not others.

I’ve pretty much settled into my new job, which by now is 3 months old, though I still am amazed every time I’m having a conversation with Mark. It’s pretty surreal to be communicating with your favourite author on a daily basis. But this part of my life has more or less stablised.

The roller coaster has mainly been regarding my move to Vietnam. First it seemed like everything was set and all I had to do was set the train rolling, then there was a snag, then there was a breakthrough, then I was dragging my feet for a week or two because I was so apprehensive about navigating the muddy waters, then there was another breakthrough, and now finally the process has officially started.

My application to start a company in Vietnam was submitted to the authorities earlier this week, and after a bunch of paperwork and applications for various approval letters which thankfully my solicitor will take care of, I should be clear to fly to Vietnam in March 2021.

This is much delayed from the original move date of July 2020. Even when my partner and I had accepted the reality of Covid, we still were aiming for September 2020… and then Christmas, then mid-January… you get the idea.

But those were all dates we set ourselves, guesstimating when the Vietnamese border would open for commercial flights from Thailand. We were hoping I would be able to enter Vietnam by those dates.

March 2021, however, is based on an actual timeline of how long each approval process would take. The process kicked off this week. Now, finally, the countdown clock has started.

Another roller coaster has been with my social life. The past 4 months have been a whirlwind of meeting up with a core group of friends and getting to know them better over long dinners and drinks. I’ve enjoyed this immensely, and I think it only hit me a few weeks back that life in Vietnam will be very different socially. There I won’t have this wonderful group of people I’ve only recently started to call my friends, and it made me feel a little lonely. I felt so down that I actually missed my parents, which is new to me. I hardly ever missed my parents before, even when I was living in the UK for many years.

It was a tough week of feeling sad, lonely, and demotivated, but the feeling has passed. And now I’m back to enjoying my social life, but also my solitude. This week has been a week of staycations. I was staying at a business suite during the week doing a ‘workcation,’ and enjoyed the solitude immensely. This morning I checked in to a proper fancy hotel for a relaxing 3-day staycation with my best friend. And I’m writing this while waiting for her to arrive.

It’s going to be great. I already love the room and the service.

Hope you all have been well and your life has been rolling and/or coasting nicely.



18 October 2020

So, I’m almost 2 months in to my dream job working for Mark Manson, and I’m loving it.

I’m part of a small team of just really awesome humans behind his website MarkManson.net where we try to put out an article every week, doling out “life advice that doesn’t suck”.

To be part of this team behind the scenes, working passionately to churn out content that could go on to influence and make the lives of a bajillion people better, it’s unreal.

And the job itself is pretty sweet. It’s a remote role and very flexible. I have set targets and a content manager who helps manage deadlines. And I just focus on churning out research on a variety of intriguing subjects. So far I’ve done (among others): self-conscious emotions, cognitive biases, the impact of social media on mental health.

I also get to give input to new articles in other ways. Even mundane-sounding things like catching typos I’m pretty psyched about. Just to know I’m contributing to making Mark’s content top notch is like, whoa.

Oh, did I mention he’s one of my all-time favourite authors? So yes, pretty sweet.

I’ve been spending the last 2 weeks refining my approach to the job: both the research side of it and (probably more) the time management side. The freedom with which to manage my schedule comes with responsibility. And even with a job I’m this passionate about, there is always the temptation to stop working a little earlier, take it easy.

It’s been a constant battle with that. Not an insurmountable battle, but something I always have to keep in the back of my mind. In this crusade against procrastination, I’ve enlisted the help of a time tracker, which I’ve found fascinating. For the first time I’m literally seeing how I spend my day. It’s an awesome tool.

Almost 2 months in, I think I’ve pretty much got it down. I know how to manage my week, how to manage my day. I know my way of working effectively: 1.5-2 hour spurts, with short breaks. So far I’ve hit all bar one of my deadlines, some of which mildly challenging, and delivered research I’m proud of, that has gone towards a couple of articles.

An unintended side effect of this awesome new job, however, is that I’ve focused so much on doing a good job at it that I’ve somewhat neglected my own endeavours. I haven’t blogged or read for pleasure for 2 months.

A 2-month break from my blog, however lamentable, is something I’m used to. I had gone for months without blogging before, so that doesn’t surprise me.

A full 2 months without reading a single book, however, is just… In the last 1-2 years, I’ve consistently read 2-4 books a month. So to realise the other day that I haven’t finished a single book since the end of August… not a good feeling.

I’ve been carrying around Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments with me (the hardback version even) for 2 months, but I’ve only read maybe 5 pages on one single afternoon. I just haven’t felt the desire to read otherwise.

This could be because I’ve been reading so much as part of my work that I don’t want to read more in my free time. But it’s not a trend I’d like to continue. So will do something about that. Maybe 30 minutes in the afternoon in between my work spurts. Yes, that could work.

Not in the morning as my morning routine already lasts hours: read the news (the Economist and the New York Times), learn Vietnamese on Duolingo, meditate (not always, but usually, in this order).

Now, where do I fit in blogging? Hmm…. that’s another question entirely. I haven’t touched my new business blog since the beginning of August. Damn.

Ah well, I’m here now, and that’s a start.

That’s enough of an update for now. How are y’all doing?



25 August 2020

8 days later and my head is in a completely different space.

Last Monday I was worrying over the quality (or lack thereof) of a research summary I had submitted one day before, after working on it all weekend with scarcely a break.

This research summary was one of three tasks I was given in Phase 2 of a job application.

This application was for the job of a lifetime, a Content and Research Assistant for my favourite author, who happens to have sold tens of millions of books worldwide and topped the NY Times Bestselling list.

Last Monday, I was worrying incessantly that the summary I cobbled together wasn’t good enough. That I wouldn’t shine brightly enough to be selected for a phone interview.

Well, as it turns out, my fears were unfounded. The author’s words when he invited me for the interview were: “you crushed it. Incredible work”.

Then followed an interview last Thursday, a video call that was so surreal I could hardly believe it was truly happening.

I felt the interview had gone brilliantly, but that didn’t stop me worrying and emailing the author twice to correct something I misspoke and clarify a different point.

Yesterday was excruciating. The author had said he would make the decision and extend the job offer on Monday NYC time. Which could have been any time from 7pm yesterday my time.

This morning, at 2am, the anxiously anticipated email arrived in my inbox. I got the job.

And I’m over the moon. Strangely, I didn’t burst into tears like I did when I got the invitation to the interview. Just, calm. And happy. Pleased with myself and proud.

Out of who knows how many people applied, I made it. And I start next Tuesday.

It’s curious that, as one who blogs extensively, I never thought to pursue a paid career in writing. Not until the call for applications landed in my inbox did I ever think such a career an option.

But now here it is. In my hands. From Tuesday, I will be paid to write.

I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. Maybe I’ll be hit by a wave of euphoria later, maybe not.

But yes, hello new job. Hello new boss.

Back to full-time work for me! The past 3 months have been nice, but to return to working life with this job is more than I can ever ask for.

So I shall enjoy my few remaining days, and start fresh.



25 January 2020

Yesterday was a pretty good and interesting day, for different reasons.

It was good because in the morning I had a meeting with “senior leadership” at my company. I went in prepared in terms of the slides (I must have reviewed them at least 5 times) but without talking points.

If you know me, you’ll know that going into a meeting, especially an important one, without talking points is a concept completely alien to me. But it’s something I’ve been working on. You’re not always going to have the time and at some point you just have to learn to trust yourself and “go”.

So I went in not really knowing what specifically I’d say, and the sky didn’t fall down, the room didn’t combust into flames. It went perfectly fine, even better than expected.

I was very happy (and a little bit surprised) to find that I was able to verbalize the slides articulately and strike the right tone given the somewhat sensitive nature of the materials I was going through with them.

So the day started off well. After that I had another good impromptu turn talking about a program we’re piloting in the People Team next week. Again, I had a slide which I knew the content of. But no talking points.

Literally, five seconds before going up, all I knew I was going to say was how to transition in from the previous slide the Chief People Officer was talking about. And this was me standing up to present in front of most of the People Team.

But it went fine. I talked. They listened. I think I made some good points.

I remember, back at my old company, always marveling at how my old boss could always talk through her slides in calls without a script. She was always so natural, just talking through the points conversationally, never missing a beat. As opposed to me who was always robotically reading my carefully-scripted points out loud.

She would always tell me one day I’d be able to do the same, but I never really believed her. Until one day, I’m now really able to do the same. Which reminds me: I should write to give her this happy news! (We’re still in frequent contact – she’s a pretty cool person.)

The day was also interesting because I did a full MBTI test for the first time. For those who don’t know what MBTI is, watch this video.

I have done short, free versions before and wasn’t surprised with my results. I’m introverted, tend to take in facts and figures rather than ideas, make decisions with my heart over my head, and plan my life down to a T.

But doing the long version yesterday – there were 143 items in total – made me see myself in a new light.

I was asked to do two things: first, choose which option feels more natural to me e.g. I plan my day off or I run with it; and second, choose which word I prefer e.g. calm or gregarious.

And I discovered that maybe I’m not as ISFJ (shorthand for the italicised characteristics above) as I thought.

When asked whether I prefer planning my life down to a T or going with the flow, I actually found myself opting for the latter. In real life, I have my schedule down pretty much for every working day and most of my weekends. But if you ask me which I prefer: I really relish the rare evenings where I’ve got nothing planned and can just go wherever I want, do whatever I feel like doing. So I guess my preference and my reality somewhat diverge.

And that’s just one thing. I found more divergences in terms of how I am around people, how I value practicality versus ideas, so on and so forth. I sometimes found that if the items were phrased only slightly differently, my answer shifted immediately and swung from one end of the spectrum to the other.

So I’m pretty curious to see what my result is. I’ll find out in our team meeting next week which is what we’re doing the test for. We’ll all bring our results and based on that discuss how we can work better together as a team. Should be a pretty cool and fun meeting.

Alright, this has turned into a pretty long post, which is surprising because I didn’t really know what I was going to write about when I decided to update my blog half an hour ago. Again, on the spot!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading until the end.



10 January 2020

Ten days into the New Year is as good a time as any to reflect on 2019.

2019 wasn’t particularly eventful (or maybe it was since I changed jobs… but in view of meeting my better half in 2018 and more life changes to come in 2020, a job change pales in comparison). However there were some key learnings and (I’d like to think) growth. Here goes my attempt at summarizing for posterity:

One: I change my mind easily

This discovery about myself came through the series of work-related u-turns I underwent in 2019.

First I became unhappy with work at my previous company, so much so that I had a mild (?) outburst with a colleague and my partner which involved a good measure of hysterics. The frustration and feeling of pointlessness came so suddenly that the next day I told my boss I was planning to leave the company in the next 6 months. I had my mind made up.

And then as the months wore on, as I started seeing the fruits of my labour (I had launched a mobile learning program and feedback was coming in from participants), I changed my mind and thought: work’s not so bad. Let’s stick with it. I still wasn’t keen on corporate life but decided it was good enough for the time being.

Then, once again, mid-year I did a u-turn and this time really did decide to leave and began job searching, which brought me to Agoda, where I currently am. I was excited for the change but was still in an exploratory mode: let’s give corporate another shot.

Then life at Agoda is so unexpectedly great that, lo and behold, I changed my mind again: now I love corporate. Okay, maybe love is a strong word. But I can certainly easily see myself doing this for a large part of my remaining life. Which is basically a complete u-turn from where I was this time last year.

In short, yes, I change my mind easily, and completely.

Two: Speaking up isn’t that hard – even I can do it

So, two of the challenges I had back at my old company were speaking up in meetings and speaking up when I’m not happy about something.

In the first case, I simply wasn’t very good at cutting in in a flow of conversation. The team had a number of outspoken people and meetings tended to be a round-robin of them sharing their thoughts or disagreeing with one another. I always waited for an opening, a pause that was long enough to chime in. But this almost never happened. With the result that I was mostly silent in meetings unless spoken to directly.

At Agoda, I’ve gotten better at this. I’m not sure how or why. But I’ve learnt to cut in. I’ve gotten used to speaking up as another person is tapering off. And now I’m actively participating in meetings. It seemed impossible before, but now that I’m doing it… it’s really not that complicated.

The second issue is a little trickier: speaking up when I’m not happy. My partner has often observed my fear of confrontation and attempt to avoid it at all costs. I remember still all the fuss I was making at my old company when I wasn’t happy with what a colleague did but was finding a million mental excuses not to “confront” them about it.

I’m happy to report that this has changed at Agoda. On many occasions, I have spoken up when a colleague (even those senior to me or above me in the chain of reporting) did something that frustrated me or I felt was not acceptable. And in all cases it has led to good results. A stronger relationship and smoother working experience.

And in no instance did it feel like a confrontation. One colleague even verbally expressed their appreciation that I did so: if not, they wouldn’t have realized and continued doing it, which would have soured the relationship eventually.

Three: It’s about priorities, not balance

A few months into my time at Agoda, a female executive came to speak at the company. Of all the many cool things she shared, one thing stuck:

It’s not about work-life balance. It’s priorities. At different times of your life, priorities change. Maybe now it’s work. But if you have a baby, they will become your priority. So it’s not about balancing equally. It’s about knowing what your priorities are and allocating your time and effort accordingly.

This sharing shifted my perspective on how I view work and life. I did always use to think of it as a balancing act. But once I heard this, I agreed completely. It’s about what your priorities are at any given moment.

And knowing this, it makes decisions much less complicated. For example, coming up this year is a big life decision. Instead of doing a mental cost-benefit analysis, I simply ask myself: what matters more? And the answer is clear.

And from then, everything flows effortlessly. So yes, life decision made. Let’s see how that (to use work-speak for a bit) gets executed on and what the rest of 2020 has in store.

I can probably come up with more learnings, but I am a firm believer that less is more. Plus, three is kind of a cool number.

What has your reflection been on 2019? What does 2020 hold in store for you?



27 November 2019

This is my fourth post of November, which feels strange – in a good way.

Looking back at my calendar, I see that I’ve written almost monthly this year, with a recent hiatus in September-October. Maybe I’m making up for it… who knows?

What I know is that this month I’ve felt more often the urge to write, and I say urge, not merely desire. When I get this urge, I just have to get out my laptop and start typing.

It feels nice to have this urge. I think it might be related to having more head space after those few stressful weeks. When I have some head space, first I read. Then when I have even more head space, I write.

Talking about reading, I’m on Adultery by Paolo Coelho now, and I must say I’m not impressed. The novelty of reading an author I’m not familiar with wore off pretty quickly, and apart from a few snickers, the novel isn’t doing much for me.

I think I’m spoilt by authors like Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami, and Milan Kundera. I find their writing more subtle and immersive.

Ishiguro in particular is my number one author. I love love love his books. He is so consistent in style and depth, yet each of his books features a story so different and unique. The Unconsoled in particular is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read – in a good way.

I recently went on a little binge on Kindle, and waiting for me there now is David Lagercrantz’s latest instalment in the Lisbeth Salander series, A Clockwork Orange, and (this one I’m looking forward to the most and plan to read next) David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon, the first of his memoirs which talks about Hollywood in its heyday (30s and 40s), which my partner recommended after I saw Judy, the movie starring Renée Zellweger and became interested in the golden age of Hollywood.

I’m still only a little over halfway through Adultery. I’m quite eager to finish it, so I’ll be giving it plenty of time and attention in the next few days. That’s the thing with me: books I don’t enjoy I want to finish quickly, but books I love I want to last. I felt pretty empty when I finished Murakami’s Norwegian Wood a few weeks back.

How did today’s post turn into a post about books? Ah well, I guess that happens when you’re free flowing.

It’s 8:23am and I should be getting ready for work. I’ve been waking up later than usual this week and not getting into work until 9:30 – upside: the BTS sky train is a little less crowded (though not always); downside: I get less done in the morning, which is my most productive hours (or so I’d like to think).

But today should be fine. I have very few meetings today, fewer than usual, with large blocks of time to do project work. Things are moving along nicely at work and I should be able to tick off all but one tasks by December 20, before I fly off to Hanoi for a long Christmas holiday with my better half.

Okay, gotta get going. It’s nice to write in the morning! Maybe I should do this more often (now that I’ve “said” this, it probably won’t happen…)

We shall see.

Love as always,


16 November 2019

So, it worked!

After experiencing that heightened brain activity a.k.a. maybe-stress for a few weeks (written about here), I am out of “danger zone” (shout out to all the Archer fans out there!).

Turns out a few weekends of rest and relaxation do wonders, together with not coming in to work at 7 in the morning and staying too late (duh).

After the first weekend of November where I opted not to work on subtitles (a difficult decision as I had the projects ready to go and a deadline hanging over me – it almost felt wrong not to get a head start!) and enjoyed Lion King the Musical (sublime) with my parents, I could feel my brain buzz winding down a notch.

Then last weekend was divine. I did work on subtitles (two 30-minute episodes) but was able to rest for most of Sunday. I went to see Judy (Judy Garland biopic starring Renée Zellweger), which was wonderful.

Then had an impromptu decision to get a foot massage. I ended up in a fancy-ish spa I’d never been to and boy, that massage was so relaxing: darkened room, soft music, firm touches. I had one of those moments when you feel perfectly at peace with yourself. I could feel the waves of contentment washing over me. It was the most perfect re-charge I could ask for!

On top of these relaxing weekends, I’ve been guarding my reading time with my life: early mornings and sometimes in the evenings too. I finished Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. I can tell you absolutely nothing about the book without spoiling it, but I will say this: a wonderful read. It was a slow start but once I fell into the story I was hooked.

The combination of those two great weekends and switch-off time with Murakami I think helped restore my calm and peaceful state of mind. I’ve been feeling more relaxed at work these past two weeks.

I can feel the next wave coming though. As old projects phase out, I’m finding new tasks on my plate for projects that had previously been on the back burner. A lot of new deadlines between now and January, so have got to step up my game and tackle those tasks head on.

I’m in that state where it feels like there’s a lot to do and I’m not sure if I can do it all in time, but at the same time I also believe that there is enough time and I just need to take it one task at a time and work smart. Plan my days effectively with the right amount of hours scheduled for different tasks.

And a lot of the pending tasks are design/creative work, which I like, so I bet I’ll enjoy doing them.

Oh, and on the subtitles front, this month is proving very lucrative. On top of the three projects due at the end of the month (two of which I completed last weekend), I got another urgent project today, completely out of the blue. Feeling I’ve got enough head space and time, I accepted.

So I’ve got a new project to work on tomorrow (due Monday morning). I’ve finished watching it and it looks straightforward enough. If I’m quick, I may even get to work on the one remaining project due end of the month tomorrow.

Overall, things are swell. Just have to be careful and not let that wave sweep me under again. And now, I shall head off to Chinatown with some work peeps. I’m playing tour guide today and am looking forward to showing my non-Thai crew the myriad delicacies of Chinatown!

Also, today’s trip serves as a tester for next weekend. My partner will be here and we plan to hit Chinatown. So hopefully after this evening I’ll know some good spots to take my man.

Hope you’re all having a restful and relaxing weekend!



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),