Sebastian Gebski

TL;DR - time is the only resource we can't get back or recover, so I've perfected my way to optimise its (personal) utilization. But I've went too far - as it has appeared, over-tuning own life has several negative consequences I wasn't aware of. Learn from my mistakes.

These of you who know me in person now that I'm 100% sane ;). I have several areas of interest, I'm very determined & passionate BUT I am also totally unable to do anything halfheartedly: for myself it's either deep dive or nothing. Mix that with innate stubbornness and a strong tendency for perfectionism (fortunately I've learned to control it) & you have a legitimate recipe for going nuts.

For a long time I did not see this as a problem. Or rather - I've seen a wrong problem: I thought it's an issue of time management ("I need to squeeze as much of 24h to be able to do ALL the stuff I'd like to."), so this was what I've focused on: hyper-optimising daily routine.


How did I approach it? Here are some examples:

  • I've fully switched to public transportation - driving own car requires full focus, while in bus I can read all the way
  • I've took all the necessary measurements (separately for different cloth/shoe/etc. brands) to completely switch from shopping in person (e.g. in shopping centres) to on-line stores; same applies to prepping food (pre-packaged meals for whole day)
  • I've regulated (by experimentation & optimisation) daily biorhythm (e.g. meal & falling asleep / waking up hours, daily walking routine) to minimise sleeping time w/o the effect of fatigue / reduced energy
  • I've completely (100%, really) given up on activities that were helpful in chilling out, but not in terms of own development - like computer games or television
  • whenever I was doing some physical activity that wasn't intellectually absorbing by itself (e.g. going to pharmacy nearby, jogging or working out at gym), I was listening to podcasts / audiobooks or practising Spanish
  • I've created a set of Tampermonkey scripts for all the sources of information I use regularly - to automate interactions, data scraping, etc.

My days were super-regular, hyper-optimised, ultra-packed & intense. Up to the degree where any feeling of "waste" (literally - 3 minutes or so) was making me uncomfortable & anxious. Every moment had to be spent either on family (some things I won't sacrifice), work (well, one has to earn) or personal development (professional or physical - to remain fit & healthy).

Like a robot

Sounds like a degree of self-discipline that one could envy. Clearly it helped me to learn, improve & get valuable experience with a remarkable velocity. But ...

... but everything comes for a price.

Physically I was doing fine. Or even better than fine - actually (according to detailed, medical examination): stellar fine. BUT the mental sphere was something completely different as I've stripped myself completely out of the "slack time". I had no "free processing cycles", no free-roaming, no idle time.

Initially it felt great, but being fully focused for 100% time has caused several unwanted "side effects":

  1. it impedes creativity - shortly speaking: my thoughts have no opportunity to wander around, explore options, variants & ideas - no time for these as I was all the time chasing something
  2. small things stopped being enjoyable - there was this overwhelming feeling of wasting time, subliminal pressure to proceed & progress, everything else was an obstacle or a speed bump
  3. high velocity progress is (at least initially) is like a drug - at some point I was so addicted to it that I couldn't understand that people around don't follow the same route, don't have the same motivations, don't go crazy for like I myself did - but I was expecting them to do

OK, I believe you've got the idea. It was not a typical burn-out, actually I've never run out of motivation, got jaded or anything like that. Nevertheless it was VERY wrong & it was driving me straight into very unhealthy life imbalance. At some point optimisation became a target itself which doesn't sound sane either ...

As for myself: I've managed to regain my own, personal equilibrium - what has helped (in realizing & understanding the problem) was ... spending some time in Scandinavia (longing for family taught me how important are all these small we don't even notice on daily basis, I've also learned much from observing Nordic life-work balance, etc.). But let it be a lesson for everyone else - slow down a bit, don't let ANY kind of inner hunger take control over your life, allow yourself some luxury of doing nothing, enjoying life, exploring in free-roam mode.

Pic: © James Steidl -