Teleworking and Fruitful Breaks (2/3)

In my last post, I talked about how I use an extended version of the Pomodoro technique (45 minutes work, 15 minutes rest) to help me focus while teleworking.

In this post, I want to brainstorm how to take fruitful breaks during those 15-minute rest periods.

How can we use our breaks wisely? My current approach: by resting and/or using breaks to take small steps forward. (Side note: none of my ideas are as fun as this guy’s approach to work/breaks: the Animedoro)

#1: Resting – This is what we normally think of when we think of breaks. Focused work is tiring, so it is healthy to give our minds a rest. Resting will look different for different people. My go-to activity is a quick 15-min walk around the block. Other options include: going outside to chat with my wife (who is also teleworking), grabbing a snack, or just lying down and staring at the ceiling.

#2: Taking Small Steps – I’m sure I sound repetitive, but hear me out: breaks are an effective way to consistently take small steps forward. How often do we think: “I wish I could build X habit or learn Y skill, but I can’t find time in my schedule” or “I need more time to tackle this endless list of errands!” On their own, these tasks usually don’t take too much time, but they can feel daunting with all our other responsibilities and commitments, so they get pushed to the backburner. Making time to do a few small tasks during your breaks is a way to consistently make progress in needed areas and reduce stress. A few ideas below for how to do this:

  • Build Healthy Habits – Do a set of pushups or pull-ups. Clean up my workspace. Respond to people’s messages (I am notoriously bad at this). Have a quick spurt of reading or writing.
  • Knock Out Miscellaneous Personal Tasks – Pay your bills or schedule appointments. Do chores around the house. Especially helpful if you’re making big life decisions: planning a wedding, home-buying, etc. with many tasks to stay on top of.
  • Learn Something New – Read that interesting article. Brush up on work knowledge. Check on that all-day cooking project that’s simmering in the oven.

The goal is not to be productive every single moment of the day (i.e. using every break to do personal “work”). Taking time to pace yourself and rest is equally, if not more important. I’d recommend alternating between resting breaks and “taking small steps” breaks.

For some further reading, I recommend checking out this article on deep breaks by writer, Cal Newport.

In the next post, I’ll wrap up this brief series on teleworking with a few thoughts on balance and avoiding pitfalls.


Teleworking and Focusing with Pomodoros (1/3)

Telework has its clear benefits. No more early commutes or fighting for parking spots. Now, I can leisurely enjoy my mornings, or, if I’m feeling lazy, roll out of bed 2 minutes before work. It’s been a blessing that my wife and I have been able to spend extended time together to begin our marriage, instead of me being gone at the office most of the day.

But telework poses challenges too, especially as a Christian seeking to honor God through faithfulness at work. Working from home means less accountability and easier access to distraction. Sadly, this has often resulted in wasted hours, sometimes even days, at work.

In this post, I want to talk about creating a rhythm of focused work while teleworking, using the well-known Pomodoro technique. I still have a long way to go, but this strategy has helped me and hopefully can be of some benefit to you too.

The Pomodoro method is a commonly recommended strategy in productivity circles. Here is the basic jist: Pick a task, work for 25-minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat this cycle several times, then take a longer 15-30 minute break.

My main gripe with the Pomodoro technique is the 5-minute breaks. There’s not much you can do during a that time. So for me, I’ve found it more helpful to extend both the focus and break time: 45 minutes and 15 minute breaks

Overall, the Pomodoro creates an enjoyable rhythm to my day. In the past, I’d often release my willpower in one concentrated burst, but I’d let myself take an even longer break. With the Pomodoro technique, I’m able to get into a groove after a few cycles, and make good progress on my work while still enjoying my breaks.

In the next post, I’ll brainstorm some ideas for how we can use those 15 minute breaks. Until next time!

Why Keep Writing?

I’ve never been the most consistent writer. One of the main reasons why I started this blog was to write shorter, more informal posts that I could churn out on a regular schedule. Unfortunately, I’ve already started and stopped multiple times.

But I’m not giving up yet! I’m writing this brief post to recommit to my original posting schedule of a new post every two weeks on Wednesday.

Why keep writing for 1G?

I’ve found myself musing more about this question. Life is full and busy these days with marriage, increased responsibilities at work, and ministry and relational commitments. Why spend time with the tedious, often frustrating writing process, even for these short posts?

Two thoughts:

One Foot Forward, One Day’s Grace

I still believe in my purpose for this blog: to explore grace-fueled productivity for struggling people, one step at a time. As I near 30, this reason sometimes feels silly. Many of my peers are advancing in their careers, starting families, and stepping into leadership roles. It can feel like the season for small steps has passed. Now, it’s time to grit your teeth, grow up, and make up lost ground.

Still, I know there are those who find simple tasks overwhelming, even if they look like they have it all put together on the outside. I know I still feel that way. I want to write to encourage those people. Learning to write consistently is a way for me to strive to be productive, one step at a time.

Committing to Lifelong Learning

As life becomes more busy, it’s easy to adopt a passive approach to life, without reflection on the way I’m living. Writing about grace-fuelled productivity helps me examine my habits and day-to-day practices, and brainstorm how I can improve.


I’m not sure exactly what these next posts will look like, but I’m hoping to have fun and not take my content too seriously. I’ll see you again in two weeks. Until next time!

Moving Forward with Moderation (6/6)

I will likely return to the topic of YouTube moderation in the future, but I’ll be wrapping up this series for now so I can explore other topics. It’s been a fun journey and helpful for my own relationship with YouTube. I hope it’s helped you as well!

Before I give some final thoughts, let’s quickly recap where we’ve been:

Here are three final thoughts on how we can move forward with YouTube moderation:

1. Be Wary of Excuses

Here’s a trap I’ll often fall into: (1) I’ll see my unhealthy relationship to YouTube and feel motivated to address it, and (2) I’ll plan various strategies and systems for combating my bad habits. This will work for a while, but eventually my heart will begin devising excuses. Here are a few common ones:

  • “It’s not that much of a struggle right now, so it’s unnecessarily strict to follow the rules you’ve set up. You can let down your guard and relax.”
  • “You created these strategies for a specific scenario (i.e. a normal work/school day) but today the scenario is different. X (fill in the blank) has happened, so the rules don’t apply.”
  • “You’ve had a rough day. You’re not in a good emotional, spiritual, or mental place right now. And you’re placing these restrictions on yourself on top of that? How tedious. Who cares about YouTube moderation when everything else stinks.”

In those moments, you will feel silly for sticking to your strategies, but I encourage you to stay the course. Don’t heed the excuses. Think back: maybe compromising won’t spiral into hours wasted, but how often has it in the past? Or, at the very least, how often has it led to you spending more time on the platform than you originally intended?

Yes, your strategies may feel tedious and restrictive at times, but sticking within these guard rails will ultimately grant a much more important kind of freedom — the freedom to use your time as you choose based on what you value most.

We must stick to our strategies before we can trust ourselves to be flexible with them. In time, we may no longer need these tactics, but we must be honest with ourselves whether we are truly at that point.

2. Toolboxes and Training Wheels

Recently, I was sharing with a friend about my toolbox posts for YouTube. He paused for a moment and proposed another applicable analogy: training wheels. Training wheels assist beginners who are learning to ride a bike but are not yet skilled enough to balance on their own. Without training wheels, these individuals might teeter and fall, badly injuring themselves.

I think the training wheel analogy is helpful. because it highlights the temporary nature of the various tactics I’ve proposed. These tactics are not ends in and of themselves, but help us as we go on to greater, more important pursuits.

This series is written for people who are trying to uproot and deprogram bad YouTube habits. These are difficult habits to break, and there are many pitfalls along the way. That is why it is helpful to think carefully about strategies for moderation.

However, there is a danger in thinking about moderation that we place too much emphasis on YouTube. Even as we try to avoid excess, we still view the platform as a necessary part of our day. We spend inordinate amounts of time and energy resisting the pull to watch, looking forward to when we can watch, or breathing a sigh of relief when we’re “allowed” to watch.

Instead, we should seek what Piper calls the expulsive power of a new affection. We should strive to grow in our desires to know God, to pursue holiness, to love and serve others, and to make the Gospel known, so that the fleeting pleasures of YouTube pale in comparison.

The ultimate goal is that we mature in our affections, so that YouTube naturally falls into its proper place. So we can watch YouTube for the genuine benefits it has to offer, but we are not always teetering on the brink of a binge.

Until we reach that point, we need various training wheels and guard rails. But that is not our ultimate endpoint. We aim for a day when we no longer need to think so actively about YouTube moderation, because our head, hearts, and hands are caught up in kingdom work.

3. Lean on Grace to Get Back Up Quickly

I hope that you’ve been encouraged by this series that you’re not alone in this struggle or silly for having such a hard time with something so seemingly trivial. I hope you’ve found some practical, actionable strategies to help you manage your YouTube usage.

Even as you proactively pursue YouTube moderation, there will be times you slip up and relapse. With that failure will come a temptation to fall back further into bad habits. You will feel discouraged. You will wonder why you can’t overcome something so simple. You will be tempted to berate yourself for being an undisciplined mess.

Don’t be discouraged! Remember that it’s never too late to turn around. Ask God for strength. Remember the endless riches you have in Christ. Remember that you are a child of God, and that will never, ever change. Think critically about why you lost this particular battle and if there are any lessons you can learn for the future. Then, start again and do the next right thing.

Thank you again everyone for reading and following along. Until next time!

All posts in the YouTube Moderation Series:

  1. In Search of YouTube Moderation
  2. Fighting the Pull of Infinity Pools
  3. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part I
  4. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part II
  5. The Value of Tactics and Toolboxes
  6. Moving Forward with Moderation

The Value of Tactics and Toolboxes (5/6)

In my previous two posts (Part I and Part II), I shared 6 practical ideas for YouTube moderation. At times, I felt sheepish writing those posts. Are these types of articles helpful, or am I devolving into publishing Internet clickbait? I imagined a few objections to the “toolbox” format — i.e. posts focusing on specific, actionable strategies:

  • Why devise all these complicated strategies? Why can’t you just stop watching YouTube? It’s not that hard.
  • You are recommending outward actions but ignoring the heart motives, which are what really matter.

Today, I want to reflect more on the benefit of “toolbox” posts:

1. Specifics rather than Generalities

There are countless think pieces (from both Christian and secular writers) bemoaning the negative effects of technology on our mental and spiritual health. However, while many of these articles make a thorough case for the challenges posed by technology, few of them delve into tactics to combat the pull of our devices.

This kind of specific, actionable advice is also absent from our pulpits, and rightly so! A pastor’s job is to exposit what God’s Word has to say. While a preacher may touch on technology usage in their application, a sermon is usually not the proper vehicle to delve into specific strategies for something like YouTube moderation.

At the same time, it’s helpful to talk tactics. If we don’t, we end up with struggling people who are weighed down by their unhealthy technology habits but feel ill-equipped to do anything about it. Technology can feel addictive and impossible to overcome, because of how deeply rooted it is in our lives. It’s easy to resign ourselves to the status quo.

So, while my two articles are far from exhaustive, my hope is that these posts and others like them can give readers a starting place to strategize about YouTube moderation and technology usage in general.

2. Encouraging Experimentation

I’ve written ad-nauseum about getting “in the lab” — i.e. embracing a mindset of experimentation. I don’t want you to blindly accept my ideas as magic bullets (they most certainly are not); instead, my hope is that, in hearing my explanations behind each tool, you would begin to think more critically about solutions to your own particular struggles with YouTube.

Over time, consistent experimentation cultivates a positive growth mindset. Instead of feeling depressed and discouraged by failures, we learn to (1) to assess patterns of failure, (2) develop specific, tailored strategies for those problems, (3) experiment, and (4) tinker and adjust accordingly.

All of my ideas in the toolbox posts arose from observing my own repeated failures and thinking about how I can address them. Some of my solutions may seem odd or idiosyncratic — they probably are! — but that is because they are targeting specific pitfalls in my own life.

3. Recovering Momentum after Failure

In the haze of failure, there are sometimes brief moments of clarity. You can see everything clearly — the emptiness of entertainment, and the superiority of Christ and obedience to him. You want to turn around and change your ways.

These moments of clarity are fragile and fleeting. It is important we capture them and turn them into momentum. Otherwise, we easily slip back into the bad habits we saw clearly just moments before. The pull of infinity pools is that powerful.

In those moments, it is important to re-focus our minds and hearts on Gospel truths. But it is also valuable to have specific, trusted systems and strategies you can fall back on. Instead of relying on willpower and hoping blindly for a better outcome, we can employ practical solutions to start rebuilding a sense of momentum.

Again, I hope these posts have been insightful for you. Until next time!

All posts in the YouTube Moderation series:

  1. In Search of YouTube Moderation
  2. Fighting the Pull of Infinity Pools
  3. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part I
  4. The YouTube Moderation Toolbox, Part II
  5. The Value of Tactics and Toolboxes
  6. Moving Forward with Moderation