Previous: How do We Get Anything Done At All?
Next: Vlogbrothers REUNITED AT LAST



View count:236,953
Last sync:2023-11-25 11:00
In which John reveals the ruse, and the reasons for it.
Greetings from October. Hope you're doing well.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Book club:
Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.  

Except, uh, that it's not.  I've been playing a small trick on you.  As I'm recording this it is, in fact, Thursday, October 28th.  I have secretly pre-made a bunch of Vlogbrothers videos and taken the month of November off as a sort of mini-sabatical.  What led to this minor ruse?  I suppose five things. . . 

First - and I hope you won't take me saying this personally but - work is not the most important thing in my life.  It used to be the most important thing in my life, my primary self-identifier, my shorthand for understanding my value and so on, but I have worked - pun intended - quite hard over the last five years to get away from that sort of thinking.  The most important part of my life is interpersonal relationships with friends, and family, and so on.  And the second most important part of my life is intra-personal - my own time for reading, and writing, and thinking, and exercising and being.  

Now work is very important to me and I want to do it well, but I also don't want it to be my whole life, so I decided to take a month away from certain regular obligations, like VlogBrothers and Dear Hank and John, and some meetings, in order to focus on the other obligations that often don't get prioritised because they aren't, like, economically productive, they're just, actually, productive.  

Like, to use a very basic example, a while back I made a VlogBrothers video  about how the most important time in my day was the time spent chatting with my kids after picking them up from school - but on the day I made that video I was actually too busy to pick them up from school.  

This is obviously not the proper alignment of priorities,  so I'm going to take a month to try to figure  that out.  

Secondly, this whole, uh, boot situation requires a bit of rehab.  

Thirdly, for the last several years my mental health has been mostly stable and good, which has been great, but then for the last little while it was not that stable and not that great, which was, uh, un-fun.   Like, you know how when you feel faint your peripheral vision starts to get clouded?

It was like that, except, like, worry was invading from every direction.  

Fortunately, that's been getting better the last couple of weeks, but I wanna focus on it - without neglecting Vlogbrothers.  Like, I  know I could have just hit pause on this, but I value the conversations so much I didn't wanna do that.  

Fourth, I wanna see if taking time away from regular work obligations gives me more time and inclination to write.  

I've talked about this obliquely, but never directly - somewhere along the line though, publishing became pretty unpleasant for me.  I don't know how much good it does to get into the details of this, but, like, publishing was my dream for most of my life, and it was really fun, and fulfilling at the beginning and then at some point it became mostly stressful and scary. like, I would only be able to think about 'what if the book is received terribly?' and 'what if people hate it?' and 'what if readers feel like I cheated them out of the twenty dollars of faith they placed in me?' and so on. 

 And so, to be honest, while I always loved writing, that part of the publishing process became less something I enjoyed, and  more something that I, like, got through, but then both the writing and the publishing Process for The Anthropocene Reviewed were really fun and fulfilling.  

So now I'm not, like, in a hurry to write or publish anything - The Antropocene Reviewed book has only been out for a few months, it takes me years to write a book, but I'm actually looking forward to it.   I'm enjoying the fun of writing, and the immersion of it, and I want to focus on it.  

And lastly, I need to finish these ridiculously time-consuming circle drawings.  

One thing that I've noticed over the years is that everything takes longer than I expect it to - not least because I always assume that Future-Me will always be more productive than Current-me is able to be - so I don't actually know how much I got done during this month of secret sabbatical-ing, but even if I don't finish the circle drawings or write anything, it will have been a productive time if it ws inter- and intra- personally productive.  

In fact, one of the reasons I'm doing this is to remind myself, Hank, of what you have taught me, that I need to expand my definition of productive to include the things I actually want to produce, like joy, and connection, and fulfillment.  

Next week there will be another small surprise, and then I will be back to report on how my time away went.  

Hank, I hope you had a good month!  

I'll see you on Friday.