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Juan F Gonzalez
Juan F Gonzalez

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Going back to the basics

Hello DEV community!

I'm back again at my older laptop that I didn't have access to for more than 2 months because all the lockdown craziness going on.
But that time away from my usual stuff made me think of a lot of stuff (that I wouldn't have thought otherwise) and kind of be a breakpoint (like in tennis) out of the usual rushed life.

In this post, I'm sharing some takeaways of that experience in the hopes that it would help others that probably haven't had the time to sit and reflect in the current situation of forced WFH, the blending of work/personal activities and all the stuff that's been happening in these weeks.

Without further ado, let's begin.

The background context

So there I was, back with my parents in a different city. With some familiar things but none of my own. A good thing is to be able to work remotely with just a pc and an internet connection. So in the day, I would be focused on my job but then in the evenings and weekends is that I would miss my other stuff, like the books I'm reading and my personal pc with all the things I've been doing and learning about.

To make matters a little bit worse, my whole routine became nothing. Without access to the gym to exercise in the mornings. Without my alarm clock and without most of my clothes. But initially, it was okay because this was just a temporary thing (right?). Then 30 days passed, then another 30 days passed and I was growing restless real fast 'cause like I told a friend over a video call, "It's the first time in my life that I've planned the months of the year ahead and was doing really great the first 2 months and then BOOM everything fell apart".

On a weekend with nothing much to do, I had to come to grips with the idea that this situation was no temporary thing and even if it would end the next day. I will be going back to a different city from the one I left in the first place.
So in SCRUM terms, I had several things that I was working on but I was full of blockers and impediments.

Due to my personality, I'm a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak, the situation I was facing in my mind was a HUGE challenge, an emergency

Emergency gif

(and you kinda have to agree that it did look like the end of the world was over us already).

So I was facing 2 options, to throw all the planning that I did to the garbage 'cause most of the things wouldn't be possible in the current situation OR to somehow get access to my Trello board and rework the "story backlog" and get on the great endeavor to do replanning.

And then I remembered a quote from the great Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius quote

What happened next

Mourning my well crafted 6-month plan

So like I said before, I took a weekend to reflect on what was happening and to mourn my abruptly interrupted and very well crafted 6-month plan. Mostly on Sunday was that I went through some of the stages of grief, resolving internal conflicts, and dealing with the repercussions of possible actions.

Initially, of course, was the wish to go back to where I was living and retake my routine, thinking this was just a temporary thing and that "it too shall pass". That was just me living in denial for the 2 months prior to that weekend, but you know what the Architect in the Matrix told Neo in his encounter.

Matrix architect's line

After the bargaining and depression that came after, Sunday was coming to an end and I had to make a choice between the 2 options. Some thoughts came to my head that had come before but I hadn't paid much attention to them in the past and they were based on the idea of essentialism.

If everything was taken from me, what are the few absolute basics I would need to survive and keep moving forward? That was the question that remained in my head and then another popped up. Would I be moving in the same direction as before or would I take this chance and be more focused on long-term goals instead of half-year ones?

In a situation where you face a crossroad like this and you can't move forward unless you make a choice. What path would you take?




In my case, I decided to rebuild things from scratch.

Redefining the backlog

For embarking in that endeavor I had to, as they say, go "back to the basics" and rediscover what were the things that have allowed all the progress I had in the last couple of years. Interestingly, soon after that I came across this tweet when I was going through my feed.

So there was it, that was the action I had to take to start the redefining process (although I'm sure that Jack didn't mean the kind of basics that I'm referring to but it still works for me)

Now, I had to go back, relearn my basics and build upon them to create the tasks that would make part of the new "backlog" for achieving the goals oriented to my year's theme.

Now going to the absolute essentials needed, I thought about the following:

  • Clothes to wear
  • Bed to sleep
  • Bathroom for several uses
  • Food to eat (and hopefully enough to keep my fitness routine)
  • My laptop to do my job
  • And obviously a Wi-Fi connection

That's about it, everything else is just an added benefit, a nice plus.

Okay, but those are physical things. What about the mind?

For the mind, there are a few things I've discovered over the last 5 years which are my essentials. Specifically 3.

*The long-term vision

I'll describe what each of those are in case you're not familiar with the terms (or if you want to try them for yourself and see how well they work).

But since this post is getting much longer than I expected, I'll follow up defining these terms in another one. For now, I want to leave you with the small challenge of doing that thought experiment for yourself. What are your absolute essentials?

Thanks for your time reading this far, I'll come back with another post next week. Until then stay safe, stay healthy & stay awesome. 😎

Cover photo by Kamila Maciejewska on Unsplash

Top comments (2)

h4ckz3r profile image

Hey there Juan, good post you made. I've have thought about these things in the past months but didn't know how articulate those thoughts. This puts into words some of those things. Thanks for writing it, looking forward to the next post :)

juanfrank77 profile image
Juan F Gonzalez

Hey man, thanks for reading!
I'm glad it helped put some of those thoughts into words so that you are more aware of them.
I'll be working in that next post for the next week as well 😁