Jane Andersson recommends the Swedish concept of lagom (just enough) as a key to making a meaningfully productive life.
A meaningful life with just enough of what matters
Jane Andersson is a journalist at Swedish Television, Sweden’s largest television network. She is also a wife and a mom to two daughters. She enjoys reading, traveling, and planning.
A typical day
Jane works with local news, so she gets up very early in the morning--as early as 3:15 am. She jumps into the shower, gets dressed, makes herself a few sandwiches, and goes to work around 4 am. At 4:30 she starts work, which is to create four editions of local news for a large part of southern Sweden. She has some stories pre-made, but others she has to do on her own. She reads all the other news outlets, select stories from her area, selects clips from their archive, edits, records, and broadcasts the show.
Jane works on the first versions between 4:30-7 am, makes updates to the news between 7 and 9 am, and then works on other tasks such as responding to emails and supervising interns and new staffers between 9 and 11 am. Her workday ends at 11 am, which is the upside of getting to work at 4 am.
After work, she runs errands, has lunch with friends from time to time, goes to the gym, and then goes home to sleep for a couple of hours. In the evening, she spends time with her husband and reads a lot.
She’s an early bird so you'd think she would go to sleep early, but that isn't the case. Surprisingly, she gets into bed around 11 pm and reads for about an hour before actually going to sleep around midnight. Then her day starts all over again around 3:15 am. You can say she divides her sleep into two chunks, and it works for her.
When she wakes up from her afternoon sleep, she feels refreshed and she can do a lot of things, even hang out with friends or go to the movies. With her schedule, she feels she's able to have more quality time than with a schedule that requires her to work during the daytime. Every fourth week or so, she has to work both days of the weekend as well. But when she doesn’t have to work on weekends, she gets a lot more sleep.
Biggest Productivity Challenges
Jane’s biggest productivity challenge at work is that it's virtually impossible to plan because the news determines everything. All those great productivity advice that you shouldn’t multitask, or that you should check your email only twice a day doesn’t work for her. Sometimes, she feels like she’s doing everything all at the same time. She advises that journalism isn’t for the type of person who likes knowing what she has to do in advance.
When I asked Jane how she does manage to work with unforeseen events that call for her attention at work, she responded that that’s a hard question. When she goes into work in the morning, she is well aware of what she needs to do, but she doesn’t know how she will do it or what the content will be. Having been a journalist for three decades, so she’s learned to just go with it.
When she uses her planner, she uses it to make her "real life" outside of work go more smoothly. She says that work is a big part of our lives, but it is not everything. There are a lot of logistics outside of work that you have to take care of, and she likes to plan for those parts. We agreed that having a plan and order in our lives makes it easier to go with the flow.
At home, Jane’s biggest challenge is clutter. She and her husband have been living in the same house since 1989, so they have accumulated a lot of stuff, but they have agreed to spend this year decluttering.
Nowadays she doesn't have a hard time saying no, but she did when she was younger. Like a lot of us, she wanted to show that she was good enough and that she could achieve things,