Episode 2 – The enjoyable commute

"The key is in not spending time, but in investing it." - Dr Stephen R. Covey

“I love my one hour commute!” Said nobody ever.

That is until podcasts came along, where the choice for free entertainment and learning suddenly became a reality & commuting became more productive than ever.

I remember a few years ago wondering whether I should live further from my workplace, just to fit more listening and thinking into my life.

“But your commute is so long!” say my Danish colleagues…

Not really…

My commute is 40 minutes door to door. Not unusual for someone in the UK, where you can easily spend 40 minutes just waiting for a train to turn up at the station.

The problem I have is the Danish transport system is so efficient (said no Dane ever btw..)

To me (and anyone who’s used public transport regularly in the UK) the Danish transport system is gloriously effective. The terrific problem this causes for me is such little time to get through my podcasts.

I think I need to live further away from the office…

"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely" - Rodin

There are trains every 10 minutes practically anywhere within the Copenhagen region (and miles beyond).

The buses are new, clean and mostly on 10-minute cycles too, and the taxies are like Uber i.e. minutes away and there’s an app that takes payment when you get to your destination.

It’s terrific!

Yes, it really is…

In Denmark, if a train stops and gets delayed for even 30 to 60 seconds there’s an announcement to all passengers.

In the UK a train can randomly stop somewhere due to a leaf falling on the tracks. Then it’s 10 minutes or never before the driver eventually tells passengers there might be a delay to their destination (with the enthusiasm of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh).

When a train gets cancelled in the Copenhagen area, it’s a 10-minute wait before hopping onto the next one.

Worth every penny

Getting to work is now the cheapest it’s ever been for me. In fact 30% cheaper than what I paid in the UK for public transport (possibly the only part of Danish life that is cheaper), this is the icing on top of the cake of efficiency.

“Don’t you find it expensive?” Say many of my fellow commuters when I talk with them.

If you’ve paid $6000 for a yearly ticket, only to stand squashed like a sardine all the way to London, you get to say it’s expensive.

Happy to travel

Today I sat next to the window of my train to Copenhagen. As I wrote a post for LinkedIn, I could see the countryside whizzing past out of the corner of my eye. I decided to look up to see my fellow passengers.

Everyone was either smiling or chatting, reading or listening.

What do you do on your commute? Do you invest in that time or let it pass?

"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to." - Lao Tzu

On my Danish commute, none of us is crammed in like sardines, none of us is complaining.

Thirsty work

Or…as I’ve recently learned, is it a result of lager in Denmark being drank like Coke or Pepsi is in the USA?

Perhaps Tuborg beer is part of the Danish path to commuting happiness?

I’m unable to find studies that suggest it, but you’d be forgiven for thinking this given how many people drink it on their way home.

If I’m going to do as the Danes do by embrace the culture, I wonder if my liver can cope..

I hope you enjoyed episode 2 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

See you next week for Episode 3.

Don’t miss a thing and subscribe using your email below, that way you’ll get a notification each week when I publish my latest adventure.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at marcuspurvis.com

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enjoyable-commute-marcus-purvis/

5 Share Friday 2 August 2019

Quote I’m pondering “Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning, and the rest of the day will take care of itself.” — Elbert Hubbard

What I’m watchingThe 10 top TED-Ed videos are educational and fun. in 2018 people spent 20 million hours watching them. My favourite is number 5 about Thor and companions. They failed the tasks yet in doing so they pushed themselves to limits they didn’t know and changed the world forever. Here’s the Thor one below:

What I’m learning – More on harnessing LinkedIn. Kait LeDonne has shared a summary of the new platform updates and tips on content strategy. You can find her post here.

Content creation is the best way to build a brand and add value to people’s lives. Kait’s ‘Block and tackle’ tip is one I’m working on as building content up front is an effective way of ensuring you have enough throughout the week.

Music for effectiveness – I found a website that has 10 productivity playlists for work and study. In my ongoing quest for music to work to (current favourite is still the Battlefield One soundtrack) I’m finding No. 3 Upbeat instrumental work music the most effective so far. Try all 10 and see which you prefer.

App I’m experimenting withToo Good To Go. It’s an app that uses your location to find stores that will throw out food at the end of the day, that you can purchase and use for yourself or others. It works in 9 EU countries (Denmark included) and is an awesome way to save food waste and your money.

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I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Missed last weeks 5 Share? Find it here.

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For other blog posts on work and life go here: https://www.marcuspurvis.com/category/posts/

No vacationing please, we’re British

“What are you doing for the summer” several colleagues ask me throughout the month of June.

“I’m working” I reply “what are you up to?”

“I’m heading to the summer house for 3 weeks” comes the most common reply. Along with that kind of pity expression you get at times. You know the one, like when passengers see you running up to a train door as it closes, right before leaving the station without you.

It’s not uncommon for Danes to have a family home 2 or 3 hours outside of Copenhagen, where family members meet during the summer for extended vacation.

Yes, I’m British

Being British means I’ve grown up in a culture where a 3 to 6 week summer holiday isn’t dissimilar to handing in notice and leaving a workplace forever. If absent for 3 or more weeks in the UK, you’d return and be told the business survived so long without you, you were no longer needed.

In Denmark that’s a paradigm that doesn’t seem to exist and it’s great. It’s a country where 3 weeks is practically the bare minimum, with many taking 4 or even 6 weeks over the summer due to school holidays.

Closed for the summer

Recently my wife and I took the children for a haircut, and the sign on the hairdressers said they were closed for the summer.

We went to a popular French restaurant a few days ago, one that’s opposite a lake in the picturesque countryside not far from where we live. A note on the door said they were gone for the summer.

I’m starting to forget what some of my Danish colleagues look like, as they’ve been gone for the summer too.

Ingredients for happiness

Perhaps this is one of the reasons Danes are so happy? Not only do they have a national holiday for what seems like every week over Easter / Spring time. They also spend a large portion of July and August relaxing away from home and work. It seems like a very healthy framework to me.

Though, I’m wondering if I should panic about next year? What if we don’t secure a family summer house by the beach for a vacation? Or jet off to the USA to hop a few cities? We could end up breaking some kind of unwritten Danish requirement and receive a heavy fine.. I need to do more research.

One question I haven’t had answered yet, is how do Danish people remember their work passwords after the summer break? After just a 2 week vacation, I get back and my first task is calling IT for a password reset..

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” – Robert Orben

Becoming unoccupied

How do you view vacation time? Is it fixed by the culture you’re in or defined by your mindset and how you view life?

For me a vacation is linked to the origin of the word. The Oxford English dictionary states..

Vacation – late Middle English from Old French, or from Latin vacatio(n-), from vacare ‘be unoccupied’

So there’s no reason why life can’t include a mini vacation each week. That is, being unoccupied on a regular basis.

A staycation is a vacation

Right now when I’m home, I feel like I’m on a vacation. The Danish work ethic aligns to work life separation rather than work life balance*. That’s where my mindset is too i.e. when I’m working, I’m really working, no distractions. When I’m off work, I’m off work, no blending.

“Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.” – John Lennon

Merging location with a vacation mindset allows for being truly unoccupied. As an example, over the weekend my family and I went to a beach just a 20 minute bike ride away. We cycled through a deer park and had a picnic and walked through the forest with our dog.

I love Mondays

By the time I returned to work on Monday I was refreshed, happy and productive. I can see this in many of my colleagues too. They just happen to add a huge break in the middle of the year on top of their vacation mindset. It’s like the icing on the cake of happiness. Perhaps we should all try and do that, no matter what country we’re in?

I hope you enjoyed episode 1 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

See you next week for the Episode 2.

Don’t miss a thing and subscribe using your email below, that way you’ll get a notification each week when I publish my latest adventure.

*I wrote about how I achieved work life separation in a previous job here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/worklife-separation-balance-marcus-purvis/

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at marcuspurvis.com

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/vacationing-please-were-british-marcus-purvis/

Episode 0 – Notes from a Small Country

Denmark, a country with 5.7 million people, all famously known as being some of the happiest humans on the planet. But is this happiness true? How are they so happy? Why are they so happy? Does being so happy get tiring? And can a Brit survive an extreme culture of happiness everyday? Especially as happiness clearly gets in the way of focusing on politeness, being apologetic and saying everything is fine even when it’s terrible.

These and more are just some of the questions I’ll be answering in my weekly news’letters’ from Denmark. Follow me on this humorous journey where my wife, kids and I have relocated from a leafy Suburb in the UK to the outskirts of Copenhagen. I’m now living and working like a Dane (i.e. giving all my money away in the name of tax and still smiling).

Brexit? What’s that?

Thankfully the craziness that’s Brexit didn’t happen before we relocated, it would have made things a lot harder without that EU agreement. Still..freedom of movement? What’s that? Between the UK and Denmark you still need border control and a passport. Not so between EU countries that actually like each other. You know the type of like, that like you feel when a work colleague says ‘hi how was your evening?’ and then genuinely wants to hear about your screaming kids who refuse to go to bed and the washing machine that broke, spilling water all over your nice new wooden floor.

Well, to the UK Denmark is the type of colleague who says ‘Hi how was your evening?’ while they escape for the elevator and put their phone to their ear pretending to answer a call (yeah we’ve all done it, don’t judge).

The truth is that we couldn’t have felt more welcome by all the people we’ve met, it’s just the systems in place are not there to be welcoming. Outside of feeling like the Danish computer was saying no, we saw success in the end as we had a relocation agent help us, which I’m more grateful for than I realised at the time. She did much of the heavy lifting and I now know people who’ve done it themselves, where it sounds more painful than working out how to get that Ryanair flight Google says was £50, when in actual fact you want to fly with something other than just the clothes you’re wearing.

One year later..

So here we are, a year in. I’ve learned 2 Danish words in that time (quite a feat for me given the language is spoken nothing like it’s written), and my kids are blossoming like I could never have imagined (Denmark is terrific for kids!)

I work in a place where lunch is made by chef’s onsite and unlimited snacks, wine and beer are available 24 hours a day. Not uncommon for a Danish tech company.. Also everyone speaks English which is super awesome, though it’s making me lazy on the language front (hence my 2 word accomplishment).

We’re lucky enough to live in a house next to a forest, we’ve gone car free and there are numerous beaches, rivers and lakes less than 30 minutes bicycle ride from our house. Oh, and those rides are all in bicycle lanes or through woodland, so no cars or trucks bumping us off the road and revving up while they overtake on a bend into oncoming traffic.

All in the change has been good, even when it’s confusing where some days it feels like I’m living in 1986 again..did you know people actually buy their groceries in person and Amazon doesn’t exist? Yeah hard to believe they’re happy right?

What next?

Each week I’ll focus on work, life and other stories from Denmark. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll (hopefully) learn and you’ll cringe in the nicest way possible, I’m hoping to do all 4 with you also.

See you next week for the Episode 1.

Don’t miss a thing and subscribe using your email below, that way you’ll get a notification each week when I publish my latest adventure.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at marcuspurvis.com

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/notes-from-small-country-marcus-purvis/