Finding more hours in the day

As a self employed person, how I work is something I find it necessary to pay attention to. No one else sets my hours or considers what would be the best use of my time from day to day. No one sets my breaks, or time off.

During the worst patches, I’ve worked seven day weeks, and long days. During those times, work has been a slow, inefficient grind, dogged by poor concentration, difficulty with decision making and a lack of creativity. It’s really easy when self employed to feel like you have to keep working, especially if you aren’t earning much Fear that the work will dry up if you don’t say yes to everything is certainly part of the problem.

One of the things I’ve learned this summer, is that it is better for me to work in blocks rather than trying to multitask. Writing blog posts, dealing with email and doing social media work can end up sprawling across each other, with a lot of time squandered as I shuffle between, unable to remember what I was supposed to be doing or where I’d got to. Focused bursts get a lot more done. Focused bursts with small breaks in between them are even better.

By not multitasking, I’ve been able to cut my working morning by an hour, reliably. That’s including having a bit of time – ten to twenty minutes each day of promoting my own work, which I’d been neglecting to do. I’ve also cut my regular work down to four mornings a week, freeing up Wednesdays for doing something different – an uncontaminated headspace in which to create, should inspiration strike. It’s working. I’m doing as much work as I was before, I’m just not wasting as much time as I was.

It’s hard to notice lost time when it comes as a few minutes here and there, or each job taking ten or fifteen seconds longer than it might have done. Over a morning’s work, the lost minutes and seconds totted up to that hour or more that I now have at my disposal. Efficiency is a thing.

When business people talk about efficiency, all too often what they mean is getting people to work flat out and more like machines. Flat out isn’t efficient, it slows because concentration is not an infinite resource. Working like a person, and taking care of my person-ness as I work is what makes me more efficient. Not stinting on the breaks, allowing myself as much window gazing time as I need, moving about regularly – all the things that don’t look like efficiency actually get the jobs done faster.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Finding more hours in the day

  • bone&silver

    Amen to that! isn’t multitasking now proven to be less efficient, and actually bad for your brain?

  • Krishna KK

    Ooh Great , What a idea you generates here. Thanks

  • Tanya Simone Simpson

    Totally with you on focused bursts. That seems to be how my mind naturally likes to do things and it works for me.


    Hello… I am very curious, how do you turn blogging into a job per say? Do you get paid for this? If so, I am very interested in learning more? Would you be able to mentor me?
    Thank you in advance for any help you can give me in this subject matter.

  • Jen - Liminal Luminous

    absolutely. I have learnt that trying to push on when I am feeling awful is an all round recipe for disaster. I should take time off and rest and then come back to it when I am feeling better. Otherwise I’m working badly and inefficiently.

    I block my time for work, and only ever do one thing at a time. I have time to do commenting on blogs, time to read, time to work on x client, time to promote my photography business. And it does all take time. But by blocking it helps.

    And I have several rest periods of a day, either swimming, walking the dog, reading or praying/meditation. And I turn off my computer when I’m done and I don’t look at emails outside of work time.

    I find a timer works really well, one that ticks and rings. It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand

  • Siobhan Johnson

    Absolutely! Whoever popularised multi-tasking has got a thing or two to answer for. If you’ve not read it yet, the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is an absolute godsend. Admittedly, I’m not at the four hour work week yet, but I don’t think ~20 is bad. Have you looked at things like Buffer and Hootsuite for your social media? Some you have to pay for, but a lot have pretty decent free versions.

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