• Ben Lewis-Smith

What should I be doing with my time?

Living as a freelancer can be somewhat precarious - often there are times where the working hours are very strange. A typical day for me, before Covid, might have involved 2 or 3 afternoon rehearsals, say 1, 2.30, 4pm each of an hour, with a break before an evening rehearsal say 7.30pm to 9.30pm. This obviously leaves a vacuum of time in the morning - which I used to masterfully fill watching Jeremy Kyle (9.25am-10.30am) - ah yes I remember those days very well.

In Jeremy's absence I felt a pang of guilt about using the morning for activities that aren't immediately work related. I feel a great sense of pressure to work all hours of the day, to maximise profit - if I don't do this I fear say not making a rent payment or somehow looking like a career failure. I find that social media is the worst proponent of the work every minute of every day message or else you will fall behind your colleagues. I believe if you don't have some sort of down-time in the day you will burn out. This is a work in progress for me! For instance, when watching the TV I am constantly scrolling the socials and replying to emails and whatsapps - a very ineffective digital detox!

I have come to consider that mornings are sacred - especially if I have an evening rehearsal. Whether it be watching a film, cycling, reading the paper or walking the dog. Essentially, as long as it is phone free I view it as positive!

Tim Ferris in the 4-Hour Work Week is an exponent of batching - ie pairing like for like activities together - such as emailing into the shortest amount of time possible to increase productivity. He claims to check his email once a week, for something like 15 minutes! I don't feel quite able to reduce to those timings, but I think the message is important. The trickle in of notifications and email pings is the most distracting possible influence. The software/ algorithms and modern tech is programmed to be distracting (and addictive)! Again, great thoughts here from Nir Eyal on becoming indistractable. My only counter-consideration would be that sometimes we need to allow the imagination to wonder and enjoy the freedom away from a digital interaction. His argument would be that these times need to be planned/ scheduled to allow them to be, rather than just happen as a result of distraction.

I endeavour to:

  • Batch tasks together to achieve ultimate efficiency (check out Tim Ferris)

  • Turn off notifications so digital interaction is intentional

  • Enjoy daily leisure time - the more efficient and indistractable you become the more options and free time you have

Enjoy, very best, Ben

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