This is the Part Where You Solve My Problems… Advice on Workload Reduction…

Deb provides me with this great platform and I have the chance to reach out and share something of value with so many people.

But this time, I’m being a little selfish.  This post is about me and how you can help me.

I’m doing it anyway.  Why?  Because I want your opinions.  I’m also doing it in hopes that my story isn’t so weird and unique that it precludes others from finding value in the advice you might give.
Part One:  In which I imagine beating the crap out of some guy…

I was in a store, efficiently grabbing a specific item before I rushed back to my car.  This other guy was in the same small shop, wandering around as if he was mildly confused.  The clerk engaged him:

CLERK:  Are you finding everything okay?
GUY:  Yeah, not really looking for anything.
CLERK:  Just let me know if you need a hand.
GUY:  Don’t worry about me.  I’m just killing time.

And at that moment, I wanted to go nutso on the guy.  Have you seen High Infidelity?  Remember the scene where John Cusack imagines what it be like if he and his record store homies went crazy on Tim Robbins?  I was right there.  I wanted to find a window air conditioner and heave it right on top of the guy.

Killing time?



The audacity.  And I don’t mean that in a good kind of Obamaudacity kind of way, either.

Who in the hell did this guy think he was?  Killing time.  It makes me sick.

  • Why does this guy have extra time when I can barely find a second of it?
  • Why does this guy have so much extra time that he feels he can waste it with impunity?
  • Doesn’t this asshat realize how extremely precious time really is?

Killing time?  You might as well be killing yourself.  And rubbing it in the faces of all of us who’d like a little more life.

I can’t think of an expression I despise more.  And I certainly can’t think of a practice that seems more wasteful, sick and twisted.

Part Two:  In which I discuss the value and importance of time…

Time is valuable.  In fact, I think one could make an argument that time is the only thing that’s truly valuable.  After all, it’s a prerequisite for Everything else you do, want or experience.  You can run out of money and coast for a while.  If you run out of time, that’s it.  Adios amigo.

Sure, there are exceptions to the rule.  Most of us have at least a few things we could imagine dying for.  We’d take a bullet for our family.  Some of us willingly take the risk for country or God.  But really, aside from those outlying moments of heroism or idealism, it’s all about time.

Tick tock.

Upon further reflection, I realized that I wasn’t just hacked off at Mr. Time Killer just because of his wastefulness and failure to value the most precious of precious things.

I was jealous, too.

Because I don’t have enough time.

Part Three:  In which I discuss my lack of time…

No, I haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I just have a life that currently doesn’t afford me enough time to do all of the things I want to do.

I’ve tried the work/personal life separation thing in an effort to increase available non-working hours.  It failed.  I failed.  We failed.

I’ve recognized that I have no choice personally but to integrate all of it into one big time-stew lacking definition and clarity.  I’m okay with that.  In fact, I like it.  Love it.

However, I still don’t have enough hours, people.  I need more time.  I have a baby who’s growing up fast.  I have another baby who’s going into first grade.  I have gray hairs, slowly worsening vision and occasionally experience heartburn after spicy meals.  Time is not my friend right now.  I need to do some things NOW if I’m ever going to do them.

Yes, go ahead and say it.  It’s true, after all.

I’m having an ever-so-slightly premature mid-life crisis.

Fine.  But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about this.

In fact, I’m convinced that I’m so damn right that I’ve done what a billion other people before me in this exact same situation have undoubtedly done:  I’ve made a plan.

Only I’m going to be different from the bulk of my predecessors because I’m going to make my plan work.

Part Four:  In which I reveal my incredibly simplistic plan…

My plan is simple.  I’m not going to kill time.  I’m not going to waste time.  I’m going to free up as much time as possible to do the things that matter most to me.

I don’t sleep much.  In fact, I don’t sleep nearly enough.  That’s probably why I have Exploding Head Syndrome (not made up).  It’s also one reason that my 40 year-old midsection is destined to be considerably bigger than the 20 year-old model.  They say that messed up sleeping patterns encourage that kind of unwanted growth.  The nachos don’t help, though.

In any case, I don’t log a lot of pillow time.  So I can’t steal another moment from the Sandman to free up more time in my life.

When you take sleep out of the mix, I’m generally doing one of two things.  I’m either working or I’m with my family.

You can see where this is going.  If I want to free up more of that precious time to do the most important things, I have no choice but to take the time from work.

And this, in all honesty, scares me.

Part Five:  In which I reveal my workaholic nature…

I have a work ethic worthy of a Soviet propaganda poster.  I’m a machine.  I produce.  These tendencies have been at the very foundation of my freelance career from Day One.

My ability to work like a team of dogs has always been my trump card.  I’ve never worried that other writers are more talented than I am.  I’ve never worried that they can work for less than I can.  I’ve never worried about a damn thing when it came to making a living in this business because I’ve always known one thing:

I will work harder and longer than anyone else will.  I will crush them while they sleep, if necessary.

That’s been such a part of my freelancing that it’s become ingrained in so much of what I do.  I know a lot of you have 30-, 40- or even 50-hour work weeks.  I laugh at you (not really, of course)!  I double up on that range every single week.  At least.

Unfortunately, this is a major undertaking.  My wife is a teacher.  I’m not earning optional income here.  The idea of cutting my work hours in half (approximately) raises the ugly specters of poverty, repossessions and general brother-can-you-spare-a-dime despondence.


  • Focus on the things that pay the most
  • Increase rates
  • Improve efficiency

My responses?

  • The things that pay the most aren’t the most fun and that matters
  • Sure, I do that all the time and will continue to do so
  • I’m a well-oiled machine these days already

Part Six:  In which I beg you to solve my problems by offering sage advice…

So, here’s what I want from all of you freelance writing geniuses who visit this website and others, collecting wisdom and ideas, synthesizing them into a larger portrait of the Best Ways to Do Things.

I want you to dump your brains right here in the comments section.

I want your best piece of advice (two or three or four pieces will work, too) about how I can slice my work week in half without earning appreciably less dinero.

Oh, but there is a rule for this game:  I don’t want anyone to even mention the topic of rates in their advice.  There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest is the fact that we all know you can make more by charging more.   I want to see some less-frequently discussed pearls of wisdom.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Give me some advice.  And give me the good stuff.

I’m sure someone else is out there thinking about this stuff, too, so don’t feel like your wasting your A game on me.  Some perfectly decent and innocent soul who wants to cut down their work hours will appreciate the advice, as well.

Let ‘er rip!  Best piece of advice gets a free order of nachos.


44 responses
  1. dava Avatar

    This is probably not going to be helpful, but my advice is to relax. Yes, yes, I know. It’s impossible for me too. I worry. Constantly. Especially about money. But like you said, if you run out of money, you can coast for a while. But my guess is, you are not going to run out of money. Start stretching your turn over time. Don’t promise it will be finished tomorrow, make it next week instead.

    Stop rushing. Everyone has time, in fact, it’s all we do have. Happiness or money? C’mon, what kind of choice is that? You might find that if you do get more sleep or exercise or whatever it is you want to be doing, your brain will work better and you’ll be more productive when you are working. Although, I suspect you are already as productive as is humanly possible.

    Hope your plan works out. All this panic is not helping with the gray hairs. I know this from personal experience.

  2. Chris Mower Avatar

    Interesting article… I would say I’ve been in “the guy’s” position a few times myself, maybe waiting for a haircut, maybe taking a much needed break from work.

    I think of a few things when I read this entry.

    1. Spend time doing nothing. If you don’t take time to just stop and not do anything, you become a slave to yourself. I frequently take the time to stop and think, sometimes for 2 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours. If you feel like you have to be doing something every minute of your life or it’s going to waste, you’re missing out on some of the greatest moments of self discovery: self-observed silence and introspection. When your mind isn’t focused on business or work or anything else you can start to think through things clearly and simplify. Which brings me to my next point.

    2. Simplify. Cut what you do in 1/2, then do it again, then do it again. The chances are, you’re spending a lot of your time doing busy work that probably doesn’t earn you money… let’s pull out the good ol’ 80/20 and say that 20% of your time is actually earning you money. The other 80% of your time is dinking around thinking you’re doing something to earn money. Constantly being busy is not the same as earning money. Simplifying what you have to do and doing only the important does earn money. So, for a few days, write down what you do. It’ll be annoying, yes, but just do it. You’d be surprised how much time is actually spent “preparing” to do work instead of actually “doing work”.

    3. Automate. Learn to automate what you do–take pieces and paperwork out of the process as much as possible. For example, paying bills, sending invoices, etc. etc. can all be automated by machine. There’s absolutely no reason to be doing that by hand anymore. Do that and you immediately cut your time down 6-8 hours.

    4. Procrastinate earlier. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t make much sense. Let me explain. When a person procrastinates, they immediately have to focus on what is important and leave the rest behind. When you get a new client or a new job, think to yourself if I had to get this done tomorrow, what would I do? Do that, leave the rest behind. Anything other than the essential is just frills that add on time.

    5. Hire someone to do your research. All jobs (especially copywriting) comes with a lot of research. Hire somebody (an intern, a virtual assistant, whatever) to do that research for you and provide you with the most important stuff. By doing this you can already have the chaff separated from the wheat.

    Best of luck to you. I just went on a 1-hour walk to clear my mind and pretty much do nothing but go outside. Now that I’m back I’m much more productive and my mind is clearer. It’s okay to not have a purpose for every minute of your life. Breathe in, breathe out, and move on.

  3. Laura Spencer Avatar

    I’m not sure exactly how sage my advice is, but I can surely relate.

    I’ve found that it helps to determine if you are actually overloading yourself by giving yourself so much to do that no one could realistically accomplish it, or if you are approaching tasks in an inefficient way.

    If the first is the case, then finding a better way to estimate how much a project requires is called for. You might also need to turn down, defer, or delegate projects when your schedule is too busy to handle them.

    If the second is the case, then you need to look for ways (and possibly tools) to become more efficient.

    Now, the above is the advice that I typically use and it works fairly well. However, there is still the odd occasion when I feel overwhelmed.

    Today I started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. He deals with the stress that being overwhelmed causes and discusses how to eliminate it. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but it looks like it could be useful.

  4. Jodee Avatar

    Wait for human cloning to become a reality. 😉 I understand exactly where you are coming from on this, and I don’t have any magic answers. Being self-employed means that you end up working much longer hours than any employee would be expected to.

    I’m interested in finding out what the FWJ community has to say about this too.

  5. Jeremy Powers Avatar

    Hi all,
    I am new here in that I have not previously commented, but I have been, ahem, lurking around for a while.

    As I am new to self-employment, my perspective on time is probably a bit different. However, I have found the best way to create more time is to trick yourself into believing you have less than you do. This is the way many wealthy small business owners treat their income: they set aside 20% of all income in investments and pretend it does not exist as usable income. I find the concept carries over into how I think about time. I schedule non-existent meetings a few times a week, and in the notes/commentary section of the appointment, I tell myself to stop work and read offline or take a walk. (This only works if you work your schedule around this meeting with yourself.) This might mean I work more in the evening or on Saturday, but I prefer having sanity through my week.

    It seems silly, but I find it works for me. (Of course, I suspect most of you are doing more writing/freelancing and less researching/selling than I currently am.)

  6. TBri Avatar

    Imagine yourself doing what you do as a single parent. I became one last year, and now I work as little as possible to pay the bills and get what we need, and somehow, though hard to raise a toddler and work from home [!!!!!], it is easier to simplify knowing that I want to be the main person in my child’s life while paying the bills and getting by. When he is five and goes to school, things will shift, but when a priority becomes a priority because it is so pressing (roof over our heads, food on table, play and recreation, adjusting to major life stuff), it seems easier to get myself and my busyness out of the way in order to do only that which needs to be done in order to have a truly joyful life of living with less and the more of being with my son.

  7. Ashley Avatar

    I love reading your articles and bits of rant. It makes me fee better and gives me comic relief. I have seen the movie that you speak of. In fact it is one of my favs. I’m big on John Cusack. I happen to have watched a clip the other day when Jack Black’s character was doing that wierd dance to cheer up the store. I also hate people who want to kill time. I can tell you that right now, as I type, my husband has a friend over. He only comes over to play video games andhe i very rude an expecs me to cook for him contstintly. I have told him off, and just as Mr. Cusack, I imagine doing horrible things to him. I am always busy. Though my life is different in comparison. I have three young children and I am the only one who does house work. I may have taken time of from writing after having my youngest who is now four months old. But I am always busy. I cn’t really give too much good advice on shotening the workload or making it easier to get done. As I am still new to the whole full-time writing bit. The best I can say is that I try to work everything in together. I admire you for how hard you work. I myself would more or likely put in the same amount of hours as you had I not three young children. Maybe when they are older. Best of luck.I shall keep reading your informative writings and I am always anxious to read everything that comes into my mail box.

  8. Janed Avatar

    Have you thought about doing something drastic? You say your wife is a teacher, so obviously a) she doesn’t earn very much, and b) she can – if teaching in the US is like teaching anywhere else – get a job anywhere. You’re a freelance writer, so you also can work anywhere.

    Obviously I don’t know where you live, and perhaps you are already living somewhere where houses are inexpensive and where a visit to the restaurant costs just a few dollars, but if not… Is it possible you can move somewhere where your hard earned cash will go further? (Can also have great knock-on effects on your quality of life in other ways too).

    I have done this myself, and it definitely has advantages. I currently live – in Sweden – in a house that in my native UK would have cost at least ten times the price. The winters are no worse, the summers are better (usually!) and the crime levels are about 1% of UK rates. Did I have any previous links with Sweden? No. I just thought about where in the world had a good standard of living, but affordable housing, and here I am.

    I’m not advocating emigration necessarily; just moving to a less expensive area in the same country is usually more practical. But it can be a useful exercise to abandon your preconceptions about why you can’t uproot your family and think honestly about what you might gain if you did.

  9. Angie Mangino Avatar

    What I hear from your post is a need for balance, and what you may not think is significant in getting all you want accomplished really is – you need more sleep. Sleep deprivation over too long a period slows one down, both physically and mentally. It makes us feel overwhelmed and burn out, with every task we do taking twice as long to accomplish without our even realizing it. Sleep not only restores the body. It also restores the mind, helping you to see for yourself the better, and more enjoyable way to get everything done.

  10. Raina Casarez Avatar

    Have you read 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris? That’s my first recommendation. Second is to echo what @Chris says. Great advice. Take a Tai Chi class. Time is an illusion. To quote a spiritual teacher, “You will never get it done.” As a cleaner of houses, I suggest you declutter your life too. Downsize. Get rid of the stuff that you are working so hard to not have the time to enjoy. Read “Your Money or Your Life”. I heard that’s good too. Write from your heart. Write the great American novel you’ve always wanted to write. Be a nice boss to yourself. Geez, I’d hate to work for you!

    Party all the time with Wii Lady,


  11. Annie Mueller Avatar

    Well. Hm. I hear all the cries for balance and downsizing and life-decluttering and taking breaks and, okay, I know that’s good. I am a serial over-achiever, myself, and I get more energy from being challenged, busy, working on multiple deadlines, pushing myself than I do from working for a mythic balance. I’ve tried, and that approach doesn’t work for me.
    Here are the top 3 things that do:
    1 – forget “balance” and instead, be dead-on focused on your priorities. Sounds like that’s work and family. So be ruthless with the other stuff. Cut out the extraneous social bits, obligations, anything you’re not passionate about. I finally decided life is too short to waste on what other people think I should be doing, no matter how worthy it may appear.
    2 – track your mental flow and work accordingly. I’m in top mental form early in the day, not at night: so I do my best to tackle the tough writing, and spend my mental lag time on household stuff, playing with my kids, etc.
    3 – delegate out the top-paying jobs (those you mentioned which aren’t that fun) to other starting-out freelancers who will do it for half your rate. Sub-contract. Maybe some people have a problem with this (I know it’s been a topic of discussion here at times) but for me, that’s one of the goals of freelancing: to get to the point where I can use my hard-earned reputation and help establish newbies, while at the same time continuing my business. At this point, I’m more on the newbie end than the “amazing reputation” end, but I’m getting there.

    Annie Mueller

  12. Camilla Medders Avatar

    Looks like you’ve got lots of great advice here, but I want to spell out one thing for you: you probably can’t cut down on your work time without cutting back on your income, which means cutting back on your spending. This may sound impossible, but I bet if you look, you can find a lot of ways to do this. People tend to spend relative to their earnings, so while it seems like you need every penny, if you give up some income, you’ll realize you can give up some spending, too. You said time is valuable. So is sleeping and enjoying life. All of these are more valuable than money.

  13. Phil Avatar

    As several others have said, subcontract where possible. You can leverage your time better. Even if it’s a project/client you’d like to do yourself, there can be times (family emergencies) when you need to sub out a project. Start with small ones first to build a good working relationship with sub. I’ve used only a couple of subcontractors myself because I have to ensure quality and speed (Moses dropped the tablet that said deadlines were the first commandment) are such that it doesn’t take me more time to sub out the project than to do it myself.

    I also sub for others on some items. So I can say if it’s done properly, it’s a win-win for both sides.

  14. Leslie Garrett Avatar

    With three young kids and a burning need to write for a) sanity and b) income, I began pitching stories about what I was going through and needed information about. For example, with a newborn, I wrote about breastfeeding. With a toddler, I wrote about potty training. A preschooler, I wrote about sleep habits, meal-time, aggression, birthday parties…you get the idea. When I wanted to find out how to create a “greener” life, I wrote a book about it, which I spun into magazine stories. Some call it multi-tasking…I call it smart. Got my answers. Got my income. Done and done.


    1. Ashley Avatar

      @Leslie Garret:
      Sounds like our kids would get along great. Mine are in the same categories. I have a 6 yr old, a 5 yr old, and a 4 month old. That’s not including the step-kids. I haven’t meet them yet. Still, it’s a good way to get inspired.

      Speaking of blogs, I have thought about writing one, but I am clueless as to what to write about. I’d like it to be within a particular subject. I just haven’t figured out what subject. Plus, I woul like to get paid for my blog. Most sites I have visited don’t pay or don’t pay much. Any suggestions?

      Cloning I am against no matter the circumstance. And either way, they would have to start out as babies. They may look like the person they’e been cloned after, problem is, they wouldn’t have our memories. They’d create new ones. The only suggestion that I’ve come up with on work load is creating a team and assiging tasks.

  15. Kate LIster Avatar

    Sorry I don’t have much sage advice, but I sure enjoy the way you write!

    Well, one thought, get a virtual assistant to do some of the drudge work. I can’t tell you how much that added to the time I could actually spend writing. If you can make $50-$100 an hour writing, and pay your VA $10-$15, it’s well worth the investment. There is, of course a learning curve, but it can pay off if you get the right person.

    Postscript: All went fine until she quit, but I’m sold on the concept and am scouting for a new one. If I find a good one an you wanna share, lemme know.

    Keep up your great work.

  16. Marcia Frost Avatar

    I’m with Jodee on the human cloning! Seriously, there doesn’t seem to be a way to do it in the world of freelance. The only thing I did do was move from NY to IL to cut my living expenses down so I don’t need to make as much as I used to. I’m also getting better at weeding out the places I’m not really making money and putting more time into what I am.

    At this point in my “new” career as a full time freelancer it’s about paying the bills and — hopefully soon — getting some back up money in the bank. I think anyone who can get to that point can use the relax advice and just lay out a schedule that you want and be insistent with clients about what your deadlines will be.


  17. allena Avatar


    I agree with Kate and others- hire other people— I have a transcriptionist/VA for my business, a house cleaner for my home. I love each very very dearly!

  18. Shell Avatar

    I think you need to be more accepting of others with regard to their time. I say this because I was talking to someone once who found it unacceptable that someone could spend time off in the afternoon whilst the other person worked. In reality the person enjoying a few free hours worked in the evenings and weekends. It was jealousy on the other person’s part because they did not even consider the circumstances.

    Yes, there will be people with much more free time but we don’t all know their circumstances, and, sure no doubt some don’t do so much.

    You also need to cut back on what you spend if you are finding it impossible to keep up. You can do this by calculating your weekly/monthly incomings and outgoings. If you can reduce expenditure then it will help.

    More sleep will also help you put life into perspective. If you are not getting the proper amount then stress will build up – problems will become bigger because you will feel exhausted and not have the energy to cope.

    The whole article screams out STRESS.

    I was reading something interesting the other day about how people buy the latest products and cars to make them happy. They work to make a living in the hope to be happy. Then they spend and need to work harder. So basically these people are chasing dreams and not really living. They get what they want for today and then have to work extra hard tomorrow.

    We all need the basics in life. We need a good reliable car if we have to travel from A to B, get groceries, etc. However, do we really need a lot of things we buy on a whim which is then shut away and rarely used?

    I know someone who is moving into a bigger house. I wouldn’t mind one like that but hey wait a minute, there comes the extra finance and more stress.

  19. Carson Brackney Avatar

    Pure genius, people.
    Keep it coming, fast and hard.

    Three quick notes:

    1) These comments are quickly becoming a Grade-A, super-smart Authoritative Collection of Great Ideas that Many Writers Could Use. I don’t want to get all schmaltzy, but this is basically what this whole idea of “online community” is really about.

    2) I’m not going to respond to individual comments in this thread. I will be writing Part II of the “This is the Part Where You Solve My Problems” saga next week and will be referencing *many* of you and your remarks.

    3) There’s still time to get your best ideas out here–I haven’t awarded the nachos yet.


  20. Debra Bacon Avatar

    Slowing down is never easy. Especially for over-achievers such as yourself. I fall into that category, as well as others commenting here also proclaim. However, about two and a half years ago I had to make a conscious decision to change the way I was approaching life, money, things and health, so I took inventory. After a lot of soul searching, planning and agreeable terms with my husband, we decided to “simplify” our lives. Not necessarily the quality, but the quantity of possessions and cannot live withouts. Our first BIG step was to sell our home in Connecticut (on the water by the way), make sell piles and arrange to move the rest of our world to small town Texas. We moved into a two-story three bedroom rental – lived there almost two years rattling around in just a few of those rooms. It was time to assess and address again, because our “work” was still requiring too much from our lives. We moved to a ONE bedroom apartment, after all it was just me and him. Anyway…you get the drift. Simplifying even more. It is amazing at what you can learn to live without – bar lattes and afternoon desserts at your favorite coffee haunt. We sold our late model vehicle and paid cash for an older model VAN as it served a purpose for our lives at this time. My home has all the accoutrements of success, yet it is elegantly simple. As is my life. I can now afford to pick and stick with my hours of work, spend time with the family or simply relax – not kill time – but dream. Dream of great things. I get proper rest and eat, well, mostly healthy, and get in social and physical exercise time.

  21. Matt Maszczak Avatar
    Matt Maszczak

    Here’s an idea…

    Stop multitasking. Sure, it all the rage to have your Blacberry, iPod, laptop, and TV humming away, but it’s all distracting. I work with a guy that leaves his computer in his car until lunch. That way he can focus on the work in front of him without Outlook beeping at him and chat boxes popping up. He also turns the ringer on his phone off until the afternoon. People make fun of him all the time, but he produces a LOT more good work in less time than any of the “connected.”

    1. Annie Mueller Avatar

      @Matt Maszczak: This is brilliant. I would do far more great work if I disconnected the Internet for half the day… can’t do completely without computer, since I type faster than I write.

  22. Brad Avatar

    Well I would say to run around in circles as long as possible before your circle gets taken away from you.
    Being an IT guy I’m used to running around in circles.

    However since Dec 19,2008 when the president of the company I worked for decided they made a mistake in hiring me because I had 4 years experience and not 10 and laid me off, I would love to have a run around in circles experience again.
    I like thousands of other people just realized that my last unemployment check that I just spent on food and other household necessities will be my last for a while until Congress and the Senate can work together to pass an unemployment extension bill.

    I wish I had a job with people driving me crazy again. I have been unemployed for almost 2 years with no hope in close site. I’m going to school in hopes that an increased education will increase my employment opportunities.

    I would love to have someone asking me stupid technical questions right now. When I go back to work someday I’m going to be smiling a really big smile the whole time and saying yes sure I can help you with that and be glad that I can.

  23. Jen Avatar

    This workaholic work at home thing is a tough combo – especially with kids. I know. I live it every day.
    My trick – when I let myself do it – is to add what I *want* to do to my “to do” list. Beside Edit Articles For R, Draft X Blog Posts for S, I write 1 hour knitting, or call TW (an old friend). If it is on the list, it gets accomplished and crossed off – that is the upside of the workaholic nature 🙂
    Good luck!

  24. Su-sieee! Mac Avatar

    Get a punching bag and punch it, or do a bunch of jumping jacks or dance to the music. Sounds like your body has a lot of pent-up energy that needs an outlet. And, because you felt like going ballistic on that guy, I say go with the punching bag. I’d like one myself.

    Give in and take a nap, in the middle of the day or the night, doesn’t matter. Take it and move on. You’ll feel better with some sleep. You know you will, Carson.

    Take some long deep breaths now and then. That usually brings the illusion of additional time for me.

    Write one piece less for the day. Then the time you would’ve spent on researching and writing that piece, you can spend on something that you want or need time to do. For your peace of mind and health, you can afford it.

    May I have a bag of potato chips instead, if you like my two cents worth?

  25. Carol Avatar

    The Kabbalists say we don’t ever kill time, Carson — time kills us. Sounds like you’ve got the picture.

    My advice, strangely, is that you need to take more time off in order to earn more in your limited available time. I’m always off from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Always. No exceptions. It’s this amazing invention they call the Sabbath, and it is the most powerful tool for unleashing your productivity ever created, which is why it’s still around centuries later. I call it The Secret of My Success.

    Remember the 7 Habits guy and one of the habits is “Sharpen the Saw”? Totally about the Sabbath.

    In our 24/7, always-on culture, a lot of people are working themselves into pulp. Don’t be that way — we need you to work sustainably so you can keep amusing us for years to come, Carson.

    So take a break, every week. 24 straight hours. The rest of the time, work like a beaver, all you want. See what happens. Try it for even 3-4 weeks in a row and you’ll never go back. It’ll change your life. Commit to it totally. Don’t go on any devices. Not only don’t work, but don’t think about work. Don’t plan what you’ll do when you go back to work. Just live your life.

    There’s a reason we’re called human beings, not human doings. Take time to be and to enjoy just being alive on this beautiful Earth. You deserve it.

  26. Dee Harrison Avatar
    Dee Harrison

    50 minute hours.

    Make every hour slot fit 50 minutes.

    Saves you 10 minutes every hour.

    Giving you a 28 hour day effectively.


  27. Ericka Kahler Avatar
    Ericka Kahler

    The very first thing I would suggest is looking at your organizational systems. How much time are you spending looking for things, getting things from where they are stored, or reconstructing things you lost? Even small changes to your workspace or filing system can translate to less hassle and easier productivity. Cutting such unproductive work could give you more time while keeping your income exactly the same.

    I once worked a job where there were literally six different places for me to look for files. When I reduced that down to three places, I cut the time I spent looking for files by almost 3/4. So look at how you store things, both physically and on the computer. Is there a better way? Are there computer programs or organization tools (like a different kind of file folder or filing container) you can get that will make it easier for you to find and use the things you need? For most of us our work systems grow organically and we never stop to think if that system still serves our needs.

    Look at your workspace, too. Are the things you use most often in easy reach? Are there things you rarely use getting in the way? I always think of my workspace in terms of the circle of what my hands can reach without moving my chair. The things in that circle need to be the things I will use multiple times a day. And if I use a thing all the time, it should not be outside the circle. The further away from that circle, the less often I need to use that particular item.

    Lastly, eliminate unintentional redundancy. We often keep records of things in multiple places, or duplicate work without realizing it. Do you have a central database or spreadsheet with all the names and addresses of your contacts? Have you set up your word processor to pull the names and addresses from that database rather than retyping them each time? Are you using two different software packages to track personal and business expenses (or none at all?) Find ways that you are duplicating your work and eliminate the extra steps that cost you time and money.

    Organization is often frowned upon by writers, but I find the organization allows me to relax and get the work done. I don’t worry about the small stuff, because I know it’s all in its place, and I can find it when I need it. And when I don’t, it doesn’t get in my way.

  28. Debi Avatar

    Question?….why are you so bothered by his ability to just relax and enjoy the day browsing…or killing time as you put it?…maybe his wife was next door in the Dr’s office getting a gynecological exam?….or his dad was at the gerontologist?….all good reasons for a guy to get the hell out of there…but then again it could be waiting for test results to come in…sometimes we’re our brothers keeper…and sometimes we’re just simple observers…in any given day we can either be inundated by the worries or just roll them all over on God and relax…my days sometimes are busy jousting with a hormonal 15 yr old son!!! another day might be crying and praying over my terminally ill son for a miracle…sometimes I feel so alone in todays messes and feel like crawling in a hole!….then I get a call from my older son telling me he had a great week and feels wonderful and chats with me for over 8 hours on the phone…I treasure those moments…and then my 15 yr old will tell me a dorky joke and make me laugh till my ribs ache…it’s in the mornings when I grab a cup of coffee and go out and stand on the deck looking out into the woods listening to the morning songs of the world….drinking in the smell of the dew covered lawn and just take time to close my eyes and appreciate a spot of relaxation from the days journey ahead…who gives a crap what others do unless they ask you for help…in this case…you did…so just kick off your shoes…take a chill pill and don’t worry about what everyone else is up too…just take time to enjoy your wife and family, create some memories…have a food fight or paint a butterfly on the driveway with your grand daughter…take your son fishing or to a boat show…you might not always have them there tomorrow…and the time you spend with them now…it’s never a killed time.

  29. Helen Avatar

    1. Stop having birthdays. You were born on a day sometime in the past, let it rest. Skip that
    one day, each year, to remember/celebrate/mourn your entrance into the world. Start now.
    That’s like getting 20 to 60 bonus days you would other wise blow eating cake, which you swore
    off last time you weighed yourself. Next time someone asks your age simply answer: enlightenment.
    What? It’s an age. I tell people innocence. You could go with Aquarius or Reason. Your choice.

    2. Enough with the holidays already. There’s far too many throughout the year. I know. You’ll get
    a lot of “guff” (no idea what that means) from family and friends, but so what? They’ll burn a day
    performing ceremonial rites and you’ll be racking up 24 hours at a brisk pace. Christmas? Too
    commercial. Halloween? Too pagan. Easter? Gave it up for lent. The lesser holidays are a no
    brainer. What does canoeing on Memorial Day get you? Sunburned and dehydrated.

    3. Cut back on the showering and shaving, which is in and of itself an expression used to
    describe wasted time. Who are you trying to impress? Couple of days hair growth on a guy?
    Sexy. On a woman’s legs? We earned the right to wear pants. Exercise it. Showering and
    shaving every day is a recent phenomenon. Back in the day (I think it was a Sunday) people
    did it once a week, and even further back, once a month. I know what you’re thinking, but
    you know for a fact, they’re hair looked fabulous! The modern era merely ushered in a whole
    lotta bad hair days.

    4. Stop hoping. How much time is spent on hope? Give it up already. Lose hope, gain time.
    It’s one of those things that just “sounds” bad. Faith and Charity want their Hope back. Let
    it go. While you’re at it, stop wishing. If wishing made it so, we’d all have six pack abs and
    a play currently packing them in on Broadway.

    5. Regret. The biggest of the time suckers. It didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen. It’s over.
    Admit defeat, become a gracious loser and never again waste one more precious moment on
    what “could have been”. It is what it is and it will be what it will be. The quicker you can rush
    to acceptance, the less you’ll waste on judgment…. of yourself, your family, your friends,
    your country, your world. Take the time to appreciate where you are, right now in this moment.
    It’s all good. Even the bad 🙂

    Take time and make time but don’t waste time. You’ll figure it out. It just takes time 🙂

  30. Fran Avatar

    People…people…everything is about a choice. You continually have to make choices in the freelance writing business. We have wonderful choices…some tough, some really hard, and some almost impossible. I am all for sitting down with your partner and working out a plan you both can live with, if you really want to solve the problem. If you are obsessed with work, you can’t really complain about not having time. Even if you don’t make a choice, you have made one. 🙂

  31. Vicky Avatar

    When I was working graveyard at a hotel, I would bargin for time. Make a shopping list it cuts 15 minutes off your shopping time and don’t take anyone with you as they will slice into your time by leading you astray from your list. Sleep was a reward for cutting back on time waster. Crossword puzzles are a great time waster, but loads of fun. It is like everything else “Checks and Balances” and what is important to you.

  32. Jason Avatar

    Wow, I found your blog through a newsletter I subscribe to (Hey Allena) and at first I couldn’t believe that you felt the same way I do.

    But then I suspected it’s not a coincidence. I suppose it’s part of the downed economy that people are searching for ways to make more money just to save some daylight that could be better spent enjoying life.

    I’ve always wanted to write full time, and I really enjoy it, but I was also wondering if there’s any time to take vacations or take days off, because right now I can’t see it.

    The only thing I think would help in your situation is passive income. Affiliate marketing, ad marketing, will create a stream of income that will supplement your already full work load.

    Good luck and I wanted to leave you with some good advice that I got from a friend of mine, “There’s no point making a living if you’re not making a life.”

  33. Tsarina Avatar

    Part One was AWESOME!!!! Very Lewis Blackesque!:-) I am just considering breaking into freelance writing while I work on editing my first book. Even so, I’m a wife, mama, and a cop full-time. Yes, all of those full-time. It’s all about quality over quantity. I still struggle with that from time to time. If you think you are short-changing your kiddos by getting more sleep or declining some family time for work or rest, you are not. First, the kids won’t even remember if it’s occasional. Trust me! It’s true and not terrible. They have their little lives too. A good rested dad/spouse is better than a tired, cranky, whacked out dad. The sleep thing will catch up to you. I worked graveyard shifts right after maternity leave when our son was born. Mother guilt led me to not sleep, but play with him or watch him sleep. I paid a big price. Depression, insomnia, weight gain, and now the worse short-term memory from all of that. Plus, I was also trying to write at the same time. Oh disastrous. Cut yourself some major slack, dad. They love you already and always will. You can be a success in family and love AND in career with the right balance. It won’t always balance from day to day, but you (and they) will always know what’s important…la familia:-) I hope you are doing some comedic writing. I laughed so hard! We live in Washington State (near Seattle) and you just described MANY of the annoying folks around here. Except here, if it were a man, he would have an unwashed ponytail, burkenstocks with droopy socks (HOT!), and nerdy glasses. If it were a woman, keep the same and include is a raging vegan. Oooops, I just did my own rant. Please excuse, but can’t help it. In my family, we identify with the following funny/sarcastic folks: me = Dane Cook, husband = Lewis Black, 8 yr old son = Stewie, and 14 yr old daughter = Daniel Tosh (Tosh.0). Now, go get your sleep on!:-)…and laugh EVERYDAY!!!!!!

  34. Karen Banes Avatar

    I can relate to the severely cut sleeping hours, and consequently to the exploding head syndrome and expanding mid-section (and if I’m honest, the nachos too). My untimate time management tip: take care of your health (I only preach it. Don’t have time to practise it). Nothing like dying young to stop you accomplishing everything on your to do list!

  35. Karen Banes Avatar

    Untimate? Clearly I meant ultimate (or maybe intimate). I blame the exploding head syndrome.

  36. Patti Stafford Avatar

    In a word–Yoga!

    November 2009 issue of Yoga Journal has an article which discusses taking time to practice yoga actually gives you more time. (Yoga Paradox: Taking time to practice, gives you more time.)

    After trying this for a few weeks, I’ve found it to be quite true. Start with a basic, daily Sun Salutation. Do this a few weeks and then decide if you need to change your schedule/work habits. Chances are you’ll add more postures to your daily routine and find that time has expanded to meet your needs. You’ll also discover those nachos aren’t as appealing as they were. 😉

  37. Stacy Avatar

    My advice is really the same as everyone elses, however I am the master-procrastinator (I should be working. Right. Now.) and I don’t follow it down here at this end of the spectrum 🙂

    I applaud your work ethic, and your use of the word asshat. I think you rock just for that.

  38. Sean Kinn Avatar

    I found more time by blogging correctly: Correct AdSense placement (directly before a blog post if possible); blog often, linking to articles written by experts (similar to a journalist interviewing an expert for a newspaper or magazine article); submit separate articles to article-submission web sites for back-links to your blog; comment at sites such as this one for more back-links; do this over time to generate enough AdSense revenue to retire to an air conditioned Internet cafe located on a beach in the Dominican Republic (which is also close to the 5-star hotel that you can afford to stay in for as long as you want). 🙂 SK

  39. Sean Kinn Avatar

    Yeah, “asshat” was pretty good, you’re right.

  40. Kath Avatar

    Does work load reduction even exist if you have to jump the same amount of hurdles to get to the same finishing line?
    You either have to prioritise the hurdles and remove the least important so you have less to jump or, decide what that finishing line really means to you. Is it worth running the race in the first place if there is no sense of contentment when you reach your goal?

    When a person is surrounded by deadlines and time constraints then they never experience a sense of freedom or opportunity to choose how to spend their time. What to reduce when there is so much? Applying prioritisation and a sense of meaning to everything we do and what we want in our lives is by no means an easy task, but when you apply and achieve it then that highly sought after free time appears. Only you can decide how much and how often. The real challenge lies in not filling it up as much again and then you get to kill some time of your own.

    Suddenly it does not seem so precious…but then, this comes from somone who chooses not to wear a watch.

  41. Xyzzy Avatar

    I’m not even a successful writer yet — just coming off an involuntary ‘break’ of about a decade — but I have a couple of suggestions from hard-earned life experience.

    1) Backwards as this sounds, make sure you spend plenty of time out walking or jogging, sleep enough, and have excellent nutrition. Most of my wasted (even if it seems productive) time is literally because I’m just not mentally in my best condition, a problem caused primarily by malnutrition, sitting inside too much, and sleeping too little.

    2) Look at your budget, and as a first stage, cut out *everything* that isn’t either fundamental to your family’s survival. My life as an example: I have Internet access through the cheapest DSL provider I could find, but not cable or Netflix; I buy food that’s on sale, in bulk, and not the pricy brands, and skip most treats; I only have a pre-paid cellphone with the lowest-priced provider I could find, and I try to text more than call as it’s far less expensive; my cats are indoors-only (no vaccines, far fewer vet visits), eat high-quality reasonably-priced food & use natural litter, both of which are healthier (fewer vet visits) and require far less over time (lower cost despite higher up-front price); I try to find creative ways to create what I want with older items, like turning an old PDA with some freeware into an all-format ebook reader or putting Linux onto my aging computer so it runs faster & does more exciting things.

    All of that added together, and aside from vet bills from age-related problems, I actually live comfortably enough on ~$800 per month. (Thankfully my family & extended family believes in handing down cars & computers, so I’ve largely been spared that expense, too.) Not by choice, as I’m disabled and living on SSI, but it’s a happier, more content life than many workaholics or others that have lost sight of their childhood knowledge of which elements of life truly make us happy beings… You might be a lot happier if you can recall that perhaps-misplaced knowledge, too.

  42. Shayna Avatar

    Hello to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit
    of this weblog; this website includes amazing and actually good material designed for visitors.

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