I recently met a professional scriptwriter, who told me that the secret was never to work for more than three hours per day on any writing project. I took it as sound advice, and I think he’s sort of right. He’s also very successful at what he does. (No, you will not hear the clanging of a dropped name here, dear readers!)

Of course, now I find myself clock watching about two hours in, thinking, ‘Well, I’m nearly done’. I think the secret is actually to stop when you want to stop, and whether that’s two hours or six and a half hours, you know when you’ve run out of steam.

Whilst this ‘rule’ can happily apply to any of our creative endeavours, imagine if we tried it in the day job! ‘I have applied myself with diligence to this data input for three hours now. My work here is done, I am off down the pub.’

Less a case of ‘Later, Losers!’ than one of ‘Hello, HR!’.

Much has been written lately of Sweden’s experiment with the six hour working day. The bad news for the workers is that it turns out to be too costly to continue the scheme, at least in the care sector.

The irony is that most of us spend a goodly portion of our eight hours making tea, chatting, or having a sneaky peak at Facebook, just to break up the monotony. Our wee brains need a break. In fact, I’m writing this long overdue post because I need a break from doing Powerpoint Slides for my upcoming show ( I mentioned it last time, remember?).What I need to do is plan in my breaks and return to my slides refreshed.

(I once saw my old boss book an entire family skiing holiday during work hours. Took him ages. Of course, if I’d be concentrating on my own tasks, I might not have witnessed the spectacle. But shirking bosses are for another post.)

What I suppose I’m leading up to is the question of how many hours is enough hours, or too many? Or not enough? When it comes to work, I mean.

I am a great believer in 40 hours meaning 40 hours. Not 45, 50 or 60. If your contract says 40 hours, then the expectation must be that your job can be done in that number of hours. Beware any prospective employer who tells you that ‘We’re not a 9-5 organisation’ or ‘You find people here at all times of the night’. That means that anything less than buying into that will be seen as shirking.

Personally, I like the idea of ‘flow’, where you lose yourself in the task so much that you don’t notice the passage of time. Somehow, I fear that ‘flow’ and data entry or cardboard box making might not be entirely compatible. I used to be a vicious opponent of the wearing of headphones whilst working but, now, I say, bring them on. Why not concentrate on Radio 4 Extra and its many classic comedies if they make the 40 hours seem shorter? And, if you’re writing, painting or tinkering with your car, you won’t need the headphones. You’ll know when the flowing has stopped.

Now, where are those slides??







A Precious Banjo and a Great Big Apology

Dear Friends

I hope you enjoyed the last podcast, my interview with the Wrablers. Since I posted it, I keep seeing references to the healing power of music. Some of them, it has to be admitted, posted on Facebook by the Wrablers. But the message is consistent, music does you good. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do regret that I can’t play an instrument. Still, life isn’t over yet, and, if I have a long and active retirement, who knows what I can achieve?

Let me share with you this excellent short documentary I heard on the radio the other day. ‘Vital Mental Medicine’ takes its name from a quote by Polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. On the fateful journey to the South Pole on the Endeavour, one of his team took along a banjo. Shackleton understood the power of  music to shore up the crew’s morale on such a long and difficult voyage and, as the ship was sinking, ran aboard to rescue the banjo himself. Their regular concerts had become essential to everyone’s well-being and they weren’t going to give up on these.

You can hear the programme here:

I realise theirs was an extreme situation, four and half months waiting to be rescued with their routine periodically broken by a good old sing song, but the priniciple applies to all our lives. And it doesn’t have to be music.

I’ve started reading other people on this topic of creativity too, and will share my thoughts in a later podcast.  I’m also thinking of taking a sewing class. That might not sound too adventurous, but for me it’s quite a leap. It was always a bit of a joke when I was at school just how bad I was at anything arty or crafty, and I wonder now if that was unfair. If anyone can sing, can anyone sew? Or bake? Some people will always be better than others, as is the case with singing, but is it possible to have zero ability? More on that later, too.

So back to the Wrablers and a huge apology. I neglected to credit one of the members who was part of our interview. So, Janette Lee, take a belated bow. After all, you introduced us to Pouffe Drums, and for  that we thank you.

I’ll be back with you again soon with a new podcast and more. In the meantime, Happy Creating.