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??






It’s two days nearly since my fellow UK citizens elected a new Conservative government. I voted, but not for the bunch that will now rule the country. Now, I know this isn’t supposed to be a blog about politics, it’s about personal creativity, but politics affects us all and we can’t get away from it.

Without wishing to sound trite, with what this (old) new government is likely to visit upon us in the next five years, I think creativity and the arts will play an important role in keeping so many of us sane and fulfilled. Yes, I realise it can’t alleviate poverty, but creativity can give people a voice. Already, people have blogged about their struggles, and, will, I hope continue to. What I really hope is that they cease to struggle.

A simple trip to the cinema can lift the mood for a short time. Old sitcoms found on YouTube do it for me sometimes. If I have one frustration with that, it’s the feeling that I should be creating, not just consuming. That’s among the reasons I wanted to do my podcast.

Well, I’ll just repeat my callout of last time. Do join me, if you are a creator.

 Would you like to share your creative endeavours and your motivation for them with Squatting Toad? We’ll highlight you on the blog and, hopefully (!), the podcast.

If so, please email me at I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with a short questionnaire, unless you’re happy just to write something. Or just leave a comment.

Aiming to be more upbeat next time.