Tag Archives: Work

New Year’s Resolutions 2012: Reduce Screen Time

Yes. This is actually a NEW thought, sparked by an article I read in The Guardian about a family trying to escape the tyranny of their screens.

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On average, in 2011 I’ve been spending 70 hours / week in front of one screen or another – mostly computer screens, but also my smartphone and my handheld games console. Additionally, when in front of the computer screen I often tend to have a second screen on – the TV, playing iPlayer downloads.

My only saving grace is that I don’t watch any channels that have NASTY EVIL MIND DESTROYNG ADS (e.g. ITV, Channel4) as I don’t have a TV licence, and my main type of intake is cultural / documentary (BBC4).


I spend way too much time working with screens (yes, 99% of my screen time is work-related in some way or other – I work in digital marketing) and it makes me always want distraction, something happening.

Given that my screen time is mostly work-related, and seeing that there are 70 hours of it per week – how can I possibly reduce it? Some ideas:

  1. no screens before work: no computers switched on the moment I get up; instead wait till you arrive at your actual workplace using the work computer
  2. combine screen times / increase multitasking while in front of screens: e.g. do my own tweets and read my twitter feeds while at work e.g. during lunch break, rather than do it when I get home (thus carrying screen-tasks over into what should be ‘screen-free time’)
  3. reduce exposure to double screens: whenever working from home, try switching off the second screen e.g. iPlayer programme on the TV in the background while working on screen

That’s three starting points I can think of at the moment. Naturally, the only real solution would be to change jobs. Being a digital marketing professional unfortunately means that I have to be a screenhead.

The irony is that I very much enjoy my job, but I hate having to be online all the time. But I have to. It’s what I know and know very well indeed, and it comes with the job.

All I can do right now and for 2012, hence New Year’s Resolution, is nurture the awareness of screen time and start reducing it in small steps.

PS: Kingdom Hearts – Birth by Sleep is ACE! Though it helps destroy my brain, alongside all the other screens that want me and demand of me.

Earning money while writing: Becoming a freelancer

A second, very real possibility to generating income while writing is to become a freelancer. I’ve dabbled in freelancing and working on multiple projects for different companies, and have good experience of organising my own time from doing my PhD.

The more practical question is: what areas would I want to freelance in? Here are a few ideas.

  • Tourist Guide in Scotland: The next round of application to become a ‘Blue Badge’ guide (= accredited qualification to become a tourist guide) is on just now, with the 2-year-course starting in spring 2010. I know people who guide and the job is well paid – plus, you get to travel all over Scotland, with meals and accommodation paid for! The only snag is that the course is very expensive (over £5,000) and labour-intensive (I would have to sacrifice most of my week-ends)
  • elancing: The site (google ‘elance’ – I no longer provide links from my blog hehe) unites people offering online freelance work with those seeking it. It’s a bit of a hassle, since most are short-term projects and you have to submit proposals, likely competing against many others wanting the same job. On the positive side, I do have qualifications to shout about, and a very good track record working online from home in various different jobs – so at least I should be in with a half decent chance
  • Female driving instructor: The thought crossed my mind that another way of picking up regular money (and more reliable than elancing) would be to qualify as a female driving instructor. There might well be demand for it – women who want to be taught by another woman, or men who are more comfortable with a ‘soft, friendly, feminine approach’ to teaching (which they won’t get from me – I’m a hard bitch hehehe).

I’d see my potential income coming from a variety of sources, not just one, that can be combined as and when (e.g. the guiding likely to be full on during the summer season, with less interest during the autumn/winter).

Unfortunately I won’t be able to quit my full-time job until I’ve sold my house in Italy – which requires a steady, considerable source of income to pay the mortgage (and for another 10 years, if I don’t manage to sell).

The Best Use of Life

The other day, I got an analysis of my predicted pension through (I work in the public sector). I found out that, if I continue working until the age of 65, I’ll be entitled to approx. £13,000 a year (before tax) for the remaining years of my life (after 65).

My life, following along this relatively safe path, would look as follows:

  • work in same or similar job for another 30 years (I have no career ambitions – the higher you get, the more you need to suck up = not me. I’m a rebel.)
  • giving most of my life away to someone that is not me
  • then, at 65 (knackered out from bullshitting and submitting to cunts), I’d probably turn into an alcoholic, having been brainwashed into thinking that work = my identity, the meaning of life
  • and the money I’d be getting for my wasted life: £13,000 p.a. BEFORE TAX

Seeing a potential life path laid out so clearly in front of me only solidified my thinking that I’ve got to get out, sooner rather than later. What a potential waste of life I could lead, only to be finally free at 65, with little money in my pocket and all spirits beaten out of me!

With a little luck, I’ll be out next year (fuck pensions, fuck security, fuck the credit crunch).

Earning money while writing: Switching to part-time work

Monday’s day trip into the Western Highland has brought about a stimulus different to the one originally anticipated. The weather was rather wild (rainy, misty), generating immense enjoyment from sitting in the bus, immobile, with time  for reflection.

I thought about the reality and practicalities of earning money while writing, analysing my current set-up of paid employment and the possibilities within this current job. For instance, I could in theory ask to work part-time (3 days a week) – but in the current set-up, this would very likely not be granted due to a colleague having just gone on maternity leave (she’s a part-timer at 2 days / week). We’ve employed someone as maternity cover in the meantime.

I could use this colleague’s coming back in a year’s time strategically – asking to work part-time, with a simultaneous proposal of how this could work: I’d give over my 2 days to the maternity cover or returning colleague, thus enabling a smooth transition with no gaps.

There is potential, then,  in my current job to support my becoming a writer, in just over a year’s time. It won’t be easy and I need to be very strategic about it – my work is quite specific – but the opportunity will be there. If I make a strong enough ‘business case’, I will be able to drop 2 days of my working week, enabling me to earn enough money to survive while freeing up time to do what I have to do.

From liking to disliking work

I used to like my job.

I used to think it fulfilling – stimulating, challenging, always keeping my brain on its toes (that’s when I feel most alive – by keeping the brain active, ever-expanding, forever learning new things). It was interesting – and no matter how difficult it was at times (think: working unpaid overtime for months on end, high levels of stress, inability to sleep as a result etc.), I still went back for more. I actually thought that’s what I wanted to do not only now, but in the longer term.

Since then, the new, exciting, forever-learning aspect has become old and as a result, not interesting. Days are now defined by a tired wariness – cramming in far too much boring, non-interesting stuff into the confines of the working hours.

It seems that this is the rule, not the exception – most people dislike their job. I however do not accept that ‘this is the way it is’. What a waste of one’s life it would be!

Disliking work is good. It’s a driver for change, and for claiming back what is yours.

Life = bringing the self to the place where it can be free.