When you only ever get into the ‘zone’ just before pickup.
This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from inclusion and equality consultant Beth Cox. She says:
“How do I get into the zone earlier in the day?
Pre-child my working hours were 10-7, with my best work done between 3 and 7 – it took me that long to really get into the flow. The thing I’ve struggled with since having a child at nursery and school is that I tend to hit the elusive ‘flow’ approximately 20 minutes before I have to pick up my child. Pre-child I could have leant into it and created my best work, but now I have to drop what I’m doing and take another day to get back into that zone again (if at all).
When I mentioned this in the DIFTK community, Tori Beat felt the same. She said:
“I get so frustrated when I feel like I’m about to have a mild epiphany and then POW, it’s pick up time.
It’s akin to when one of those magicians whips a tablecloth from underneath a beautifully laid table but, instead of leaving everything in miraculous good order, EVERYTHING IS SMASHED ALL OVER THE FLOOR. And I’ve got to tidy up.”
It is so frustrating, and I just don’t know how to change it. Even now, I’ve got a clear day for focused work but it’s only 10am and I’m clearly very distracted.
My son goes to a childminder two days a week after school so I do have two ‘long’ days, but even then the flow doesn’t happen until about 4pm (I rarely get it on the short days). I’m a solo parent so can’t take turns with a partner to just work through, and rarely get child-free time other than that I pay for, which doesn’t help.
HELP. How can I take less time to get in the zone of doing my best work?”
Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:00:40] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie, and this is Steve.
[00:00:56] – Steve
Each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community, do our best to answer it, but we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Last time we were talking about…
[00:01:04] – Frankie
Butt-saving clauses for your contract.
[00:01:06] – Steve
Clare Veal got in touch who is a freelance commercial solicitor.
[00:01:12] – Frankie
Someone who actually knows about law!
[00:01:15] – Steve
Wow. Clare says:
“My top butt-saving clauses are:
- Intellectual Property
Always be clear as to who owns what, whether the client gets to own anything or if they are only getting a license to use. Make sure you always retain the rights to any IP you may need to use again in the future for other client work, for example.
- Fees and payment terms
Be clear what the fee is, when it will be invoiced and the payment terms. Also include a late payment interest clause to help deal with the inevitable late payers.
Be clear how you can exit the relationship if you need to. Remember to deal with any pro rata payment of fees if this kicks in.
If the client has to deliver materials or resources to you before you can start your project, then get this written into the contract as an obligation on their part and how you won’t be liable for late delivery of services if those materials are delayed.
Remember to include a clause setting out what your liability is if things go wrong. If you don’t include one, then you will be exposed to unlimited liability. By setting a limit you will save your butt a little.
Hope this helps someone”
[00:02:28] – Steve
That’s good, isn’t it?
[00:02:31] – Frankie
Isn’t it good? I actually went back to Claire and asked her to explain what limited unlimited liability means? So I’ll read what she says:
“In a nutshell, if the agreement is silent and there’s no mention of liability, and then if something goes wrong, then there is no limit on what you could potentially be paying out to the person who sued you.
For example, if you prepared some creative for someone but you use someone else’s work and then the owner of the work you used sued your client for copyright infringement, then your client would be able to sue you for the money they have had to pay to the person whose copyright has been infringed.
If the agreement was silent, i.e. you hadn’t set a limit, then you’d have to pay the whole amount. If you had a limit on your liability, perhaps cap it at say the amount of fees paid, then you would only have to pay out up to that amount. Therefore, a cap on your liability can protect your business.”
Because I roughly knew what that meant. I was like, I want to really understand what that means. And I know other people won’t understand what that means.
[00:03:30] – Steve
Which is also, of course, why you should have business insurance.
[00:03:33] – Frankie
And Dave Smyth says:
“So many thoughts. We publish our contract on our site so that clients can look at it, know our terms, and don’t suspect we’re winging it.
Key things that we’ve thought about or added: a pause clause, software licensing, payment terms and structure, dates, displaying your work — we charge 30% extra if a client won’t let us talk about the work — and late fees stipulated at a rate above the base rate set in law.”
Charging extra if they won’t let you talk about the work — that is absolute genius, by the way.
[00:04:06] – Steve
There were many more comments. They were full of excellent butt-saving clauses. Thank you so much. So many butts are going to get saved.
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:08:50] – Steve
This week’s question comes from Beth Cox, who is an inclusion and equality consultant. Her website is www.bethcox.co.uk. Beth says:
“How do I get into the zone earlier in the day? Pre-child my working hours were 10am till 7pm, with my best work being done between 3pm and 7pm. It took me that long to really get into the flow.
The thing I’ve struggled with since having a child at nursery and school is that I tend to hit the elusive flow approximately 20 minutes before I have to pick up my child. Pre-child, I could have leaned into it and created my best work. But now I have to drop what I’m doing and take another day to get back into that zone again, if at all.
When I mentioned this in the Doing It For the Kids community, Tori Beat felt the same. She said, ‘I get so frustrated when I feel like I’m about to have a mild epiphany and then pow! It’s pickup time. It’s akin to when one of those magicians whips a tablecloth from underneath a beautifully laid table, but instead of leaving everything miraculously in good order, everything is smashed all over the floor and I’ve got to tidy up.’
It is so frustrating and I just don’t know how to change it. Even now I’ve got a clear day for focused work, but it’s only 10am and I’m clearly very distracted.
My son goes to a child minder two days a week after school, so I do have two long days in quotation marks. But even then the flow doesn’t happen until about 4pm. I rarely get it on shorter days. I’m a solo parent, so can’t take turns with a partner to just work through and rarely get child free time other than that I pay for, which doesn’t help. How can I take less time to get in the zone of doing my best work?
[00:11:27] – Frankie
I’m finding this really hard because she’s going to hate me saying this — I’m the opposite. I’m the most productive in the morning, so that’s really helpful isn’t it, Frankie?
[00:11:37] – Steve
Yeah, she’s going to really hate you for that.
[00:11:40] – Frankie
I feel like one approach is to do a little flurry of easy wins in the morning, feel like you’ve achieved something, get into the zone quicker. Or the opposite of that is true. Get rid of the little annoying shit: the admin, whatever, checking your emails. Don’t do any of that in the morning. And just try and get into the big task first. Start on that first. So maybe you’ll peak at like 11am rather than 4pm.
[00:12:07] – Steve
We’ve talked about getting an accountability partner. If you’ve got somebody to answer to, to say, ‘hey, have you done that thing yet?’ Maybe that might make you do it a bit sooner. You sit down with somebody else, you’re online, what are we going to get done before lunch? And you say ‘this thing’ and they say ‘go on then I’ll see you in a couple of hours.’
[00:12:29] – Frankie
I was just going to talk about lunch. So one of the recurring conversations in the Doing It For The Kids community at the moment is about the Early Lunch Club. I didn’t used to do this, but it has genuinely changed my working day.
So the idea is, if you’re working in school hours, you’ve basically got what, five hours available to you? One of which you have to eat your food in. And I had been waiting until at least 12:30/1pm, if not 1:30pm to eat my lunch.
And so by the time I’ve done that, A) you get that slump after you’ve eaten where you’re digesting food and you feel really knackered and tired and want to have a lie down. So that would hit me afterwards and I didn’t feel able to do much.
And B) it was sometimes so late that I only had about an hour before I had to leave to pick up my kids. So Beth, if you’re not already in the Early Lunch Club, maybe try that. So eat at like, I’m not even joking, 11am. Have your lunch at 11am. Does that mean that psychologically you might reach 4pm earlier in the day?
Do you see what I mean? If like, lunch is a signifier for your body and your brain. Could be worth a shot.
[00:13:37] – Steve
Yeah. I love it!
[00:13:41 – Frankie
Can you use the time on the school run to do productive work?
[00:13:47] – Steve
Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. If I was sitting in the car outside school with my laptop, I would be insanely productive because there were no other distractions, there was nothing else for me to do.
Maybe it was a change of scene which helped me because again, sometimes when I would struggle when I worked from home to write a script (this was before I had a co-work space) I would take myself off to a coffee shop and I would work in there. Again, that sort of focused my mind.
[00:14:14] – Frankie
It’s a good shout. It’s a bit like sitting on the toilet or having a shower. You know, when you stop working, again, no distractions, you have these little like, ideas.
[00:14:24] – Steve
Oh, I thought working was a nice way of saying pushing.
[00:14:29] – Steve
[00:14:30] – Frankie
[00:14:30] – Steve
Right. You’re actually talking about stopping working.
[00:14:33] – Frankie
A lot of people have good ideas about their business or whatever while they’re sitting on the toilet or while they’re in the shower. And I often get that sort of feeling while I’m walking to pick up my kids. It’s quite a long walk. It’s like 20 minutes. Yeah. Just thinking about what I’ve done that day, what’s coming up tomorrow.
Some people I know also use dictation apps and stuff and talk to themselves.
[00:14:55] – Steve
Yeah, I’ve done that.
[00:14:56] – Frankie
While walking. I don’t mean that in a hustle culture, use-every-minute-available-to-you way. It just means if you are having the best ideas and getting clarity about what you’re doing at 3pm, talk to yourself about those thoughts and get them notated.
[00:15:10] – Steve
That’s a very good point, actually, separate from the walk. But if at that point you are having those thoughts and then you say you have to then leave it and then come back, can you just get it out, spurt it out, dictate it, as you say.
[00:15:26] – Frankie
As a log for you to listen to again?
[00:15:28] – Steve
Yes. When it comes to the next day, you can hopefully pick up. You’re like, ‘oh, what was that thing I was thinking about?’
[00:15:34] – Frankie
Just like what Tori was saying about everything’s smashed all over the floor and I’ve got to tidy up.
[00:15:39] – Steve
I love that.
[00:15:39] – Frankie
Having that voice note or something, maybe it will feel less chaotic when you come back to it? Maybe part of it is how you wrap up? What you do at the end of the day before you do the pickup that can set you off on the right foot the following day?
[00:15:54] – Steve
I wonder whether it’s worth analyzing what it is, Beth, that gets you in that flow to see whether you can create it? How can you create that earlier in the day?
[00:16:06] – Frankie
You know, like a food diary. You could do like a ‘productivity diary’. Where over a few days, you make a note of the condition, the things that happened before you started doing the deep work. What was it about that time on that day that made you get into it? And maybe there is a pattern, whatever those things are, maybe it will become obvious and then you can try and replicate that.