How to stay sane when you work

The 80:20 combo with deep reflection

Working for myself (for, by? just me either way) means simultaneously stressing about networking my ass off to meet the ‘right’ people (but being open to opportunities and therefore can’t be too picky), promoting what my work (but without giving up all the goods for free whilst not having an identity crisis because the work is not me), on top of actually doing the work for paying clients.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

At the end of my last block of 4-weeks (here’s a previous blog on how it maintains focus and momentum to work in 4-week blocks), I decided to do a deep dive reflecting on the past few weeks, highlighting what was essential, what was non-essential (aka faffing around), and how next to proceed.


I work using the Pomodoro method (aka blocks of 25 minutes) and log each task I do in a spreadsheet with a sentence or two about I did, what type of task it was and my reflections on what was useful and where I wasted time.

Example from last week:

By logging the task types I can go full geek and tally up how much time I’m spending on each task. This stops me from procrastinating — don’t know what to do with ‘networking’ time, then figure it out! Do some research, pick up skills and techniques off YouTube, Creative Live etc.

Using the spreadsheet filter, I focused on each task type to see what types of things I did and asked myself these questions for each task type:

  • What were the essential 20% leading to 80% of the impact?
  • How can I measure impact/engagement?
  • What were the faffy 80% that I rushed/fretted about?
  • Where did I react out of FOMO (fear of missing out), rather than strategically?
  • Where have I chosen comfort, over courage?
  • How did I manifest and learn from failures?


So here’s a snippet of some of the things I learnt :

  • I faffed about and missed out on a discount on some invoicing software. If I was optimistic, I should have just gone for it, can always unsubscribe.
  • I rushed to pursue some leads and cold-emailed some companies when I could have waited for a fuller coaching profile, plus…
  • I can pursue warmer leads by canvassing my friends! Don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

Not really rocket science insights, but when you’re burrowing or flapping with do, do, do, it’s easy to forget to stop and see where you’re going.

Don’t underestimate the benefit of pausing and re-calibrating.

Find my brain at A Space For.