If you’re anything like me, you start a new year with an inner restlessness so intense that it’s practically palpable to the people around you.

You then take that intense energy burst and apply it toward every great idea you ever had, starting projects left and right.

Within a few months, your energy fizzles and most of your great ideas are left unrealised.

You worked so hard and used so much of that buzzing creative energy, but you have very little to show for it aside from the piles of unfinished business around you.

This was my pattern.

With every change of season, this energy seems to renew within me, and I used to burn the midnight fuel chasing multiple inspirations.

When we changed over to 2014, I realized my pattern … particularly the aftermath of unfinished business and burnout that left me feeling utterly unaccomplished.

I decided that I needed to temper my creative energy and give it boundaries so that it would last much longer and produce much more.

This may seem paradoxical to the issue, but in order to produce more, I decided to reduce my working hours and work off a task list: a task list that was built to help me achieve my goals and get closer to my dreams.

I have a full-time, work-at-home creative career, but this idea can be applied to whatever number of hours you have to work on your business each week. I have a potential seven working hours every weekday (while my children are at school and the house is quiet). That’s thirty-five hours a week to myself.

Up until this year, I’ve tried to fill those thirty-five house with laser-focused production and an occasional day off here and there.

This approach to my work has produced epic failure, major burn-out and unhappiness.

I’ve given it some thought: I don’t know anybody who works a laser-focused eight-hour day without losing their marbles. And when I say laser-focused, that’s what I mean: I set the timer, the only task in front of me is the task at hand. No phone calls, no chit chat, no email checks or Facebook updates … just work that allows me to cross important things off my professional to-do list.

Most people go to work and take plenty of breaks, interact with their co-workers, and get up for a stroll. Meanwhile, I’m locked up alone in my house with work that needs to be done. That uber-strict regimen simply wasn’t working; it resulted in two weeks of production, four weeks of burn-out.

At the start of the year, I decided that I’m only going to work four hours per day, Monday through Friday, with two personal days and one family day scheduled each month. I’m also taking off the months of June, July, and most of August and December.

I’ve also kept a public log of how I spend each hour (This site/resource is no longer available), and then! Well, then I reveal to all the world how much I’ve earned in those hours spent.

The reduced work-week is not only resulting in amazing accomplishments, it’s also helped me to complete personal unfinished business, lose some weight, stick to my budget better and eat healthier having so much more time to focus on my overall wellbeing.

What I’ve realized is this: Creative energy isn’t cheap; it’s quite costly on both the mind and spirit.

Most of what you do with your working hours requires great innovation. Your work involves less mundane tasks than you’d expect to complete during a typical 9-5 at a traditional job.

A creative career is full of new ideas that are taxing to manifest.

Having made the switch, I’m so excited for the end-year results; I can hardly wait to see how a year’s worth of harnessing my creative energy will work out.

In the meantime, please share:

How do you manage your working hours?

Image source: Lisa Jacobs

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