Breaking the cycle of work and poor productivity

Adam Tinworth
3 min readMay 9, 2016

For a little over four years now, I’ve let my life be shaped by a level of responsibility I haven’t felt before. Now, some of that is completely fair and right. I’m a father of two young children, and that inherently brings obligations I didn’t have before, and I’m cool with that.

But I’m also self-employed. And the battle I’m still fighting is the battle against letting that consume my life. Part of it is financial responsibility stemming from parenthood — but I’m not carrying that burden alone. My wife works, too.

No, it’s more the burden of being the sole trader — of being directly responsible for finding the majority of my own work. It’s the old cliché: any time is time that I could be spending developing my business. And Medium is just chock-full of posts exhorting us to do just that — go all in on your business to build something truly world-changing.

But it’s horseshit. Partially because I’m not really looking to build a world-changing business — I’m content to build a solid income helping others do digital publishing better. Mostly, though, because nobody can function effectively like that. And anyone who thinks they are are deluding themselves.

Science FTW

We need time to rest, to recreate. Science says so. We need downtime to help us be most effective at the things that matter most to us in our lives. And for me, that’s my relationships with my wife and children, and doing my work well.

I need time and energy to do those things right, and over the last week, as I’ve tried to mindfully look at the way I live, it’s become awfully clear to me that I’m making decisions that don’t help that goal — and that trap me in a spiral of tiredness and inefficiency.

Every evening, I rush around after the girls go to bed — washing up, tidying up, prepping food and clothes for the next day. And then I try to get another couple of hours of work in, before I hit the sack.

I’m selling tomorrow’s productivity on the altar of a few more hours working before bed.

No more.

The Rules

Sunset over the Adur

So, for the next month, I’m setting myself two rules:

  1. No working in the evenings(unless it’s completely necessary to be ready for the next day — but I should consider that a failure.)
  2. One blog post a day, on Coffee & Complexity. (Nothing to do with journalism or tech and culture. Just whatever comes into my mind — or whatever is on my mind.) Best posts can be cross-posted to Medium — if I feel like it — just as this one has been.

Progress will be reported back here. Hopefully. :-)

Originally published at on May 9, 2016.



Adam Tinworth

Blogging since 2001, journalisting (which isn’t a word, but should be) since 1994, and sleep-deprived since 2012. Journalism lecturer, consultant and trainer.