Sam on working incessantly:

“There’s always going to be more that could be done, that’s why people like Elon Musk work 24 hours in a day…

But I don’t want to be Elon Musk. I’m not trying to get us to Mars. I’m trying to enjoy my life.”

Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:

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00:00 Intros

01:49 Differences in Sam and Emma’s approach to downtime

2:38 Productivity in self-employment vs. corporate world

7:58 How sam divvy’s up his waking hours

10:37 Emma’s work outside of the corporate world as both less stressful and never-ending.

12:34 How to designate between work and non-work or “switch off” (drinks, food, activities)

14:07 When Sam muses on the difficulty of giving advice

15:21 Why sam rarely checks his emails

17:12 Emma’s advice to Sam

19:45 The structure and accountability provided by life coaches

22:30 The core tension that arises from having absolute control over your own time  

23:34 Dubious life advice: more picnics and alcohol?


S: Hello welcome back to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur, I’m your host Sam Priestley and as normal we’re joined by the lovely amazing beautiful co-host and my wife Emma Priestley

E: Hello what an intro

S: That’s it I’m in a very happy mood today

E: Why is that?

S: don’t know why am i happy today

E: you’ve done a lot of jiu jitsu

S:  In two days I’ve got some admin out the way that I’ve been putting off which makes me feel good. I found our car insurance

E: congratulations

S: I hate doing and I’m recording a podcast which is one of my favorite things to do. Right so Emma today I want to talk about the guilt that you feel as a self-employed person as a small business owner any time you’re not working. This is something that I think that anyone who’s got their own business they’re trying to build where they’re completely responsible for their own time and I’ve got a balance life, balance work and balance health, balance family, feels

E: That’s good

S: It’s something that I still struggle with after whatever is 10 plus years of working for myself I kind of always have in the back of my mind I should be working there’s something more productive I should be doing which is weird because I’m completely in control my own time and that should be amazing, right? It should be every day I wake up for nothing, so I do some work? I don’t know it’s lovely outside, maybe I’d want even to go for a picnic and then if I choose go out for a picnic that shouldn’t really very guilt attached but that is that is why I do this right so that I can, on the whim, go out and choose to have a picnic or go to a museum or go go-karting or something random.

E: Have to say I do think I am the latter

S: You don’t struggle as much with this as me

E: No, I don’t, I mean I absolutely love my life and love that I can choose when to work and when not to work and I have to say I don’t feel guilty when I’m not working I feel happy in the week when I’m doing something that isn’t work.

S: You’re such a weirdo

E:  I think it’s because it’s so different from working in a corporate.

S: Don’t you’d feel like because you know that you used to work 9:00 to 5:00 on 8:00 to 8:00 or ever it was that that is what you should be doing now?

E: I think the amount I get done in one day of one hour of emails is way more than I ever used to get done in like a whole week at work.

S: mm-hmm

E: I just feel I’m so much more productive

S: Yeah, that’s not me.

E: But I think it’s because I’ve had the corporate experience, I’ve got something to compare it to whereas this is all you’ve ever known.

S: Yeah but when I’ve had times where I’ve done more and been more productive than other times so I always have the memory of being better and do more and always have a list of a million and one things that I know I could be doing and should be doing and want to be doing

E: yeah but I think where the the times that you think you’ve been very productive, I think you’ve been focusing on one thing. Success in your head is to focus on one thing and spend a lot of time on it. But that isn’t how your life is set up

S: Well yeah I’ve got this innate contradiction with my life. yeah I want to have kind of as much free time as possible… I’m doing this because it frees up time and I don’t particularly need to be working that hard at the same time I feel like I should be working and I should be be more productive and I should be doing more I should be doing more hours that’s a contradiction and it means I can’t 100% enjoy the downtime and I’m not getting 100% into work so I’m in this kind of middle ground where I’m guilty whatever I’m doing.

E: What do you think you would gain if you did a lot more work? Like do you think you would gain more money? Do you think you would gain more job satisfaction? Do you think you would gain enjoying the downtime? what is it you think that you’re missing?

S: Yea I don’t know, I don’t think there is a good answer to that because I think the problem with the guilt of thinking there’s more that you can do is that you’ve never done everything you can do, like there’s a never ending list of things that I want to be doing and I don’t feel I ever, like when I used to work a lot and do loads, I used to joke with ben that there weren’t enough hours in a day, cause there aren’t to do everything you want to do, and I think that in my mind I’ve got this distinction between productive stuff and time wasting stuff. And going for a picnic goes into the time wasting stuff. Watching TV goes into the time wasting stuff. Whereas going to the gym, doing jits, learning a skill, doing work all goes into that productive section.

E: It’s interesting isn’t it because those two examples like doing jits and doing a new skill, you need to have downtime, you just can’t be working and working out hah! Like it gets to a point where you train so much that you can’t move. And there is nothing that you can’t do apart from watching TV

Why fun is important 5:33

S: And I like having fun. So like I shouldn’t feel guilty for just kind of mindless fun. Like if you watch instagrammers who have the dream life or travel vloggers or whatever

E: THey how the dream life

S: I bet they still feel the same guilt that they can’t 100 percent enjoy whatever it is they’re doing and they feel they should be taking more photos or doing more work or going somewhere more photogenic or the light isn’t quite right here or whatever it is.

E: That would drive me insane

S: DO you remember that doc abt couple vloggers? Who are making like a career from being these perfect couples

E: Vlogging their relationship it would be horrendous.

S: And then they broke up and decided to continue faking it for these because that’s where their income comes from and they’ve got this distinction in their mind bt their real lives and work and it’s not real. I kind of new you didn’t really feel that guilt because a few years back we were travelling and we would go around the world and go to a new city and you would want to go and visit all the museums and do all the touristy stuff and i would be like “ well i’ve got to do some work” and you’d be like “alright then see you later,” and I was like “Shouldn’t you be doing some work as well, do you feel that guilt that you need to be, I don’t know .

E: Yeah, I think that the reason we set up our lives so that there’s a balance between life and work and I enjoy that to the max.

S: And we have a good balance, I struggle with it because I feel like I should be doing more and so one thing I started doing since January is recording my time and labelling what I do each hour

E: Do you think that’s helped.

S: Yeah, it has actually, and for instance, last month I roughly had it split to ⅓ of my waking hours was done working, ⅓ was done with friends and family, and then the other third was spent to productive stuff that wasn’t working so jiu jitsu, a few things like that, and I think that actually is quite a nice balance that you have the three parts of my life that are all really important have an equal proportion but that each one I feel like I’m neglecting slightly.

E: I think you have this mentality, hence why you’re starting a new business you absolutely love the beginning, the strategy, the planning, the excitement, it’s all you can think of and talk about, its 100% and then when it comes to the day to day running of it you’re less interested and you built businesses so that they run where you don’t have to do very much day to day but I think that it’s similar to everything in your life, you think you’re doing well at it and you’re really enjoying when you’re really 110% in it.

S: Yeah no that’s definitely true

E: But that doesn’t work it’s a contradiction

S: You can’t be 110% in everything

E: But is  about being in the moment?

S: I think that’s it because on the one hand I like to pretend I like being in the moment, I don’t like making plans, I like the flexibility of going on a whim to do something adventurous

E. Like that picnic last thursday, you suggested it in the morning, and then we were there.

S: SO I really like that side, but at the same time I’m almost kind of planning. Like on the next six months on the blog, or the business, or how we can grow our gin brand, or what we can do with our new table tennis products, or thinking about traveling and what life is going to be then, or other stuff I want to learn, or currently a bit of photography stuff like what courses I could take to get better at photography, thinking about writing a book or  creating a video game or all these kinds of random things.

E: Well i’m exhausted by that list, no wonder why you’re tired!

S: Yea I think it is about being in the moment which I think you’re definitely better about than me

E: And being in the moment for me, it’s got to be some sort of planning around it, for me I enjoy the planning and the expectation of what it’s going to be like and then I really enjoy the moment. I think i’m less good at enjoying spontaneous things and I think that one thing I do feel i suppose guilty is the right word is how much I look at my emails

S: MMmmm

E: WHen I was at my corporate job I  was very adamant that I didn’t have a work phone and I was only able to access my emails on my computer which was in the office so out of hours when I left the office, I switched off, whereas now I look at my emails before I go to bed and as soon as I wake up. And yes, I do sleep a lot, but, that’s not the point. I don’t have work hours. And so when people say to me that yesterday I had some meetings in London but then I shopped in between, people say, “Do you feel like you’re always working” and I say no because I got to shop in between, and then the flipside is do you feel like you’re always working and then I say I am always working because I am always looking at my emails.

S: Maybe the stress then is because the guilt that you’re not yet feeling is because everything is at a manageable level

E: Yeah I think that’s what it is

S: IF you had 10x the amount of emails per day than you think that would weigh on you, or more things than you could handle than that would start
E: That’s a good point because with the meetings you choose where you are, so if you had a day where I wanted to go spend time with my family I could go do that and then make sure there weren’t meetings on that day.

S: See you’re planning ahead but once it’s planned that’s it, whereas I’ll be halfway through my picnic but then I’ll think about a change I could make to the blog and then I’ll be like I want to go home and make that change

E: Whereas I’ll be at the picnic having a great time and thinking what can we do after this that’s equally fun? Not like “Alright I’ve had a few hours of picnic let’s go back to work.”

S: I mean getting a bit morbid, I think that’s why I enjoy having a drink at these things. Like now it’s time for switching off, it’s like a prop. I think I probably use jiu jitsu a bi like that, like while I’m doing it I’m not working.

E: Like it’s all encompassing.

S: And maybe for you it’s like social events are like that, having people to chat to, whereas if we’re in a group conversations I drift off and find myself doing something completely different.

E: Well I disagree, I think a lot of the time when I’m talking about work and I care about what my friends and family think and their advice so it’s something that I do talk about and sometimes it really winds me up and sometimes I find it really useful, no I think actually i would say that yoga is my jits, is my place to not think about work because the type of yoga that I do now is a lot of movement, there isn’t any static whereas when you’re say in positions, your mind does drift very easily ,whereas I have to concentrate so much on what I’m doing in this current yoga class that  I can’t think about work, which I think is great.


S: Well this was a strange episode, it was meant to be us giving our advice about the guilt of always being working but I don’t really have much advice to give. That’s what it is. I feel a lot of guilt that I should always be working, that there aren’t enough hours in the day and that there’s a bunch of stuff that plays into that, that we’ve created a balanced life that we are logically happy with, let me think through, but then the extra emotions that go along with that aren’t always logical.

E: Yeah and I don’t think it’s about advice, I think it’s about talking about this, about being honest, about what we think about our work-life balance and whether we’re happy with it.

S: That’s a good point, it’s not just about having a correct answer that makes sense like a mathematical formula.

E: There isn’t one

S: Even if there was, that doesn’t mean that your emotional subconscious or whatever will be in line.

E: I guess the one thing is to keep talking about it and reflecting because it does change


S: I suppose one thing to say is that I have made an effort to distance myself from certain parts of work in order to not feel the guilt, so one of which is that I rarely check my emails. Another one is my phone doesn’t vibrate or ring or anything like that. I have a bunch of stuff that encroaches on me, anything which people are pushing their stuff to me, I’ve distanced myself from a bit, with just stuff popping up and distracting me from whatever else is going on, so I’m the opposite, I won’t be checking my emails first thing in the morning and last thing at night, I’ll check them every few days and that’s been a conscious decision

E: Well with the GIn i tell you verbally. You need to pay this or whatever the thing in.

S: But on other stuff.

E: I’m your filter for that.

S: Yea and customer service stuff, I don’t do any of that. So instead the guilt I get is not from these random little stuff, it is more the big picture stuff, the opportunities that I am letting go to waste because I am not acting on them.
E: That’s enormous.

S: Yeah, and never ending. Especially when you’re like me and you spend all your time thinking, and that’s what you enjoy, and talking to people and being creative and thinking up new business ideas and stuff we could do and original businesses and opportunities, there’s always going to be more that could be done and more opportunities to explore that’s why people like elon musk work 24 hours in a day, because there’s always more that could be done, but I don’t want to be elon musk, I’m not trying to get us to mars, I’m trying to enjoy my life.


E: Chill out!

S: I shouldn’t be giving myself a heart attack at 40, or whatever it is, chill out, be more in the moment, maybe that is it. Maybe that’s it, maybe getting better at being okay at the guilt, because the problem is you get this guilt that you should be doing work which means that you don’t go and do these exciting things that you could be doing because you’ve got all this free time, but then you end of procrastinating and doing nothing, because we could be like, “oh, we could go to fort parth today.” Or why don’t we just pop over to brussels for a couple of days or whatever it is but we hardly ever do that because I don’t know.

E: Well I’m always thinking to do that, there’s a whole bunch of stuff I’d like to do in Kent.

S: And we could just be oh so spontaneous. Or we could just be like, Tuesday would be a good day to go to a castle.

E: Well I’m going to start doing that because we’ve only got a few months left and if we don’t do it now then it will never happen.

S: But when you suggest stuff like that I think that I should probably be working. Got loads of work to do.

E: No your answer is always you’re too ill

S: yeah I have been quite ill haven’t I, or that I might not be well on that day s o I don’t want ot commit to that. Well that’s a different discussion, but there have been times where I didn’t want to commit because there was probably some work I should be doing. WEll let’s wrap this up. Any last words of advice.

E: I think it’s good to talk about, I think it’s hard to talk about, it’s not an easy conversation but it’s good to verbalize this because it’s kind of hidden inside you somewhere and it’s something that if you do end up starting your own business you’re probably going to have to deal with.

S; If you’re going from a career where someone has given you what you should be doing, structure, and then you have to create structure on your own, even when you create that structure, I think that you do feel guilty outside of that.

E: One thing we haven’t talked about is life coaches and how we saw a massive trend with people who were working remotely having an hour call with a life coach on skype every week and it was so they were accountable.

S: Yeah there’s loads of stuff on that, there’s accountability, there’s people who are workaholics, who can never stop working ,or who can’t get started at all, and they’re both hiring life coaches or yoga instructors, or whatever it is. Therapists, military boot camp people to force them to shower and work a bit harder, but there is a bit of a trend to people who get more happy talking about their thoughts and feelings about stuff.

E: Yeah, when they’re struggling with stuff. It’s not “oh I’ve got the perfect life and you just need to copy what i’m doing.”

S: Especially when you’re ambitious or comparing yourself to other people, because one thing about the career is you have easy to see benchmarks for how you should be doing or how you should compare yourself, but there’s a lot more randomness when it comes to businesses, especially when it comes to blogging. How do you compare yourself to any other blogger? Some might just get lucky.

E: You have to go meet people and then be open to talk about the money, the number of views you’re getting, the stats around it, because otherwise you’re just on your own.

S: Yeah, and then you have this situation where there’s so much more showmanship and people get cars they can’t afford, they live a life that looks successful to projet that success to look at them in their yacht, or that their business is succeeding, or how do you compare yourself to that? How do you know whether you’re achieving what would should achieve? ANd the problem is, how do you know if you’re achieving what you should because you’re creating new industries, building stuff that wasn’t there before, it is just totally down to you and a bit of randomness as to how things do. And i can’t compare my hourly rate to what I would earn if I was in a business.

E: It doesn’t work like that.

S: Alright, well, let’s wrap it up. SO if you’re feeling guilty that you should always be guilty or you’re feeling guilty that you’re wasting a lot of time or procrastinating that you should be doing other stuff, or that you feel like you can’t enjoy your free time to the fullest or you’re stuck in a perpetual procrastination loop that you can’t really break out of it and be productive then you’re not alone and i think pretty much everybody is suffering from one form of this or another. We went to a networking thing not that long ago and we thought this was an idea for an episode and they thought, oh yeah that’s it of course. And this is it. This is a problem you’ll have to deal. And it’s a problem you have to deal with when you’re completely in charge of your own time when you can do everything you want or nothing! So yeah, if you want to talk about it, as I said i don’t particularly read my emails, but I’ll try if you email me, you can reach me at hello [at] sam priestley [dot] com or leave a comment on a blog post i’m almost certain to reply to you. Maybe the answer is more picnics and alcohol? And on that bad advice i’m going to say goodbye.