Time x



Time is the universal equaliser the world over and remains the one thing that money can’t buy.  It’s an arbitrary beast – running slow at Doctor’s appointments, running away on holidays and moments of wonder.  Which means despite it being a mathematical unit it has a hidden, nebulous, time warp quality and, given half the chance, it is a thief.



I was originally a Professional Violinist but the one thing I truly hated was practising – repetitive, robotic and boring.  I soon learnt that if I practised intelligently I considerably reduce the monotony – and it’s this discipline I’ve taken into my day to day life: Cut down the grisly bits to the least time possible and use the time left over to breathe.


The truth is generally we start the day with a list of things we need to accomplish, we start working through it and before we know it the day is gone and the list has barely been dented.  The next day more stuff piles up and we’re permanently lugging around a constant burden of responsibility and expectation that never ends.


So I have 2 Golden Rules and a System – (it’s not Rocket Science, it won’t work for everyone, but it works for me.)


The Golden Rules:


1. ‘Things’ take less time than you think.

2. The ‘Things’ should never dictate time it takes to do them.


The System:


1. Write down a list of EVERYTHING. Then write a list of what you need to get done this week, prioritise for the day if needs be, but then divide the rest of the list  over the rest of the week: The moral of the story is long lists never, ever work – divide and conquer and you stand a chance.

2. Give each job 15 minutes – and it is here in the objectivity of technology where the truth lies – SET AN ALARM (honest to God the time remains constant) (I use my phone) for 15 minutes.   When it goes off, move onto the next job, re-set the alarm and start again…in the great scheme of things it’s a pee in the ocean: The accumulative effect packs a punch.

3.  Need to tidy the house? Set the alarm for 5 minutes or 10 minutes for each room – you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done.  The rest of the time is now YOURS.

It also works to create boundaries for the Creative side too – My great love is that absolute joy-zone where’s no effort and you’re transported away from the world.  Given the chance I’d be permanently on my happy-dappy planet –  except nothing practical would ever get done and my house and all those contained within it would fall to rack and ruin.  By using an alarm and setting a limit (30 minutes – 45 minutes?) I give myself permission to ignore everything else for that period of time and just be.  I can safely zone out.  And come back home again.


What it does mean is that jobs don’t necessarily get finished (although you’d be surprised how much does – there’s an automatic sense of focus that comes from dictating a specific period of time) – but take my light, the patio, the shirt..not finished..but, given time, they will be..and now I’m controlling them instead of them controlling me..and bit by bit you find great riches in  those small steps..It’s about both squeezing the most from everything..and taking that time to smell the roses..


Laters, Kate x








  1. Laura Brzegowy

    Excellent post, Kate! I find myself worrying about my perceived “lack” of time and then nothing gets done. BTW, I’m a violist, not a professional like you, but I thought that was cool for you to mention in this post.

  2. MELewis

    This is wonderful stuff. Time management is my personal great debate and daily struggle with myself. Your system make sense. Will definitely give it a try! 🙂

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Hehe! I remember my Art A level exam that I absolutely adored – 36 hours of painting…I missed buses, forgot purses, walked around with a green face for a day…all in complete oblivion. I need the space to dream..but I need to be tethered! xxx

  3. holzfeder

    Hey! I use an alarm too: a kitchen alarm shaped like a cactus that is actually on my desk. My problem is the lack of discipline when the alarm rings and I ignore it and keep on doing the “old” task. I have to work on that.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I think it takes a while to feel the benefit of the 15 minute list…and then you start to notice how much you’ve accomplished and it gets easier and easier..glad to know I’m not the only one with an alarm!! xxx

    • Maison Bentley Style

      What! you mean this post was a job??! Actually, I do understand – it’s not that I live every minute of the day like this – just when I need to concentrate or get things done. I think it particularly applies to working from home – I swear then time has it’s own wormhole! xxx

  4. jackiemallon

    You’re amazing! But you’ve eliminated the joy of procrastination. She’s my bestie, my chum, my bosom buddie, ya just wiped her out! 😉
    Truth is I need to take a leaf out of your book.
    Love the photo and your violinist background. I used to do Irish dancing for years but hated practicing so my cousins brought home the trophies but not me but I’m not bitter :-)xo

    • Maison Bentley Style

      Hehe! On planet zib zob I live in a wonderfully old but heated Victorian glazed artist’s studio surrounded by paint, easels, materials, sewing machines and the radio. Food magically appears, bills are paid and there’s never any mess. The children come in as and when for intellectual conversations and gangnam style dancing on the tables before heading to bed without a murmur..oh and there’s a warm waterfall for washing..and a natural swimming pool..and the husband’s allowed..and there’s a ban on homework..sigh. The reality is instead I try to lasso the moon and hold it still, just for a little bit.. xxx

  5. KerryCan

    I do the list thing, too–and I write down every step of every project so I can have the pleasure of crossing things off as I go. But I’m not good at setting a time limit. Once I start on something, I seem to be driven by a desire for closure.

    • Maison Bentley Style

      I’ve had to step away from closure – I think because of the demands of the kids. At certain times of the day I have to stop and their needs come first…but I can see it getting easier and easier as they grow (at one point I worked out I was providing 20 meals a day..breastfeeding baby, a toddler and adult meals – add sleep deprivation and it was impossible to carve time) As they become more responsible I get more freedom…and I do rejoice in that as I think it’s vital we all have our own identities…I’ve actually felt my creative mojo returning over the last few months since Charlie started school..but time still tries to run away if I let it! xxx

      • KerryCan

        So true–the added variable of small children would change everything! I have the luxury of choosing closure because I really have so few outside demands on my time. The demands I have are all self-imposed by wanting to DO so much. You’ve found a system that, it’s clear, works very effectively for you!

  6. motherhendiaries

    Oh girl, I so needed this! I am so devoid of personal focus sometimes. And you JOE my house work routine is basically putting out fires. But I will try this!! Great post!

      • motherhendiaries

        How did I type JOE my housework? Wow… it was late… light was low and my tablet is PANTS!! I meant you KNOW…. haha! Glad you can decipher through bad spell check. I’ll let you know how I get on with the advice!