Punchcard Economy

Natural Working Rhythms

Oct 20 2013 · by Sam Meech

Vanessa Bartlett is an art writer, academic and producer specialising in performance art, digital cultures and art and mental health. Here she talks briefly about her own working patterns, the importance of taking a break, and the careful balance of work and wellbeing. Below is a pattern repeat generated from her ‘out of contract’ working log, week 41.


I’ve been moving house this week, which is why I had Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning off. Obviously the fact that I work for myself means that emails, research and writing continue around the packing and unpacking! I work whenever I can around my personal life, with little distinction between personal and professional time. This works for me mostly, only because I have learned to switch off any sense of guilt that comes along with taking a break! In the past I’ve damaged my mental health by spending too much time at work, so I’ve had to learn to work when I feel like it and rest when I don’t. This sounds very frivolous, but I genuinely believe this fits better with my natural rhythms than working 9-5. Some days I have boundless energy and can work tirelessly and other days I just need to go for a walk and have a nap instead. Technology has allowed me to harness my energy by facilitating me to work from home during hours that suit me. The irony is that I find I am much better at meeting deadlines and being creative when I am gentle with myself about how much work I really need to do.