Optimizing your edge time

Modern life can be full of empty time. This space is sometimes referred to as edge time, optimizing your edge time will help you towards your goals. 

Modern life has created a lot of down time. We no longer wake up and head outside to the farm or downstairs the shop. We commute, many of us over 50 minutes each way, we wait in long lines at the airport, we sit in drive-throughs and waiting rooms. There is an abundance of gaps in time where you can’t really do anything. You are either driving or it’s just not enough time to get anything done. This useless space is sometimes called edge time. I really hate edge time (not to be confused with downtime) so I’ve started using it productively to educate and inspire myself. 

How I Optimize My Edge Time

I just bought my first home in Seattle and it is clear across town from my work, most of my clients and my friends. I don’t think I could have picked one much further away and still been inside the city limits. It is an average of 45 minutes for me to go just about anywhere I need to be. I have a lot of edge time and that was really getting under my skin so I started using that time intentionally.


Audio Books 

Audiobooks are not a new invention, I remember renting them on tape from the Library as a kid. Luckily I can now stream them right to my phone. I’ve started using my edge time to listen to books again. I use Audible but you can also rent audio books through your local libraries app for free, just like any other book. Honestly, for me, some books are even better when they are read aloud by the other! 

Tip – Alternate between fiction and nonfiction. I think we forget how important it is to absorb stories of fiction for our own creativity. 



The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

This book is one I highly recommend listening to instead of reading because she is a great narrator, tells additional stories not found in the book and even sings between the chapters. This book is an important read for all creatives. Most artist I know are afraid to ask to get paid for their art. They have been indoctrinated to believe art has no value but it does and you should be asking to get paid to create it. 

To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret

I love this book because at its core the author is questioning what it means to be an “adult.” There is not one definition of “adult” or “success” and it’s important to realize we can choose to not subscribe to the concept that there is. 

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

SO Dave Ramsey is personally too religious for me but this guy knows what he is talking about with money. As artists we tell ourselves the story that we are not good with money but that can’t continue. Listen to this book, do what he says and get your financial life in order. 


Podcasts, similar to audio books, are great when you are driving because they are hands-free. I like podcasts because they are shorter, cover many topics in a season and are usually more up to date since they tend to be published weekly not yearly like books are. 



The Working Songwriter – www.joepugmusic.com/podcast

I was recently sent this podcast because a friend and artist I admire was a guest. It was a lovely interview and sent me down a rabbit hole of episodes. The premise is simple, Joe Pug interviews working artist about songwriting, the music business and sometimes just life. 


Story Corps – www.storycorps.org/podcast

If you ever dreamed of ugly crying on the bus this podcast is for you. I think this podcast is valuable to artists because the stories told in this podcast have a way of staying with me because they are so moving. If you are feeling uninspired hearing real stories from real people in their own voices can help.  


DIY Musician – www.cdbabypodcast.com

I like the way this podcast is organized by topic. It’s easy to go through their catalog and add the most interesting topics to your own playlist. There are a lot of great nuggets of info in the DIY Musician Podcast that is really applicable to all artists, not just musicians.  


Playlists & Indie Radio Stations

This tip is for musicians. Put together a list of Spotify and/or Apple Music playlists and independent radio stations your band could fit on to. You should listen to them and subscribe to them so when you reach out to the curator/DJ you can speak personally about the playlist or station and why you are a good fit. You are not going to get anywhere by just cold emailing your music links to people. Show you care by listening and engaging with them first. 



When I am not driving I will read articles on Medium. It’s really easy to subscribe to publications and most of the site is free to read. What I love about Medium is anyone can publish articles so its a lot easier to find a writer who is an expert in a niche. 



I love the headspace app and use it to meditate for 10 minutes whenever I have a free moment. It would, of course, be a good idea to schedule this time into my day since I see the most benefits from meditation when I am practicing regularly but it is not currently part of my daily schedule. It is something I do everytime I travel and I am not driving. It really helps me stay cool when travel delays happen or I’m running on low energy. 


Engage your Community

Edge time is a great opportunity to engage with your community if you are not driving. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone to check your personal Instagram again use it to participate on a hashtag or comment on your fans posts instead. Don’t just talk out at people on social media, engage authentically with them as if they were a friend. Use your 30 minutes of random time to be a human on social media not just post again about yourself. 



Hey! I’m Nikki! I am a marketing expert with over a decade of experience. I hold a technical degree in graphic design from North Seattle College. I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years.  I offer short-term marketing and business coaching to creatives as a way to help as many creatives as I can, while still going after my own career goals as the Head of Marketing at Mastin Labs. 

Nikki Barron



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