First, you can minimize the swallow reflex by using less oil. I also struggle with that, but find it not so bad if I start off with less than a tablespoon.
As for the timing. I love it first thing in the morning. I find that it curbs my morning appetite. And when I first started OP I wanted to do it several times a day and found it hard to go for 4 hours between eating. I have read that others don't stick to that rule hard and fast, and so I think it would be OK. I do try and stay at least an hour from drinking and as long as I can from eating, but I can't go a full 4 hours.
And as for "something being better than nothing", that has always been my philosophy.
Good luck, and keep it up.