My Son Just Turned One – 12 Things That The Last 365+ Days Have Taught Me About Productivity

AaroTo celebrate my son’s 1st birthday that was on November 10th, I decided to write a post that reflects the productivity lessons I have learnt in the last 365+ days.

You may remember, that year ago I wrote my thoughts about becoming a father and how it affected to my productivity. You may also remember what my son had taught me – only after 18 days after his birth.

Anyway, this first year has been a big growing experience for me and my wife, but also very beneficial when it comes to time management.

Without any further ado, here are the twelve lessons I have learnt:

1. Give up on your personal projects – at least in the beginning

If you are already productive and organized person, then having a baby is going to have a huge negative impact on your productivity (when it comes to the amount of time you have for your personal projects) – especially in the beginning.

Although I expected that things would possibly change a lot with a baby, I wasn’t able to imagine how much work extra work I had to in the beginning.

Especially, since I was working full-time (and I still do), building my online business and having some personal time was seemed to be impossible. The extra household work combined with lack of sleep (because of the irregular sleeping patterns of our baby) was really daunting for both of us.

Still, you shouldn’t be afraid of what I just said. The starting phase – although being stressful –  will pass soon. When you remember this, it makes the situations at least a bit easier to cope with.

Just make sure to give your full attention to your spouse and baby (or babies), since that’s what they expect.

2. You can still be productive when things settle down

A very common thought is that when a baby arrives into the household, you have to drop everything you are doing (your personal projects) and just you only have to focus on the baby.

While I agree that your baby becomes your first priority, you can still keep your personal projects rolling and keep your productivity levels relatively high.

It all comes down to learning your baby’s living patterns in advance and taking advantage of, for instance, the nap times.

This is exactly what I did last summer, when I was two months out of the office. I studied the patterns and took action, when the time was appropriate.

So even though things are very busy – especially in the beginning – they’ll settle down and you will start to find different ways to keep yourself productive.

Besides, the main lesson that I have learnt is: With your baby, you are forced to focus on just the essential work and nothing else. This helps you to cut off everything that isn’t valuable in your life right then.

3. Know your next action

I know that I have referred to this example many times before, but it’s one of the best lessons I have learnt: Always know your next action.

This way, you can take advantage of the extra time pockets in your day and you can get more of your work done.

I noticed this by accident when I arrived back home from work one day. Once I stepped inside our home, I realized that my son and my wife were taking a nap.

Since I knew my next action, it was easy for me to act fast and spend one extra hour on my tasks.

So the tip is, always know what to do next. It’ll pay off as some extra productivity.

4. Some tasks tolerate distraction better than others

At some point I realized, that certain tasks do not require my full focus in order to get them done.

For instance, cleaning my inbox, tweeting on Twitter, upgrading my WordPress plugins or any other smaller task like that was just fine – even if my son was hanging on my sleeve.

When you know this information, it easier for you to plan your days in advance. In my case, I schedule all the creative work at the beginning of the day (since my family is sleeping), while the rest of the stuff (Twitter, e-mail …) I can deal with later – even if there is distraction around you.

5. Don’t have a too rigid schedule

If you make too detailed plans and schedules; there is a very big change they won’t turn out as you expected.

For instance, when leaving the home, clothing the baby can be considered as a separate project, to which both of the parents have to participate (at least at times).

Just be sure to add extra buffer around your tasks so that you aren’t stressing yourself too much. Also, be ready to make changes to your schedules on the fly if that makes sense to you.

Living with a baby makes your life more dynamic than it ever was :)

6. Every minute counts

It’s unbelievable how quickly you are willing to grab your laptop and start working on your stuff – even if you know that you have only couple of minutes to do so.

You should be ready to take advantage of these brief moments, since every minute counts.

This is especially true when you are building your business part-time, while having a day job and a family.

All the single minutes may feel like water drops but when you put them together, they form a small stream and eventually a river.

Indeed, they accumulate and you should be aware of those minutes.

7. Maximize your time by going mobile

Mobility was always something that I hadn’t taken advantage of until last summer, when I bought an MP3 player.

Sure, I’ve had an MP3 player in the past, but now it had a whole new meaning after our son was born.

I realized that I could use it to educate myself during my transition times – by listening to podcasts, audiobooks or other audio products I had purchased online.

Another insight was to take advantage of my Kindle on the go – by reading Amazon Books or reading blog posts I had saved for later.

Eventually, this led me to come up with WAHD Mobility Toolkit, which I now take with me most of the time (whether it’s all of the tools or just some).

This way I can take advantage of transition and waiting times effectively.

8. Take playtime as recharging time

When your baby is born, you get to be a child again! Yes, I’m talking about playing with him/her and it’s super-fun!

I don’t consider it as unproductive time at all. Instead, I feel that taking my mind off from work stuff is just perfect this way.

Just make sure you play full out and don’t check your e-mail or work on your computer at the same time.

Your child will sense when you are not 100% involved and besides, the work will always wait for you later.

Remember, your kids grow up fast and there is only one time in his/her life when he/she is small.

9. Tolerate mess

I’m really into organizing and keeping things in order. That’s why I needed a big mindset shift with my son.

You see, when he grew up and started crawling (he is learning to stand/walk now), everything he could get his hands on became very interesting to him. This is shown now by getting the stuff out of the closets, ripping apart magazines or having his toys around the home.

We just came to the conclusion that it’s much more convenient to clean up the home right after he has gone to bed in the evening. Otherwise we would be cleaning our home all the time.

Summa summarum, you should tolerate more mess during the baby time of your child. But once again, the messy times are only temporary :)

10. You have to be unselfish

Both of the parents have to bargain of their own time when a baby arrives – in a way or other.

In my case, I realized that I had to have a quit competing in marathons and triathlons for a couple of years. This way I can have more time with my family and dedicate more time for getting my online business off the ground.

So was the letting go hard? Not really.

I figured that this phase of my life just won’t allow heavy exercising. Therefore, I quitted racing voluntarily and I feel it was a good decision.

11. Automate, delete, outsource whatever you can

It doesn’t come to you as a surprise, but the more work you give away from your hands, the more you can focus on essential parts of your emerging online business (or whatever you want to focus on).

For instance, I try to do all the small outsourcing work through Fiverr-  whether it’s e-book cover design, proofreading or even voice-overs. In some bigger projects I might use eLance for handling the workload.

Whatever the case is, I try to outsource stuff as much as possible. And if it’s not possible to outsource, I’ll lookout for software solutions to automate or otherwise streamline my tasks.

12. Appreciate the quiet moments

If there is one thing that I have started to appreciate even more is the power of small moments.

You know, when you have a small child that is full of action, energy and yelling or making sound of some sort most of the time, those quiet moments are really golden :)

I can just relax, read a book or do whatever I can to recharge myself.

Try to notice those small moments, appreciate them and just enjoy the silence :)

By the way, remember the tip #6 and that every minute counts? Although I might be giving some conflicting advice here, you’ll just have to figure yourself which moment is more suitable for working and which one is for relaxing.

Conclusion

I have learnt a lot about parenthood and myself during the first year of my son. Sure, things get hectic at times but that’s what it is when you have a baby in the home.

Having a small child changes your priorities and plans, but it’s also the part of the life you want to be fully present on. And even if you have to give up on something, it’s most likely temporary.

Over to you: What productivity lessons have you learned, when you had a baby in the home?

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show you how to improve your productivity when working at home and find time for the fun stuff in your life!

Comments

  1. Congratulations to you Aaro and of course also to your parents!

    I became a father 491 short, long, interesting and wonderful days and nights ago. Your lessons are something I can relate to.

    Especially the moments together and the time you want to do your work… precious.

    Things get more interesting every day. What a beautiful time when my son could only be in his bed and sleep for 17 hours :). Now he walks around and time is getting more valuable again.

    Yet when I look at what I do right now… I must have been sleeping or at least be NOT productive before he was born. My workload has at least doubled yet I do it in so little time.

    Thank you for your lessons Productivity Superdad!
    Arjen recently posted..3 Simple Mind Mapping Powerpoint Techniques To Improve Your PresentationsMy Profile

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Thank you :)

      It so awesome to see your child grow and learn new things. In fact, we are quite happy for the current situation, since he sleeps a lot (for the last couple of nights almost 12 hours).

      It wasn’t like this in the beginning though and that’s when we were very tired.

      Anyway, I wouldn’t change any moment I have experienced :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  2. This is a magnificent post, Aaro! You’ve made some great points and I love how you related them to your baby boy. Congratulations by the way – he’s beautiful. :)

    Ti
    Ti Roberts recently posted..[SEO Rebel Roundup!] “Duh” Traffic Tips, “Shaking” widgets, and Content marketing Zen?…My Profile

  3. First, CONGRATULATIONS!

    Great post, Timo, really. My son is 10 months old. I, too, have a blog, and I have been marveling at how much you accomplish!

    Lately, I have asked myself whether I should put my blog on hold to completely focus on my son. When I am with him, I am fully present. I don’t want to miss anything. I really appreciate the permission to allow these projects to keep rolling at a slower pace in their own natural time. And now I feel much more content with that decision.

    I too, am in the process of studying his sleep patterns. It seems as though once I get his pattern down, he changes it. (sigh). At least now he is just beginning to sleep for longer chunks of time.

    Lately, I’ve noticed that my son has had focused play for longer periods of time. For example, my living room as percussion instruments that he will play for 30 minutes nonstop! (Fortunately, the instruments sound pleasing.)

    My baby, Leo, has made it clear that wants me next to him when he plays. If I have my laptop out, he gets distracted and either attempts to push all the buttons or eat the computer. (Well, I guess he is cataloguing all tastes, isn’t he?) I’ve set up my computer on bar between the living room and kitchen. I’ve found that I can stand up next to him and use the computer at the bar while he does his individual focused play (ilke with blocks) at my feet.

    Thank you for the reminder about always knowing my next action and that some tasks tolerate distraction better than others. I’m going to keep a list with my next action on my computer so that I can handle the ones that can tolerate distraction then.

    Okay, here’s my little tip: I play with my son for exercise. My son IS the gym.

    Here are examples:
    *I didn’t buy any diaper changing tables and the like so that I would be getting up and down off the floor more often.
    *I walk around town with my son in an Ergo baby carrier.
    *I have loads of floor play with my son. I chase him crawling (or even creeping salamander-style) and give him kisses when I reach him.
    *I bench press him with a “Superman” game.
    *I have an exercise ball at home and we play and exercise on that together.
    *I do “Climb Time Yoga”: Here’s a 1-min video to give you ideas of how you can do it at home on a mat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3OfOUAxQlw&feature=youtu.be

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Thank you Angela from your marvelous tips, this is just awesome!

      I also agree that the sleeping patterns are changing all the time. Right now, our son takes one nap in the afternoon and sleeps 11-12 hours per night without waking up.

      I know that this (the night time sleep) used to be completely different in the beginning, since we were constantly woken up in the middle of the night.

      Also, my son demands that I’m present when I play with him. This is understandable and I want to focus just on him and nothing else when we play.

      Cheers,
      Timo
      Timo Kiander recently posted..Expert Time Management Interview: Personal Productivity with Thanh Pham of AsianEfficiency.comMy Profile

  4. Awesome.

    My son is turning one on Christmas Eve.

    I’m lucky to have an amazing girlfriend who let’s me focus on my work, so this first year has been quite painless for me. Perhaps in part due to our son being very calm in the early months.

    He’s becoming quite chaotic now though as he’s just learned to walk (and run a bit) :-D
    Henri recently posted..5 Keys to Living a Passionate LifeMy Profile

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