If you work part-time on your business (in addition to having a day job and a family), then you know that your limited time is very valuable and it cannot be wasted. You have to know how to maximize it, so that you can get as much done as possible.
At the same time you have to make sure that you are not spending too much of your hours on just your business and that you spend more time with your family as well.
Yes, it seems impossible to build a business in this scenario, but I beg to differ. With some smart planning and observation, you can do all this while having a day job.
Consider these prerequisites first
In this post I’m listing 10 different ways to get work done when you are a dad and working part-time on your business. But before that, you have to make sure you understand the following ideas first, so that you can even increase the time you can have for your business.
- Cut down the commitments
It’s absolutely necessary that you cut down on all of the extra commitments that you currently have. This way you can free-up your time and do something meaningful instead (like building your business).
Sit down and take a critical look at what you are doing, what magazines you are subscribing to, what newsletters fill your inbox or what other activities you have. Ask yourself if any of these things bring value to your life. If the answer is no, then it’s time to let go of them.
- Identify the recurring patterns
This tip is especially for those dads, who have small children in the household and the purpose is to be aware of recurring patterns that your children have.
Here is what I did and what you can do too: Last summer I tried to gain a better understanding on what kinds of sleeping habits my baby had. The way I implemented this was by doing some time tracking.
The results helped me to find the right spots of the day to work on. Of course, sleeping habits change as your child grows up, but knowing about my son’s approximate schedules was very valuable for timing my work (he was around 8 months when I did the tracking).
- Be ready for anything
When there are kids in the family, anything can happen. Therefore, you have to understand that sometimes your schedules can change – no matter how well you planned them.
For instance, a couple of times my plans changed completely when my son woke-up in the middle of the night. I went to calm him down and waking up and staying up naturally disturbed my own sleep.
During these times I realized it was impossible to wake up with the original plan (around 5.30am). When I wasn’t able to wake up early, the rest of the schedules changed as well.
As soon as you realize the dynamic nature of children, you have to learn to be more flexible. The sooner you have this trait (and I guess most dads have this trait already :), the smoother things will go. Also, you will be less frustrated if things are not going as planned.
- Feel grateful of gradual steps
It goes without saying that family life can be hectic at times. Also, you may feel that building a business may be just impossible, since you have so much else to do.
I acknowledge this myself, but I make things easier by understanding that no matter how little I can get done on certain days, it’s still better than nothing. Being able to work on your business like 15-30 minutes on some days is better than not working at all.
Remember that all of the work you do is taking you closer to your goals and the time on your business - no matter how little is spent – there is never a time that it is wasted.
Identifying those valuable time pockets
It’s now time to get into those ten time pockets that this post is about. I have used these strategies myself so I know they work. So without any further ado, let’s dive in!
1. Work during the morning
I tend to wake up earlier than my family (around 5.30 – 06.00 am), so that I can start working on my blog or work on other blog-related projects.
Mornings are the most valuable time for me as they help me to get most of the online business stuff done for the day. I identify the tasks for the day the night before and I make sure I work on the most valuable ones first when I wake up.
How much time I have each morning depends on two factors: If I happen to get to bed late, I’ll wake up later, thus I have less time to work on my business. Also, as soon as my almost 1.5 year old son wakes up, I know that it becomes almost impossible to work, as he wants my attention (by doing some crazy stunts or by just making enough noise :).
- The average time gain: Anything between 1-3 hours.
2. Work during the nap times
This is my other “favorite” time pocket. Working during this time is possible on weekends or on vacations when I’m not at the office.
I tend to take a 20 minute power naps with the rest of the family, but as soon as I have woken up, I start working on my blog. Taking power naps increases my productivity, since I can fully focus on what I’m doing.
- The average time gain: Anything between 1-3 hours.
3. Work when your spouse is watching television
Usually I work before going to work, but I’m doing some work during the evenings as well. Right now, my son goes to bed around 8pm, so that leaves approximately three hours to spend with my wife before we go to bed.
However, if my wife happens to watch her favorite TV shows in the evening, that’s a perfect time for me to work on my blog.
- The average time gain: Approximately one hour.
4. Take advantage of an unexpected time block
Sometimes something unexpected happens and you have some extra time on your hands. However, if you prepare well enough, you can maximize the available time.
When I have this kind of time block on my hands, I make sure I know what my next action is. This way I can get started with my tasks right away, without pondering what to do next. Being well-prepared is the key and it helps a great deal with your productivity.
- The average time gain: Depends of the situation; It could be anything from couple of minutes to even hours.
5. Give your spouse some free time
When you were a single guy, you had all the time to do your stuff. However, when you have a family, you have to think of others as well.
Especially if you have children, you have to make sure you give enough personal free time for your spouse so that she can do whatever she likes (while you take care of the kids). When you give this chance for your spouse, he/she feels more energized as he/she is not tied to children all the time.
When giving your spouse some time of him/her own, it’s easier for you to ask some time for yourself as well.
- The average time gain: Anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours (this really depends of the situation).
6. Go mobile
I like to educate myself as much as possible, but sometimes it seems it’s impossible as my days are busy and my family wants my attention.
That’s why I like to do mobilize my learning. If I know that might have to wait on a line somewhere, I take my Kindle with me. Or if I’m driving to somewhere with my bike, I’m listening to podcasts with my MP3 player.
This way I can take advantage of the transfer times or when I’m waiting something on the line.
- The average time gain: Anything from couple of minutes to half an hour.
7. Have a babysitter
Sooner or later there is going to be a situation where you and your spouse would like to do something and you can’t look after your kids. That’s when you have two options:
a) You can hire a babysitter. Naturally you want to hire someone who is reliable and that you can count on.
b) Ask your grandparents to help. For instance, we have used this option many times and it has worked perfectly for us (my son’s grandparents lives only couple of miles away from our home).
When you have a babysitter, you can get a lot of work done by using a Super Wednesday Method.
- The average time gain: Hours.
8. Just ask
Sometimes you just have to ask your spouse if it’s OK to do some work. Sure, in those cases the time is taken off the mutual family time, but at times this is necessary. For instance, I might have a podcast recording which usually takes place during the evening hours.
The only way that I can have this time for myself is to ask my wife if it’s OK to do this. I also make sure I mark the date/time down to our family calendar.
Doing those small things help you to keep your family up-to-date on what you are doing (thus giving you the chance to focus on your work).
- The average time gain: 30 minutes to 2 hours (this depends of the situation).
9. Business trips
Business trips give me a lot of time to work on my blog. For instance, the train rides alone give me couple of hours of time to spend building my online business. If I happen to stay on a hotel, which gives me even more time to work on my blog and do other projects.
When I know that a business trip is coming, I make sure I’m well prepared: I have all the material ready on my laptop, I have a backup Internet connection with me if needed and I have the necessary reference material (books) with me.
- The average time gain: Anything from couple of hours up to 10-15 hours (it depends of the length of the trip).
10. Vacations and weekends
Naturally the vacations and weekends give more time to spend on your business.
I’ll then most likely work during the early morning hours, during the nap times in the afternoons and in the evenings when my wife is watching television. This way I can get my work done but I also have a chance to spend time with my family.
- The average time gain: From 30 minutes up to five hours.
As you can now see, my daily life (and yours too) is full of time pockets that can be taken advantage of. Once you see those pockets, it’s easy to stay productive and build your business on the side.
But hey, this is just me … why don’t you share your tips on this topic: How are you able to find time for building your business? I know that a lot of people would be interested in this, so leave your comment and share your experiences with the rest of us.