Boring (But Highly Beneficial!) Way To Find Time For Your Online Business

Time trackingYou have a day job and normally the available time for building your online business is very limited.

Since your vacation is just about to start, you have been thinking that this is a perfect opportunity focusing a little bit more on building your online business.

However, the reality turns out to be different after the couple of days of your vacation has passed.

Your baby is taking a lot of your attention and you really haven’t got that much done as what you had planned.

This makes you not only frustrated but annoyed and sad too: you haven’t been able to take advantage of the extra time, thus move forward with your online business as much as you wanted.

Besides, your spouse doesn’t like that you are spending too much of your mutual time in front of the computer. In fact, you should spend more time as usual with your family, because you are on a vacation.

You agree with your spouse and realize, that the reality and your plans didn’t quite fit together as you thought …

Working in distracted environment is challenging

If you are a work-at-home dad (part time or full-time) and you have a baby in the household, you can understand the scenario I just described.

You love your baby and would like to spend time with your family as much as possible, but at the same time you have an online business to build.

This situation is especially frustrating for dads, who are building their businesses part-time: the available time for this is really limited, especially when you also have a day job.

Once you think you have a moment for working, there can be sudden distraction (for instance your baby demanding attention) and you have to stop working. This in turn makes you to lag behind your schedules and deadlines.

In fact, even writing a blog post might be impossible in this scenario, since you don’t have a time block long enough to do your task.

Are you willing to do something “scary” (and boring)?

Are you working without any plan? If you are, then this is most likely the reason you are experiencing the described symptoms (frustration, being annoyed …) in an family environment when you are not getting your work done.

No matter how well know your goals and no matter if you keep a daily task list, all this is useless if you don’t know when you should take action.

This knowledge is especially crucial for work-at-home dads where your little ones and his spouse want your attention, while you are trying to get your online business off the ground.

If you are living in situation like this, my question to you is: do you know for instance when you should be writing a blog post? Or the time when you should be recording and uploading that video to YouTube?

No?

Well, you can learn this information easily but you have to do something scary first: slow down and observe your work and other people.

“But Timo, I don’t have time to slow down … I want to take the full advantage of every possible minute I have. Otherwise I’m never able to get my online business up and running!”

Yes, I totally hear you, but you have to slow down and do some observation at least temporarily, so that you can optimize your working patterns.

If you fail to do this, then it’s no wonder if you are not able to get as much stuff done as you wish – and those negative feelings are still going to be present.

“Ok, I understand. But what does this slowing down and observing really mean?” you ask …

Slow down and observe: here comes the boring part

When I’m talking about slowing down and observing, I mean two things:

  • Slowing down: Doing time tracking (yes, it’s boring … I agree) on your recurring online business tasks
  • Observing: Learning about the sleeping patterns of your child (in a way, this is tracking activity too and as I said … it can be boring ;)

Time tracking requires some extra effort, so it might slow down you a bit. You have to be ready to mark down the times you spent on a certain task and you have to be willing to analyze the raw data afterwards.

Even if this means you have to take some additional action and it slows you down, it’s definitely worth it:  you are getting valuable insights on how much time you are actually spending on certain recurring tasks.

You’ll also want to learn about your baby’s daily sleeping patterns too: when your baby wakes up, when he/she is taking a nap and when is your baby going to bed.

Once you do the observation for a while, you’ll start to see a daily structure and with this knowledge it’s easier for you to plan your days.

The real power comes when you match the time tracking information with your baby’s sleeping  patterns. You know the approximate amount of time it takes to finish an online business related task and you know the optimum time to do the task – without frustration or stress that comes with the interruptions and distraction.

Now that you know all this, my question to you is: are you willing to temporarily invest some extra time by doing some time tracking and observation, if it improves your productivity and cuts down the negative emotions?

Even if it’s boring, it’ll pay off – here’s how!

Here is how to do the time tracking the WAHD (work-at-home dad) style! You are basically keeping two logs for small period of time (at least for a week), so that you have enough data to make correct plans for your coming work (when to do what kind of work)

Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Track the recurring tasks. What I have realized that most of my daily/weekly time is taken by executing recurring tasks. These tasks include writing a blog post (or a guest posts), recording a videos for YouTube, making an interviews with someone and so on.

What I want you to do is that create a document and structure it like this:

  • Name of the task: the name of the task you are doing on recurring basis
  • Time taken: how much time the task took to finish (from start to finish)
  • Improvements: are there any actions that could save time or make the task more compelling to do? Any ways to improve the workflow of the task?
  • The average: how much time it took for doing the task in average. However, don’t calculate the average now, calculate it only after the end of the tracking period.

I suggest that you track your work at least for a week to get a more accurate figures on how much a certain recurring task takes.

Let’s take an example: I might have the following recurring task (RT = recurring task) in my time tracking document:

RT 1: Writing a guest post (only writing, not proofreading)

  • #1: 58:51
  • #2: 01:08:48
  • #3: 01:10:18
  • #4: 57:40

Improvements:

  • Listen to some instrumental music when writing for improving productivity
  • Create a guest posting template for new guest posts

The average: xx.xx

Remember, just turn on your timer when you start working, record the exact time it took to finish the task and then write this information down to the document you just created.

2. Calculate the averages. Once you have enough entries on your recurring tasks, it’s time to analyze it.

Depending of how many tasks you have and how much time tracking data there is, block at least one hour in your calendar and analyze the data.

Then, count the time it took an average to finish a task (by the way, check this article if you want to learn how to finish a task). For instance, it when I did tracking on my guest posting, I learned that it takes approximately 1 hour and 4 minutes to write a guest post (1000 words, without proofreading).

3. Track your baby’s sleeping patterns. Next, learn a bit about your baby’s sleeping patterns by tracking down his/her sleeping times.

Create a document and enter the following information:

  • Date: Date of the recording
  • Waking up: When your baby woke up
  • Morning  nap: When your baby took the morning nap (start time – end time)
  • Afternoon nap: When your baby took the afternoon nap (start time – end time)
  • Going to bed: When your baby fell asleep

For instance, here is an excerpt of our son’s (9 months) sleeping log:

6.7.2012:

  • Waking up: 06:09
  • Morning nap: 10:10 – 10.40
  • Afternoon nap: 12:55 – 14:55
  • Going to bed: 20:50

Be aware that as your baby grows, so will the sleeping times change. That’s why it’s important to re-record the sleeping patterns every once in a while so that you have the latest information on the patterns.

The idea behind this recording is to have a some kind of idea of what a regular day for your baby is like. When you know his/her patterns, it’s easier to spot the times for working on your tasks.

4. Match the two logs together. This is the magic part :) Once you know the time (an average) it takes to do a recurring task and you know the approximate sleeping schedule of your baby, you can combine this information together for better productivity.

For instance, I know that it takes approximately 1 hour for me to write a guest post. I also know the approximate wake up time of my son, so I’ll write my guest posts (or other blog posts) before he wakes up.

Or, I know that it takes approximately 15 minutes to reply to comments on my guest posts on other blogs, so I might do that task during his morning nap.

Matching the data between two logs takes some testing, but it’s definitely worth it. When you know what type of  task to do and when, your productivity will improve.

5. Do continuous improvements. It’s important to find new ways to make your existing tasks easier. That’s the reason I wanted you to include the Improvements section in your time tracking log.

For instance, I know that listening to fast instrumental drum’n’bass music will make me more productive when I write, so that’s one improvement I made to my workflow.

No matter what the improvement is, write it down and implement it the next time you do the task. This might save your time and you can squeeze more minutes out of your recurring tasks for something else.

Conclusion

As a work-at-home dad, you time can be limited for building your online business. Even if you have the time, the distraction is present and it weakens the focus on your tasks.

With some time tracking and observing the patterns, you can improve your working productivity and get your tasks done.

It requires some effort on your part, but it’s definitely worth it!

Over to you: do you track your used hours? Are you using any tools to do the job?

Finally, if you liked this post, please share it or opt-in to my email list for updates and future articles.

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show how an online entrepreneur like you can improve your productivity in your online business.

Comments

  1. Hi Timo,

    Great tips (as usual). When my son was born it all changed for me as well. Fortunately I learned that I am much more productive right now. Every moment is used to do something valuable.

    For me the most valuable lesson was that I needed to work when I was able to work, and play when I could play. In the beginning I was thinking about all the things I could do when I was enjoying time with my son (and the other way around).

    To get focused I only use a single timer. I work at least 5 hours each day. The timer starts in the morning and I am done when I get at least 5 hours of productive work.

    Limited time is now a blessing, because it makes me aware of what I do and helps me to get forward in life.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Arjen!

      Yep, it’s funny when you think of it: limitations can make you more productive!

      I have realized this too and with our son, I have cut out all the stuff that’s not necessary to do and I’m now productive on right things.

      With the 5 hours time block you are getting a lot of work done!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  2. You don’t need a baby in home to make use of this advice.

    This is a great tip Timo and I’ve used a list “map” for a while now. I found that making a list of tasks and tracking the time they took to accomplish was in fact a big eye opener for me.

    It showed how much time I wasted doing things which weren’t essential but had fooled myself into believing that they were.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Carolyn,

      It’s an eye opener for sure!

      I always thought I know how much it takes to do my tasks but it wasn’t so!

      With the existing data that I now have, it’s easier for me to plan my days (and weeks).

      Cheers,
      Timo

  3. I can relate to this Timo. I’m just back from holidays, soon got over the frustration of not getting much done. I am feeling very frustrated at the moment not achieving as much as I would like trying to juggle kids and work. But you are very right, a plan and some tracking would take away a lot of the frustration and aid focus and concentration. Thanks for the good tips

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Thank you Ciara!

      Yes, I realized that doing some time tracking will help me a lot

      It’s easier to decide what types of tasks to do when – when you know approximately how much time a task takes.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  4. emma dcosta
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Kiander, I had been running an online project and believe me a good project time tracking application helps makes tasks more easier.

  5. That is exactly what time tracking helps to do. Helps organize the time and tasks and ultimately improving performance.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      True. It’s somewhat tedious thing to do and you have to commit yourself to it. But once you do it, it can improve your time usage a lot :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  6. Great stuff. Slowing down and being more aware and observant are KEY. The problem is, they’re the most difficult for me! Maybe it’s all the coffee I drink?!

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Joi!

      That could be the reason. Who many cups do you drink?

      I used to drink 7 cups per day, but now I only drink 2. Instead of drinking coffee, I like to drink decaf tea.

      Cheers,
      Timo

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