What my 18-day-old son has taught me and my wife about time management

time management habitsOn November 10th,, 2011, at 06.07 AM, me and my wife had a baby boy. This child was our first one and we were very excited about this event.

The whole birth process and the first moments of seeing our born child were the most memorable events ever. We will sure remember them for the rest of our lives.

Our son is now 18-days old, but has already taught us valuable lessons when it comes to time management and productivity.

Focus on one thing at a time

Our son is a master in focusing. Either he sleeps, eats or wants to be awake but be close to his parents. Whenever he does one of these activities, he gives his 100% focus to these tasks.

He doesn’t watch television or fiddle with cell phone at the same time while he is doing one of the things above.

He is 100% present. He is 100% focused.

Note to adults: How many of us can be 100% present? How many of us can give 100% of our focus to a task at hand?

I think that this is something we should learn from the newborn babies; work on one task and give it 100% of your attention. When communicating with someone else, be 100% present.

Rest and sleep enough

How many of us sleep and rest enough?

We stay up late at night, surf the web or watch television – only to find out that we are super tired the next day. Because of this, our focus is lost and we become less productive.

This is not happening with babies. Our son is an avid sleeper. Excluding those moments when he is eating or awake and just wants to be close to his parents, he is sleeping tight.

He has an inner wisdom that in order to become stronger, he has to sleep and rest.

Note to adults: How many hours per night do you sleep? Are you replacing your sleep with low-value tasks like watching television or surfing the web? Even working in the expense of sleep is a short-term strategy.

Feed your body and mind with proper nutrition

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that our son focuses on is eating. He prefers eating natural and organic breast milk – the best food for him on the planet.

Also, when he eats, he focuses on eating and finishes when he is full. He doesn’t skip meals either.

Note to adults: Nutritious food on regular basis is keeping our engine (body & brains) running. It also gives us enough energy to be more productive.

Unfortunately, skipping meals, eating junk food or consuming excessive amounts of sugar is not serving us properly, so they have to be replaced with more healthy options.

Communicate clearly

Our son doesn’t know how to speak, but he has alternative ways of communicating with us; either by showing different facial expressions, body movements or just crying.

There isn’t a change of missing when he starts “talking” to us – he is very clear and direct. Because of this, me and my wife cannot miss his communication. On the other hand, it is our job to interpret what he is trying to say (is he hungry, wants affection or something else).

Note to adults: Do you communicate clearly enough, so that other people are not wondering what you said? Are you talking clearly enough? Are you getting to the point quickly and promptly?

Paying attention to your communication skills (and improving them) is valuable, because by that way you can cut down the confusion and guessing, that would otherwise emerge.

Focusing on essentials (80/20)

Babies focus on just the essential things and that’s all that’s needed. When it comes to my son, he either eats or sleeps or wants to be close to us.

He is not jumping from a project to another, trying to please everyone or have a task list of 100 items in it. He knows what he needs and he focuses on just those things.

To be more specific, his 20% focus is on eating, 70% on sleeping and 10% on staying awake.

Note to adults: Are you focusing on the essentials? Have you cleared out all the distractions in your life, so that you can focus on things that really matter?

If you haven’t, stop for a moment and figure out what you want. Then, clear out those obstacles and distractions out of your life and start living the way you want to.

Take advantage of time pockets

When my son got back home from the hospital, I started my two-week paternity leave. During that time, I have learned to take a full advantage of the available time pockets.

For instance, I have had a chance to work on my blog, while he was sleeping or while my wife was feeding him.

Note to adults: We may claim that our days are busy and we don’t have time for ourselves. However, if you are just willing to take a closer look at your daily tasks, you will see that there are moments when you can dedicate time to yourself too.

I suggest doing a time-audit, where you log all your daily activities for couple of days. When you do that, you start to see some patterns emerging and you will realize how you spend your days.

You may be surprised, that you can free-up some time for yourself, if you eliminate some TV time or other low-value activities in your life.

Adjust your rhythm and schedules

After living one week at home as a family, I realized that none of the schedules and timetables I had planned were effective anymore.

We were awake at nights, slept till noon and our schedules were pretty much turned upside down.

Note to adults: What I came to realize was that you have to be willing to adjust your own schedules when a situation changes. Find your time pockets and quiet moments and work on your own projects during those times.

The key is to re-plan your activities and schedules if needed. In fact, this is what I’m doing right now, since family is #1 priority in my life.

Conclusion

Although many of these lessons on this post weren’t new to me, it was wonderful to see these patterns and behaviors in my son – right from the birth.

I know that there are still many lessons I will learn from him (both from time management perspective and something else too), but I’ll write a follow-up post about those later J

And oh … you may be wondering why I didn’t mention his name? Well, in Finland, it is a very common habit that only the parents know the name in the beginning.

The name will be later revealed in the Christening event for the rest of the people. The Christening event takes place mostly within 60 days of the birth.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Go through the lessons on this post – they are essential when it comes to time management and productivity
  • Just pick one of the points on this blog post and try to master it – then move to the next item and master it after that

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  •  Do you have children of your own – what lessons have you learned from them when it comes to time management?
  • If you don’t have your own kids, have you learned valuable time management lessons from children?

3. Spread the word:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Babies can make you realize too! :) This is very inspiring, you did not only appreciate the value of time but you enjoy every single moment of it as well. Thanks for sharing! You have a wonderful kid, lovely photo!
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  2. Good advice, Timo. Congratulations for the new baby. He’s cute.

  3. Congratulations again, Timo! My son is 8 now, and I am still learning from him every day.

    I love the lesson on communicating clearly. Babies don’t hold back, do they? We should all be so direct and clear in letting others know what we need, but perhaps with a bit less crying. :)

    Lovely post!
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    • Timo Kiander says:

      Sue,

      Thank you :)

      You are correct; better communication without the crying – that’s what we adults should strive for :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  4. Timo, I really loved this post! There’s so much value to take away in there, but at the same time it was really entertaining and cute.

    I especially had to smile at this sentence:
    “To be more specific, his 20% focus is on eating, 70% on sleeping and 10% on staying awake.”

    I guess this would be the dream for many ;-) But yes, it’s really quite amazing how a baby naturally is an awesome time manager!

    It was also very interesting to learn about the Finnish custom of not revealing the baby’s name. And apologies for asking in my email – I didn’t know about this, and in Germany, it’s almost impolite NOT to ask ;-)

    Thanks

    Lucas

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Thank you, I’m happy to hear that you found this post valuable!

      Yes, it is amazing to learn and understand some basic time management skills that are already “built-in” to us when we born :)

      I’m sure that I’ll learn bunch of other things as he grows older and I might write an follow-up post later :)

      About the naming … never mind, you weren’t impolite :) I know that this is mainly a cultural thing. Anyway, I’ll let you know the name when go public with it :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  5. Congratulations on being a new dad! Babies do indeed teach us so much (as do our children throughout the years). I particularly need to practice the “focus on essentials” part of this! At what point in our life do we forget how to focus on one thing at a time??
    Thanks for these important reminders and enjoy these precious moments with your new family member.
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  6. Hey Timo,

    That reminds me that I should go to bed, NOW! :) I am tired, but I can’t pull myself away from the computer. I have too much work to do and I’m too excited to sleep.

    I find that closing the lights one by one helps me transition from work to sleep easier.

    Congratulations again on your newborn! :)

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Matt Tanguay recently posted..How I Learned To Care About What Others SayMy Profile

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Matt, thank you :)

      Hmm… that is an interesting idea; closing the lights one by one.

      I have to give it a try!

      Cheers,
      Timo

  7. Hi Timo,

    I came to this blog from lifeoptimizer.org. Now I have two nice blogs to read.

    It is nice to hear about your baby. I too recently had my baby born and I too learnt a lot from him. He is aiming in getting things on his way and that too persistent even during his food :D.

    Cheers,
    Phil.
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    • Timo Kiander says:

      Philip,

      Thank you!

      Awesome, great to hear about your baby :) It is really awesome watch those babies to grow so fast … Our son just turned one month old today :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  8. Time management is really hard for me, I usually end up messing up my plan on it and eventually end up going back to m old ways. I just cannot stick to my plan. I will try your tips and see if it works.
    Yaron recently posted..how to pick up womenMy Profile

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Yaron,

      Well, it takes some time and practice to grab the idea behind time management. I have to say that I’m not sometimes perfect on planning either, but it just takes some practice. And, you have to figure out your goals first and decide if an action you are doing will take you closer to that goal or not.

      But, just take small steps – you will be a better time manager.

      I hope that you get some ideas of my blog posts.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  9. I am very touched with this post, I just realize that my son does that to me too. I see to it that I manage my time just for my son. He is very adorable and very innocent yet his every action means a lot. In our home he is our angel that gives light our life and to my works too. Whenever I can feel that I am exhausted of my work I just think of him and everything will be alright. Thanks men for sharing this wonderful post.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Yes, I feel the same…

      If I had a busy day at work and come back to home tired, he smiles at me as soon as he realizes that his dad came home. All of a sudden I don’t feel that tired anymore … Just awesome :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

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