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“I absolutely love my kids but man do they require a lot of time and attention. I barely have any time to myself any more to do the stuff I once loved. I wish I could free up more time and be more productive.”
If you’ve had kids it’s almost certain it’s the biggest game changer that can happen to any man. All of a sudden you’re not the most important person in your life and those fun hobbies you once had are now distant memories.
However, you can put your kids first and still free up time to do the things you love too if you’re a ‘productive parent’.
I asked the Internet’s finest fatherhood experts the big question: ‘What essential tips would you put into the Dad’s Guide To Productivity And Time Saving?’
Here are 12 crucial tips:
Pete Cataldo shares his take on the zany trials of juggling entrepreneurship and first-time fatherhood at PeteCataldo.com. He’s also the co-mastermind of the fatherhood-focused, Jedi-inspired men’s lifestyle blog DaddyMindTricks.com. Pete’s work has been featured in Huffington Post and the Good Men Project. Follow him @daddymindtricks.
1. Plan the night before
Football teams don’t take the field without a game plan — neither should you. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day to break down the approach for the following 24 hours.
Make a list of the tasks and meetings or playdates, and spend some time developing a roadmap for navigating any potential pitfalls.
2. Set up a daily schedule
This is essential for any dad’s guide to productivity. Build routines for how you’ll approach your tasks throughout the day, whether it’s emails or feedings, doctor appointments or conference calls.
It’ll take some time to get into a rhythm but once you do, it’ll allow for a more streamlined and productive day all around.
3. Start the day early
The early morning hours are your friend. Pop up before the craziness of school bells and emails and knock out some of your most important tasks. You may find that the wee hours of the morning are your most productive of the entire day.
4. Prioritize sleep
In order for us fathers to truly function between the rigors and stressors of everyday life and be awesome at fatherhood, we need to function properly. And optimal function does not exist without a proper night’s sleep.
[Here are a few tips and strategies to ensure quality rest.]
Neil Sinclair is an ex-Commando, registered child minder, stay-at-home dad of three and author of Commando Dad Basic Training, an indispensable basic training manual for new recruits to fatherhood. Follow him @CommandoDad
5. Remember the 6 P’s
In any dad’s guide I’ve written I stress the key to effective parenting, whatever the age of your troopers, is Preparation & Planning Prevents Poor Parental Performance!
Before going to bed, think about tomorrow’s manoeuvres, and pack your kit bag with the essentials you may need. Make this your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure, an action you ALWAYS do).
Jones is a leading productivity expert and author of Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way To Get The Most Important Things Done. He’s also a father of two and devoted husband. Discover productivity tips at JonesLoflin.com or follow him on Twitter @jonesloflin.
6. Use 1-3-5 to determine your daily priorities
When I think about all I could try to do each day, it sometimes makes me want to crawl back into bed.
What makes my day more manageable is to prioritize my day with 1-3-5. That means I identify one major task, three mid-sized tasks and five small tasks I want to accomplish that day. If I get all those done, I reward myself by going home early to my family!
7. Set boundaries for technology when you’re at home
When I arrive home in the evening, my smartphone goes on a shelf and I don’t look at it again until my youngest daughter Sydney has gone to bed. I then give myself permission to check my email for 15 minutes.
This helps me be more present with my family and get the much needed boost of mental and emotional energy I need to be my best self at work the next day.
8. Develop ‘slight edge’ routines for your day
Based on the book, The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, these are small consistent actions that might not seem significant in the short term, but over the long term can have a big impact on getting the right work done.
Some slight edge routines that work well for me include:
- Doing 15 push ups while my Keurig coffeemaker brews my first cup of coffee
- Blocking out two hours each Monday morning for writing and creative work
- Texting my oldest daughter each day when I first pick up my smartphone or tablet
9. Use 3-21-zero to manage your email
I could spend the next three pages sharing thoughts on handling email so I’d definitely include it in The Dad’s Guide To Productivity And Time Saving.
While I don’t always adhere exactly to the 321zero structure, I do find it helpful in reducing time spent on email and increasing my productivity with what actually gets done.
Here’s how it works:
You only check your email three times per day. You spend 21 minutes processing email each time. You get your inbox to zero.
The idea is that when you reduce the number of times you check it, there is less disruption to your day. When you give yourself a time limit (like 21 minutes), you’ll work harder to process the various emails. And getting your inbox to zero (or close to it) means you won’t feel so overwhelmed the next time you check your inbox.
I also use the TRAF method to make sure I am processing my email instead of just skimming through it. The acronym stands for:
Trash — I start by deleting everything that is SPAM or unnecessary.
Refer — If the email really doesn’t need my attention, but does need the attention of someone I work (or live with), I forward it to them.
Act — If it takes 3 minutes or less to handle the request in the email, I do it.
File — I try never to leave an email that has been read in my inbox. I file it where I can find it later. One of my favorite files is ‘Review on Friday.’ I set aside a few minutes on Friday afternoon to review the items I have placed in there all week.
10. Work more from your calendar and less from your task list
I find that moving my task list items to my calendar helps me to better manage my expectations of what I can get done each day. It also forces me to find a place for my highest priorities so they don’t get lost in the busyness of the day.
11. Get them involved with household tasks
Monkey see, monkey do.
My son is full of curiosity and eager to experience it himself. If he sees me hoover the house, he wants to grab the hoover and do it on his own. So I use that as efficiently as I can, by emphasizing on the things I want to get across to him.
I show him how to put on his shoes by putting on my own. I show him how to use the spoon by using mine. I say “please” and “thank you” and ask him the same when he comes asking me for something.
There’s a great quote that appears in all the finest dad’s guides, which says, “Son, be careful where you step.” And the son replies, “Father, you be careful. Remember that I follow your steps.”
12. Pick your battles
If it’s a harmless activity, always weigh up the amount of time it might take in tantrums from not letting your child do something, as opposed to just letting them do it.
The other day we were going out and after I put on my son’s shoes, he grabs another pair and shows me that he wants to wear those instead. I didn’t let him and he broke down into a full-blown time-consuming tantrum and he was in a bad mood the whole walk. It would have taken me 60 seconds to change his shoes and have a fun walk.
Being productive is a way of life. Why not take one of my 30-day self development challenges now to improve your wellbeing, mental health and overall happiness. Or check out my advice for new dads if you’re a dad-to-be.