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How a Stay-at-Home Parent Gets Stuff Done

How a Stay-at-Home Parent Gets Stuff Done

    You know what? You’re not going to get it all done.

    Whether you work a 9 to 5 office job, or set your own hours, it’s not going to happen. But as a stay-at-home father who still needs to bring in a reasonable income to ensure we can keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, keeping up is a daily challenge.

    Productivity systems are put in place by people doing a myriad of jobs in order to try to achieve that elusive state of “balance”. It is far easier to see a stay-at-home parent when they are out of whack, simply because more of their attention and focus is on the home rather than the workplace.

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    When the home is the workplace, it gets really tricky. While it hasn’t been easy, I’ve managed to assemble 3 key ingredients on how a stay-at-home father can get stuff done on a consistent basis. Sure, there’s a lot of front-end work, but that is no different for anyone else who is putting a system into place. The initial setup may seem like a time-suck, but the payoff is huge.

    Set aside some days for the “heavy lifting”

    Look at your week and figure out what days of the week you can schedule in your biggest jobs. Whether it be running errands, a freelance project or developing a means to generate passive income; if it is something that can afford little to no interruption, lock in a day (or multiple days) for it. Only schedule appointments on those days that require your utmost attention.

    My “heavy lifting” days are every Tuesday through Thursday from 10 am until 4 pm. That is when I write pretty much everything I need to for the week, produce my podcasts, conduct interviews and work on my book and my talks. By doing this, I’ve ensured that I can go into those days with the knowledge that I can create freely without interruption. This freedom lets me enter a “flow-like” state, resulting in work that has a greater quality to it than had I been having to worry about stopping and restarting every once in a while.

    On the days that I don’t set aside for heavy lifting, I return emails that don’t require an immediate response, catch up on reading and work on other things that don’t require my full, uninterrupted attention. That means that nothing gets missed throughout my week.

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    How can I set aside all that heavy lifting time during the week? How do I manage to watch my kids and get that work done? That leads up to my second key ingredient…

    Hire part-time, in-house child care

    My wife and I have an in-home caregiver come in three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday. She only works 20 hours a week, but those hours give me the time to get my work done.

    By the way, if you don’t think you can afford to find a reasonable child care option that can come to your house and “sub in” for you on these days, think again. Our caregiver is a part-time student (working on her Early Childhood Education diploma) who charges us per hour half of what I make per hour. By bringing her in three times a week, I’m more than able to pay for her services. If I didn’t have anyone coming in, I’d be hard-pressed to get any quality work done during the week, and would wind up working weekends. That’s not why I decided to work from home and take care of my kids – the weekends are family time and I do little to no work on the weekends because of that.

    In addition, by having someone come in, household chores such as laundry, dishes and overall daily maintenance gets handled when my son is napping and my daughter is still at school. It means that we have less to do on the days when our caregiver isn’t here, meaning we have more time for the less mundane when we’re all together.

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    Finding someone like we have isn’t an easy task – but it can be done. Putting in the work to do so will allow you to get stuff done for both yourself and your family.

    Having the first two ingredients in place is all well and good, but unless you have the third ingredient in place you won’t even be able to get off the ground – let alone hit the ground running.

    Make wise choices

    Since you’re at home with the kids as the primary caregiver, it is incredibly important that you provide the best example for them. How you handle your workload is one of those areas where you can either shine as an example or tarnish your image. Even with heavy lifting days scheduled, you’ll be tempted to work on that great idea once it comes to you. When your part-time caregiver shows up, you’ll be tempted to take a nap when you should be working.

    Don’t do those things.

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    If a great idea comes to you in the middle of a time where you know it will turn into something that will take some time and effort to foster, capture it and let it go until such a time presents itself where you can give it the effort and attention it deserves. Need a nap? Again, take it when such a time presents itself where it will benefit you – and your situation – the most. I take them when my caregiver has days off and my son happens to be napping. It gives me the recharge I need without the regret that I don’t.

    Putting the first two ingredients into place will enable you to take the third and create a recipe for success. Not just one for work, but one for the life you’ve crafted for you and your family.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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