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Why Having a Baby is the Best Thing That Can Happen to Your Productivity

Why Having a Baby is the Best Thing That Can Happen to Your Productivity


    It happened again.

    You thought you could work at home on your personal projects, when all of a sudden your newborn baby starts to cry. You and your child’s mother rush to nurture the baby and finally she settles down. Even though things cool down for now, you are still very tired because of the many wake-ups you had last night – all caused by your hungry baby.

    All of this makes you worried. Even though you love your new family member a lot, these constant interruptions of your work, sleep and productivity is stressing you out. You have a ton to do in the coming months, but you start to wonder if you will even be able to get anything done.

    To make things even more challenging, you don’t have the luxury of working on your projects full-time because you have a day job and you also want to spend time with your family.

    It’s no wonder that you are frustrated, tired and stressed in this situation.

    New and wonderful life

    Let’s face it: The lack of productivity and tiredness caused in this scenario is from your newborn baby.

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    She doesn’t live by the same schedules as parents – your baby lives in the moment and lets parents know if something is not right: Maybe it’s too hot, maybe it’s too cold, maybe she likes to be nurtured, maybe they are hungry …

    There is so much going on in your baby’s life and the only way to communicate her feelings is to cry (at least in the very beginning).

    One part of your frustration is just that – the communication and the lack of words. Sometimes when your baby is crying, you have to guess what is going on: Could it be hunger? Do the baby need to be nurtured?

    To make things even more confusing, a baby’s irregular sleeping habits can drive parents crazy in the beginning. Constant wake-ups are a reality in most cases and you wake up tired when the alarm clock rings. Yet, you must go to work so that you can earn living for your family.

    It’s no wonder that at times things look pretty chaotic – take it from me…I have been there! Living with a new dynamic new family member causes you to rethink your own priorities and re-evaluate your plans.

    Bite your lip and deal with it!

    Tiredness, frustration and lack of productivity are the symptoms in this situation, but the real reason behind all the symptoms are the false expectations towards parenthood and living with a new family member.

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    Especially if this baby was your first one, there were so many things that changed in your life at once. And even with some mental preparation in advance, this change may seem too big to handle at times.

    False expectations can even emphasize the effects of the symptoms. In fact, your attitude will play a big role on how you handle everyday stress when you have a baby in your home.

    It’s also your attitude that defines whether you decide to find ways to deal with the situation or whether you keep on complaining and become more frustrated.

    From chaos to control, from frustration to appreciation

    No matter if you are tired, no matter if you frustrated, no matter if you are confused, there is one thing that can change all of this: understanding – getting the big picture.

    I can hear you saying, “Okay, so I can make myself productive, erase my sleep debt and feel happy just by understanding the situation? No, I don’t think so!”

    Here is the thing: when you go through these mixed feelings, do you really understand the whole picture of parenthood?

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    Sure, it’s not nice when you aren’t getting stuff done and things aren’t going as planned, but hey – that’s what being a parent (and especially with a newborn baby) is all about!

    No one said that it’s going to be dancing on roses. Instead, it’s a lot of work required from both of the parents!

    And what about the big picture then? Well, it’s interruptions, it’s distractions, it’s supporting your spouse, it’s changing diapers, and it’s doing a lot of extra work. That’s the reality and that’s the name of the game.

    Once you understand that this is part of parenthood, you start to change your attitude and that makes handling the everyday frustrations easier.

    Besides, do you think that you are alone in this situation? Nope, there are millions of confused and stressed parents around the globe – not just you and your spouse!

    When you change your attitudes a bit, you also start to realize that even if you have less time at your disposal, you are finding more creative ways of getting things done. In fact, you start to appreciate even the smallest moments that you have for your work.

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    Finally, when you know that your daily routine may change all of a sudden because of your baby, learn to plan your days the night before. When you know your tasks in advance, this helps you to take action as soon as you have even a tiny time pocket available.

    While having a baby will decrease the amount of your overall free time, you’ll start to focus on things that really matter and get rid of secondary stuff. In fact, you come to the realization that having a baby is the best thing that ever happened to your productivity!

    How I do it

    To describe how I – a part-time work-at-home dad – get stuff done with a baby in our home, here are the steps I have taken and practice on a daily basis:

    1. Attitude and appreciation. I’m listing this first, since this is the foundation for your productivity. Once you understand what parenthood is (especially with a newborn baby), you start to tolerate those interruptions and unfinished task lists better. Also remember, if you are in a regular routine right now, it will most likely change at some point. For example, in the beginning me and my wife were tired because of constant wake-ups during the night. Things are now much better and we can pretty much sleep our nights without interruptions.
    2. Working times. Notice the daily rhythm of your child. For instance, I know approximately at what time my son goes to sleep in the evening, when he takes a nap and when he wakes up. Based on this knowledge, I try to get my work done during those times. Also, be aware that the rhythm will change – at least in the beginning – and adjust your working time according to them.
    3. Focus on things that matter. The biggest productivity benefit I’ve experienced from having a baby is that I’m no longer doing secondary stuff that doesn’t take me closer to my goals. In fact, I’m super-focused and doing only the important work that matters.
    4. Plan your day. Plan your day the night before. Write down the most important tasks that you want to get done and keep that list of things in your head all the times. Put emphasis on those tasks which take closer to your goals. Being a parent requires flexibility, so don’t always expect to get everything done every day. If a hectic day like that occurs, then continue working on the task the next day.
    5. Hire some help. When it comes to online business related matters, one of the best decisions I have made was to hire a coach. This helped me to reduce the non-important work and put the focus on things that helped me to reach my ultimate goal. Another thing that helped was to outsource small tasks as much as possible. This was yet another way to lighten the workload. Remember, not only is the outsourcing limited to just your business tasks – it can be done on a household level too: cleaning, cooking, babysitting, taking care of the lawn …
    6. Spot the time pockets. Finally, to get work done, recognize those small time pockets that exist every day. Remember when I told you to keep your task list in your head during step #4? Well, this is the reason why. When you spot a time pocket (for e.g your kid is a sleeping), you can work on your own stuff during that time. When you know what your next action will be, you don’t have to figure out what to do next. Instead, you can start working on it without any additional pondering, thus not losing valuable time.

    Conclusion

    Don’t let the frustration and confusion get to you – especially if you are having your first baby. In most cases, your attitude and mindset have to change as well. Also, to get work done – even with a limited amount of available time – doing some planning as well as hiring some external help will do wonders for your productivity.

    Remember, it’s your baby that helps you stay focused on the right things.

    (Photo credit: Cute Baby Reading via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

    There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

    With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

    With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

    1. Determine Your “Why”

    Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

    The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

    Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

    “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

    That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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    I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

    Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

    Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

    2. Write Down Your Goal

    If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

    This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

    When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

    3. Set a SMART Goal

    A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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    Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

       

      By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

      • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
      • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
      • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
      • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
      • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

      Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

      4. Take One Step at a Time

      Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

      Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

      For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

      This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

      5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

      With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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      For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

      The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

      Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

      6. Schedule Your Tasks

      Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

      What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

      For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

      Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

      While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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      7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

      Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

      Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

      You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

      8. Check off Items as You Go

      You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

      There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

      If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

      9. Review and Reset as Necessary

      Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

      If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

      The Bottom Line

      When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

      More on Goal Action Plans

      Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

      Reference

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