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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
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    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)

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    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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