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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)

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    Last Updated on March 21, 2019

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

    Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

    You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

    But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

    To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

    It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

    “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

    The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

    In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

    Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

    1. Start Small

    The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

    Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

    Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

    Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

    Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

    Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

    It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

    Do less today to do more in a year.

    2. Stay Small

    There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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    But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

    If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

    When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

    I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

    Why?

    Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

    The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

    Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

    3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

    No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

    There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

    What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

    Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

    This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

    This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

    4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

    When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

    There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

    Peter Drucker said,

    “What you track is what you do.”

    So track it to do it — it really helps.

    But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

    5. Measure Once, Do Twice

    Peter Drucker also said,

    “What you measure is what you improve.”

    So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

    For reading, it’s 20 pages.
    For writing, it’s 500 words.
    For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
    For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

    Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

    6. All Days Make a Difference

    Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

    Will two? They won’t.

    Will three? They won’t.

    Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

    What happened? Which one made you fit?

    The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

    No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

    7. They Are Never Fully Automated

    Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

    But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

    What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

    It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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    The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

    It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

    It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

    8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

    Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

    Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

    When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

    The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

    Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

    9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

    The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

    Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

    You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

    But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

    So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

    If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

    This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

    The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

    Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

    10. Punish Yourself

    Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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    I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

    It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

    You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

    No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

    The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

    But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

    Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

    The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

    After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

    If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

    Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

    If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

    In the End, It Matters

    What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

    When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

    And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

    “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

    Keep going.

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    More Resources to Help You Build Habits

    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
    [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
    [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
    [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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