You may notice that my previous blog article is dated April 8th, 2016. That’s over 2 years ago. Pretty big gap I know. But it’s no coincidence that April 8th is exactly seven days before my son’s (our second child) birthday. This year, he is turning two. See the thread here? To put it mildly, things got a bit hectic two years ago and writing blog articles was temporarily put on the back burner.
Over these last two years, I’ve learned a lot though. Not only about parenting and business, but about myself. It’s interesting, the kinds of ideas and realizations that pop into your mind when you are running on little sleep and spend your days balancing the role of father, husband and career-focused entrepreneurial product manager while managing to change diapers, feed kids, and help your wife maintain some sort of sanity.
There are a few things that have changed, but one of the main things that’s different is my appreciation for time management. In the past, I was rather confident and proud of my time management skills. I managed a company for several years and in that time I carried a lot of weight and kept everything a float. I was able to maintain quality customer relationships and stay on top of projects while moving to a new city, getting married, growing the business and even start and manage other small ventures. I felt pretty good about it, even offering time management advice to my colleagues and friends. But there is a major difference between managing business time vs the time of a father/husband/businessman. When you are wearing all of those hats, and you are dedicated to excelling at each of them, you have to develop some new methodologies to stay ahead.
Effective time management
One methodology was to improve the effectiveness of time estimations, reducing wasted time, and putting an end to tasks so I could move on. What I found is when you have a wife with two children at home, and you know that she’s relying on you to walk in the door at 6 pm to relieve her of the stress, you’d better be there. You don’t have the option of spending an extra 30 minutes on a “5 minute” task. I had to learn how to control and utilize my time more effectively. I started thinking about each hour of the day and how it would be spent. In some cases breaking hours down into 15 minute segments each representing a different task. I’d then be strict about how long each task will take, carefully avoiding any slips. This has helped greatly, and now that the kids are getting older, I feel that due to this effective application of time management I’m left feeling like I have more time in the day.
Sleep is more important than you realize
During the last 2 years I also learned how to get by on little to no sleep. Impressive, right? Not really. That eventually lead me to learning just how important sleep really is for your mind. I was rather proud of the fact that I could get through a week of work on about 5 hours of sleep per night. I considered it efficient and committed. But then I started noticing myself slip. First, I’d completely forget about tasks I promised I’d tend too. Then I started realizing that my judgement was slightly off when analyzing situations at work. The last straw was when I completely forgot about a meeting that I had said I’d attend. I hadn’t put it on my calendar (I live by my calendar) and I did not set up any reminders. After the meeting was over I received a handful of “where were you?” emails and that is when I slowed down and dissected the problem. I’m happy to report that I’m now (usually) on track for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Back on top my game. And I have stopped glorifying the long days with little sleep that I used to wear as a badge of pride.
Let’s be honest with ourselves
Lastly, another major realization that I had was rooted in the importance of honesty with myself. I found that when things were stressful, and when more responsibility was being handed to me than I could manage, I was not honest with myself about what I was capable of “pulling off” and what I was not. This bleed onto my role as a leader. Even when our team was overwhelmed with projects, if new opportunities came our way I wasn’t honest with myself about our true potential for taking on that new work. Long story short, I bit off more than I could chew. I continued working as if I were still that single, young guy that could put in weekend hours if I needed too. Technically, I could have done that, but it would have broken my rule for being exceptional at wearing all three “hats”. You can’t be a great dad and husband if you spend all weekend (every weekend) working. Another lesson rooted in this was learning how to say “no”. For me, that was not easy. I’m not a “no” kind of guy. I believe in saying “yes”. I believe in finding ways to get things done, no matter what. But the harsh realities was, if I’m being honest, it’s not always realistic.
I’m still sorting out some of the topics I want to focus on for future posts but my intention is to slowly get back into a rhythm of posting an article once a week. I likely won’t be able to dive right into that pace immediately, but it would be great if I could be back in that rhythm by this Fall. In the meantime I plan to post articles when I have time to write them and hopefully begin creating valuable content that continues to help shed light on topics for readers.
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