Dad, You Have More Free Time Than You Think!

More Free TimeWhen the baby arrives to your household, many things change. Not only is this affecting your priorities, but also how you spend your time.

In fact, since your baby takes majority of your focus, you are also going to find that your own time is pretty much non-existent (at least in the beginning).

Also, you have to support your spouse as well, who is also spending a lot of time with your baby while you continue to go to work and provide income for the family.

As you can realize, days are very intense and you’ll just wonder how you are going to have a little bit more time to yourself.

Old rules don’t work anymore

A new family member will bring a radical change to your lifestyle.

All of a sudden you have to take care of lot of new tasks – even if you didn’t really know how to do them (changing diapers was a really new experience for me :). So, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and helpless in those situations.

However, there is another, even bigger change in your current life that puts stress on you: your time usage.

Those days are gone, when you could do whatever you wished, whenever you wished. Since you have now a family to support, you’ll want to spend time with them as much as possible, while participating to even the most mundane tasks there is (like changing the diapers to your baby).

At the same time, the intensity of baby-time in your life may make you feel you have lost all your personal time, thus you are not getting your work done in the way you did before.

It’s no wonder when you start to ask questions like: “Do I have to give up my time for our baby, 100%?” or “Do I just have to surrender to the fact that I’m not going to get enough stuff done – as long as our child is so young?”

Those are good questions – indeed!

Are you desperate – for no reason?

It’s very easy to agree with you with your time problems, since I have experienced them myself.

In the beginning, I overlooked all the alternative ways to actually maximize my time. I even used the infamous excuse, “I don’t have time” couple of times, since I felt I was justified to say so.

I was so sucked into running everyday things that I failed to stop for a minute and understand how much time I really had in my everyday life.

However, things changed. In fact, thanks for being two months away from the office in the summer, I started to see something I wasn’t able to see before.

Seeing things differently

If you want to find free time in your daily life, you have to do two things: slow down and become an observer.

After that you’ll start to see the patterns (the time pockets) of your everyday family life much better.

As soon as you start to identify the time pockets (the recurring ones), take note how long do they take and when they occur.

Finally, when you have learned a bit more about the time pockets, it’s time to prepare yourself with some additional equipment.

Finding those small, valuable moments

What I’m presenting next are the strategies I use to maximize my time. The principle is that even the smallest moments are valuable and you shouldn’t overlook them.

1. Slow down and observe. Be aware of your family’s daily routine. This way you start to see the time pockets that exist in your daily life.

For example, during my summer vacation, I realized that my family was operating through some routine patterns every day and that I had a chance to maximize that time for my benefit.

2. See the recurring daily activities. Write down the events that occur in your family life on a daily basis.

For instance, when I looked at my days, I saw the following:

  • Going outside with my son (strolling with my baby)
  • My wife feeding my son
  • My wife putting our son to sleep
  • My wife changing my son’s diapers
  • Washing dishes
  • Commuting between home and the office
  • Going to a grocery store (or in general, running errands)
  • Buying your time

You might have a couple of questions related to certain items on the list, so let’s clarify them first.

First of all, I and my wife split the work together.

In some days she is putting our son to sleep, while on other days I’m doing that. The same thing it’s with the diapers, washing dishes or feeding our son (except the breast feeding, which I can’t do).

Finally, there is the time buying option and to be honest, I haven’t taken advantage of this option yet. At the same time, I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work.

For instance, you could decide with your spouse, that you take care of your baby for a certain time. In exchange, you’d get some free time of your own.

So, if you agreed that you put your baby to sleep for the next seven days, which would “buy” you two of your own time at some point. Now, if you decide to put the buying option into use, let me know how it worked and if this is a good idea in the first place :)

Anyway, as you can see, there are many open spots in your day, which you could take advantage of. You’ll just have to see them first and this happens only by observing closely the patterns in your family.

3. Plan ahead. Now that you know your time pockets, plan ahead and know what tasks can be done and when.

As you can see, many of the time pockets aren’t necessarily that big, so you can’t expect to get dozens of tasks done during those times.

In fact, I find that there are only certain tasks that you can do within these time pockets:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening

You’ll just have to have the certain tools ready, when there is as time pocket available. That way you can maximize the time.

4. Have the right tools. In my situation, I my toolbox consist of things like Amazon Kindle, MP3 player and a laptop.

With this equipment, I can take advantage of my time pockets – like this:

  • Going outside (strolling with our baby – especially when he/she is sleeping): Listening to Effortless English training course, listening to podcasts, reading a book
  • My wife feeding my son: Reading a book, cleaning my e-mail inbox
  • My wife putting our son to sleep: Preparing my task list for the next day, checking out my e-mail, checking out the social media (Twitter)
  • My wife changing my son’s diapers: Jotting down ideas for blog posts
  • Washing dishes: Listening to stuff on my MP3 player (podcasts, English training)
  • Commuting between home and the office: Listening to stuff on my MP3 player (podcasts, English training)
  • Going to a grocery store (or in general, running errands): Listening to stuff on my MP3 player (podcasts, English training), reading a book (either physical one or a Kindle book)

This list was just some of the time pockets I have in my daily life. I know that your list may look a different and so do your actions (what you can do within your time blocks).

Anyway, I encourage you to figure out the “pockets,” since that way you can improve your overall productivity.

Conclusion

It’s very easy to overlook even the smallest time pockets. However, with the right tools, you are going to be able to maximize those moments – by reading, writing or listening.

I hope that this post was an eye-opener and you start to look at your days differently. Just understand that there is time – you just have to see it.

Over to you: What are the most common time pockets you have identified in your daily WAHD life? Please share your comments in the comments area.

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