A note to all my fellow hard-working father’s and family men out there:
One of my biggest struggles with content has always been finding the time to create it.
Things always come up.
Right now it’s having a 5-month old daughter to take care of, cleaning the house, meal prep, cooking, dishes, and workouts that are keeping me from making more content. All important things that need to come first. Believe me, I know these are good excuses, but excuses don’t help me get to my other goals
Then when I do manage to scrape together a few minutes to work I find myself updating tasks in Omnifocus, creating a new (and unnecessary) graphic, filling out my content calendar, and everything that isn’t creating more content.
Carving Out Expectations
One of the things I found helped myself tremendously, and actually relieved some of my own guilt, was sitting down to talk to my wife and setting some expectations. We created a shared Google calendar and agreed I’m going to spend a few specific hours of a couple of days writing, or whatever the tasks needed to be. This way the expectation for that day isn’t up in the air. I have a concrete time to use, and when asked about it I don’t have to justify it every time, because we both understand it’s purpose, and it’s what we agreed on.
Now whether or not I’ve been sticking to that schedule lately is a different story…
I find it works better for longer sprints of time, if you can manage to find and agree on them, but those are hard to come by even after you’ve set it on the calendar. You spend the day shopping, at the grand-parents’ house, and your friend’s birthday dinner. Whatever it is – how can we, as father’s or husbands possibly manage to create content?
Using the In-Between Minutes
I find using the 10-15 minutes between different activities very useful in creating content. I used to roll my eyes every time someone mentioned it to me. I was an avid believer that it took far too long to get into “the zone” and I couldn’t use any less than an hour to do anything important. I’ve since changed my tone.
While it may still ring true for starting some new pieces, especially larger content projects, once I’m rolling on a piece I can easily leave my laptop running on the coffee table and pick it up multiple times a day. I always manage to make a surprising amount of progress in those in-between minutes. And the more you do it the easier it becomes. So practice it!
What I mean by in-between minutes is situations like when you just got up in the morning, you know you need to clean the bathroom and then get ready to go out, but for now you’re on the couch drinking a tea – do some creating.
Or right before getting ready for bed. If you’re like me, your wife will take much longer than you to get ready, there’s a good few minutes.
The Danger of “Working Constantly”
You might have already experienced the dreaded, “do you ever stop working?” conversation with your wife. If not, and you follow that previous piece of advice it could come. And that’s the downside, and brings up the importance of setting those expectations like I mentioned.
We do have to take care and be very attuned to our family so we don’t get carried away. Especially with our kids who watch us so closely. If we’re supposed to be eating dinner together, don’t be on your phone. Even very young children will begin to recognize your inattention and build negative experiences around you working.
Using the in-between minutes does not mean you’re always-on and never fully present with your children or family. Make sure to clearly define when you are working, and when you are enjoying each other’s company. Don’t blur the lines – so very easy to do with smartphones nowadays. I’m absolutely guilty of it, but we have to at least try to avoid it.
However, I’ve often found a minute, sat down to write and realized I’m not even ready. I don’t have a topic, I don’t have my research done, I hum and haw for a few minutes and my creation window is gone. What a great waste of time that was.
Keep Your Content and Calendar Organized
To combat this, you need to know exactly what you’re working on, what’s coming up next, and how to find all of your files easily. It’s essential to quickly churning out content with limited time.
To do this I like to spend a longer period of time looking at my content calendar only once or twice every month and make sure it’s solidified with a plan. That way I can sit down and get right to it.
A content calendar will help you document your upcoming content, and also alleviates the stress of thinking of new topics on the spot (hard to do if you only have a few minutes to make some progress).
I also keep my content files very organized, folders for my articles, all coded with filenames like A034 for Article number 34, and input into a content inventory spreadsheet.
Despite all of my efforts, it still seems to be hard to get out content on time. I would blame it lately on my new 3-week fitness plan that has me doing a lot of cooking, cleaning and working out every day, but ultimately it falls on my discipline and staying organized.
Do The Right Work
My dedication to using these tactics has been scarce the past while, but it’s a work in progress. And you know what? Part of me is just satisfied living life and enjoying every moment I have with my wife and new daughter, like her first swim at the pool last weekend.
The life of an entrepreneur, solopreneur, freelancer, or content creator has been over-glorified, and the eat – sleep – work – repeat mentality shouldn’t be followed blindly. If we don’t start with family, who will? Because in the end, the time you spend building relationships and experiences with your family and friends is what life is all about – despite the addictive aspects of creating.
Life is a balancing act. You have to do your best, work hard, improve yourself, and try not to feel guilty. If you’re constantly feeling guilty about leaving your family to do work, then it’s not fun. And if you’re constantly thinking about work when you’re with your family, it hurts everyone eventually.
So to all the hard-working father’s trying to juggle multiple projects and dreams. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it, and enjoy who you do it with.