A lot of people say becoming a parent means less time for them to do anything. But I’m not buying it.
In fact, becoming a parent has probably made me more productive—because becoming a parent forces you to take on a different view of the world, let alone a dramatic change to your life. Even before giving birth to our first child a month ago, I had already made up my mind to banish the status quo. If something is important enough for you and your identity, you will make time for it.
When you’re forced to see the world through baby eyes, this can make it hard to get motivated in more normal ways. When you’re sleep deprived, watching the precious hours dwindle away as you comfort a fussing baby and wondering when you’ll get your next shower in can be pretty gruelling.
Being a parent is essentially making you more productive due to increased empathy, responsibility, and gratefulness. Plus, having a dependent means more emphasis on organisation. Having kids requires introspection because you are forced to put your full effort into everything you do.
Having an Anchor Drives Motivation
If you’ve ever been through the emotions and discipline of getting yourself in tip-top shape for your wedding, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. The fear of missing out and not being at your best for a once in a lifetime event is often motivational enough to get most people off their feet.
With a young child, it is the ultimate anchor in putting every fibre of your being into nurturing a vulnerable human being entirely dependent on others.
This should be how you approach other aspects of your life, especially if it’s important to you in defining your success, legacy and who you are. And that’s why my new-born is such a powerful anchor in everything that I do, and I make sure that I afford the time and resources so that I can set a legacy for my children and those after them.
Since the birth of my child, I have engaged in two more projects including hiring a sports coach. This serves the following purposes: –
- It keeps me engaged and on my toes, – life can be monotonous and insular with children, and engaging in projects means I can rekindle and maintain meaningful outside relationships
- I need to be in mentally and physically top shape to handle the rigours of childcare on top of everyday life
- They keep me impassioned and maintains my identity – I’m not defined by my family or my loved ones, I am distinctly my own person with goals and dreams. If you allow external factors to define who you are, then you lose yourself if you lose them or something goes wrong with those influences.
Less Time Means Greater Efficiency
My baby needs to be fed eight times every 24 hours. And each time could take anything from forty-five to ninety minutes including changing and settling her. This means that six to twelve hours per day reserved for this singular purpose. My partner and I take turns so that’s three to six hours of my daily schedule.
When you have commitments that you cannot avoid, you need to be much more efficient and selective than ever with how you spend your time. Discover and innovate new ways of doing things and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Half of our cooking is now batch-cooked and some made by relatives so that we can be as productive with our time as possible – including sleeping! It’s the most important time of our lives to be as resourceful as we have ever been.
If you don’t adapt or innovate, two things will happen. You will forever be chasing your own tail and eventually burn out, or you will get left behind performing low-level monotonous tasks leaving no space for anything else. This leads to frustration and a lack of energy that forms part of a vicious cycle.
Doing Nothing Is The Most Productive Thing
This is especially true if you’re feeling things are starting to get out of hand, or simply to take time and space in order to think and reflect.
For the first few weeks of our baby’s life, we only ever had energy to look after her and barely enough energy to cook and eat. There a few days where I didn’t even have enough energy or the appetite to take a few bites of my meals. It was then that I realised that actually doing nothing else during the day was the most productive thing to do. This included not logging onto my computer or watching TV. I slept whenever my baby did and only performed the bare minimum of chores for the first week.
- Recognise when you need respite and take it – you’ll feel much more refreshed even if it’s a 15-minute shut-eye
- If you have a list of things to do, honestly ask yourself of each one whether it is absolutely necessary to do right now – can it wait or be delegated?
Looking after yourself and self-respect is super important. Neglect that and you won’t be able to look after anyone or anything else – you’ll be no good to anyone.
Variety and Purpose, Not Monotony and Necessity
I must admit, the first week of my child’s existence was the most gruelling. It came to a point where I thought to myself, “Is this it? Is this my sole purpose of existence to now nurture this little person and forfeit my time and passions?” Before becoming a father, I’d heard all of the stories and warnings that once you become a parent, you’ll have to give up the things you love and you’ll have no time to enjoy yourself. I wanted to prove that to be a myth and that you can have your own cake and eat it.
A month on and I’ve taken on more things that I did previously in order to cut through the monotony as an act of self-care, and to bring energy and a greater sense of purpose to my everyday living without causing neglect for my child and partner.
Having a family is one of the most rewarding experiences ever, but it is also one of the most tiring and testing. Inject variety purposefully to further enrich your life, rather than solely acting on things out of necessity. The more you allow your actions and purpose to be dictated by other forces, the less control and total fulfilment you will have.
Energy For Performance, Not Survival
I mentioned before that failure to adapt and innovate will end up with you chasing your tail or getting left behind.
Most parents will attest to sleep-deprivation amongst many other energy sapping experiences of being a parent. This is why it’s so important to fill your cup of energy as much as you can, whilst being prudent about how to spend that precious energy. If you constantly deplete it on your core functions (eating, sleeping, chores etc.), you’ll have nothing left to be productive with and you are only ever going to be fighting to survive day in, day out.
Learn to synergise that energy to maximum effect. For example, I was originally struggling to stay awake at 3AM when my baby wasn’t settling without being held. Rather than staring blankly and occasionally nodding off, I learned to use that waking moment to reflect on my day or think about the topic and structure of my next article (including this one). Having a notepad and pen by the beside is one of the most productive and creative things at your disposal.
If you’d like to score yourself on how productive and resilient you are, then take my Life And Prosperity Scorecard now.
Simply complete it and you’ll get your free personalised report right away with tips on how to get even more productive.
I’d also love to hear how you, especially if you’re a parent, have stepped around the status quo and defied the saying, “You won’t time for anything else”.