Having a baby can be really impactful in terms of productivity unless we bring some science to the game.
For few years I was thinking about myself that I'm pretty well organized. It all lasted until my daughter, Nadia, was born. The days have become shorter I guess and I've got busier than ever before even though I've taken some time off from work to support my wife in daily duties and organize our lives from the very beginning. When looking at the digits I can say that I've lost about 20-25% of the results that I've been achieving before the child was born. This lead me to the decision to use the toughest methods to bring the productivity to the previous levels. Today the day still can be surprising, but following few simple rules I'm able to do have everything under control.
It may not look so at first glance, but children follow some activity patterns similar to circadian rhythms. Indeed they may change more rapidly as they grow, but still, they may be the subject to monitoring and analysis. I've read a fantastic book written by Louis Borgenicht and his son Joe Borgenicht, "The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on First-year Maintenance", which is a child's user-guide for all new parents. In the book, I've stumbled upon a table to monitor new-born sleep, so I thought why not to extend the analysis not only to sleeping patterns but also to feeding time and regular activity when the child is not sleeping nor eating.
By filling with different colors the times when the child is fed, is sleeping or is active I'm able not only to adjust my schedule to have more time for the baby when she's awake but also to monitor how long she was sleeping or when it was the last time she's got fed.
I've already mentioned about Qui Gong in one of my previous blog posts here, but I'm not able to express what change it brought to my life, to start the day with "8 brocades of Qui Gong" instead of reviewing e-mails or scrolling through the news. It may happen that the sleep in the night is disrupted, even if I plan to sleep for 8 hours. With a baby, it happens really often that you have to wake up from the deep sleep and you lose an hour or more to get back to sleep. But even after a tough night when I'm sleeping 5 hours I'm able to perform at my highest rates with 20 minutes of Qui Gong practice right in the morning.
This really may sound like a bad idea to many of us, but there are some serious advantages of cold showers. When I wake up after a hard night and I barely recall how many times I've been woken up, right after my Qui Gong practice I go for a short cold shower. It doesn't have to be ice-cold! If you keep the water at a 28-30 Celsius you won't catch a cold, but yet you'll feel rejuvenated.
Calendar task management
Some time ago I've read Kevin Kruse's book "15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management", where the author suggests putting all of the tasks that you want to perform daily to your calendar with 15-minute steps. For a long time I didn't use this trick, but when the baby was born I decided to go with all the tips that I know all the way. Today my typical workday looks this way:
I place in the calendar every single task that I want to complete daily. I have also created multiple calendars to schedule daily ritual tasks and others that are the most important for me and I want to find the time for them each day. I always do the planning in the afternoon one day before the actual date, so when I wake up in the morning I know exactly what to do. Of course with this approach, I'm also very flexible for changes, for instance, if one meeting moves from 9:00 to 10:00 I'm able to react quickly and reschedule the tasks that I've planned for the day to complete them earlier.
I rarely wanted to go that deep with planning my day, but as I measured, with this trick instead of closing 20-30 tasks daily in my top shape, I'm able to complete up to 45 different topics! Having such a huge boost in productivity, reaching 50%, I want to stick to this way of working, because it allows me to find the time for the things I care the most.
Limiting blue light
Every electronic device with a display composes images shown to the user using three basic colors: red, green and blue. It has been proven that blue light generated by electronic devices may negatively impact one's sleep quality, by suppressing the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that influences circadian rhythms.
It may be tempting to reach for a smartphone while waking up in the middle of the night when the baby can't sleep. We think that we'll just check the e-mails or read some article on the Internet, while the newborn will calm down and go back to sleep, but it turns out that after going back to bed we spend hours sleepless, struggling to rest. Our anxiety grows and the same happens to the baby as it feels our emotions. It all comes down to the negative influence of blue light emitted by the smartphone, because it causes our body to switch back to the day-time rhythms, preparing us to "fight and struggle" instead of resting.
In order to avoid such situations, there are dozens of applications available to limit blue light generated by electronic displays. For Windows, you may use f.lux, while some versions of Android and newest iOS have built-in functions to reduce eye-strain and blue light. Though the effect of those applications can be strange at first glance you will soon get used to it.
Having a baby is a beautiful yet demanding task and may bring some chaos to our lives, but if one wants to organize his life, there are still many approaches and tricks to be used. Always remember that there is time for everything if you only wish.
What are your experiences? Do you use some of the techniques aforementioned in this article? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.