Dads and moms alike dream of being able to work from home. After all, it’s the best of all possible worlds: you’re in control of your schedule, you get to spend time with the kids (they grow up so fast), and you’re still earning a good income. However, it’s not always easy to get everything done that you have planned for that day. It’s even harder when you’re self-employed and have to devote time to finding business instead of having tasks provided by a manager or boss. Finnish productivity expert Timo Kiander, aka Productive SuperDad, has some good advice for anyone who’s thinking of working from home and working for themselves – with or without children involved.
7SR: How did your life change in terms of productivity when your son Aaro was born?
It changed quite a bit.
At first, for the first six months when his sleeping schedule was irregular, I felt more or less tired. Also, the available time for my own projects became much more limited.
Then again, I started to learn more about how to really maximize all the available time in my day. So, even though I didn’t have that much time available for my own projects anymore, I figured out quite well how to make every single minute count.
Another great benefit of having limited time was that I really started to appreciate the moments I did have. I’m guessing this wouldn’t have happened without having a baby.
7SR: “Email is a time suck!” is something you say often. How do speed reading skills help people to remove this problem from their daily lives?
I’m not an expert on speed reading, but I think that skimming the headlines is a very important process if you want to manage email effectively.
In other words, when I open my inbox, I skim through the headlines and I immediately decide on the messages I want to archive or delete, based on their headline. With this simple practice, the number of messages in my inbox drops pretty significantly.
Of course, if I happen to trash or archive certain types of messages on a frequent basis, it’s then a matter of taking a good look at the sender and removing myself from the email list.
7SR: With all of the tasks people face every day, procrastination isn’t just a word, it’s an obstacle to overcome. You’ve written a book on overcoming procrastination, but could you share a few tips with our readers now?
There are plenty of strategies designed to tackle procrastination. However, if I share just three ways, I would say that at first, one should really ask him/herself if this task or work is necessary to do in the first place. Because if it isn’t, then take it off your list.
Then, if the task is something you have to do, break it down into smaller pieces, so that starting the process becomes easier. Very often, it’s the starting phase that’s the biggest obstacle and once you get past that, things will become much easier. You can also figure out whether the task could be delegated to someone else, but since this is not always possible, breaking the task down can help quite a bit.
Finally, try to start working on the task as early as possible. This way, you can get it out of your head and the rest of the day will subsequently be much easier, since you are not thinking about the task all the time.
7SR: Last summer you went on a 30-day nutrition-oriented productivity challenge where you experimented with replacing your usual breakfast with a smoothie. Did that change your eating habits? How important is good health to maintaining productivity?
To be honest, I reverted back to my earlier eating habits (which weren’t unhealthy either). Then again, we still continue to do smoothies every now and then, especially for afternoon snacks.
I guess the type of breakfast I like to have also depends on the season. For instance, during the fall and winter months (those chilly/cold months), I want to eat something warm for breakfast (such as porridge), and in those situations, a smoothie falls out of the equation.
In general, good health is essential to your productivity. And because of that, you should actually make sure that you eat the right foods, exercising at least a bit, ensuring that you get enough sleep, ensuring that you do work that you care for and that you nurture the close relationships in your life.
With those five foundational blocks, you can stay effective in your work and your life.
7SR: Good mental health has an impact on productivity, as you note in a recent blog post on meditation. What are the things you do to stay balanced and to keep a positive mental outlook?
I guess I already touched upon this topic briefly in the previous answer, but it’s really simple things: spending enough time with my family, spending time working on my own hobbies, meditating and just feeling grateful for even the smallest things that give me joy.
And yes, I make sure that I actually get enough sleep. That way, I can fully recover from my day’s work and I get mentally recharged, too.
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