A lot of people have been asking me to write a post about what daily life is like as Pat – someone who has a family, works from home, and earns a passive income, but is also actively creating new income streams at the same time.
Maybe you’re just curious, maybe you’re looking for some time saving strategies, or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to balance family life and work life – I don’t know, but I hope that as I go through my daily routine I can give you some tips based on my experience.
A couple of things:
First, my life is not always 100% balanced. There are times when I do feel overwhelmed with work projects, a one year old throwing a tantrum and grass to mow (in the front and back of the house), all at the same time. There are other times, however, when I feel like everything is working out just perfectly and life couldn’t get any better. Either way, I feel very fortunate to be living the lifestyle that I am living, and although it’s not for everyone, it’s exactly how I want to live.
Secondly, it’s hard for me to share a “typical day” because after having a kid (and you’ll know this if you’re a parent), there is no such thing as a “typical day”. Ever since the birth of our son, our schedule has been based around him. When he naps, that’s when we get stuff done. When he’s up, he gets our full attention.
So, as I go through my schedule and how I accomplish things, note that it’s not always like this, and the times may vary, but generally this is how I live.
7:00am – Wake up. My alarm is my son calling for mommy from the other room, which usually happens around 7:00am. I get up, take him out of the crib, change a diaper and take him downstairs for breakfast. I let my wife sleep in until about 10am. She definitely deserves the extra sleep, especially since the first 10 to 12 months of our son’s life was her waking up in the middle of the night to feed him while I lay still in deep sleep.
7:15am – Breakfast. It has been a lot easier now that our son is eating solid foods and can feed himself. I usually set him up with some delicious blueberries or raspberries, a couple handfuls of cheerios, and a sippy cup of milk. While he’s eating, we’re listening to toddler tunes, and I’m cooking my breakfast at the same time. It’s always the same thing, in a bowl: 2 beaten eggs, a 1/2 cup of blackbeans, a fistful of spinach – microwaved for 4 minutes on high, then eaten with some Tabasco sauce and chunky salsa (a la 4-Hour Body style), so this means no juice either. General rule of thumb is “don’t drink your calories”.) Then, I eat and clean up, which is just a simple washing of the one bowl. Super easy. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
7:45am – Playtime! With two full bellies, my son and I go to the dining room, which we’ve converted into a play room (who uses their dining room anyways? Hehe!). We’ll play with instruments, play basketball (he just learned how to dunk on his little hoop), or read a little bit. Sometimes he’ll climb on my back and I do pushups at the same time. It’s really fun, and I really cherish these couple of hours in the morning when it’s just me and him.
10:00am – Wake up Mommy!
10:15am – More play time. Sometimes he likes to play on this own, and I use this time to check my email or respond to comments and questions on the blog or on Facebook & Twitter. I don’t usually get more than 15 minutes though. Work time comes later.
11:00am – The little one gets lunch. The menu varies, and we’ll sometimes try to introduce him to new foods at this time. The latest thing he’s into is cheese filled Raviolis. During lunch, he’s either enjoying some toddler tunes or kids songs I pull up on YouTube, or a “Baby Can Read” DVD. They do work – it’s amazing. I’m very proud to say he knows about 50 words in his vocabulary. Not bad for a 16 month old!
11:30am – Nap time. As you can see, our schedules are very based around our son, like I said. At 11:30, I put him to sleep for about an hour. Quiet time in the house, at last.
Noon – I make my wife and I some lunch, or sometimes I’ll go out and grab something (healthy) nearby. I usually have a protein shake or other supplemental drink at this time as well. While we eat, my wife and I chat a little, or sometimes catch an episode of Saved By The Bell on TeenNick, or Family Feud (the ones hosted by Steve Harvey).
After lunch – Whenever lunch ends, I grab a coffee (Keurig style), head into my office and shut the door. Shutting the door is very important because it tells me that I’m in work mode, in my own little space disconnected from the rest of the house, and at the same time it tells the family that I should only be interrupted if there’s an emergency.
During work mode, I’m very focused, and even if it’s only an interruption that lasts a minute or two, I find that it can sometimes take an extra 15 to 30 minutes to get back to where I was.
This is why…
- I shut the door to my office.
- I turn off my phone (unless I need to make a call).
- I turn off Twitter & Facebook (Tweetdeck).
- I turn off Skype (unless I have a scheduled call or chat).
- I keep my email on because I use it quite a bit during this time, however I don’t enable any sound notifications because again – it’s a distraction.
So what do I work on during this time?
I do not write blog posts…I save that for the night if I have a blog post scheduled the next day. I do this because I find that for me (and this is different for everybody), I write much better and more creatively at night – my peak hours being around the 11pm to 1am hours.
I do do the following:
- I use my “physical folder method” (as described in Session 12 of the SPI podcast) to see what projects I currently have on my plate (there are always more than one going on at a time, which means there are multiple folders in front of me), and what to-dos are next to check off on each of those respective lists. The tasks vary each and every day, which keeps it exciting and new for me, and they range from things like submitting a newly finished iPhone application to the App Store, to telling my VAs exactly what to do (I have one full-time programmer, and one part-time VA that helps with this Backlinking Strategy for niche sites). I may also brainstorm new ideas on my white board or shoot a video for YouTube at this time as well. Like I said, it could be a number of things. All I know is that with each and every task that I do, I make sure to complete it first before moving on to the next, whether in the same project, or in another one. This is how I complete multiple tasks at the “same time”.
- I brainstorm using my wall-sized whiteboards in my office – either how to improve existing projects or mind-mapping new ideas that I may or may not create new folders for and execute.
- I hold any client calls or online meetings at this time.
- Clean the office, if it’s messy. I can’t work in a messy office!
Here’s a good shot of my office so you can get an idea of the kind of environment I’m working in.
During the afternoon work hours, my wife is obviously watching our son (once he wakes up from his nap), and this is the agreement we’ve made together. I get him in the mornings while she sleeps, and she gets him in the afternoon while I work. We both get our alone time with him, which is important, but at the same time I’m able to accomplish what I need to accomplish, which provides for the family and allows me to grow my business.
The most important lesson here is communication. What one person may think works out the best may not be so good for the other – and it was only through trial and error that we’ve found this to be the best time management solution for us. It will probably change in the future as our son grows and his needs change, and when that time comes you can be sure my wife and I will determine how we can best utilize our time once again.
It’s going to be weird when he’s gone half the day at school…
Earning a passive income – not having to actually trade my time for an income since it was already invested up front – allows me to include a few variables here during the afternoon hours that I would typically work.
For example, if it’s a nice day and I don’t have anything crucial planned for the afternoon, as a family we might head to Sea World or go to the beach. Or, we may all together go to Target to stock up on supplies or head to the grocery store. This is especially nice because there is never a crowd wherever we go, so parking is easy, and checkouts are fast.
My schedule isn’t set in stone, which is the nice part that allows me to do these kinds of things, however it’s important that it is still there so I don’t waste time if there isn’t anything else to do. I’ve tried just “working when I need to”, and I find that I am much less focused when I just work randomly here and there.
5:00pm – Hang out as a family. If I continue to work until 5 (sometimes I finish up early if the rest of my tasks are too big or take up too much time to complete), I’ll come downstairs usually to a hyper child and an exhausted wife in the playroom. 5 hours with the little one can definitely be an energy drainer! We’ll all hang out and play together until dinner time.
6:00pm – Dinner. I love to cook, so I usually take the chef’s hat and prepare a dinner. Since we’re both on a “diet” while we’re going through the Insanity home fitness program, it’s usually just some kind of protein (Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Tofu), with various vegetables (Corn, Snow Peas, Green Beans, Carrots, Peas, Bell Peppers, etc.). I prepare these foods a different way each night (spices and sauces are my friend!), just so it doesn’t get boring. My breakfast is the same each day, so I should at least have some variety at night. It’s all worth it though, because Saturday is “cheat day”, and I definitely go all out. A couple Saturdays ago, I had 8 buffalo wings, half a pizza, chips and dip, breadsticks, and a doughnut…and that was just for dinner. Again – a la 4-Hour Body. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
We’ll eat together as a family, which we feel is very important – especially in the early years of our son’s life. Now that he’s older, he usually has what we’re having, plus some kind of bread or carb of some kind, like pasta.
7:00pm – Relax as a family. At this time, we’re stuffed, our son has calmed down a bit, and we can actually all sit together on the couch and watch T.V. Some may argue that it’s a little too early for a 16 month old to be watching T.V., and we do have our concerns, but it’s really the only time during the day this happens, it’s always on Nick Jr., and we’re always talking and interacting with him during Ni Hao Kai-Lan or Yo Gabba Gabba (two kid shows, for those of you who don’t know).
We won’t watch the whole time, and will usually try to get some “active play” in (like running around and banging on instruments) so it’ll tire him out a bit. It makes it a lot easier to put him down to bed this way.
8:00pm – Prepare our son for sleep. This includes giving him a bath (my wife and I switch off), brushing his teeth (whoever is not giving him a bath that day brushes his teeth), and reading to him in bed for 10 to 15 minutes. We have a ritual of turning off the lights after the last book is read, which has always worked to get him to sleep almost instantly.
9:00pm – Work out. After our son is sound asleep, my wife and I get ready for the daily Insanity workout. It’s usually 40 – 60 minutes of non-stop cardio (jumping, squatting, pushup jacks, high-knees and those kinds of things) in our living room. I love it.
Afterwards, I have a protein shake and get cleaned up.
10:15pm – Depends. (No, not the adult diaper…)
If I have a blog post to write, I’ll usually spend the rest of the evening writing it in my office, or continuing a blog post that I had already started from a previous day.
If I don’t have a blog post or any deadlines coming up, my wife and I usually catch up on Dancing With the Stars or Modern Family on DVR, watch a DVD we’ve Netflix’d, play some games on the iPad, clean the house, or just sit and chat about random things.
2:00am – Sleep
We’re both night owls, but at the same time we feel it’s important to utilize the free time we do have when Keoni is asleep, because as you can tell, when he’s up, it’s all about him. That’s why we go to bed rather late.
I guess I’m pretty lucky because I can survive off of 5 to 6 hours of sleep with absolutely no issues. I think it’s a skill I picked up while attending College. Us architecture majors were always in studio, working late hours and hardly getting any sleep. I once stayed up for 72 hours straight (that’s 3 days!) for my final project my senior year. It worked out – I finished my project on time, however when I finally got to my apartment and fell asleep, I slept for nearly 24 hours and missed the University-wide graduation.
Not healthy at all.
Like I said, not all of the days are exactly the same, but this gives you a general idea of how I work, what’s important to me and how I utilize my time. Some days I run a coaching course with a group of students, another night I’ll have a date night with April, and other days there are appointments and random occurrences that you sometimes can’t plan for.
Again, if you haven’t listened to it already, I definitely recommend checking out session 12 of the SPI Podcast for some of my own productivity tips that help me utilize those precious moments of time that I do have to work.
Speaking of podcasts, I had to re-record an interview due to a corrupt file, so you should see the next session of the podcast (session #20), live this coming Friday. Thank you for your patience with that…
And thank you for reading this light-hearted post about my life today. I appreciate you and your time!
Do you have any productivity tips or work/family balance advice you’d like to share with the community?