AskPat 4 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? This is Pat here, and I hope you're having an amazing day. Welcome to Episode 4 of AskPat. Before we get to today's question, I want to let you know that I would love to see you on Twitter.
If you're not following me on Twitter right now, you can follow me @PatFlynn. And if you ever share the show, if you ever talk about it on Twitter, please use the hashtag #AskPat. I'll be following along with that. I'll be responding to commentary all the time so I'll see you on Twitter @PatFlynn.
Now to today's question. This is a question from Nick and he asks a very important question that deals with work life and personal life, balancing family and work and that sort of thing. This is something that is very, very near and dear to my heart because I actually got into fights with family members about this. So check out Nick's question and then my answer right after that.
Nick: Hey Pat this is Nick Kugelman. I've been following your blog for quite sometime. I work from home I have a couple of corporate jobs that I do business development and project management for, and working from home with a new family, I'm curious about how you go about structuring your time throughout the day so that way you are able to maximize both the time that you spend working as well as maximize the time you spend with your family. So I'd be very curious how you structure your day so that way you're productive and able to spend the time focusing on what you need to focus on as well as making sure that you're able to hang out with the wife and babies. Thanks man, appreciate it.
Pat Flynn: Hey Nick. Thank you for your question. This is a very important question that's really close to my heart because it's something that I struggled with for a very long time and from time to time it's something that I continue to struggle with. The thing about kids for those of you who don't have kids, once you sort of settle on a schedule or rhythm things just change. You know ever since these kids are born it seems like once you finally get them going on a rhythm of some kind where there's some sort of stableness, it just switches up on you. They get teeth and they start teething and they start waking up in the middle of the night again or they go through growth spurts. It's just crazy, right?
So the thing to know about this even before I get to the how I structure my day part is, as an entrepreneur who works from home and has a family who also is at home, I have to be very, very flexible. Not like I can do the splits type of thing but I mean I have to learn to adjust. I have to learn that curve balls are going to be thrown my way all the time and that's just part of the game. But I can do what I can to minimize those things, which I'll go over in a second, and also I have to be as efficient as I can be. Because a lot of times I don't have a lot of time like other people especially those who are single have during the day, because I want to spend time with my kids or the kids will throw me for a loop and something will come up and I have to go the ER because he broke his arm and other things. Right?
So anyway. How I structure my day. Well the day like it is right now is based on a few things. One it's based on, yes, I do have a schedule. So there is a schedule and that's very important because in the beginning I didn't have a schedule and this was actually something that my wife and I talked about before we got married, before we had kids. Actually I didn't have a schedule because of I was living the entrepreneurial lifestyle and I could sort of work whenever I wanted to work and take a break whenever I wanted to take a break.
The issue with that was, sometimes it wasn't clear whether I was on break or not or whether I was working a hardcore on something or not. So sometimes I'd be working and really focused on something and my wife would come and start talking to me and of course it would interrupt my work flow and that's not good. Other times I'd be speaking to my wife and having a conversation with her, perhaps out at dinner with her and then in the back of my mind I'm thinking about my emails and I'm thinking about this other thing I have to do with my business and that's not fair either. I mean that's almost even worse. I'm actually spending time with somebody but I'm not a hundred percent fully there and that's not fair and it got us to a point where we had to actually have a sort of heated conversation about this and actually talk this through. I'm so thankful we did because we discovered some things about each other that needed addressing.
Like the fact that I have this sort of unique lifestyle an entrepreneur who works from home and even before we had a family we had to discuss how can we solve this problem for the future when we did have kids. I'm so glad we talked about that. Now a lot of that, a lot of what came out of that was the fact that I didn't have a schedule and that's what was weird because those lines were blurred. Right? Personal life and work life. Those lines were crossed all the time and it wasn't even clear in my head when certain things were supposed to happen. So I really needed to create a schedule. That's the first thing.
You know it may sound funny because we always say, “Oh, you've got to break away from nine to five or you've got to escape your nine to five job.” Well, sure, you can escape that nine to five but you have to have a schedule. The awesome thing about a nine to five job is you know you go to work at nine and when you come home at five you can turn work off and you're actually physically away from work too so you can focus on what you need to focus on at home or with your friends or the bar or wherever you go after work and that's the second part.
So in addition to having a schedule, and that schedule has changed over time especially with the kids lately. But in addition to having a schedule, I need a physical space to actually do my work. So I have an office with a door that's closed when I'm in that office and the door is closed I know to be in pure work mode, focused on my next task and that's it. I'm not focusing on anything else and unless it's an emergency, everybody else in the house knows—and my wife's controlling this—everybody else in the house knows daddy's in his office, daddy's working. Of course unless there's an emergency.
The reason I mention my wife is sort of in control of that is because she is the one that manages the kids when I'm in the office. Right? It's really important for her to understand what I'm doing just like how it's important for me to understand what she's doing and also what she needs. I also know that she needs breaks during the day too. So there are times during the day, every single day, where I will be taking care of the kids on my own so she could do her thing. I actually let her sleep in, and I'll go over my exact schedule every day in just a second.
But going back to the physical space. I'm in my office and I'm working and I'm purely in work mode, when I'm out of that office I am not in work mode I'm purely in focused family mode. That's really important because my kids are young and I don't want to miss a thing with them. Right? They're growing up right in front of my eyes. I'm so blessed that I can be here at home and do that. But it wouldn't be fair and I would regret if I were to actually be there with them physically and again not mentally because of everything that I had to do with work. Having that physical space, I don't know, something about it, something about closing that door and walking out of my office into the rest of my home just does something for me mentally.
That wasn't easy to do. I sort of had to train myself mentally to do that. It's really hard especially because I have a laptop in addition to my work desk computer. I have a laptop so it's really easy for me if I wanted to check that email or to see how my stats are doing on my website or my podcast and also now with iPhones and your Android phones you could do business from anywhere. But you have to remember why you do what you do.
For me, I do what I do here at work so I can be with my family. So it doesn't make sense for me to pick up my phone and check my email when I'm out. Now if I have some free time and I'm in line for something or whatever, yeah it makes sense. But I always ask myself—and it just takes a split second and I use to consciously ask myself this question beforehand like, “Pat is this something that you should be doing right now?” I would ask myself that and I still I think I still internally almost subconsciously ask myself that question now before I do something but it's much faster and I sort of know what I'm doing when I'm doing it now. I check myself sometimes and I have to catch myself sometimes too. I also have to tell my wife, “Hey, if you see me doing work outside of the office, let me know, don't hit me or something or don't slap me across the face but just let me know so I can put myself back into reality and what I should be doing.”
So, Nick, I hope that helps a little bit as far as communication with the wife and telling her so she knows what I need to do as an entrepreneur so what you need to do as an entrepreneur Nick but also you need to know what she needs as a mother as well. It's just really important to have that open line of communication. And, again, every family's different but this is what works for us. It didn't happen overnight. We didn't just say, “Hey let's do this schedule” and all of a sudden it worked. It's something we figured out over time and we've learned to know that there may be those heated moments when we get into those moments every once in a while and we have to figure those out for the benefit of the family.
Now as far as my day goes, I'll go over my day really quick the way it is now and I guarantee you in a year from now it's going to be totally different especially because my son's going to be going to school. I wake up in the morning typically around 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning. My son and or my daughter will wake up first and I'll hang out with them for a while until the other one wakes up. I let my wife sleep in until about, she typically wakes up around 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. I mean she has the hardest job in the world as a stay at home mom so I let her get as much rest as she can so she can be fully energized for the rest of the day when she's watching the kids run around if she has to do that that day.
But then I'll typically have breakfast and hang out with the kids. Play in our playroom for a little bit. Read a couple books until my wife wakes up. She comes down. We all hang out together as a family until I cook lunch around noon, 11:30 or noon and then it's time for the kids to go down for a nap, typically around one o'clock. Lunch is a long time especially because our son, he's actually a really picky eater right now and so lunch is a long time. It's also a struggle sometimes but sometimes it's good too. But anyway, when the kids go down for a nap that's when I do a lot of my day specific type of work. Meaning stuff that involves interactions with other people because I do most of my work at night, which you'll hear in a second. But for things like interviews and things like that that should happen during the day when other people are awake, that's when I do that.
So I schedule my interviews and anything I have to do in the office for the daytime around nap time, so I try to do a lot of work when the kids are napping. Of course, they only take short naps so my wife will see them awake and then play with them until I come back downstairs from my office. Then we either run some errands or go out. We sometimes go to the beach or go to the zoo. We have passes to other parks here in the San Diego area or sometimes we just hang out here at home and play some more.
Then there's dinner time. I love to cook so I'm typically the cook in the house and I don't mind doing that. I love to explore eating healthy meals and cooking new things. Then after we have dinner we read some more, we play and that whole thing. Then my kids go to bed. We give them a bath, do that whole thing. They go to bed, oh, 8:30 p.m. and then it's work mode for daddy. I'm in the office between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. most days. That's actually when I'm the most creative.
That's also part of this is to understand when your body and your mind is at it's peak as far as creativity and for me it's at night. I'm a night owl. I know a lot of people who have those sort of reverse schedule where once their kids go down they go down too or even if they don't have kids they wake up early in the morning and that's when they get most of their work done. I can't do that but you're just going to have to listen to your own body and listen to your mind and keep track of when you're most energetic and try to work during those hours.
So that's my schedule and that's how it is now. I only get five and a half to seven hours of sleep, mostly five and a half to six hours of sleep every day and that's good for me right now. I've been doing that since college and architecture—architects don't get very much sleep. But that's the way it is now. Like I said, it's going to change and I just have to know that it is going to change and I have to adjust I have to adapt. That's really what entrepreneurship is all about. That's how I want to end this podcast episode.
You got to learn how to adapt and just know that things are going to be thrown your way that are going to throw you out for a loop and sort of keep you unbalanced for a little bit. As long as you know what your goals are you will get back and start to be balanced again and keep moving forward.
So, Nick, thank you so much for that question. An AskPat t-shirt is headed your way. If you listening out there have a question about entrepreneurship, business, podcasting, blogging, what have you, I'm more than happy to answer your question. Head on over to AskPat.com, ask your voicemail question there. It's totally free. You can use it using the SpeakPipe widget that's on that page. Again the SpeakPipe widget. Awesome company that's helping out with these voicemails here. And thank you so much. I'll see you in the next episode. You rock.
Thank you so much again for listening to AskPat. This was episode four. If you heard this episode and you want to let me know that you enjoyed it or maybe what I could do to improve, hit me up on Twitter @PatFlynn. If you ever share or Tweet about this show use the hashtag #AskPat. I'll be following along and leaving replies as much as I can.
To finish off today, I want to leave you with a quote by Michael J. Fox. That quote is, “Family is not an important thing, it's everything.” So take that, enjoy the time you have with the people around you, and I'll see you in the next episode.