Writing And Being A Parent Simulataneously
Writing a book as a dad and mom with two children under three years old has proven to be a challenge. Here are some things things that Rachel and I have used to make more-or-less steady progress. All of this can be applied to more than just writing.
By “wife time” I mean scheduled time that the husband gives to his wife. When necessary, I make an agreement with my wife: after I get home, I am all yours until 6:30. I work an 8:00 to 5:00 job, so that generally means that she gets about an hour of my time, not counting the drive home and dinner.
Didn’t get enough writing done and want me to take the kids to the park? Having a rough day and want me to wash the dishes? Just feel the need to snuggle and talk?
I know that to some people this may seem too structured. Many of us would like every “spouse moment” to be spontaneous. However, I think that we fail to take advantage of the time available when we are unwilling to plan ahead. It also leads to frustration in the progress department when a person is constantly interrupted. Interruptitus is more expensive to time and productivity than most people realize—or so says David Allen, the productivity guru.
Which leads to my next point…
If my wife and I do not have any overarching projects that we are working on together then we can work side-by-side and still not be in harmony. On the other hand, if there is a shared vision (getting a book published, starting and growing a business, etc.) then we can work in two different buildings and be in harmony, let alone side-by-side.
Once we both put our shoulder to the wheel and decided to bring her books to reality, we became a team on yet another level and were in better harmony about mutual time management. We become more content with what the other is doing, knowing that we share mutual goals. That is one beneficial aspect of having vision in a family. And contentment with each other’s time management is an antidote against interruptitus!
Focus Work Vs. Unfocus Work
If Rachel is needing to write, that is focus work. In other words, writing is work that is easily derailed by distractions such as crying babies.
When one of us needs to do focus work, the other can take the kids and do unfocus work. Unfocus work would be things such as painting a fence, doing laundry, or washing the dishes. If we can include our kids then it is even better, because it provides training and parental interaction, two things that we try to find ways to give whenever the opportunity arises.
One thing that is very helpful with this one is keeping lists of actionable items. Actionable items are things that you can do rather than things that need to be finished. If you have to fix a bike, for example, “fix bike” is not actionable. That’s just the project, and you don’t do projects. Actionable items might be: buy tire from Cannondale shop, oil chain, or, spray mud off of bike. Then you can easily choose an unfocus item from your list. If all you have is a list of projects, however, then looking at the list alone is focus work.
There are even programs out there that will let you organize your lists however you want. They make it easy to have the same item on multiple lists, so you can organize by “focus” and “unfocus”. Hey, that’s a good idea! I’m glad I thought of that. We just might try it.
Do you have anything else for us to try? Do tell us in the comments!