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The Ruthless Time Management Of A New Dad

“Nothing has to change.”

When I first became a dad, this was my reply to a good friend asking what changes. I said it confidently and with a straight face. In a way, I was right, because if you want to be a dirtbag of a dad, nothing has to change. But for the fathers hoping to be role models for their kids and loving husbands for their wives, yea, things have to change.

Your schedule, in particular, is one of the most impacted areas of your life. I have learned that you need to be ruthless with your time if you want to be deliberate with your time and accomplish your passion projects. This will hopefully leave you more fulfilled and a better person for it.

Now let’s assume you’re working 40 hours a week with a 2 hour commute (there and back) and sleeping 7 hours a night (with a kid, that’s superb). Your meals eat up 2 hours of your time each day. You hit the gym 3 days a week. Lastly, you do 1 social outing a week (~2 hours).

168–50–49–14–3–2 = 50

Everybody’s schedule is different, but let’s assume you have 50 hours of “free” time. Does it feel like that? Ever? To me that number seems high, but if I do the math, I have about that much free time each week. That’s over 7 hours a day.

There are some dads who take their full 50 hours and spend that with their family. Cool. Some dads spend the 50 hours on themselves. Not cool. Balance is key, both for the happiness of your family and for your own sanity.

The question isn’t what you do with that time, because I guarantee you won’t use 50 hours or however much to work on your self-development projects (fitness, writing, etc). The question is what schedule you implement to get done what you need to and live your best life.

It helps to think of your day as a timeline, look at mine:

  • 5–7 AM — Me time
  • 7–9 AM — Getting ready for work and heading to work [note: since I originally published this post I got a new job — remote — so now I have extra time in the morning]
  • 9 AM — 5 PM — Work
  • 5–9 PM Family Time
  • 9–10 PM Read or other “winding down” activities

I fit in what I can during the weekdays and then take advantage of the weekends. There are a TON of time management tools and articles out there. I’ve jumped from tool to tool trying to “optimize” my schedule. The tools didn’t work for me long-term. Find what sticks for you. But until then…

Keep it simple: be ruthless.

So what does that mean?

Ruthless time management: Priorities. Values. Nothing else.

Rather than give you a definition, I’ll ask a few of questions. By the end, you will have identified what it takes to be ruthless:

  • Q: What are your top 5 values?
  • Q: Does your schedule reflect your values?
  • Q: If not, what can you add to your schedule so that it does?

Think through that string of questions. A common misconception is that you need to cut things out — not necessarily. By adding the things you like, you will cut the unnecessary clutter. It’s like budgeting. There is one school of thought which is “save, save, save” and the antithesis to that is a school of thought that’s “earn, earn, earn.” Both can work, but the advantage to the latter is enjoying your idea of a higher quality of life (guess which one I’m a fan of).

This parallels time management. You don’t have to ruthlessly cut — ruthlessly add blocks of time to your schedule for your values. The rest will be filtered out.

The last thing on ruthless time management: think of your blocks of time for your values as meetings. This way, if a friend wants to grab breakfast Saturday morning but you have that time blocked for work on a project, you find a different time with your friend. You have a meeting with yourself. If it’s a visiting friend in town who can only meet in the morning, maybe you want to make an exception. But that’s what it should be: an exception, not a norm.

Be ruthless.

Originally published at on March 4, 2020.



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