The Quest to Find Time
Everyone has this perception that I’ve got an abundance of time simply because I no longer have a traditional day job.
In truth, 90% of the time I find myself drowning in a never ending list of things to do. I’ve since ditched the to-do list for my own personal sanity but habits die hard.
Once upon a time, I switched to a micro goals system — where I list the top 5 things I wanted to achieve throughout the day. My issue now is that unlike pre-baby days, I am now at the mercy of my child’s nap time, temperament and growth spurt hunger tantrums. There are times I wished I had taken the 9–5 route rather than this entrepreneurial road.
But the 9–5 has its costs too.
It would mean I would go back living paycheck to paycheck, never quite making enough to do all the things I want. I needed to do something different because I want something other than the traditional work, work, work, retire then holiday life paradigm.
I’ve chosen this entrepreneurial road because I never want to be micro managed by another person again. Yet despite starting my own thing, I find myself time bound by a little human that poops, cries, make weird bursts of noises and tries to eat random things unseen by the adult eye.
Wake up earlier
All humans are creatures of habit — babies included. Everyone ends up having some sort of schedule and mine is required to work around the baby out of necessity.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I can either go to sleep really late or wake up really early. Overall, I find it harder to function if I go to sleep super late and the baby happens to have an unexpected early start (we’re talking the random 5am wake up kind of hours).
While it’s not hard for me to stay up until midnight, pulling a happy face for an unsuspecting baby that’s just starting to learn the ways of the world is much harder. So rather than eternally scaring the child’s early years with a sleep deprived and perpetually cranky mother, being the early bird is my only option to get things done.
People are surprised that I wake up at 5am to work as somewhere in their brains they fail to connect the dots that working from home also still requires time. Money doesn’t just magically materialize from no where simply because I am a home based entrepreneur.
Redirect my Time Costs
There are 3 different kinds of time costs.
The first is hour by hour time cost. This means that what you put in returns an equivalent value. Your day job is an hour by hour cost. If you stop, the returns stops.
The second is the set and forget time cost. This is when a good amount of time is required to set things up but once its done, you don’t have to touch it again. It keeps giving you the benefits even if you stop. It’s passive. It’s also exponential in gains. Recording and marketing a video course is a set and forget kind of income (but this also depends on the topic and its shelf life).
The third is the maintenance time cost. This can come in a partial set and forget form but requires a little bit of input from you to get things moving along again. For example, an online store with replenishable goods only requires your intervention for shipping and customer support. Once you’ve figured out how to sell your items, its all just rinse and repeat.
To get to where I want with the limited time I have, I have to move away from the hour to hour cost mindset. Since my redundancy and decision not to return to the traditional day job life, I’ve been exploring and experimenting with different systems and ideas that would generate me enough income to get me started on my quest towards true physical and mental freedom.
Because once it’s all set up and figured out, then the gains compound while the need for my time to keep it going becomes minimal.
Over the past year, I feel like I’ve been a pretty shit mother. My mind is always living in the future, worrying about when the next paycheck will come or if the stuff I’m trying set up will work or not.
It’s all very stressful — an unnecessary compounding kind of stressful. As a result, I feel like I’ve missed my child’s first year. It sucks. I feel like crap. Some may suggest postnatal depression, except this is how I’ve always been — living too far into the future and also missing the present moment.
Over the past few weeks, between the hours of 7am to 7pm, I consciously strive to be present with my daughter. I’m less snappy and during those hours, I am momentarily free in a self imposed manner.
I do things in between when I can but no longer verbally flagellate myself if I fail to start or complete it. Shit happens. Tomorrow is a new day. Stop thinking too much and eventually things will get done.
The Importance of having a Top 5
I’m one of those people that likes to jump from project to project, ideas to ideas, grand plans to grand plans — never quite completing anything in general.
Having a Top 5 keeps me focused. It reminds and forces me to pick the most important things in my life. It’s better to do 5 things really great rather than have a gazillion mediocre half done things.
There are things I want to do like YouTube, Instagram, my own website and a million business ideas. But for now I am focused on the child, my 2 online stores and Medium. That alone should more than enough to keep busy. The online stores are also validated through sales. I just need to keep persisting with them until they can reach a state of semi automation.
If I keep jumping between all the things I want to do, then its like trying to walk in parallel to my goals rather than going towards it. Every time I start something new, I remind myself that I’m back at the start line all over again.
There will never be enough time in a day to do all the things I want to do. But there is enough time in a week, in a month and in a year to compound together in order to make something materially impacting.
Right now, my finances are severely unbalanced with more spending than income. Before I can attempt to do anything else, I need to figure out a system that works. I’m slightly under quarter of the way there, bringing in about $150 of the $680 that I need to break even each week.
I used to be angry at not having enough time but now accept it as a fact of life. It’s better to be in a state of acceptance and find ways around it rather than sit my seat fuming at the world.
It’s all mindset at the end of the day and figuring out what works best with the things that I cannot change. Either that or I go back to being micro managed in a 9–5.