The internet is full of articles about how to optimize your productivity, workflow, and workday, but to what end? Instead of optimizing for the sake of optimizing, make sure you understand “why” you want to get more done quicker. For some it’s to have more time to grow your business, and that’s how I used to be too. My why changed two months ago when my baby girl was born and I became a father for the first time. Now, I want to spend every moment with my little girl and make sure she has the best life possible. But to accomplish this, I had to change around my priorities to focus on the things that matter. The process of optimizing extends beyond work. Let’s optimize our life.
I was fortunate to be able to take some parental leave from TeaSquares. While away I’ve had time to reflect on life as a father, husband and business owner. My time is even more valuable now that I have a newborn at home. Late nights at work won’t cut it when I want to be home to help feed, play, and teach my daughter. But how do I optimize my day so I don’t have the pressures of work weighing on me when I get home?
If you’re starting from scratch, I first recommend reading my post about prioritizing your work. With a little one at home (or any other life event) it’s equally, if not more important, to help prioritize your entire life. This means reflecting on what’s important with family, work, and any outside hobbies/ambitions.
Optimizing your life is a continuous process designed to harmonize all parts of you. For most people, life consists of some combination of the following areas:
- Family Life
- Work/ Career
- Individual Time
- Professional Committees
- Sports / Personal Fitness
- Kids Activities
- Friends / Social Activities
There’s a lot you can accomplish in life, and it can be overwhelming trying to do it all. Happiness doesn’t come from doing everything, but from choosing a select few activities to focus on, and prioritizing those over everything else. Why limit yourself? When you focus, you can put more time and energy into actually accomplishing your goals, rather than leaving things unfulfilled.
To optimize your life, choose 2-4 of the above categories that are most important to you at this stage of your life. Any more than that and they won’t be priorities. You can still do any of the other activities. Just fit them in after your main priorities, and only when you have time.
Here’s what my priorities looked like over the last 3 stages of life:
When I was single, my top 2 Life Priorities were:
👨🏽💻Career- I was launching my first business Chopbox and putting all my time and energy into this.
🎉Friends- I had a great group of friends and we would hang out during the week and every weekend.
After I met my wife, my top 3 Life Priorities were:
👫🏽 Family Time - I love spending every second possible with my wife. We both have high career aspirations, but always love coming home, cooking dinner, and reflecting on the day.
👨🏽💻Career - This time I was running my second and current business, TeaSquares.
👨🏽🏫 Mentoring - I spent a ton of time mentoring students from my alma mater, and other rising business owners.
Now that my daughter is here, my top 2 Life Priorities are:
👨👩👧 Family Time - Now expanded to include time with my wife and daughter together. I want to be there for every moment.
👨🏽💻Career - TeaSquares is now in full swing and I have set routines and processes running the business.
As you see, my top priorities changed at each stage of my life. Life brings new challenges and opportunities and it’s necessary to shift what's important to you at that time.
Now that I had my top priorities, it was time to optimize them. Each week I list out the most important things to do for each of my priorities and block off time on my calendar. For family time, I have 3 goals:
1. Attend all my daughter's doctors appointments
2. Cook dinner with my wife every night so we have one on one time together.
3. Have awake and developmental time with my wife and daughter.
To accomplish these goals I fill my calendar with her doctor appointments, plan fun creative dinners for my wife (tonight i’m making ramen), and research activities to do with my daughter each week. I also make sure that I am present with my daughter while she is awake and minimize phone use.
As some of these tasks happened during the weekday, they would obviously get in the way of a typical 9-5. Running my own business provides some flexibility, but other things need to run on a schedule. TeaSquares manufactures all our snacks in our own facility, 9-5pm. Before my daughter was born, I was there with the team everyday aside from sales meetings. To make my family life priorities happen, I empowered my team to become independent and put together processes so that operations run smoothly. Now I am able to work from home throughout the week and focus on sales, marketing, and growing the business.
On the career side, an example of my weekly goals are to:
1. Grow TeaSquares revenue by signing up 2 office customers.
2. Create plan to increase capacity by automating equipment lines.
3. Produce a new thought leadership article to share my experiences with other entrepreneurs.
To accomplish all of these, I have to say “no” to many opportunities that come in every single week. By staying focused on these limited goals, I can spend all my time and energy to reach them.
Trust me, staying focused is not easy, but being conscious and identifying your priorities will help you feel more accomplished. Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments what your top priorities are and how you plan to optimize your life.