Parenting and productivity: what have I learned?

When my son was born last year a few weeks before we went into a national lockdown I thought that there would be time to do things. Long time readers of this blog will know that I have a habit of working on multiple projects at a time. We also bought a house that needs lots of work doing to it that we planned to do ourselves. I naively thought that I would be able to continue with this multiple project approach, but it turns out that I was very optimistic.

In the first 6 months, when my son couldn’t move very far, it was actually possible to do lots of things, but as I was recovering from a C section there was a limit on what I could do, so I mostly stuck to writing. Once he got the hang of moving about however, things really changed and I found I was able to do less and less. in particular I found he got really interested in my computer, which meant that my previous approach of writing when he was around became unviable, or I would soon have a broken computer.

There have been a few black days where I was feeling very frustrated and stuck, with the house needing lots of work and my projects sitting untouched on my computer. At the same time I have found that just spending time with him, watching him learn and grow has been a really mind expanding experience. Everyday he encounters something new for the first time. I didn’t want those moment with hime to be lost in my need to do other things and so I started thinking about getting more organised. My partner bought me a copy of Getting things Done by David Allen (affiliate link), which was helpful to some extent. I also read a copy of From Chaos to Creativity by Jessie Kwak, (affiliate link) which was really helpful and a much easier book to navigate when you don’t have much time.

He’s now toddling, and into absolutely everything making and while you would think things would be even more difficult, actually I feel a lot more on top of things now. Here is what I have learned:

  1. It helps to have a system – Both of the books I suggest above recommend developing a system to mange all of the things you have to do. I’m still working on mine but have found Trello and a series of physical white boards helpful in organising my time.
  2. Get used to making the most of small, unpredictable pockets of time – I find that I frequently find I have small pockets of time in which I can do something that come at odd moments in the day. In order to make the most of this it really helps to work out ahead of time what little jobs or tasks I can do in ten minutes or half an hour and keep a list of these. For example I have managed to do quite a lot on our garden this year in thirty minute slots here and there. I have also made some good headway on the second draft of my novel in twenty minute chunks of time.
  3. Switch devices – my son is obsessed with my laptop computer and I can’t really use it around him as he just grabs it off my lap the whole time. But I have found I can write a lot of bits and pieces on my phone and then tidy them up on the computer later when he is napping.
  4. Switch media – I’ve recently signed up for an audible account (affiliate link) have found this really helps me – I can’t read and look after my son, but I can listen to an audio book while I’m cooking or something like that. This has been transformative for me.
  5. One thing at a time – I have had to put some things on hold, like pretty much all of my film making and art work so I can concentrate on one bit of one creative project – the first book of the Feeding Jasmine Valentine Project because that’s all I can do.

Thank you for reading. I also make art and films. You can see my films at my YouTube channel here. You can see things with my designs on at my shop here. Could even treat yourself if you wanted to. Just saying. If buying art is not your thing, but you would like to support what you see I also have a Patreon Page here.