Time Management for the full time worker, full time Parent, part time Indie: Part 1 – Sleep


I’m not a writer. This much is clear from the ridiculous title to this article. I’m a coder. If you are too, you’ll probably have already guessed I’m one of those programmers that will use awkwardly long member names in the name of minimising ambiguity. Keeping this post to a respectable 500ish words was a monumental effort for me. I’m hoping I get better at that in future though. So bare with me for this first one.

If you’re anything like me, you’re juggling full time work with being a parent and trying to start a business by making a game. You know, in that spare time between your spare time. In this series of posts, I’ll talk about ways to manage that. We’ll look at the concentric circles of perspective, starting at the middle and working out. So in this first installment we’ll addresses the centre. You.  

I’m a productivity nut. I love exploring new techniques. I subscribe to a lot of blogs and mailing lists on the subject. So it’s not uncommon to receive an email talking about the “#1 rule for being productive“. Nine times out of ten, this rule is some variation of “get 8 hours sleep”. Awesome. Cool rule bro. I’d love to. But I have 2 kids under 5 (who frustratingly do no prepare their own food or help clean the house so I can do some work). I have a wife who would like to spend some time with me occasionally. Contract work sometimes. Oh yeah, and a business and game to build. In the hours I’m not at work. Or travelling to and from work. At least one of my kids will usually wake up at about 5.15am. Every day. Working backwards, I’d need to be asleep (not just in bed!) by 9.15pm. Tonight, before writing this, I completed the household chores at 9.30. That meant I could then move onto my personal to-do list for the evening. Actually, bugger, I need to hang that washing out. brb.

OK, so what do you do if getting 8 hours sleep is just not an option. Obviously long term that’s what you want to be able to achieve. But for now there’s just too much to do right?! So let’s optimise our bodies for sleep.

Adsy’s rules for sleep optimisation

Rule #1:
Don’t set yourself up for a late one

Unless you can avoid it, don’t put yourself in a position where the work you have planned for tonight needs to be done tonight. There will be nights where your body pulls rank and demands sleep to make up for the week of 4 hour nights you’ve had. You need to be able to blissfully accept those nights.  

Rule #2:
Eat correctly

Eating healthily pays back in dividends. It might take more time, but that time will pay for itself in your ability to think clearly and focus, as well as regenerate effectively during whatever sleep you do get. Another rule of thumb I have is not to eat after 8pm. I’ve just found I sleep more restfully.

Rule #3:

Again, this sounds like a paradox, but spend some of that limited time you have exercising. It will increase the focus and productivity of the hours spent working afterwards. It will help you sleep more soundly, and in my experience, I’m much, much more effective at staying alert on little sleep when I’m exercising consistently and regularly. I highly recommend checking out Nerd Fitness but if that’s too much time commitment, just print out a few of these that get you excited and do a different one each night. I just did the Hulk one myself.

Next time:

In part 2 we’ll take a step back and look at how to find time in the cracks between your commitments to work on your game, and how to make those small blocks of time as effective as possible.

Adapted from a longer article originally published on adamsingle.com.