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A typical day? What’s that?

Ever since we had our first kid, the idea of a “typical day” went out the window. Before dad life, I put myself through varying degrees of time blocking torture in an attempt to make sure I had time set aside to do all of the things I care about. Turns out I was torturing the people around me, too.

Work hard, read and write, hone my career skills, exercise, play music, complete house projects, and on and on. Work a little bit on each thing every day, the conventional wisdom says. My “ideal” daily schedule looked something like this:

  • 6:00AM - Rise! Wash face, brush teeth, get dressed, make bed
  • 6:30AM - Breakfast, light reading/feed scrolling
  • 7:00AM - Prep for the day, online coursework or deeper reading
  • 9:00AM - Begin working
  • 11:30AM - Exercise, lunch, shower
  • 12:30AM - Continue working
  • 6:00PM - Dinner, clean up kitchen
  • 7:30PM - Play music, hone career skills, write, read
  • 11:00PM - Sleep

I look back at these times and 🤦‍♂️. I was so militant about my schedule during certain earlier periods of my life that whenever I missed even a single daily task I would reel over it. This reeling would often affect my sleep that night and would spill over into the next day, compounding the issue.

Also, notice the lack of “spend time with friends in family” in the above equation? I was most certainly being selfish, and my relationships were suffering for it. While I felt my career skills, projects, and knowledge we’re progressing, it never felt like “enough”.

Becoming both a husband and a parent put a few things into perspective for me. I learned that I don’t have to be so regimented and so hard on myself and I can still get things done, and have unstructured time to spend with friends and family.

I can no longer pursue everything I set my sights on. I have to choose. And that’s okay. Healthy, even. But it was a hard reality for me to face. I had to sit myself down and decide what’s “enough”, and how I could reasonably work towards that.

Today, a typical day for me is more fluid. It can involve a wide variety of things, happening at unexpected moments. Instead of being militant about each minute of my daily schedule and stressing over it, I’ve loosened my grip on my own psyche and allow myself some space in the day for the unexpected to occur.

For example, instead of telling myself “You will workout every day at 11:30AM doing a specific set of workouts, otherwise you have failed”, I’ve shifted my exercising narrative to something more like “Move your body a significant amount, every day.”

This allows for more flexibility and takes some of the pressure off. I can take advantage of lulls that happen during the day to squeeze a workout in, and choose a routine that ”feels” appropriate for that day.

Any particular day for me now can go something like this:

  • 7:23AM - Kid’s waking up, so we wake up. Wash face, brush teeth
  • 7:48AM - Make breakfast for everyone, hang out, plan for the day
  • 8:29AM - Get dressed, make bed. Clean up mess from breakfast.
  • 9:14AM - Start working
  • 11:00AM - Meeting
  • 12:00PM - Lull time before next meeting! Exercise, shower, lunch.
  • 1:00PM - Meeting
  • 2:00PM - Focused work time
  • 4:30PM - Go for a walk with family
  • 5:00PM - Work
  • 5:15PM - Help with a kid meltdown
  • 5:30PM - Work
  • 6:00PM - Dinner, get kid ready for bed
  • 7:30PM - Free time. Just hang, catch up on work, play music, hone skills, read, write, whatever. Anything goes.
  • 11:30PM - Sleep

I don’t actually have any of this written down, because I know as my family grows our schedules will continue to morph and change, and that’s okay. I’ve worked hard and I am grateful that I can build flexibility into my life as a core value. I feel equipped to adapt to life’s changing circumstances and continue to find opportunities to work towards my ”enough”.