Exclusive Interview with Timo Kiander
of Productive Superdad

Timo Kiander

The responsibilities of a full time job with a family are demanding enough for many people.

What if you add to that finding the time to build your own home business as well as some hobbies?

Timo's blog teaches you how to manage your time so you can fit it all in.

Here, he shares how he does it...

What motivated you to create Productive Superdad?

Well, I have been interested in productivity for some years now and this led me to - at least partly - to start a blog in 2010.

I started blogging about traditional personal development topics, but later in 2011 I switched completely to time management and productivity.

In January 2012, I started working with a coach and he suggested that I should focus on a particular area related to time management. In fact, he was the one who suggested I should focus on dads, since I had just became a dad myself.

That's how Productive Superdad was born and it talks about how to be more productive as a dad - especially if you are working from home.

How do you decide when to stop working on whatever it is you’re doing at any one time?

There are really two things that limit my being able to work very effectively and they are my family and my day job.

I work approximately 2 hours before going to work and 1 hour in the evening. During the weekends I might work more.

In the morning, I have only 2 hours to do work and if I want to get to the office in time, it means that I pretty much have to stop working around 7.15 – 7.30 AM.

In the evening, I work a bit after my son has gone to sleep. I try to make sure that I stop working at 10 PM at the latest, so that I get enough sleep during the night.

As a family man with a day job, a thriving online business, and some pretty time consuming hobbies, what are your own biggest time management challenges?

Well, the most obvious one is how to balance the time outside the office hours between my family, building my online business and my hobbies.

Earlier I felt that I wasn’t giving enough time to my family, so just recently I decided to stop racing (marathons/triathlons) for a couple of years.

This gives me more time to spend with my family and to handle my online business.

It also solves another issue that I had before: I always felt that I had much more “me” time than my wife.

Since I don’t exercise so much now, this gives me more flexibility to spend time with my son and my wife can have more time of her own.

How do you typically ring fence your creative time?

I wake up early every morning – every day. To me, that’s the only chance to get some creative work, like writing, done.

I know that when I’m alone and no one is disturbing me, it guarantees me results – like finishing a guest post or an e-book chapter.

On the other hand, the tasks I do later during the day are more or less executing something based on a plan. I know what to do and in what order.

With a little bit of planning, I can get that kind of work done even if there is some kind of distraction going on around me.

What have you found to be the most effective way to overcome procrastination?

There are really two ways that work for me:

  • Do the thing as soon as possible
  • Break down the task into smaller pieces

The first one is the most important, since I tend to think that once this certain task (that I don’t like doing) is out of the way, the better.

Sometimes it’s also easier to think of a task when it is broken down into smaller pieces. That way I know that I can make progress – even if I don’t finish the task right away.

A lot of time management advice is centered on doing the ‘right’ thing. Isn’t that sometimes boring?

I guess it depends on the situation. I try to do the right thing when I’m working on something. This is mainly because I don’t like wasting time on doing unessential stuff.

Of course, I’m not perfect and sometimes I’ll just have to find the best way to do a task. It just requires some testing first.

Do you have a preferred system for deciding what to do on any given day?

If you are referring to a particular time management system, then my answer is no. I mean, I use certain parts of GTD in my daily life, but only parts of it.

Then again, my own way of doing things combines many parts from different systems.

Every weekend, I decide on the important tasks for the next week. I also plan my days as well, so that I have a plan to follow.

But am I following any particular system 100%? Nope.

Many people would love to improve their own time management but don't know where to start. What steps would you recommend they take first?

Well … I think that the Web is full of advice on how to get started with time management. However, I would direct someone to use more traditional routes.

When I started learning time management, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, but I feel that it’s a bit too heavy for beginners.

Instead, try to get books like The Now Habit, Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management or Attack Your Day Before It Attacks You if you want to get an introduction to better time management.

The first one was (and still is) one of the best books I have read on the topic.

How do you motivate yourself to make the transition from WAHD to father to day job? And then find the time to go for a run? :)

I guess it’s all natural and I’m very passionate about what I do.

Building my online business is my passion and I just love to do it.

This is of course understandable, when I can spend time with the topic I love.

Also, when I keep the end goal in my mind (that someday I have a profitable business), it motivates me to wake up at 5-5.30 AM in the morning.

Sports is another passion of mine and I get a boost of energy when I am exercising. I just love the feeling of pushing myself – sometime to my limits – and I just feel awesome afterwards.

Also, my family is very important to me and I love to spend time with them as much as possible. And who wouldn’t love to spend time with someone you love?

Finally, there is the day job.

Now, I know that I’m not in my dream job, but it’s still the thing that pays my bills (both living costs and blogging bills) and provides me and my family with our lifestyle.

I think that it’s important to appreciate what you have and that is yet another thing that makes me more passionate about the various parts of my life.

In this blog post you discuss the importance of a WAHD Mobility Toolkit for ‘mobile time pockets’. Of all the time management tools available which have you found to be the most useful?

Currently, I’m using Nozbe for tracking my tasks. It’s a nice piece of software that keeps all of my projects and tasks in order and it’s based on the GTD system.

Although I’m not using its GTD capabilities 100%, it’s a great way to keep myself on top of all the tasks I have to do.

InstaPaper is yet another great application that helps me to take advantage of “mobile time pockets.” I have my Kindle with me most of the time and it’s really great when I can access the stuff I have saved for later reading (on top of all the books I have on my Kindle) while I’m on the go.

Finally, tools like HootSuite or TweetAdder help me with social media management a lot. They both automate certain parts of social media management and in general, make me more productive with social media.

Your ‘market’ of WAHDs (Work at Home Dads) could be described as part of a very '21st century' phenomenon. What type of time management skills do you envisage people will increasingly need in the next 10 years?

I guess it becomes more and more important to learn about yourself: what are you good at and then taking maximum advantage of your natural strengths.

It’s also about having a laser-like focus on whatever you do. No matter how far in the future we live, we only have 24 hours in our day.

On the other hand, we are expected to handle more and more information even with the same amount of hours.

When you have a laser-like focus, you can cut down on the extra noise and excel only in those things you have chosen – while ignoring the rest.

Finally, what would be your Number One time management tip for WAHDs?

Well, I guess that it’s all about setting the boundaries and expectations right. For instance, if you are building your online business, make sure that your family understands what you are doing and why you are doing it.

When everyone is on the same line, there are no false expectations and you can get work done.

The boundaries in this context are important too, since this way you make sure you are not working too much and you can spend time with your family as well.

The boundaries can be also seen as how you family interacts with you when you work. If the boundaries are clear, then you can focus on your work properly.

* * *

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