Writing is what I do for a living. It’s what I’ve been doing professionally for more than ten years and it’s what I’ve been doing in my spare time for much longer than that. Writing comes naturally to me and it’s something that I generally enjoy doing. Why, then, did it take me so much longer to write Beyond the Baby Babble than I had originally anticipated or expected?
Something that I mentioned in the vlog last week was that the original intention was to publish my book on life as a work-at-home dad by my daughter’s first birthday (or thereabouts). For a time, the subtitle of the book was going to reflect that: “My First Year as a Work-at-Home Dad” or something to that effect. Instead, I ended up taking a little over three years.
Client Projects Take Priority
Writing this book can certainly be categorized as a professional endeavor. You could justifiably say that it was something I did “for work.” I’m proud to call myself a published author. At the same time, it is practically impossible to form a one-to-one connection between hours worked on this book and dollars deposited in my bank account.
And dollars are what we use to pay for our mortgage, electricity, food, and cellphone bills.
To this end, I have to do what I have to do to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. In my case, this means taking on client projects — most of which are thankfully ongoing relationships — for which I get paid. And when I’ve only got so many hours in the day to devote to “work,” I’ve got to work on what pays the bills right now.
Immediate Commitments Attract Immediate Attention
It may or may not surprise you to learn that this blog is far from my main source of income. Given this and the point made above about paid work, how have I been able to update this blog on its regular (and relatively frequent) schedule? Couldn’t that time have been spent working on the book instead?
The short answer is yes. I absolutely could have deprioritized this blog in favor of Beyond the Baby Babble, but for the most part, I didn’t. Why? Here’s the thing about soft deadlines. When you don’t have to do something right now, you’re probably not going to do it. There’s always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
With this blog, even though there really isn’t anyone else holding me accountable, I’m committed to the publication schedule. This results in much firmer deadlines, because I tell myself that I have to have the vlog up by 10 a.m. on Monday morning, that I have to have a new post on Wednesday. The book, on the other hand, didn’t have to be published within any specific time frame. It was a soft deadline, a gentle suggestion.
It really wasn’t until I met up for lunch with my friend Anthony Taylor earlier in the summer that I set a hard deadline. I promised him that the book would be ready by September, which really meant I was making that promise to myself. Logistical challenges may have pushed the book about a month past that due date, but the book did finally get done and that’s all that really matters.
There’s Never Enough Time
Remember when you were a kid and the six or so hours you’d spend at school felt like they dragged on and on? Remember when summer vacation felt like it lasted forever? As cliche as it may sound, it feels like our perception of time drastically changes as we get older. We sneeze and suddenly it’s three years later. Where did the time go?
Possibly because I allow myself to indulge in such a flexible schedule as a work-at-home freelancer, I struggle in finding the time to do all the things I want to do. I may have started many days with the intention of working on Beyond the Baby Babble, but life got in the way. I got pulled from one errand to the next, all while juggling my professional responsibilities at the same time. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months.
And maybe that’s just what life as a work-at-home dad is all about. Maybe that’s just what parenting is like. Maybe it really is just about prioritization and time management… with some cuddles and tea parties along the way too.
Beyond the Baby Babble: Surviving Life as Work-at-Home Dad is available for purchase now in Kindle and paperback formats.