When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

Dirty Laundry

We can’t create extra time. We can, however eliminate unnecessary lost time.

I define “lost time” as time spent doing something that could be done faster by changing the process. Lost time cannot be recovered, but it can be prevented. When I save time, I can use it to catch up on work or to spend more time doing things I enjoy.

The key is to project the time savings over the course of a year — that’s where the real value of enacting this philosophy becomes apparent.

For example, if I can save two hours per week (while getting the same result), that totals 104 saved hours per year. That’s over two and a half working weeks (at 40 hours per week) per year free run 3.0 v5 femmes of saved time. That’s a lot of hours that I can use for working on my business or taking off special days to spend with my daughter or wife. If I can save four hours per week, I earn over a month of extra time per year.

Consider something as simple as laundry. There’s not much about washing clothes that I can control. The washing machine takes the time it needs, as does the drier; and loading and unloading either doesn’t present much opportunity for saving significant time. However, there is one big part of doing the laundry that I can control: the time spent separating clothes.

In the past we spent about one hour per week doing nothing but sorting whites, darks, baby clothes, linens, etc. Today we save that time because we made one small and simple change.

I still take off my clothes when they are dirty and throw them directly into the laundry basket. The difference now is that we have four baskets rather than one: One for each person and a fourth for towels. (Actually, some of them are net bags since those are easier to carry together.)

The result is that I lose no time throwing powerlins ii femmes clothes into separate baskets, but I gain all of the time that I would have spent separating them later. This one simple step saves an hour per week, or 1.25 working weeks per year.

I think about this concept with everything I do. Any time I save betters both my business and my quality of life.

Dodging Trains

The bedroom of our new apartment overlooks the house’s modest backyard, followed by a small municipal parking lot, then by the elevated platform for the N/Q subway line. Trains come and go about every two minutes or so, all day. Seven-month-old Maggie is riveted.

This presents a challenge: We change her diaper on our bed, which is about four feet from the window. When Maggie hears a train coming, she immediately transitions from normal squirmy to championship-caliber squirmy, flipping over and around to see the shiny trains rumbling in to the station. Suddenly every step of wiping and diapering is free run 3.0 v4 interspersed with having to twist her tiny body back to face-up.

Trains triple not only the time needed to change her, but also the chances of spreading a mess.

Thus, changing diapers has become a task of opportunity. If Maggie is not upset about the secretion she’s sitting in, I am behooved by waiting for the station to be trainless. Once the tracks are quiet, I rush her into the bedroom and try to swap diapers before the next arrival. It’s a race against the New York City transit system that I rarely win.

So I’ve learned to change diapers faster. This helps not just with my train dodging, but when I’m busy with work, too.

My process:

  • I calmly explain that Daddy will win almost all of these little battles, so she may as well cooperate. She smiles at me and giggles.
  • I keep the essentials on the bed throughout the day. This would drive my wife nuts, as she prefers household items to be properly stowed at all times; she’d be great on a sailboat. However, having the diapers, wipes and A&D on the bed and ready to be used saves me precious seconds.
  • I give Maggie a job. Her hands are like kittens, roshe run curious and impossible to herd. If left to find her own interests, she would grab everything she can, including the dirty diaper and a handful of vitamins in goop form. So I give her a toy. Or I hand her a diaper with a request that she hold it (“Can you help Daddy?”). With her attention (i.e., her hands and mouth) briefly focused,  I can work faster. And I can work cleaner, which translates into working even faster than faster.
  • I withdraw the required number of wipes before opening the dirty diaper. This helps expedite the cleaning when the mess is exposed, reducing the odds that she gets a hand or foot in it.
  • Rather than placing a new diaper to the side, I open it and slide it under Maggie before removing the old one. That means that once she’s clean, the replacement is already in place. Also, if Maggie decides she’s not done doing whatever she did, the bed is protected. Again, any measure for cleanliness potentially saves time.
  • If Maggie is particularly squirmy, I can throw a light blanket or T-shirt over her face for a faux game of peek-a-boo, which usually buys a few seconds of stillness. This also works on alligators.

Usually before this is all over a train has arrived anyway, and despite my best and quickest efforts, Maggie is rolling over to observe it.

But sometimes I succeed.  Then we can just calmly watch the train together, as daddy and daughter.

Shopping Sucks

We all need food and supplies to survive. At its essence, though, shopping sucks up time and money, the two biggest elements of my life that I am trying to protect. Not to mention that shopping ranks right down there with going to the dentist on my list of fun things to do.

Nevertheless, I can’t ignore the fact that food and household goods represent 20-25 percent of our monthly spending. Controlling that outlay is a must. We need to save as much money as possible to save for future events like college, a wedding and retirement.

Also, a highly overlooked cost of shopping is time. My wife Courtney has traditionally done the bulk of our shopping, but the only times she can go (Saturdays and after work on weekdays) are the worst to be at a grocery store. I’m the one with the theoretically more flexible schedule, so I’m the one who should be able to go to shopping at market down-times (i.e., weekday mornings).

But from a business perspective I have to be careful. I can’t rework my schedule without impacting my work. If I shop during my core income-generating hours, free run 4.0 v3 then I lose not only the money that I spend but also the money I could have made if I had continued working.

These are the issues that have led us to learn to shop smarter and more efficiently.

For one, we limit the number of trips we make to the store by keeping better track of what we need in the house. The key is that we record items to buy (and then re-stock them) before we run out. This limits the need for spontaneous trips to pick up one or two things we need right now. Just this one simple adjustment reduced our trips to the store by 50 percent.

Another time-suck for me is that I used to wander around the store like a lost dog, returning to aisles over and over to sniff out what I needed. So I made a spreadsheet of our most purchased items, organized by department. Now all I have to do is check off the list as I walk the circuit once. Having an idea where things are keeps my shopping trips fast.

We also bulk-purchase things that we know we will need over the long haul. The spare freezer we purchased eight years ago has paid for itself several times with the dollars and hours saved by storing large amounts of mass-purchased perishables.

One tip we can’t take advantage of anymore (because we reside in too rural an area) is ordering groceries online. When we lived in a more populated region, we used Peapod. For a $5 delivery fee, I could order everything we needed through their website in just a few minutes, as opposed to spending an hour or two making a brick-and-mortar trip.

All these strategies save us time new jordan in ancillary ways, as well. Fewer trips out equals less time packing up our daughter for a car ride, and less time dealing with tantrums because she didn’t get something she wanted at the store. It also equals less money spent on gas, and less wear and tear to the car, extending the life of our vehicles and the periods between repairs.

Now if only I can figure a way to reduce trips to the dentist…

Take 2

Paddle Power is a benefit to raise awareness for suicide. This two-day canoe trip on the Connecticut River has become a tradition for my sister and wife. It’s a wonderful event that is very near and dear to our hearts.

This year my sister arrived a week early with baby in tow to raise money for the event. Baby Tara will turn 1 in a couple of months. She is a beautiful little girl with the beginnings of curly, light blond hair air jordan 13 femmes and big blue eyes. She’s also quite possibly the squirmiest baby on earth.

My wife and I have been weighing the idea of having a second child and this week’s experience gave me a good look at how things could be. It didn’t take long to see that our day-to-day lifestyle has changed a great deal over the four years that our daughter Lydia has been with us.

People have told me that as time goes on, the day-to-day care becomes easier. In a lot of ways that’s correct, but all the challenging tasks that pass are replaced by new and different challenges and responsibilities. I don’t know if child care gets easier so much as there’s a relief of past stress and the gain of new stress.

From a work perspective, the way I go about completing day-to day tasks is much different than when Lydia was a baby. Then she would take two naps a day that could span as long as two and half hours each, and she would go down for the night around 7:30. Those were all open hours for me to work. But now Lydia doesn’t need a nap most days, so those open hours have substantially dropped.

On the flip side, when Lydia was awake as an infant, she required 100 percent attention. I had to stop everything in order to take care of her needs. Now Lydia’s interests in dolls, shows, books and coloring occupy her during most daylight hours. I don’t have to be involved in her every waking minute (nor should I be). Because of that, powerlins ii if some work thing just has to be done by noon, meeting that deadline is much easier than it was four years ago.

My week with my new niece was packed with reminders of how my wife and I used to run our household. It was a memorable time with family, and a preview of how things may change for us again in the near future. My open hours may not be so open anymore.

Look Ma, Two Hands

Several years ago, on a summer evening, I sat writing. My girlfriend at the time approached from behind and put her hands over my eyes, Guess-Who style. Her intent was playful but purposeful: The message was that I should stop working and spend time with her.

My playful response was to continue typing with my eyes obstructed, word after word, sentence after sentence, all mistake-free. How? Because I can type. I can type “correctly,” as in eight fingers on the home keys, adidas neo both thumbs over the space bar, eyes never on the keyboard, and so on. Why? Because I’m a writer, and that’s the efficient way to go about my business, of course.

My blind typing trick impressed her pants off — literally, I think (though that did me no good because I had a deadline, so kept writing all night).

I do have a point, even if it takes me 150 words to get around to relaying it: Despite the multi-tasking afforded by my one-handed-bottle-feeding trick (see “One Hand Left”), some tasks are still best performed with two hands. I can write an email while feeding the baby; I cannot write a chapter.

This led me to a recent epiphany that, when viewed in hindsight, should have been obvious. A key to better organizing my work-at-home-dad workday is that when I need to multitask, I should focus on tasks that actually are, by nature, better compatible with multitasking. Moreover (and this is the important part), I should save those tasks when I actually need to multitask.

An example is photo editing. (Yep, I’m also a photographer.) Culling a batch of images from a shoot can require considerable time, but in the digital world it’s really just a one-handed job. That’s a task I can work on while feeding the baby.

Another example is reading — emails, articles, et al. That, too, is a task I can complete while feeding the baby.

To edit photos or read while my daughter is sleeping or quietly entertaining herself with a bib is, in efficiency vernacular, a waste of time. During two-hands-available time, I should tackle tasks that require two hands: writing, researching, packing camera bags, cleaning lenses. During one-hand-available time, I should be photo editing, updating software, nike cortez conducting phone interviews, catching up on social marketing.

(During no-hands-available time — such as when changing diapers — I can think, which is a huge step in the writing process. Seriously. A majority of my writing time is spent just pondering possibilities. But during no-hands-available time, usually I just exchange laughs and smiles with my daughter— that’s a far more important way to multitask.)

This compartmentalizing of tasks has been kind of a “duh” moment for me. But at least the moment came, and now I have more time to type things like “duh” — which, when done with sound technique, requires two hands.

One Hand Left

Though it may seem contradictory compared with my recent post “Formula for Success,” a repeating delay in my workday has been having to feed Maggie.

I don’t mind feeding her, of course. I understand that it’s necessary — if she didn’t eat, she wouldn’t poop, and then what would we do with the closet full of diapers? I’ve also heard that eating is related to growing, so I suppose that’s a benefit to be aware of.

And I certainly enjoy the benefit of bonding. air jordan 12 She has a need, I fill it, her trust in me is reinforced, and she looks into my eyes for 15 minutes as if I were the most useful person ever. (She knows nothing about how much I’ll ruin her life when she’s 13.)

However, another reality exists: Sometimes Maggie needs to eat at a time that isn’t convenient for me. Perhaps she’ll be hungry when I’m writing, or researching, or doing a phone interview, or preparing an estimate that needs to be delivered immediately lest I lose a chance at securing a new client. In life overall, Maggie and anything she needs are my priority, but minute-to-minute, sometimes I just need to get something else done.

Throughout my 41 years I’ve learned that occasionally my mind knows a solution exists even when I can’t identify that solution. In this case, I knew there had to be some trick for me to feed Maggie a bottle and hold her with just one hand, leaving the other hand available for me to be somewhat productive.

Yet nothing I tried worked. For a few days I laid her on my lap and held the bottle with one hand, but that quickly led to rapid reflux and increased spit-up problems, resulting in the laundry bin filling at an alarming rate. I faced the same problem with laying her in the bouncy seat. She can’t sit up yet, so any other seat would also not suffice.

One morning Maggie was outright wailing to be fed, but a work deadline was about to slip away. She was so upset that I wouldn’t be able to focus on my work even if I did choose to ignore the crying (which I wouldn’t do anyway, but that’s another conversation). That’s when the epiphany came: What do parents of twins do? In order to double-feed, they have to be able to feed and hold with one hand, right?

So I searched for a twins-raising website, and found the answer. The solution, which seems obvious now, is to sit Maggie on my lap with my arm wrapped around her torso, and with that hand hold the bottle to her mouth. free run 5.0 +3 femmes For parents of twins, that allows them to feed both babies at once; for a work-from-home dad, that leaves him with one hand to type.

I’m sure other oOne-Handed Feedingne-hand feeding techniques exist, and I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below. Until Maggie is capable of reliably holding her own bottle, I’ll surely be able to use the further advice.

Formula for Success

Working at home while caring for a baby has made time seem tangible. Clock management has never been more critical in my life than it has been in the past couple of weeks.

Please don’t accept the insinuation that I’ve mastered this new set of time challenges. I haven’t. Not even close, yet. But I have started to find some tricks and best practices, and have also begun to appreciate some of the conveniences that have been discovered or thrust upon me.

At the top of that list is premixed formula.

At first we weren’t even going to use formula — we were going to breast feed, right up until Maggie leaves for college, I think. My wife was planning to pump at work. We obtained all the necessary air jordan 7 plumbing materials, the pipes and plugs and plungers and augers and such. She was planning to pump in her private bathroom at her office (private because she and her staff hide the key). She would stockpile the leche de la madre for me to use during daylight, and during her homebound hours she would feed the baby straight from the tap. The plan was made. The schedule was set. Our ducks were aligned and ready to waddle.

[Unrelated side-note: As I’m typing this, Maggie is reclined nearby in her Rock ’N Play, looking at me, smiling and cooing and giving her input. I have no idea how I can finish writing while being bombarded by all this cute. This is, I’m sure, why Edgar Allan Poe didn’t have children. Otherwise we’d have a sunnier “Pit and the Pendulum.”]

Then my wife had second thoughts, and, simultaneously and serendipitously, someone gave us a bunch of bottles of premixed formula. The pediatrician signed off on a mixed diet, and the new air jordan 4 femmes plan became formula from Dad, milk from Mom. The ducks were dismissed.

The effect of this on my schedule has been wonderful. There’s no thawing, no (necessary) warming, no mixing, no purifying, no sterilizing, no rotating tools and supplies.

In other words, there’s no prep. When Maggie wants to eat, setting aside my work to feed her is easy and quick. I just grab a bottle and open it, affix the packaged nipple, and feed her. Then I toss the bottle to the recycle bin and I’m done.

Then I wipe the spit-up from her chin and my pants, and I’m done again. Easy.

Visualizing the Workload

Time is of the essence in my world. Knowing what has to be done with company work, household work and learning time with Lydia is critical. Priorities can get clouded when tasks and due dates start to logjam. Depending on my mood, the logjam can make me feel terrible. I limit that feeling by using simple tools and communicating well with my customers, employees and my wife.

Before my daughter was born my strategy was very simple: I would keep working until the work was done or I had to sleep. Sixteen- hour workdays were the norm. air jordan 3 That strategy is not realistic in my life today.

To help me maximize the time I do have, the most effective tool I have found is free and easy to use: My wife Courtney and I share an online Google Calendar. We can each enter appointments, tasks and priorities, and can make additions and changes on the fly from our phones or computers. Absolutely everything that needs to be done is there, from checking fire alarms to birthdays to company meetings to doctor appointments, etc.

The calendar has a note section where I can remind myself (or where my wife can remind me — thanks, Google!) of where I left off or what needs to be done. I get an email whenever a task comes due, so I don’t even need to look at the calendar to know if I’m on target with a deadline. If I can’t get to something around the house then I can ask Courtney to take it over.

I probably look at our calendar ten times a day, moving things that are not as high of a priority to the future, and isolating the most important things to get done now. When I feel I may miss a due date with a customer, I am able to inform them as far ahead of time as possible.

As I peruse my calendar for this week I can air jordan 1 femmes see that Friday through Sunday are going to be very limited work days for me. Courtney’s company’s summer party is Friday. On Saturday we have a guest coming from out of town and I have a bachelor party to attend. It’s going to be a very fun weekend, but with one glance at our Google Calendar I know ahead of time that I really only have Monday through Thursday for business tasks.

Now I can compensate and front-load my week with work.

Day 1

My wife Molly just walked out the door. She’s off to her first day at the office since our baby girl (our first) was born just over three months ago. That leaves me home alone with my daughter and my work, both of which will need oscillated attention until the end of Molly’s workday. This is a new experience for both of us (and for our baby Maggie, too, I suppose).

I am comfortable that I am prepared to the fullest — prepared to make just about every mistake possible and to appropriately adjust. It has started already.

I wanted oatmeal  for breakfast, so I got some cooking in the pot. This isn’t instant oatmeal — it’s a porridge recipe that combines rolled and steel-cut oats simmering for enough time for me to drink enough coffee on an empty stomach to give me digestive-tract problems for half the day. (Rationing is key.)

And, as I have done for nine years of working from home, I made one portion.  So I can eat today, but if I want oatmeal again tomorrow or Thursday or Friday, I’ll have Air Jordan Femme to cook more from scratch. I would have served myself better by preparing a big batch and refrigerating the leftovers.

(I used to know this. In my living-alone days I would  often make a quiche at the beginning of the week and reheat a piece for a quick breakfast for days afterward.)

Well, Day 1 and Lesson 1 is learned before Coffee 1 is fully drunk. (I rationed successfully.)

Lesson 2? I’ll need to learn to write in fragmented time segments. In crafting just these 342 words, I have had to change one wet diaper and have been alerted air jordan 4 to a messy one. And Maggie got tired of listening to the muffled Mozart of her playmat and demanded a more fun option. So here I sit, typing these last two paragraphs with one hand, while mi hija straddles my left thigh, kicking her legs and smiling at her newest favorite ditty, “Banana Boat Song.”

Daylight come and I work from home.