Asked

To the fathers and mothers here - how do you manage your day with a full-time job, kids and your side-projects?

Not sure how many people we have here dealing with this situation but would love to know your approach on that.  Here are some questions in my mind: How do you keep up the motivation for your side-projects? When do you work on your side-projects? Tools that help you to manage your time? etc.


Rock climber. Bitcoiner. Maker.

Hey Tobias!

I'm not 100% qualified to answer this, since, I do have kids, but my full-time job is my side-project. I have managed to save enough cash and saved it in bitcoin at the right times, so I can do without a paycheck for a long time.

At the same time, I have an almost-2-year-old toddler, no family to help, and a very busy wife who runs her own business. So on any given week my child, Alana, will take about a full-time job worth of time and, specially, energy.

Since COVID started I have dedicated all my non-parenting time to my project #perspectiva which, even though it hasn't officially launched yet, it's doing quite well and has many paying customers.

With that background, I hope the few tidbits I can provide are of some help:

The basis of my framework is: my time with my daughter is precious. My time with my wife is a delicacy, and my reading time is insanely prized. Which leads to:

RULE #1: Whatever I'm working on, it's gotta be DAMN worth it.

No wasting time on things that might be slightly beneficial. No using time to go a crazy infrastructure rabbit hole. No unnecessary early optimizations.

This doesn't mean, ship a shitty product. Quite the contrary: you don't have the time margin to ship a shit product and, if it starts picking up interest fix it during a marathon 48-hour no-sleeping session.

No, it means REDUCE the scope of your project. Dramatically.

And then reduce it again.

Also, choose what you'll be working on extremely carefully. Before working on #perspectiva, I was working on #derivex because I knew there was a crazy profitable market there. It was a trading platform for bitcoin derivatives.

I had it already 50% programmed as a freelance job I got paid for some time ago, so I just needed it to make it a lot better and then get customers. Long story short: I did get customers but I didn't quite like working with them, so decided against launching past the private launch with ~20 customers.

Cutting your losses early is a critical skill (see Seth Godin's book The Dip for more on this).

Which yields:

RULE #2: Make sure you LOVE your customers.

My #perspectiva customers are people working on becoming better versions of themselves. They want to grow, to see what they do wrong, confront it and improve.

I fucking love that.

Focusing on building with and for people you really like will mean that customer support becomes PLAY. It will mean that when you are building a feature you can think of a particular customer who will love it.

I love doing CS with my customers. I literally laugh out loud when exchanging emails with them.

I think if you focus on this rule, you won't need extrinsic motivation. No tricks. No tweaks. You'll just do it because you want to.

About managing your time. This is what I personally do and have found that works well:

RULE #3: Do thing that will move the needle forward in multiple fronts at the same time.

For example, for the past couple of weeks I decided to move away from product dev in a structured manner (I could write more about this if you are interested in this bit) and put some focus on the marketing side of things.

As a dev, and as an introvert, I have always shyed away from marketing and most of my projects I either delegated entirely marketing or the project failed.

Now what I do is make sure that all things I do will pay off in multiple ways. If you look for the ways, is very easy to align marketing with either video production, or improving copywriting skills, exploring your social self by interacting with more strangers online.

Write now, as I explore what I learn in these marketing pushes, I'm documenting every little thing I do and putting it on a book I plan to launch (not-active-yet mailing list form: book.pablof7z.com/). This moves the needle forward on:
* marketing
* becoming better at writing
* writing a book about a topic I want to become better at

RULE #4 (and final because this is starting to be too-long): journal

I know. I know. It'll sound like I'm speaking from my bias, but it's REALLY easy to fall down all types of traps in indie-hacking, which will destroy your productivity.

As a parent, you just can't afford to spend 2 hours playing with your CSS to make the rounding of a button just right. You just can't do that. So you need to make sure that, when you fall down a productivity sink, you NOTICE it.

And, at least for me, the only way to notice I've spent a bunch of unproductive time is to journal every single day.

You don't need to use my app for that, I'm just saying what has worked for me and might work for you.

Hope this help. Obviously, I am passionately about this, so glad to help if you have more questions.

shipping downpayment.gift, need more time to ride bikes.

Tobias,

I have two kids 13 and 10 years, I'm the primary transportation to pre-covid activities, soccer, dance, scouts... so I have experienced the same challenge at times.

  • Recommend waking at 5am - 6am in the morning and working before anyone else is up
  • listen to very familiar music on repeat or something like brain.fm to get until flow state asap; don't listen to podcasts or other audio during that early focus time.

  • it's easy to procrastinate until you have a larger block of time and waste time on busy work; ship whatever you can in that narrow time and leave yourself notes.

Good luck... -Loren

Thanks for the helpful answers. There is a WIP Parents Channel in Telegram - maybe useful to revive. Just search wipparents in Telegram and join.