Thomas Ardal

Freelance software consultant and entrepreneur building SaaS applications like elmah.io

10 Tips to Optimize Your Time Part 1/2

A couple of people have asked me how I find time to do all of my hobby projects while having a house, a wife, a son, family and friends all at the same time.  The answers I gave inspired me to write this blog post.  While I’m extremely bad at focusing on a single coding projects, I’ve done a lot to optimize the time I actually have for all my experimental coding.  This the the following blog post is an attempt to explain some of the things I do to find some extra hours.

Minimize the time you talk on the phone

Face it!  Nobody needs to talk to their mom every day.  My wife thinks she does, but when I overhear their conversations, it’s always superficial small talk.  I talk to my parents once a week on a fixed time.  Agreeing on the time of the call makes it possible to plan your night and not feel frustrated when your mom calls you while you’re “in the zone” to tell you about her yoga progress.  Also, turning on the phone’s silent option keeps you from talking to sales people and other annoying disturbances.  If you’re the type of person who needs to talk to your friends all the time, meet up with them once in a while instead of calling them each night.  I chat a lot with my more neardy friends, which works great because I can code on my other screen in my dual screen setup while chatting on the other.

No weekly scheduled events

I never accept weekly scheduled events.  When someone asks me if I want to play badminton with them every Tuesday and Thursday night, I simply say no.  Playing once in a while is fun and you should definitely do it.  However, promising your time two nights a week is a major timer spender. The point here is only do it if you’re really into it!

Don’t watch live TV

A couple of years ago I watched a lot of live TV.  A LOT!  My wife and I watched everything from the news to programs titled, “100 Greatest Hollywood Screw-Ups”.  After we had our son, we canceled the cable TV and now only have something like 2 watchable channels.  This is probably the best decision we’ve made in years.  We still watch movies and shows, but always on DVD or web content.  This means that we can sit down and watch five episodes of a show in one night without being bothered by commercials and other time consuming stuff.

Optimize your shopping

When we lived in an apartment in the city 4 years ago, we discussed what we would have for dinner every day and went to the food store to buy it.  Doing weekly meal planning, gave us something like an hour extra everyday but on Monday when we do all of our shopping for the week.  Shopping for the week doesn’t take much longer than shopping for 1 or 2 days.  Also, I buy must of my stuff online from hardware to clothes.

Do stuff with your kids

I’ve heard a lot of people with kids complaining about too few hours to code.  These people typically wait to do stuff like cleaning and shopping until the kids are asleep and for that reason, they don’t starts coding until 10 in the evening.  While we love to spend time with our son, we also treasure the time when he is tucked in.  People are too afraid to admit this, but we all need time for ourselves.  We do a lot of stuff at home with our son and he also joins one of use shopping each week.  He loves it!

In the next post I reveal the final 5 tips to optimize your time.

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