By Steven Pressfield | Published: January 20, 2014
Today’s Ask Me Anything question comes from John Thomas.
How in the world do you keep focused to do the work consistently with outside pressures of family (spouse and four kids who I want to spend time with) and financial pressures? How do you carve out an habitual practice of doing your work?
PDF Transcript: Coming Soon
Shawn: I have a question here Steve from John Thomas that I think I’d like to take because it’s something that I think we’ve touched on before, but it’s worth going over again.
How in the world do you keep focused to do the work consistently with outside pressures of family, spouse and four kids—who I want to spend time with—and financial pressures? How do you carve out a habitual practice of doing your work?
This is the big, big question, and it’s repeated in many different ways throughout the entire list of a hundred-odd questions here—and, it’s a really difficult one to answer, especially after listening to you talk about urgent and important, Steve. Because, it really is important to spend time with your family, especially your wife and your four kids because every day that your kids are growing up is a day you’re losing really kind of a magical time in their lives, so . . .
The difficult thing is to make sure that you do take some time to do the things that are really important to you as much as your family is. So what I do is I get up early. Some people stay at work a little later or they take a half an hour less at lunch, and what I do is, I take at least an hour, hopefully two hours every morning to work on what it is that I’m writing— the long form piece or a blog post for Steve’s website, whatever it might be . . . That way, when I do get it done early—when I say early, I get up at about 5:00—my kids wake up usually between 6:30 and 7, so that gives me an hour, hour and 15 minutes. My wife gets up at about 6:30, so it kind of works out.
So, that is the habit that you need to get into. It’s literally going to bed a little bit earlier so you can get up earlier. It’s going to bite into time with friends, and if you’re at work and somebody says “Hey, let’s go grab a drink after work,” you have to beg off of those things, and . . . That’s the hard part because sometimes you really do want to go hang out with your friends. So that’s my biggest advice, is to carve out an hour, even a half hour, just a little bit of time every single day. That includes weekends, too.
So, that’s my advice for those of you out there with kids and family and a lot of different responsibilities.
Steve: Very good answer, Shawn. You’re the man for doing that, to get up before all those three kids start doing their thing.
Callie: You have to have a fluid mentality, be flexible, too. Children are unpredictable by nature. After my first child was born, I found myself going into panic mode every time he was sick or a baby sitter didn’t show up. It always seemed to happen when I was on deadline . . . The same for other work interruptions, such as basement flooding after storms, AC breaking on the hottest day of the year . . . That saying, “shit happens,” is true and it’s better to shovel it out of the way than let it stop you all together.
Today, the only thing I know for certain about the upcoming day is that it is 24 hours long and that at some point I’m going to try to tackle both personal and client projects. I have a plan for when I’ll tackle them, but I don’t know if interruptions will arrive and pull me away. Knowing and accepting that interruptions are an option, rather than becoming upset and surprised when they happen, has been a much easier way to live. It’s also helped me prioritize my day. The most important stuff gets done first.