Finding the time to do it all

So much to do, I still got so much to do!

From the Dutch song "Zoveel te doen" (ik heb nog zoveel te doen!) by Toontje Lager

I've been busy my whole life. I'm always looking for something new to try, something to learn, something to make. There's simply no time to stand still. I believe that I have to keep moving.

To me work is very important and I put a lot of energy into it. This is just a quick list of things I do which in my eyes count as "work":

  • Write books
  • Write blog posts
  • Speak at user group meetups and conferences
  • Create software for clients
  • Maintain on old projects
  • Create open source software
  • Redesign my blog
  • Read technical books

You might think that (as Oprah puts it ;) you can have all of this, but not at the same time. Especially if you consider everything else that needs to be done every day: taking care of my family, the house, traveling, sleeping, etc. But in my life Oprah's wise words are not true.

I can have all of this at more or less the same time. And that's because I use the time that's available very well. I'm not good at planning, so I don't know what I'll do next week, but I still get a lot of things done because (and these are my two secrets):

  • I take a couple of hours in a row to get myself focused and get some moderately big thing done, something that I'm eager to do.
  • When I notice that the thing I'm doing does not work out well, I quit doing it. I pick the next thing that I want to get done.

Of course, I'm not a saint, so I often find myself working on something that will not be successful because I'm either doing the wrong thing, or my head is not clear enough to know in which direction I should be going. But most of the time, I follow these guidelines: find a couple of hours in a row, then do what I really want to do. Since I will be happy that I'm doing this particular thing, I will go fast. Then, if I realize I'm not going fast (anymore), or I'm not contributing to the orderliness of the universe, instead only making it more chaotic, I quit doing it. No bad feelings, and no time wasted trying stupid things!

The biggest reason why I'm applying these guidelines is that there are many things and many people that require my time and energy. My family is important to me, and I spend a considerable amount of time with my girlfriend, son (9) and daughter (0). At the same time, I try to do all these "work" things. I find that this makes me focus better and it is why I sometimes say that:

I get so much done because I have a family.

Of course, this is not to say that you need a family to be productive. But having something else in your life that is very important to you will help you focus the time you spend on work-related things. You don't want work to be an ever-expanding part of your life, until you are spending all your time on it. I believe you won't accomplish much more (you can only work productively for a couple of hours a day). Instead, you want to confine the time you are working, and be careful to spend time with something big that's also part of your life, be it your family, relatives, friends, sports, traveling... Anything at all really, as long as you care for it and it makes you conscious of the amount of time you spend working.


PHP developer, writer, speaker, father.

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