How I Work 2 Jobs, Blog and Still Find Time for My Wife and 6 Kids

Every Tuesday is Finance & Family Day at Zen Habits.

I’ve had a number of readers ask me how I find time for my family (my wife and I have 6 kids) while working two jobs, blogging and writing an insane amount of blog posts for other blogs (I write about 7 posts a week elsewhere). It’s something I’ve been working on, struggling with, and experimenting for awhile now, and I think I’m starting to hit my stride.

After promising this awhile back, I’m finally ready to share my secrets to making time for family and still producing a ton.

Let me say that I’m not perfect. I still do work sometimes when I want to be spending time with my wife and kids. And I still goof off with my family when I should be working. But I’ve been getting better, and finding a balance, and drawing a firmer dividing line between work and family time.

I have a full-time job, and I’m a free-lance writer on the side. I work two jobs because my wife and I decided it would be best for our family for her to stay home for a few years to take care of our two youngest babies (the youngest is now 1, and the other is nearly 3). I’m lucky, because my day job is very flexible. I told my boss that to hire me, because of my income requirements, he’d have to give me the flexibility to write on the side to earn an extra income. I guess he thought I was worth it, because I’m now able to write while at work, as long as I get my work done. That’s the challenge.

The other challenge has been blogging. I started this blog in January, when I made a commitment to blog every day. I haven’t failed yet, and the response from all of you has been overwhelming. But blogging, as many of you know, is more than just posting. There’s a lot of other stuff involved, and it has expanded to fill up all of my free time. Also, I’ve taken on the challenge of blogging a lot for other blogs — some of it is now paid blogging, which is slowly replacing the free-lance writing I’m doing for magazines and newspapers (I still do several print articles a week).

I’m also lucky, because my wife has been super patient with me as I work on my blog. She knows that it’s a passion of mine, and she’s always supportive of things I do.

OK, but you want to know how I manage to do it all. It’s not easy, let me say that first. But it is tremendously rewarding: I’ve been pursuing my passion, while making enough money to pay off our debts and save, and also have time for my family.

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Morning ritual. I like to write in the early morning, before anyone gets up. I wake at 4:30 a.m., and this allows me to get some exercise in too before I have to wake everyone up.
  2. Use free time wisely. I write in between tasks at work. My boss knows this. I still produce a lot at work, and I’m really good at what I do, so there aren’t any problems with that.
  3. Evenings for the kids. When I get home from work, I don’t do any writing. I spend the evening with my family. But when they all go to bed, I might do a little more, if I’m not too tired. I generally sleep about 2-3 hours less than the rest of my family, but it doesn’t usually bother me. If it does, I’ll take a short nap or wake a little later.
  4. Weekends are for family. I don’t write on weekends, usually. That’s reserved for family. I do my weekend posts for my blog during the week. This post, for example, was written on Friday. And Sundays are definitely our Family Days.
  5. Bursts. When I work, I do it in bursts. I break my tasks down to smaller bits, do one task at a time, and when I do that task, I really focus. And do nothing else. And brook no interruptions. I just crank.
  6. Fast fingers. The key, for me, is that I write very fast. I give thought to what I’m going to write during drive times, or during exercise, or I’ll take a walk, or when I’m reading other stuff. And when I write, I just crank it out. That allows me to get a lot done in a shorter amount of time. I’ve been writing professionally for 17 years, so it comes naturally for me. Plus, I love what I do – that makes it so much easier!
  7. Fight procrastination. I procrastinate, like everyone else. But I’ve been getting better at beating it. Here’s a post I wrote on that. The stuff I write on productivity isn’t just stuff I make up — it’s stuff I really use, and though I’m not perfect (I don’t always follow my own advice), I really do try to use these tips.

Other family day articles: