In my continuing series of sites that I think are worth noting and are of interest to fathers and would be fathers, I’d like to introduce the Study Hacks. It’s a blog by a fellow named Cal Newport. Cal is a post-doc at MIT and he started this site in 2007 when he was a grad student. It’s built on a simply premise, one that seems almost fantastical in today’s world – that one does not need to be stressed to be successful. It’s fantastical, that is, until you actually read his well written posts.
One of Cal’s many points that he emphasizes is that proper focus is the key to attaining success in anything. Granted his posts are written for students, college students specifically, in mind, but his points are actually quite applicable to anybody, even those in the working world. We have a tendency to try to do too many things at once, and in many of his posts he stresses that it’s important to identify (what we call at work) the “vital few”. He also offers a number of very useful time management and workload management strategies and techniques that I’ve tried to apply to some of the things that I do and can attest that they do work, and work well – when I can get myself to use them.
Granted all of this is written for a student audience, but I think it’s worthwhile for those of us about to become new fathers to consider advice such as his. We’re used to a life and schedule of our own – or at the very least, a life and schedule that we can negotiate and balance with a wife. The important part here is that your wife is an adult, someone who has a schedule of her own and can manage her own time. Once we have kids (so I’m told), that all goes out the window. Kids have their own schedule, and it’s pretty much non-negotiable. Newborns will need to be fed and changed every 2 hours, kids have school dates and activities that if you want to be a good parent you need to be there for – and (again, I am told) they are far less forgiving for tardiness or absence than your spouse. And I’m sure the amount of things we have to do in the background – financial, life and school planning, etc – will only grow. And if you have more than one child, man, no wonder parents are stressed out all the time. So I think it would behoove us to figure out, learn, and develop the discipline in ourselves to implement some kind of life management strategy that would allow us to be both successful at work, and be successful in being a good dad.