Atlas Updates

53 Productivity Tips For First-Time Dads From Founders and CEOs

by Atlas Updates

First-time fatherhood is a thrilling and exhausting experience. Once the shock wears off, how do you keep your work productivity up while being the father you want to be? We convened a roundtable of successful dads and asked them.

Why Productivity Is Important

These CEO and founder dads agree—productivity isn't just going to help you in your career, it's going to make you a better parent, too. 

The more productive you are, the more time you have for your family.

George Tatar - Founder & CEO - Akruto

My efforts to balance my professional life with my home life are key to me sleeping well at night, knowing I'm not neglecting either.

Don Halbert - CEO - The Real Estate SEO

Adorable as they are, children take up a significant part of the day. Assuming your job responsibilities don't decrease, you have to find the time elsewhere.

Dimitris Athanasiadis, Ph.D. - Chief Marketing Officer - Megaventory

How To Find Time—And What To Do With It

You'll have less time. That's a guarantee. CEO and founder dads have some tricks for clawing back a few hours every week. With the hours you can claim, they agree that focus is critical.

Simplify your life. Remove the unnecessary things. Just today, I resigned from a board seat that I've sat on for many years because I had to brutally prioritize my time.

Bart Lorang - CEO & Co-Founder - FullContact

Personally I used to spend a lot of time reading news and listening to news on the radio. This does not help you get things done and also puts you on the news emotional rollercoaster (most of the news is bad). I replaced this time with working on my business and listening to marketing, startup, or business podcasts.

Kevin Strasser - Founder & CEO - TribeBoost

Find a system! For some folks this means hiring a full time nanny and having a husband or wife to stay at home with them as well. For other people this means getting up extra early and taking them to a daycare facility.

Whatever the case may be, process is key. Once you have your process defined, you can get in your zone and stay there.

Patrick Coombe - CEO - Elite Strategies

Take advantage of your kids' down-time. When I'm on primary duty to watch, being mentally aware that I can't do any work while the baby/child is awake really helps me reduce my stress levels vs actually thinking I might be able to squeeze some work in.

Just don't try to work and focus on being present and enjoying spending time with your child. But as soon as you get that baby to sleep, spend every second available getting some work done. You'll be more productive and less stressful just adopting this as a best practice.

David Ferguson - CEO - Tech Smart Boss

Take a nap with the baby, get up, and take video tutorials on YouTube, or catch up on work before the baby wakes up again. Once you get it down, you really force yourself to be more productive than you normally would have been in your pre-baby lazy days.

This method really helped me to get raise after raise at my old job before I set out on a budding freelance career working from home (which if you are a single dad, it definitely helps with time management).

Andy Sowards - Founder - InfiniGEEK

I don't necessarily keep a straight 9-5 schedule. Part of my work day is actually at night. But when it's time to work, there has to be a strict "no one open this door" rule. It's the only way I can get in the zone.

Eric Brantner - Founder - Scribblrs

Keeping Yourself And Your Relationships Healthy

You've got one more person relying on you, but that doesn't change your committment to your partner, or mean that you no longer have needs. 

Be awesome with yourself. This is the easiest thing to overlook, as time quickly disappears once you're a parent. People don't realize how much time a kid takes away from your schedule, and how little free time you actually have once you have a child.

Bart Lorang - CEO & Co-Founder - FullContact

Set aside 4 hours to spend with your family daily. This will still leave you with a couple hours to get work done around the house, read a book, surf the web, etc.

Keith Gutierrez - Founder & Lead Inbound Evangelist - Manage Inbound

I've learned that you can't give up on your 'me' time. For me, that's crossfit, running and other exercise activities.

One thing I figured out last summer was that I could have my 10-year-old boys ride along on their bikes while I take a run. We've gone 7-8 miles before and they get a kick out of talking to me and coaching me when I run.

Nate Riggs - Founder & CEO - NR Media Group

One thing that can't be reduced is exercise. It makes you more focused, smarter and a better professional all around. Try to build a workout into your work schedule and then find family-friendly activities on nights and weekends that benefit everyone.

Jay McBain - CEO - ChannelEyes

At one point, I would get my son ready in the morning. Then head to work. Then stop abruptly at five to race home and let a nanny go home. Then I had the bedtime routine. Then I had to jump back on my computer to finish up the day's work. I was burning out quickly.

At that juncture, it was important to me to admit that I needed help with the bedtime routine in order to enjoy my son and work more. I needed the flexibility to get home later and potentially miss dinner and bath time to make sure I had an hour of quality reading time.

Recognizing that I needed nighttime help made me happier at work and at home.

Chad Billmyer - CEO - Panjo

If your wife isn't on board, you're done, so make sure she is behind you every step of the way. Communicate your priorities & boundaries on a daily basis. If you're gonna pull an all nighter, say so.

Kevin Sandlin - Founder - DGMCamp, Atlanta Tech Blogs, Pitch Practice

Schedule standing date nights. Don't skip them. It's important for sanity.

Bart Lorang - CEO & Co-Founder - FullContact

Think of the kind of person you want your child to become. Your job as a parent is to guide the child, and make sure s/he is independent enough to take care of themselves, have a positive impact on her surroundings, and be a contributing member of society.

The child needs both parents to have a balanced worldview. You don't have to be around all the time, but when you are—make sure your attention is devoted to the child.

Raz Chorev - CMO - Orange Sky

It might sound counter-intuitive, but bring your work home. Be transparent about success and failure. Keep your partner and your kids (as they get older) in the loop so they can celebrate your wins and provide support when times are tough—and times will get tough.

Lael Sturm - Founder - AlphaAvents

Learn Some New Tricks

You're smart—you'll come up with some ways to get more efficient. But these tricks of CEO and founder dads could give you a head start.

I've switched to anything I can do in one hand while holding a child in the other. I don't type any more, I use voice dictation to do all my texts or send short voice messages.

Ben Wynne-Simmons - Co-Founder - Tantrum.xyz

Put date nights and family nights on the same calendar that you put business meetings on and treat them with the same respect.

Kevin Sandlin - Founder - DGMCamp, Atlanta Tech Blogs, Pitch Practice

I have to specifically block time off my calendar just to be available to focus on my youngest son (and after school activities for my older kids).

This serves two purposes. When I block out late afternoon/evening hours, it prevents anyone from booking me for appointments at that time. When I block out time in the early morning before work it just gives me a reminder of what's important, helping with my children.

David Ferguson - CEO - Tech Smart Boss

Make your office a place of calm and organization. My home is a bit chaotic right now. As such, I have worked hard to make my office a place of tranquility.

You need tranquility in your life, so now I look forward to coming to the office more than ever to get a bit of a break!

David Wachs - Founder - Handwrytten

Learn to say no more. I used to take on any side-project people asked me to do. I hated saying no to anyone. I also felt guilty turning down projects that paid me extra money (kids are expensive).

I heard this from someone once...I think it was Derek Sivers. He suggested that instead of always saying yes all the time, that the default answer should be no.

Then the only yes would be on offers where you are excited to do it...as in a "hell yes." So it is either a "hell yes" and everything else is a "no".

Focus on what is important to get you where you want to be. Be more ruthless with your time. Time is your most important commodity.

Kevin Strasser - Founder & CEO - TribeBoost

Children need to wake up quite early to get ready to go to school. It's unavoidable to follow their schedule but you can also benefit from it.

For example, taking the older one to school myself (instead of him using the school bus) means starting the day earlier and being at work an hour earlier than normal. This is a huge productivity bonus (plus allows me to save on school fees).

Dimitris Athanasiadis - Chief Marketing Officer - Megaventory

How Tech Can Help

If you've resisted digitizing your life, parenthood may finally be the push you need. Apps and other digital tools can help with everything from paying your bills to checking on baby.

I leverage apps on my phone to get work done whenever and wherever I can. If I get a moment of downtime and don't have my laptop available I want to make sure I can do more on my phone.

David Ferguson - CEO - Tech Smart Boss

How Tech Can Help: Time And Project Management

Time—always precious—is even moreso as a father. Apps and calendar programs can keep you on target. 

I think that the biggest mistakes of many new fathers who are CEOs at the same time is lack of good planning and prioritizing the tasks—without it you can spent 18 hours on work but will still leave your office with a bunch of unfinished urgent tasks.

So, the best trick to be more productive is to start using Outlook or any similar software for managing your schedule, tasks and even notes.

George Tatar - Founder & CEO - Akruto

Calendar (on my Mac), Nozbe (for tasks), Trello (for collaborations with others) and a few more (for some other things). These tools don't help me as a parent. They help me be more productive at work, while not being a bad parent in the meantime.

Karol Zielinski - CEO - PayLane

Be ruthless with timekeeping. Obviously this doesn't mean enforcing strict schedules with the kids (good luck doing this to a toddler). It does mean strictly timeboxing work you need to do to specific time constraints.

That's obviously something that you should be doing regardless if you're a parent but you should put considerable more effort in sticking to it in this case. Apps like Google Calendar and Trello help greatly in creating a schedule and a task list respectively, and keeping to it.

Dimitris Athanasiadis - Chief Marketing Officer - Megaventory

I am a big fan of time-boxing time management methodology (Pomodoro Technique is a part of it). It helps a lot with my schedule for business and family.

And it was one of the other reasons we created PomoDone App: to apply timeboxing technique to all our plans, works and ongoing workflow, to avoid burn out and increase focus.

Alex Mauzon - CEO & Co-Founder - PomoDone App

I am an Outlook power user and have been relying on it since early 2000s, but now I am using it to manage my entire life. Even my company is built across increasing productivity with using Outlook data on the mobile devices.

George Tatar - Founder & CEO - Akruto

I use Trello for personal project management. We use this across my team at NR Media Group and I liked it so much I have adopted it for home projects, kids activity planning, our family camping trips and more.

Nate Riggs - Founder & CEO - NR Media Group

I use Google Calendar for everything, even "meetings" with my wife.

Kevin Sandlin - Founder - DGMCamp, Atlanta Tech Blogs, Pitch Practice

I set alarms to remind me that I need to leave work to get home so that we can have family dinner.

Nate Riggs - Founder & CEO - NR Media Group

How Tech Can Help: Organization

You'll have less dedicated time for work and more brief bursts of freedom. That idea that pops into your head at 2 a.m. while you're trying to get baby back to sleep is as valuable as if it came at 2 p.m. at your desk. More than ever you'll need to be able to capture and access everything you do.

The discovery of Evernote was crucial. I could store all of my important files/documents in there, share with colleagues and, best of all, access it from wherever I was on whatever device I was on.

Don Halbert - CEO - The Real Estate SEO

I use Evernote for personal annotations, capturing receipts and reminders, etc. It's an extension of my short-term memory.

Nate Riggs - Founder & CEO - NR Media Group

I use Google Keep for a lot of my parenting organization stuff. I use it for everything from reminders, to grocery lists, to homework stuff.

It is great because it syncs with my email, my phone, and my TV. So if I am out riding my bike with him and need to remember something, I put it in there. Then later when I get home and we are watching TV, I can pull it up and Google it.

Patrick Coombe - CEO - Elite Strategies

I use Simpliday—a calendar, to-do list, and email all in one. This makes it easy for me to drag emails directly into my calendar or to-do list with my finger on a phone.

Michael Hoy - CEO & Co-Founder - Glance

One app that has really helped me recently is Paper by Dropbox. It has a great mobile app for creating and editing documents.

I am constantly writing notes, taking photos and copying them into Paper when I see something that triggers an idea and then when I get back to my desktop I can polish and finish whatever I was able to start from my phone.

David Ferguson - CEO - Tech Smart Boss

I use an app called Scanner Pro to digitize every piece of paper that comes into my possession and push it to the cloud (Google Drive).

Jay McBain - CEO - ChannelEyes

How Tech Can Help: Work Time-Savers

Spend a little time thinking about each of your recurring tasks. Probably, there's a way you could automate them.

Feedly gives me all content/RSS feeds in one feed.

Quuu works with your Buffer account to automatically post relevant content to your different social media accounts. You can also pay a small amount to promote your own content on the other side :)

Glance, the Slack bot I invented, is my virtual data assistant. It automates data collection and reporting from social media and 24 online sources, then sends all this data to Slack with scheduled reports, alerts and plain English questions I can ask anytime by text.

Michael Hoy - CEO & Co-Founder - Glance

How Tech Can Help: Home Life

Apps and the web can give you a helping hand at home too.

I use Mint for having automated bill and payment reminders that allow me to manage finances from my phone, on the go.

Nate Riggs - Founder & CEO - NR Media Group

Cut down on shopping time with Amazon Pantry, Amazon Dash Buttons, and Blue Apron. Don't be afraid to hire professionals for things like cleaning, yard work and laundry.

Jay McBain - CEO - ChannelEyes

Use Instacart as much as possible. Going to the grocery store with a two year old is impossible.

Bart Lorang - CEO & Co-Founder - FullContact

Join meal services like Factor 75 and Marley Spoon.  You can’t count on your wife to cook (which is very 1950’s anyway), and you won’t have the time to shop and cook yourself, so splurge and join one of the many meal box companies.

We like Factor 75 and Marley Spoon. They both deliver quality food. Factor 75 is pre-made. Marley Spoon requires preparation.

David Wachs - Founder - Handwrytten

Cloud Baby Monitor app has everything you might want to see in a baby monitor. It makes sure you can always see what is happening with your baby whether you are washing dishes or preparing for a meeting. It became my #1 app as soon as I installed it.

George Tatar - Founder & CEO - Akruto

I turned to Care.com to find a nanny. I later turned to Sittercity to find a part-time sitter.

Chad Billmyer - CEO - Panjo

Sleep tracking apps are useful—I've used Sleep as Android to somewhat optimize how much to sleep and when to wake up.

Dimitris Athanasiadis - Chief Marketing Officer - Megaventory

Video chat is good for catching up while traveling. Wunderlist has helped keep track of birthday wishlists and shopping lists.

Fitbit competitions with my daughter are always fun. IFTTT turns off my ringer, bluetooth and Wifi at a certain time each night then back on the next morning. Luma keeps inappropriate content off my kids' devices (at home).

Lael Sturm - Founder - AlphaAvents

Netflix! I used it before but the volume of nights in watching box sets is now immense.

Ben Wynne-Simmons - Co-Founder - Tantrum.xyz

How Tech Can Help: A Word Of Warning

Avoid playing with smartphones, apps, electronic gadgets while spending time with your child—this little creature is very curious and will copy your behavior.

Artur Kurasiński - CEO - Muse

To Sum Up

A few words of motivation from our Founder/CEO dads.

If climbing the corporate/industry ladder is important to you, realize that you will have more in common with those above you. In most cases, they will have had families too and it is a perfect opportunity to ask for mentoring and guidance.

Jay McBain - CEO - ChannelEyes

Your life will change in every tiny aspect—sleeping, eating, socializing. It is all gonna change. Your life will be full of surprises! But remember—change is good, change is something natural.

Artur Kurasiński - CEO - Muse

There is something really gratifying about being a father, it's like the ultimate project! I love my son so much, it is hard to put into words. All I want for him is to be happy and to do the best that he can do in life!

Patrick Coombe - CEO - Elite Strategies