MANHOOD: On the Dash

Sometimes, I wish I had in my possession the Time Gem. If you don’t know what the Time Gem, or Time Stone, is, we may not be friends, but that’s perfectly okay. All you need to know is that it is a device whose power perfectly violates the linear structure of time as we know it. I’m a man on the go. I have a full-time job, and right now I’m working mandatory overtime. I want to provide for my family and contribute to the big pot alongside my wife. On a personal note, the extra money would be a huge help. However, my wife also does not think I should be doing any overtime. Mind you, it is only five hours on Saturday. That may not seem much to you, but in our world, it seems like an eternity. What can I say? The lady has a point.

For us full-time jobbers, we probably spend anywhere in between 60-70% of our given week in our work environment; in our offices; in our slopes and traffic jams and lunch meetings, instead of our families. (The choice of words may seem to deliberately demonize the workplace, and nah--that’s not what I’m trying to do, because there are a lot of folks out there who love their office. Maybe it’s your dream job and moving up the corporate ladder is simply in your hustle. Whoever says that pathway’s not okay is a fool; it’s simply not for everybody, that’s all) So how are we supposed to balance out our time between our 9-to-5s and our start-ups, on top of our children and spouses?

This is something I’m learning myself, and it’s a painful process. Poor scheduling or simple exhaustion have incredible consequences to everything. The real question, though, isn’t just limited to those of us that have side-hustles and start-ups, small businesses and lucrative passions. There is a truth for any man that simply has more than one responsibility in his adult life. Here are some simple, actionable tips to keep on our toes and not drive ourselves out of our minds:

 

1) Get a decent amount of sleep.

When you’re a right-brain artist, or a money-minded entrepreneur, it’s almost impossible to shut the mind off when coffee or a few sodas keep the old gears turning so we can really get those last-minutes thoughts out of our heads, onto paper, and onto the computer. However, we cannot focus when our bodies are screaming at us in the middle of the day to shut down. We spend just as much time fighting that off as we ought to be handling our midday duties. A great way to remedy that is to take a good nap...but remember, even if you can afford that hour to sleep, that’s an hour of work, an hour of playtime with the kids, an hour of studying for school, an hour of helping wifey around the house or simply acknowledging her for all that she is, that’s gone and you won’t get back. Consider prioritizing an 8-hour sleep schedule. If we can get that down at least 60% of the time, we will see marvelous improvement in our body and mind’s performance when the sun rises, including never having to dash to work every again, at least not at your own fault.

 

2) Get a decent amount of food and water.

The body is an impressive biological mechanism. Like the aforementioned tip, eating and drinking throughout the day--not too late, and not too early--can be a challenge, let alone eating healthy. But, depending on your personal health and weight goals, when McDonald’s is right around the corner and you haven’t eaten all day, that might be a much better option than deciding to go on not eating. Plan for breakfasts and lunches ahead, and be creative and collaborative when it comes to dinner (especially if you’re a picky eater like me). Aim for three meals, each smaller than the former. As for liquids, authorities on health have said that the human adult body should be intaking two liters of water per day. That’s one eight-ounce glass of water, eight times, every day. Replacing the sodas, energy drinks, and sugary juices that often come in all-too-appealing allurement at the supermarkets and drive-thrus can easily be replaced with an inexpensive sports bottle. (Alcohol and coffee should be fine, unless it is taking away from your water intake.) Staying fueled with good food and water will help to stay awake during the day, and keep your focused to manage your time.

 

3) Get a family calendar.

If you’re married or even have a serious girlfriend (the kind you’re planning to marry), work with your bae on a calendar system, just so the two of you know what the other’s busyness is like. For couples that share one car, this is especially beneficial. After a solid week or two of investing into a calendar, the juggling starts to feel more like bowling, with plenty of strikes at the end of the workweek. Full families (with kids) will benefit the most from this method; working a calendar is a team effort and will continually promote collaboration and communication, especially after early mishaps and neglectful behavior. Once that’s out of the way, time management and regulation will be in such a great cycle, you may not even notice the improvements at first!

 

4) Plan vacations.

Unless you or your wife dislike the idea, this should be a priority to plan. When we’re always on the move, we forget to slow down. We forget that we have wives and children who not only anticipate us to be present physically, but they depend on us to be present mentally. Vacations are the perfect time to re-engage and reignite, to restart the clock and get the appropriate rest and family time you (and they) need. Planning them should be inventive and fun, even if you’re doing it on your own. It will also add the benefit of being more careful with time and finances. If a plane ticket or two is out of the financial question, then plan a road trip out of the city for the weekend, or crash at a fancy hotel you haven’t been to yet.

 

Time is quite precious, and we will never get back the time we’ve spent. There may not be any Time Stones laying around anywhere, no Deloreans to take us to the past and, then, back to the future. So we have to keep it realistic, frugal, and practical. You’ll thank yourself for it later. Trust.