In the prenatal class that we took, the majority of the dads said that they would be taking the first couple of weeks off work as parental leave. As the only work-at-home dad (WaHD) of the group, I was the only one who said I didn’t plan on taking any leave at all. I suppose I could have decided to put all of my professional obligations on hold, but as a self-employed freelance writer, I felt compelled to continue with “business as usual,” even if in a more limited state.
It’s a little hard to believe that baby Adalynn has been a part of our lives for almost two weeks already and we’ve been trying to enjoy this critical bonding time as much as possible. As you can imagine, though, juggling my “baby” responsibilities with my “work” responsibilities has been a challenge. Strangely, I’m not as sure whether the impact on my productivity has been a net positive or negative.
Erratic Schedules and Unexpected Interruptions
Intuitively, it would seem that having a newborn in the house would wreak havoc on my work productivity. A baby can be incredibly unpredictable and she needs to be fed every three hours, including through the night. While a lot of that responsibility has fallen on Susanne, it has also had a powerful effect on my sleep schedule too. I cannot assume that I will be “in the office” at a certain time each day, because things can change with the baby on a moment’s notice.
And even when I finally do get myself in front of my computer, the situation is still in a constant state of flux. Using a spare bedroom as a home office helps block out distractions, but when those “distractions” are the needs of your crying baby, they simply cannot be ignored (nor should they be). She might need to be fed. She might need a diaper change. She might simply need to be comforted. Whatever it is, I need to be on the ball.
I am most productive when I can hunker down and focus on the task at hand. When I’m constantly being pulled away from the computer and when my time in front of the computer becomes more limited, productivity can and does suffer.
Efficiency, Focus and Looming Deadline
Ironically enough, having little baby Adalynn in the house may actually be bolstering my productivity at the same time. I may not be at my computer for the same length of time each day as I once did, but I’ve found that the time I do get in front of the computer is better utilized. I seem to get more done in less time and this isn’t simply because of the over-arching obligation to provide for my family.
It’s said that nothing is more inspiring than an imminent deadline. In a sense, this is precisely the mechanism at play. Because I know that I may be pulled away at any given moment, I work that much harder to get the job done right now. Prior to Adalynn’s arrival, I had the (unfortunate) luxury of procrastination and self-inflicted distraction. That luxury has been diminished (not that I’m complaining).
Productivity: Net Gain or Net Loss for the Daddy Blogger?
If we were to define productivity solely as completing work as it relates to my job, then I’d say that having a baby has either kept things the same or resulted in a slight negative impact. If we were to define productivity as everything that gets done, including household chores and taking care of Adalynn, then I definitely feel that I am more productive than I have ever been.
My life is busier, and despite this constant sense of fatigue, I’m all the happier for it.