Our lives are full of ‘busy work’ and it’s very hard to work out what is the most important thing to do in any one moment. We can become overwhelmed with the myriad requests on our time but the two questions we really need to ask ourselves when considering anything are

Is this important?

The first question is vital in separating out the urgent from the important. If we only do the work that keeps us busy we are not being truly effective. Instead, we need to focus on doing the right things at the right time. For example, take the weekly shop. It might seem economical to traipse around the supermarket with your children and fight through the weekend crowds. Groceries are certainly important but what about the actual act of shopping for them? When you do a time and cost analysis you realise that those extra £4 pounds to organise the shop online and get it delivered are actually worth it.

Older generations often want to maintain control and save on extra costs. They would rather do the shopping themselves because they’re afraid to outsource things. This leads us to our second question.

Is there someone else who could do this better?

There are many tasks in our day-to-day lives that can/should always be done only by us. Think of the most important ones. Spending time with children, partners, and our extended families. And then there are other tasks that really don’t matter as much but are important to the general day-to-day running of our lives. Ironing our clothes, cleaning the house, washing a car. If we don’t find true value in these things then why do them?

Everyone is emotionally connected to different things. My father-in-law loves picking apart his car. My neighbor often spends all morning cleaning and waxing his car. These are their passions and they find them fulfilling. I respect people that want to spend time doing these things but I’m just not one of them. If we are not enjoying these activities, and if they are taking us away from the things we really love then we have to jettison them from our lives. Outsource these tasks to someone more qualified to do the job.

Next time you’re about to take on a new task, stop and ask yourself these questions. Just because someone asks you to do something, or it’s the thing that most people do, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Find what you love and do more of it. For many of my fellow parent bloggers, this will mean finding more ways to spend time with family and children.

Every day there are more and more things competing for our attention.

Wherever we look there is something screaming out at us “look at me, look at me!” A television has countless channels and now we also have on-demand programmes at any time of the day or night. Our emails and phones are closer to us than ever and it’s simple for somebody to reach us via WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. And worse still, these things seem to demand an instant response from us. And that’s not to mention the good old-fashioned text message.

As parents we also have to remember the day-to-day routines of the other people in our lives.

Children need book bags and school uniforms to be ready for the day ahead. In the holidays they have activities and friends to see. Houses don’t run themselves either; they are machines for living in and we have to maintain them constantly. I don’t know if it has always been this way. Was William Shakespeare drowning in phone calls, emails, and play dates for his own children… at least his own version of them?

Some people seem to be able to do it all, but how?

The more resources you have to throw at something the easier the problem can be solved. Presidents and Chief Executives make use of personal assistants and have whole teams of people dedicated to different aspects of their lives. The average family may not have access to all these people but there is a way that we can use to make life much easier. And it starts with one simple concept.

In everything you do, capture everything!

Your mind is a finite resource. Your attention and interest can only last so long, no matter how hard you concentrate. This is why you have to take breaks after reading or studying. Anything hovering around our minds slows us down. So, get those things out of your mind and onto paper.

You should write down and capture every thought that comes into your head.

This is the only way to ensure our minds are free to focus on the important tasks at hand. Some people may think this dulls the mind and we should focus on cultivating memory but I really think that’s just a party trick and most of us just simply want to be able to function.

As far as tools for capturing things go there are many out there. You could use a simple pen and paper, a notepad, or you could type into the notes section of your phone. If you really want to be clever you can dictate the notes into your phone or another device as you think of them.

However you capture thoughts, and it really needs to be something you’re comfortable with, do it every day and every time you think of something.

The key thing after capturing everything is to organise it. Set sometime at the end of the day, hopefully when the children have gone to bed, to organise everything and set deadlines. Ask yourself, “do I really need to do this?”, prioritise the important things and then make them happen!

I want to talk about three C words: content; consume; create. 

Only 60 years ago the UK had just one BBC TV station. Channel 4 wasn’t launched until the early 1982 when the first of the millennials were being born. Some of us may remember the launch of Channel 5 in 1997 led by the Spice Girls, and for years afterwards the analogue signal was so bad most of the shows were covered in a snowy landscape. 

The rise of internet connectivity and its increasing speed means that access to online video and other content is quicker than ever before. Apparently 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Eric Schmidt said in 2010 that the world created as much information every two days as we did up to 2003. I’ve no idea what that figure would be now in 2017.

There’s an overwhelming amount of content in our day-to-day lives, more than any generation before us. This comes with opportunities and challenges. In one way, the world is open to explore in ways our predecessors never even dreamed possible. In another, it’s a dangerous world where a young child can access the most adult of content. None of this should be regulated in my opinion, but it should be used responsibly.


We are unprepared to deal with the level of content in our lives.

We are often prone to procrastination, and it can be easy to wile away the hours on social media simply scrolling through other people’s posts for news that really doesn’t matter to us. 

We consume a lot of stuff. Our world is all about information and millennials consume more than anyone else. The next generation after millennials are even more exposed to this content. Yet no one is teaching our children how to deal with the level of information available.


Millennial parents have a tough time, trying to weigh up all the responsibilities of parenting with achieving more in our professional and social lives.

The first thing to remember is that we should stop comparing ourselves to all the content in our lives. Content is simply someone’s point of view, whether it’s a blog post, a news item, Fake news, or Instagram posts. Content is merely a way for people to convey how they want to be. The more people consume their content the more popular those people become. 

It’s fun to consume, to sit for hours binge-watching a Netflix series or even reading a book. But if we want to achieve more in life we simply have to be aware of how much we consume. We need to follow a simple mantra:


Create more than you consume. 

If we’re to leave our own mark on the world we should create our own content, not just consume others. That means putting down the TV remote, or switching off the computer. When we want to do more we need to focus on the task at hand, and cut out all the content surrounding us. 

Sure it’s fine to consume. In fact, people who don’t consume are unenlightened and uninformed. I’m not just talking about the internet. We need and want to consume art, plays, concerts, books, there is so much out there from the oldest classical texts to the latest business thinking.


All prolific authors, painters, and bloggers, know when to stop consuming and start creating. 

Sometimes you will need to focus entirely on the task at hand and stop consuming altogether. Other times, when you’re trying to unwind on holiday all you want to do is read a good book. The choice is up to each individual how they spend their time. But the millennial parent knows that time is limited. If they want to be productive they need to create more than they consume. This is the way they can produce more, and be more in their day to day lives. 


Another upshot of creating more than you consume is that you start to “budget” your content.

You start to choose only the content that will make the greatest difference to your life. Therefore, you will only watch TV shows that you want to rather than idling flicking through channels. When you consume consciously you consume the best and enhance your life, better positioning you to create and achieve even more in the future. 


It’s a simple mantra: create more than you consume. It’s never been more important than in today’s world. 

I first started this post a month ago and then put it to one side. I didn’t consider a terrorist attack would be imminent. Of course, the threat has always been there but the longer that nothing happens the less likely it seems it will happen in our country, our city, on our street.

There’s much sadness about the senseless loss of life in Manchester. The month of May 2017 will be etched in our memories just as July 2005. We should remember those who lost their lives, support those whose lives have been shattered, and commend the bravery of so many people who tried to help.  


As the terror threat is raised to ‘Critical’ the question of how we protect our children is at the forefront of every parent’s mind. 


But how do we protect them against something as barbaric as a terrorist attack, designed to create the most hurt and carnage possible? 

The first thing to remember is that, while these things happen, they are fortunately quite rare. In fact, society is safer than at any time in our history. Read Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature for further background. And try to take some comfort that we live in a progressively peaceful world.


There are a few small precautions that may help protect our families and others around us if we are ever caught up in an incident.  


Be aware of your surroundings.

Our field of reference shrinks when we focus on things immediately in front of us, particularly phones. When we take pictures of friends or selfies, our view is limited to only the things closest to us. If you’re in a busy place or at an event, take a moment to be aware of what’s going on around you. Especially where our children are concerned. Where are they? Who are they talking to? Who else is around? Quite simply, is there anything out of the ordinary? We’re surprisingly well-attuned to the unusual, our brains subconsciously pick up on it. Of course, it may not be possible to spot danger, but at least being vaguely aware of what’s going on may help. If something doesn’t feel right, report it.


Learn about the place you are visiting. 

Try to take in some basic information about the place you are in. If it’s a big event, take a moment to read through the safety information. If it’s simply walking around a shop or eating at a restaurant, identify where the key officials are. Are you travelling on a train? Read those safety signs just in case. This is why the safety drill is repeated every time we take a plane journey. If we know what to do in a crisis we are better able to respond. 


Know your exits. 

If you are with your family and something terrible happens, your job is simply to get away where it’s safe to do so. Moving away from the affected area is the best option, and often you don’t have to go far to be in relative safety. Wherever you happen to be, it’s important to be mindful of your exits and how you can get out if you need to. For example, when walking through a shopping centre pay attention to the green fire exit signs that lead directly out of the main building. The same applies in a shop. Most fire exits are towards the back of a department store. If you know the exits you can help to direct other people, too. 


Check official advice. 

The emergency services often issue advice about how to respond in an emergency situation. You can read about it here. A lot of the advice pertains to getting to safety and staying out of the way to let the emergency services do their jobs. They are trained to respond to these situations and, if a crisis occurs, it’s important to follow their lead. 


Learn first aid. 

This may seem a simple one, but if we all had basic first aid training we would all be a lot safer in our day-to-day lives. Most first aid training isn’t designed around a terrorist attack, but the recent course I attended did include some additional points that were helpful. Can you get on a work first aid course for free? Or sign up to the Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance. Read more in my other post on this topic. If you are able to assist in delivering first aid to someone it may be the difference between life and death. 


None of these points may have made a difference in Manchester against the relentless determination of one person to hurt indiscriminately. There’s nothing anyone could have done to change things but there were so many examples of human courage and bravery in the moments afterwards.

These are just my observations and don’t represent official advice. In all cases refer to the official guidance and follow the lead of the authorities; and try to stay vigilant without letting fear rule our lives. 




Have you ever seen the movie Due Date with Robert Downey Jr and Zack Galifianakis? I did once. And to be honest I didn’t really like it and I even had to look up the name before writing about it here. It’s about an uptight businessman who needs to get across the country to be with his wife as she gives birth. He meets a no-hoper actor, who gets them kicked off the plane home, and they have to take a road trip across the country to get home as quickly as possible.

The scene that sticks in my mind is where their car overturns and crashes. The Robert Downey Jr character ends up breaking his bones but the Zach Galifianakis character is fine; he was relaxed and his body just went through the motions and didn’t get hurt.

I’m not sure of the science of that movie, but I think it teaches us all a lesson about how to survive on no sleep.

I’ve just had a second child. It’s great, wonderful, fantastic, all the superlatives you can think of. But of course, I haven’t slept properly since he was born. For one thing he wakes to feed every couple of hours and, even though my wife is breastfeeding him, I still keep involved as much as possible.

Too many of us suffer through those early months and years, struggling to maintain our day-to-day lives all the while getting no sleep. The best time for me was paternity leave when I could sleep during the day when the baby did. And then I had to go back to work.

I think the key to surviving on zero sleep is flexibility.

We try to get back to our normal lives but our sleep won’t return to normal, so we suffer. Just like the Robert Downey Jr character in that movie, we end up hurting ourselves through our tension and inflexibility. What we need to do is go with the flow, be more flexible, sleep when we need to sleep, rest when we can. It’s not forever, and eventually the baby will settle into a proper pattern.

It’s probably hard for most of us to be so flexible, given that we have jobs with shifts or standard working hours.

We can start by looking at our free time – do we need to make rigid commitments to friends, exercise, and fun stuff? What if we just exercised in the moments of free time that emerge rather than schedule things in? I’m a big advocate of productivity and scheduling but I’ve realised it’s not so easy with a child. Most of my scheduled activities end up being moved anyway.

Once we’ve gained some flexibility in our personal lives we can tackle our work lives.

Every employer in the UK is obligated to consider flexible working requests and I’m sure similar rights exist in other countries. If more of us start to request flexible working then we begin to break the mould of the 9-5 working day, which is based in the early industrial past and has no real relevance in today’s society.

If we accept that our sleep may be good one night, terrible the next, then we should also accept that we’re going to have good days and bad days, days when we can function and days when we barely get by. It’s ok and we shouldn’t give ourselves a hard time. And then all of a sudden it will become easier to get things done.

The secret to surviving on zero sleep is to relax, be flexible and go with it. It won’t be forever!