I’m sitting in bed as I write this post. It’s usually a rule I don’t like to break but sometimes it’s ok to have bit of screen time late at night. I’m ready for the morning. I’m not gloating about it. But I know when I get up I’ll be able to get myself ready for work and my daughter ready for nursery without loads of stress.

My morning routine wasn’t always so easy and I used to rush everywhere.

In my 20s I got up as late as possible, hurried to work, ate lunch at my desk, went out with friends at 5pm and stayed up most of the night watching DVDs or on the internet. It can’t be like that now; the Millennial Dad must develop a routine to make sure everything goes smoothly. That doesn’t mean taking the fun out of things, but it does mean thinking a bit more about how we do things to get the most out of life and being a parent.

So here are my three tips for creating a successful morning routine:

  1. Create processes for your morning routine.

A routine is just that. It’s a set of actions that you follow to accomplish a task. When thinking about a morning routine you should aim to practice it over and over until you get it right. So you might set the alarm for 6.30am, get up, shower, have breakfast, wake up your children, give them breakfast, get dressed, go to school and work. You might decide that it’s not early enough so set the alarm for 6am. Test out different strategies until you find the right one for you. But always aim to follow a set plan. Don’t just hope to get everything right, make it happen.

  1. Find your own extra hour.

The Millennial Dad knows that everyone has the same 24 hours in each day to get things done. He knows that a morning routine will mean a lot of effort to get himself and his family ready to face the day. He also knows the importance of finding his own time to prepare for the day. In the past, you may have had the morning to slowly prepare yourself for the day ahead, maybe listen to the radio, read a book, all before you get up. These days it may not be so easy. But it’s still important to find some time in the day to start how you want to. Some of us want to do exercise or write part of a book. If so, these things won’t get done by getting up at the usual time. Instead, find that magic extra hour. Get up at 5am instead of 6am, when the house is still asleep. Use this precious time to get your most important “you” task done, whatever that may be. And then you can guarantee to be able to face the morning routine knowing you’ve already accomplished something important.

  1. Acknowledge the end of each day and think about the next one.

Recognise the importance of each day. Don’t rush through things. At the end of everything you’ll wonder what you did with your time. Take time at the end of the day to appreciate what you’ve achieved, what you’re grateful for, and what could have gone better. Breathe. Then think about the next day. What do you want to achieve? How do you want that day to look? Prepare for tomorrow by setting yourself up for success. Make sure everything is in its right place so you don’t have to rush tomorrow.

Whatever your morning routine it’s important not to get too stressed about things. Occasionally it will go wrong, you’ll be late for work or school, or maybe your train will be cancelled or there’ll be traffic. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. There’s always another day.

After the tranquility of autumn walks, kicking leaves in the warm October sunshine, things have taken a turn. The weather is cooling down, the rain has come, and the leaves are turning to mush. Winter is almost upon us and the festive season is approaching. I’m looking forward to wrapping up warm and going to Christmas markets, enjoying seeing my daughter in her first nativity play, and sipping mulled wine. That’s just me sipping the wine, not her. 

Christmas can be one long rollercoaster and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So recently I’ve been trying to perfect the art of making a to do list. 

Quite simply, a to do list is a place to offload all the tasks and thoughts that come into your head, so you don’t forget them. As soon as you remember you need to book an appointment or buy something, you should write it down. Be fanatical about it if you can. Because once it’s on the list it no longer has to be carried around in your memory. 

I always used to be reasonably organised, but I’ve discovered a key tool of the Millennial Dad is to make lists. 

I’ve used various methods to capture my to do items from a pen and paper, to more recently the notes app on my phone. A while back I discovered, and have just rediscovered, the Things app for iPhone and iPad. It syncs with your phone’s reminders and Siri, which means you can just press the Home button and tell Siri what you want to remember and it will record it for you on the app. As a dad I find the voice functionality of Siri really useful as it avoids me spending ages typing on my phone and setting a bad example to my daughter. 

Do you make lists? How do you capture your thoughts? Even if you have a great memory I’d say it’s good to get things down on phone or paper to free your mind for even more important tasks. And then you can really start to enjoy the moment. 

There are always things to do and more items to add to a list. 

Once we start making a list we’ll never get rid of everything from it. A list is for life not just for Christmas. I’ve deliberately not written about what to do with your list, but it starts with prioritising everything. Luckily the Things app that I use and many other apps can do that, too. But that’s for another post. For now, try capturing all your to do items as you think about them and see how good it feels. 

The US Presidential Election was one of a kind. I’ve seen plenty of interesting blog posts about what this means for families and particularly how to explain the new President to children. I’ve written about this in another post and won’t go over old ground. What I want to talk about is a silly goal I set for myself 8 years ago, why I’ve failed at it, and what I would do differently in future. 

In 2008 I set a goal to perform in front of President Obama by the end of his Presidency. 

The plan was simple. I was living in London and fancied myself as a bit of a singer-songwriter. I was starting to do gigs, and I thought it might be possible to get to perform in front of the President in less than 100 gigs. 

This was a silly goal and by 2016 I am no closer to it than I was in 2008. 

Why did I fail and what would I do differently?

1. First of all, I didn’t set a ROADMAP to achieving that goal. We hear all the time about the importance of setting goals but unless we have a plan to achieve them we’ve no hope of even remotely getting near it. How many times have we committed to join the gym at the start of the year but then our enthusiasm fizzles out by the time we’re on month two. 

2. I didn’t set WAYPOINTS along the way. I should have set mini-goals that were incrementally achievable towards the overall goal. 

3. I didn’t have COMMITMENT. As much as I liked the idea of doing music, I was probably more of a songwriter than performer. I didn’t really enjoy promoting myself or singing as much as I should have done. Ed Sheeran went to London and played hundreds of gigs until he became successful. I didn’t have that same hunger. So perhaps it wasn’t right for me. 

How does all this relate to the Millennial Dad? 

As a parent with a million different priorities we have to set goals we want to achieve for ourselves. It may be to be mortgage free by a certain date, to go on a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday, or switch professions. All of these things are infinitely harder to do with children, because we have little people who depend on us. So in order to be realistic and achieve our goals as parents we need to take them seriously, create a path to success, and be accountable to one another for getting there. 

So I failed at getting to meet President Obama and the jury’s still out on whether I want to meet President Trump. But I learned a lot about how to achieve the more important things required in being a dad. 

You hear a few tracks of my music here.

It’s the day of the US election and the world is waiting tensely for the outcome of the Presidential race. Regardless of where we live everyone is interested in this election because “when America sneezes (or Trumps in this case) the world catches a cold”. 

But the smart millennial dad isn’t interested in the election and here’s why.

Election coverage is exciting. It brings people together as we follow the minute-by-minute coverage on TV and social media. No doubt Twitter will be awash with Clinton and Trump hashtags over the coming 24 hours and for a long time afterwards. It’s hard not to get caught up in the moment. I know I am. 

I might be part of a sad minority but I’ve actually been to an election party. As a student I stayed up all night through the US and UK elections in the 2000s, playing drinking games and joining in the fun. I guess students like any excuse for a drink. And in recent years I’ve often followed election coverage through the night. No doubt there’ll be some fancy news coverage in the UK on the BBC and Sky running right through the night. In the past it was ok to spend a whole night awake, watching the live results as each electoral college was declared. 

The truth is however exciting it all feels, it’s just a passive exercise. 

There’s nothing we can do to change the results and over time even the broadcasters run out of things to say as the night goes on. 

The smart parent will put the children to bed at the normal time and get some rest. 

Try it. Nothing will change. It may feel like you’re missing out on things to begin with but it won’t make a difference. When you wake up in the morning the result will be there, or perhaps not, and you’ll simply wake up to more information than if you watched it trickle in. 

The millennial dad knows time is at a premium and needs to focus on using as much quality time as possible on the immediate tasks of family and work. 

Anything else will just make you less efficient and accomplish fewer things. I try as much as possible to keep news to a minimum. Even though that means I miss out on some things, if it’s really important I’m going to find out about it eventually. 

Try it. Don’t be drawn into the US election night coverage. Go to bed. Wake up fresh. Then deal with explaining the new President of the United States to your four year old daughter. 

When I was little I never appreciated how much waiting around my parents and grandparents did for me. I remember doing Karate, Cubs, music groups, and holiday activities. Some within walking distance of home and others I needed to be driven to. My grandad probably spent hours waiting for me and my brother; he would pull up outside our house and wait until we got ready, then drive us to school, then wait around at the end of the day to pick us up. Some of it was his choice. He would arrive early to get the best spot in the car park. Other times I know my brother and I took advantage of his kindness. My grandad’s generation would pass the time waiting by reading the paper or listening to the car radio. 

In today’s world the Millennial Dad can’t afford to be idle and must use productivity hacks to get things done even when we’re waiting. 

Here are my top five ideas for making the most of your waiting time:

1. Plan ahead

It sounds simple, but it’s difficult to be productive if you’ve got no idea of what you want to do. It’s important to plan your task before you arrive at your ‘waiting spot’, be it the car, a lobby, or a coffee shop. I try to set myself a couple of goals to achieve before I head out. Otherwise, I’ll just end up browsing the news or social media. 

2. Bring the right tools

If you’ve dropped the kids off at a party in town and have time to get to a coffee shop, then bring along a laptop or iPad to do your work. If you’re going to be standing around or the only place to work is your car, maybe you’ll have to do things on your phone. It’s important to bring the right tools to achieve what you want to do. I’m writing this blog post on an iPad with a keyboard on my lap. 

3. Find some space

If you’ve decided what tasks you want to accomplish and you’ve brought the right tools, it’s no use going somewhere that will make it impossible to get things done. It’s fine to be social and chat to other parents, in fact, it’s important. But if you’ve got to get something done don’t sit with other parents. Go to the other side of the room, go elsewhere if you can. Or at least make it clear that you’re getting things done. Cultivate that look of busyness that let’s others know you’re not up for chit chat!

4. Measure out your time. 

There’s no point trying to write a chapter of a novel if you’ve only got five minutes. You’ll never get into it. Work out how long you’ve got and aim to get something meaningful done within that time. The goal for productivity during waiting time should be to get something done and feel good about it. Some things are out of our control, like if we call a helpline and it takes ages to get through. When starting out, plan bitesize tasks. Respond to a few texts, email your mum, even use your time to write a task list for the rest of the day. Plan your time wisely.

5. Get it done and put it away. 

Time with your children is important. If they’re at a swimming gala and want you to watch, then do it. It’s their activity and they want us to be proud of them. Don’t let your kids see you working on their time. The point of productivity hacks for waiting is to make the most of idle time. By that I mean any time we’re waiting around doing nothing while our kids are in a class, for example. When they’ve finished their activity, put your computer away, stop doing what you’re doing, learn the art of being able to stop even if it’s not convenient. 

Sometimes it’s hard to stay productive and there’s definitely another blog post about the beauty of idleness. But as I sit here outside my daughter’s ballet class I know I’ll feel much better afterwards that I’ve accomplished this post.