Indie Parents July 9, 2020

How do you work full-time, build a side-business, and build a family? 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

Bryce Vernon @BryceV

It's the trifecta.

How do you manage? Can it be done peacefully without a ridiculous amount of stress?

I was encouraged after listening to a video from David Perell and Anthony Pompliano where they mentioned that your capacity increases as you continue to create:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDefPe9AhHQ

Do you all feel your capacity is increasing over time?

  1. 18

    I'm a father of two with a full time work and I'm building RoleUp.com

    The only advice I would give is to learn how to make a small step forward in your project:

    • Keep your project ready for you to jump in it anytime in a matter of seconds.

    For example: your documentation for youself must be top notch. Even if it's your solo project, you will forget how to do steps on things. When you go back to your project and don't remember something that blocks you for minutes, write down these steps. You'll be ready in seconds next time.

    • Learn to cut your task down to the simplest step forward possible.

    It's a mindset and a skill that is actually very valuable. In a time period of 30 minutes, you must be able to add something to your project and your project must still be able to run and do the jobs it was previously able to do. That can't be improvised. That means, you must think about what you will do next time you get 30 minutes and probably write it down to not have to rethink about it when it happens.

    That's very simple things that I try to follow. It helps me a lot. Courage! 💪

    1. 2

      This is really helpful. Thanks for the tip. Working in very short steps is such a good thing to prepare for.

      Would help anyone, really.

      Cheers

    2. 2

      This is great advice!

    3. 2

      Gsempe this is really underrated and something I find important as well because you never know when you’ll be interrupted from thinking deeply or even just trying to get soemthing done working on the side project.

      How do you document?

      1. 1

        All my project documentation is in a wiki. I classify and write down:

        • all the commands that I may need again
        • all the processes that I do as bullet points
        • and all the documentation that needs few googling to find again in the future

        I have as well a concept of jump-start scripts. These are scripts created from building blocks (https://github.com/gsempe/jump-start-project) that I run when I want to get back in a project context. It installs everything that is needed for the project, checkout the code, etc..

        My tasks are cut in small steps down to the commit. Each commit must be stable. So the number of commits that I do in a period of time is a good indicator for me to know if I'm doing great in terms of granularity.

        For example, 2/3 commits per 10 mins means that I'm highly interruptable without a big down side.

        I hope it makes some sense?

        1. 1

          Thats insightful. Thanks for sharing. I would imagine you have to be very disciplined to do this each time. But essential to be able to jump right back in?

          1. 1

            I'm not disciplined enough to manage to do this each time 😅

            But my documentation is just getting better along the path and I'm getting better. Like OP wrote:

            your capacity increases as you continue to create

  2. 6

    I use magic.

    Also, I focus in. And take my time. Don't set goals, just do what I can. Things seem hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier and more efficient it gets and the more snowball effect there is.

    It's important to really want to do what you are doing too, motivation is key.

    1. 3

      I do something similar. I try to get 1% done everyday but I don't let myself get stressed about that not happening. And if I get just the tiniest fraction of a thing done, that's still progress.

      1. 1

        Hard same.

        Fully embodying patience is critical.

    2. 1

      Okay yeah, see, I heard magic was essential :)

      I'm definitely looking forward to the efficiency snowball.

  3. 4

    I have a 2 years old son, a full time job and I’m building I Want To Read More as a side project. Some advice from my side:

    • Don’t mix things up. When you spend time with your family be there with them. Don’t check your work e-mail, don’t look up things for your side project.
    • Don’t take work with you after you the end of your full time job. After work if time for your family and side projects.
    • Define times to work on your side projects. Use the time when your kid sleeps. Talk with your partner to have times when he/she takes care of the kid so you have time to work on your side project. Make sure you do the same for him/her.
    • Cut out distractions like TV, most of the news and most of social media.
    • Keep working on your side projects in small steps. Accept the progress may not be very fast, but if you keep it steady it will work eventually.
    • To keep motivation high, try to launch something as soon as possible. Nothing is more motivating than getting some positive feedback from your users! In fact, I’ll try to follow my own advice here, this is the first time I actually share my side project except with fried s and family... 🤗
    1. 2

      Appreciate these tips. Thank you. We've never had a TV and that's been a game changer.

  4. 3

    For me, it was a three-year slog before full time. However, before that, I have always been attempting to build something of my own.

    For me, I found getting up early as the key solution. Your early hours are the best, so giving them to yourself and not your full-time job is great for productivity. Just make sure you focus have had explicit goals.

    I will just talk about my product https://snapshooter.io as that's the only one that has been successful ( I am now full-time off this). At the beginning, having a very well defined as and small 'MVP' in my mind is critical. You don't have time for fancy when you can only dedicate a good hour a day to it. You need to test early and pivot fast. I so risk averse to time-wasting this is key. You can never earn time back!

    For me, this meant primary landing site, basic functionality and zero bells and whistles. That first version was crap; I would have to monitor accounts in MySQL just to keep it running.

    At this time, my firstborn was three months old. Sometimes I would code a little while looking after her while the wife was asleep. I really would get time in whenever I could. Merely cutting out telly is a great way to free time. Driving became my source of relaxing with audiobooks as you can't code while driving... Yet.

    This year, (three years after product launch), I managed to get the business to the point I could go fulltime. Now with two children, and until last month everyone at home. It's not easy, and it does add stress onto the family, but now I am at the stage where I can be flexible and the reward of sprinting for three years has paid off.

    For some crazy reason, I am now looking at a new side project https://audit.sh.

    1. 1

      can't code while driving... Yet.
      😂

      Thanks for sharing what you’ve been doing. I definitely find the mornings to be the best.

      I’ve got a 1.5-year-old and another baby due in September. Putting in the work now hoping it’ll pay off in 3 years as well 🙏🏼

  5. 3

    As @rosiesherry said, you need to WANT to be doing what you're doing. I think that is such a good point.

    On top of that I'd add that having a great wife / husband / partner is also pretty critical.

    Also I feel like... I dunno how to put it, but I think a lot of us waste so much time just on utter shit.

    • I stopped playing xbox (saving several hours a week)
    • I've never been on social media since 2009 (Some people can fritter away several evenings a week on social media)
    • I cut way back on TV (again saving several hours a week)

    basically dump all the non-productive, brain dissolving, time wasting garbage from your days and you'll have plenty of time to hit that trifecta.

    If anyone is about to say my opinion is extreme, it all ties back the initial point of WANTING to do this. if you're actually passionate about building your side business alongside your job and your family then losing computer games, social media and TV (etc etc) won't be difficult.

    1. 2

      Pretty much this, apart from the social media (but lots of that is part of my job).

      The only time I watch TV (Netflix) is when I'm on the treadmill doing exercise.

      I often combine activities - take my kids to the park, I'll get my daily steps in, plus some body weight exercises. If I'm not in the mood for that I'll listen to a podcast whilst they play.

      I don't feel the pressure and stress to be efficient, it's just kind of engrained in me now.

    2. 1

      I definitely relate to getting rid of the nonessentials and feel my life is better for it.

  6. 2

    I'm a father of 3 with a full time job and I've been building Colofon.io for more than 2 years now.

    There are already many good tips in this thread so I'll just had my personal experience:
    When I started and for the first time in my life, I setup goals for the (very) long run. I thought "It will probably take me years, so it will be ready when it's ready".

    It was very new to me, because for my previous side projects I was more: In 3 weeks it should be good. (and fail)

    Even for the MVP, I knew it will be long. I was a bit scared because I'm a procrastinator but when I look at my punch card, I'm always blown away by the amount of work I delivered.

    Also, to emphasize on points already mentioned:

    • I wrote tests for the API (for the first time in my life) because I quickly realized that I needed to be able to quickly add code and know immediately if anything broke. For the small amount of time spent on it, it gave me peace of mind and the ability to work from time to time on the API without having to remember every line of code ever written.

    • if your wife/husband/... don't support your project, don't even bother.

    1. 1

      Taking it slow to make sure you have that peace of mind is so important.

      And yeah, the spouse has to be onboard! Not even worth it if you don't have that support.

      Thanks for the input, Thomas.

  7. 2

    I am a parent to a one year old, have a full time job, building www.podserve.fm, and I just added a new side project www.reviewiply.com. I get in time to build and develop these products in short bursts usually. Baby down for nap time, pound out as much as I can during the nap.

    I think something that has helped is I don't try and always use the newest hip language or framework. I have a framework I know well and can get things done in really fast. The customer doesn't care what language you wrote things in, just that it works.

    Years of experience working with this language and framework means I can get a lot more done in a quick amount of time.

    1. 1

      Go with what you know. Makes sense.

      Now I’m curious about something else - how/when do you learn? What’s learning look like?

  8. 2

    I can relate to the capacity thing with writing. A couple of years ago writing one blog post took me at least a week or two, now I do it in a matter of hours.

    Things don't get easier, you get better. And that's how your capacity to create more increases, by showing up every day and keep doing what you love

    1. 1

      Well said. Keep producing and it gets easier.

  9. 2

    My wife and I have agreements about how we spend our time so nobody is surprised when one wants to work on a thing and the other wants a date night. It’s extra planning, but boy is it helpful.

    I recently got promoted to a leadership role at my day job and I’m finding my mental capacity to do side project stuff at night just isn’t there anymore. Too much happening at work work to sit down and focus. I’m going to experiment moving my side project time to the morning and see how that goes.

    1. 1

      Great idea with the planning.

      I moved side projects to the morning (6-9am) but I’ve been in my role at the 9-5 for 1.5 years. Might be a different story if I get promoted.

      Congrats on your promotion btw 👏🏻

  10. 1

    I am still figuring it out. Dad of a 3 wk old. I still feel like sometimes he isn't my baby and that I'm just watching him for someone else! I've tried to keep it to one big task/day and I'll hammer it hard when my son goes down for a nap.

    1. 1

      Congrats on the new one! Yeah the nap time is game time. I’ve got #2 coming any day now

  11. 1

    The one hack I use is to wake up early. This gives me 2 hours before anyone else in my household is up to work on my projects.

    1. 1

      Yep same

  12. 1

    Focus is absolutely key. In order to do that you must sacrifice other things that aren’t those top three which is a job, family and side project.

    So you must be passionate about what you’re building otherwise you’ll burn out. It’s going to take much longer to make and launch that project you are doing.

    1. 1

      For sure. Finding that passion can be tough sometimes.

  13. 1

    Founders are equal to gods :)

  14. 1

    I'm currently a single guy, but I have huge admiration for parents. I'll be following the responses on this thread :)