Home / Blog /

3 Ways Entrepreneur Parents Can Reclaim 2 Hours, Daily!

3 Ways Entrepreneur Parents Can Reclaim 2 Hours, Daily!
February 10, 2016

in Blog
Comments are off for this post.

Entrepreneur, Dad, Survey

1. Two Words: Compostable Plates – Savings: 40 min!

2. Shut Off _____(insert any mobile device) – Savings: 90 min!

3. Wake up Before They Do – Savings: Priceless!


Recently I conducted what is called a “Deep Dive Survey.” It’s the first of 4 types of survey’s recommend by Ryan Levesque’s, a fellow StartupDad who I interviewed in Episode 34, in his book ASK.

The primary goal of the survey is to take a deep dive into your audience to try to understand their #1 single biggest struggle with regards to “X.” In my case the survey was designed to understand the #1 most significant challenge of Entrepreneur Dads (aka StartupDads) with regards to starting a business, building a business and growing a business with a family.

If you are a StartupDad, you can still take the brief survey HERE.

I’m still analyzing the answers provided for the #1 single biggest struggle but with regards to additional challenges that StartupDads are facing the results are very clear. Here’s a graph of the top 9 Secondary challenges.

Which one’s do you relate to the most?

Entrepreneur Dad, Survey, Time Management, Steven Covey


Over the next couple of weeks, I will be creating content (i.e. blog posts, podcast episodes, guides, etc.) focused on each of these challenges but for this post I wanted to focus on challenge number 6… TIME: can’t figure out how to free up more time.

A parent or not, time is something we all wish we had more of or better yet more control over. Unfortunately, like a friend and fellow StartupDad Shawn Stevenson reminded me of recently during my interview with him and Larry Hagner on The Good Dad Project Podcast (episode releasing soon),

“Time Management doesn’t exist… We can’t manage time.” Time is going to do its thing, Period!

What we can and must learn to manage is ourselves!

Recently I wrote a 33-page eBook called “The Clock, The Mind, The Compass: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Time and Living Your Legacy” which you can download for FREE here after taking the brief StartupDad Survey. 😉 The overall premise behind this guide is that the key to mastering time is first mastering ourselves. In other words:

Time-Management is an Inside Job!

So let’s dive into a few strategies that we’ve experimented with and implemented in our hectic lives here at the Louis Household.

Side note: My wife is a NICU nurse and works two 12 hour shift/week, we have 3 girls under the age of 8 and all three of our girls see a specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is an amazing hospital but one hour away from our home, for on going treatment for gastric issues. Our oldest (7yrs old) and youngest (recently turned 3yrs old) have had a number of procedures/surgeries over the past few years. It’s an ongoing battle but it’s one that we now, by the grace of God, appear to be winning. Now combine all of that with me building my business on the side while working at Intel Corporation and now working on growing the business full-time. So like I said our household is extremely hectic…


Where do I find the time?

Here are a few things that have been working in our home and for me in the business.

1. Use Compostable Plates


When my wife first proposed the idea of using disposable dishes for our family meals I was completely against it for multiple reasons (i.e. Carbon Footprint, it’s Lazy, it’s not proper, Cost, etc.). I mean, it’s one thing to use them a few days after a big party because they’re there and just lying around. But to purchases paper plates to feed our children Family Dinner, that just seemed crazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t like I was brought up eating off of fancy china. In fact, we hardly ate dinner together as a family. My parents were always working and to keep us from being 100% latchkey kids they worked odd shift so one of them would almost regularly be home. Plus, it was eight of us in a 2-bedroom apartment (i.e. no dining room). We had an “eat in kitchen;” and there was no way it would fit all eight of us even if we tried.

So where am I going with this backstory?

Well, because I grew up watching shows like The Cosby Show and Family Ties where the families ate dinner together, on proper dishes, I envisioned that’s what I wanted for my future family. You see, I thought that’s what it meant to be a well put together, functioning family.

So when my wife proposed this absurd idea, two years ago, I was completely against it.

No Way, No How!

Well three kids (under age 8), starting a business and hours spent loading and unloading the dishwasher later. I decided to give her idea some consideration.

Needless to say, I married to a genius, and I’m the idiot!

Talk about a game changer. Using compostable paper plates have cut back our dishwasher loading at least by half each week. We used to run the dishwasher at least once if not twice a day (forget about summer time when the kids are home most of the day) and now we can go an entire day without using it. We end most days with it only being partially full, and if we are feeling a little lazy, we just toss the pots and pans in to fill it up and run that bad boy.

Parents Magazine: 15 Time-Management Tipstake a look at #15.


Now I know what you’re thinking:

  • That must be expensive! We are not the most frugal people in the world, and I don’t know how much it’s all costing us or potentially saving us (i.e. dish soap, heating up water, energy, etc.). But I think it is safe to say we have cut back significantly on our water usage just based on the fact that our dishwasher normal wash cycle is about 99 minutes.

According to an article by TreeHugger.com “The average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle; the average Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses 4 gallons per cycle, and their energy use ranges from 1.59 kWh per load down to 0.87 kWh per load.”

  • What a Waste/Carbon Footprint! With regards to Waste and Destroying the Plant. I don’t know if we consciously made this decision or if it’s just something ingrained in me from working at Intel Corporation for so long, but we’ve seemed only to be purchasing compostable plates I didn’t realize we were doing that until I decided to write this article.
  • Finally, you’re probably thinking, those are some Lazy AS* parents! I know, I know, I had similar thought when my wife suggested it. My response to you is this: if you want more time to work on starting your business or building your business you have to make some changes.

It’s time of a change up! “Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

Not convinced? Well, give it a trial run for a week, just for dinner. If you want to do a valid test measure your current state (i.e. time spent per load multiplied by the # of loads per week = total time spent per week) and compare that with your trial run state. I would love to see what you discover. Post your results in the comment box below.

Twin Cities Moms Blog: 8 Time-Saving Tips for Moms: How To Save An Hour A Day – in this post the author writes in tip #3, “Another tip that has helped save loads of time at mealtime… This saves so much time loading and unloading the dishwasher.”


A few tips:

  • Purchase recycled compostable plates.
  • Buy bulk at BJs or Costco or
  • Use Amazon Prime Shipping: once you’ve identified the frequency in which you use up your items setup an automatic shipment through Amazon. We’ve used this in the past when we had one child in nighttime diapers, one in pull-ups and a baby. Yeah, it was REAL CRAZY in our household for a while there. So we had diapers, wipes and diaper genie refills on auto delivery. It works great and also saves time. 😉

Chinet, Recyclable, Compostable


2. Shut Off ____ (insert any mobile device) 


I can’t live without my smartphone, and I can’t LIVE with my smartphone. You know what I mean?

At some point in time, my Nokia 5110 (possibly 6110) “brick phone” that I was sporting, like a BOSS, back in ’98 (college days at Saint John’s University) went from being just a phone to being a super sleek mini-computer that I rarely use actually to make phone calls with.

Want a bit of nostalgia checkout this cool article on the Evolution of Mobile Phones: 1995 to 2012


It so insanely amazing the built-in features that come along with these smartphones and the things we are now able to do with them. Examples:

  • Alarm clock
  • Texting
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Checking emails
  • Paying bills
  • Syncing to the cloud (i.e. dropbox, google, etc…)
  • Checking the weather
  • Collaborating with team members
  • Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout
  • 8-megapixel camera (back) and 5-megapixel (front)
  • Apps for everything
  • The internet
  • And of course, Social Media

Out of all the features and apps that are available on my smartphone when it comes to comparing what I use my phone for the most, the answer is social media, hands down! According to some recent data, I’m not the only one.

The average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents about 28 percent of all online activity.


“18% of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook.”

If you stop to take inventory of yourself when you add up the few minutes here and there how much time are you losing to Social Media each day (i.e. 30min, 1hr, 2hrs)? Even before I stopped to take stock of my social media usage (aka addiction) I knew I could, and often would, spend 15 minutes or more in the morning just on Twitter. Don’t get me started on Facebook.

It was a serious addition!

Here are some of the things I’ve started noticing and a few things to look out for when it comes to getting sucked into the Social Media Vortex:

  • It’s the first thing you check in the morning, even before you get out of bed.
  • You’re social media surfing in the bathroom (i.e. hiding from the kids).
  • Checking for posts or posting during dinnertime.
  • Trying to send out a quick Facebook post or tweet while at a red light (not cool!).
  • Constantly being distracted by a new notification (on a mobile device or PC).
  • Jumping on to do one quick thing and next thing you know 10, 15, 30 minutes have passed, and you still haven’t accomplished that 1 thing.
  • It’s the last thing you do before falling asleep.

A few tips: (I provide a few more in the FREE guide)…

  • Remove social media apps completely off your phone. Yep! Delete them. I learned this awesome tip from my mentor Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire, and it works. Warning: You may not be able to sustain this indefinitely, so I suggest you do this for a few weeks when you are focusing on hitting some critical short-term to midterm goals.
    • An alternative option is to turn off all the notifications for the social media apps. Here’s how: Apple & Android
  • Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock or if that’s not an option put your phone far from reach and in the direction of the bathroom. If you combine this tip with turning off the notifications, you should be up and going with no distractions in the morning.
  • Put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode when doing important work. This one could be a little tricky, so you want to make sure you do it right. You don’t wish to miss an urgent call from the school or daycare. Follow these instructions to put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode but still have the ability to receive calls from specific individuals. Here’s how: iPhone | Android

3. Wake Up Before They Do


I’ll be honest with you; I seriously don’t get it when I talk to parents that can’t see how much sense this tip makes. To me, this is one of those “No Brainers!”

You ever talk to someone that says, “I can’t function in the morning until I have my first cup of coffee?” That’s exactly how I feel about waking up before our girls. If I don’t wake up before they do to take care of myself and get myself in the right frame of mind, my entire morning will be jacked and probably my whole day.

Once the kids are up its GO TIME!

  • They want and need attention
  • Have to get everyone ready and off to school
  • Make breakfast and hopefully, get everyone to eat it
  • Pack lunches, etc.

Have you ever stopped to look at it? Like step out of yourself, stand back, and look at your morning routine. If you’re not waking up before your kids than most likely your morning routine is very hectic and even worse it’s the same hectic every single day (5 days a week). You’re half awake, you’re rushing, you’re yelling at the kids, you’re super frustrated, and it appears that no one is listening to a word you say. It feels like you’re the only one that knows what has to happen and everyone else is acting like this is the very first day of school. REALLY!

But again, “managing time is an inside job” you have first to concur yourself before you can change the script in your home.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.

Don’t get me wrong for most parents, whatever! It is what it is. It’s the life of a parent; it comes with the territory. I mean, no one is getting hurt; the kids get fed and get to school on time (most days) with their homework (most days). It’s not a big deal going through this endless cycle of craziness. Based on a 2013 gallop poll, 70% of U.S. Workers Not Engaged at Work, so the morning insanity is just another part of the monotonous daily grind.

But if you’re reading this article, with a title like “3 Ways Entrepreneur Parents Can Reclaim 2 Hours, Daily” you are not the average bear, and you’re looking to shake things up, break free of the norm to become a better you and crush your goals. Right? Exactly!

So open your mind to this and here are goes some final tips:

  • Depending on how much time you need to get yourself ready (i.e. bathroom regimen, get dressed, coffee, etc.) you should strive towards waking up, at least, an hour and a half before the kids. In the FREE guide, I share some additional tips to help cut down your prepare time.
  • Dial it back a little bit at a time. Start by going to bed 15 – 30 minutes earlier and waking up 15 – 30 minutes earlier. Do that for a few weeks (depending on how much time you need to adjust) and then dial it back some more.
  • Develop a Mourning Routine. It’s not part of the prepare time that I mentioned in the bullet above. It’s the time you would use to, literally, get your MIND RIGHT! Get yourself Centered and Focused for the day ahead of you. Your morning routine can consist of:
    • Prayer or scripture reading (Logos Bible App)
    • Meditation (I use Calm App for guided meditation).
    • Journaling (5 Minute Journal)
    • Working out
    • Consuming material (i.e. books, podcasts, blogs) that inspires or motivates you. My collection of motivation videos: HERE
    • Scheduling out your day…


Time Management, Covey Matrix, Parents Schedule

                              Example of What My Day Typically Looks Like


In Summery… If you’re struggling to find time to build or grow your business, if you feel guilty that you’re not spending enough time with your family, and if you feel stuck in a continuous loop of being unproductive with a lack of focus then you have to make some significant changes. But the very first step has to start with you! In the timeless classic Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill he quotes poet William Ernest Henley who wrote: “YOU ARE THE MASTER OF YOUR FATE, THE CAPTAIN OF YOUR SOUL.” 

In this post, I provided a few tips that I’ve personally experimented on and incorporated into my daily routine. It works for me/us some of the other things we’ve tried have not. You have to be open to experimenting, keeping what works and throw out the rest.

What’s one tip you have for struggling entrepreneur parents?

Share on Social Media


  • February 11, 2016

    Great Article Joel. I totally agree with you on points 2 and 3.

    Personally, I restricted the amount of time I spent on mobile. A- its a waste of time. B – it rude C. I am not the president that I need to know everything every single second. I now have control over my agenda.

    Waking up early – massive difference to my work. I get 2 hours for every hour I am up early. Why – no distractions.

    But Point 1 – Compostable plates – I don’t know, Sound very gimmicky. I don’t buy it.

    • February 11, 2016

      Hi, Sanjay…
      Thanks for reading the post and for leaving your thoughts.

      I hear you 100% about the compostable plates I was also extremely sceptic as well and I know it sounds to good to be true. That’s why I included a few links pointing to other articles saying the same thing. You really just have to give it a shot to see what I mean. We have 3 kids so it’s a pretty big deal for us. I can’t even imagine someone with 4, 5 or 6 kids. It might start to get a bit pricey at some point and may not make sense but for use with three it’s perfect!

      Any tips you can provide the community?





Featured On: