2013 has been a great year for me, both personally and professionally, I started the year with a month old baby boy in hand and my website Dutiee getting some pretty significant press. I woke up one morning to find that Forbes had named Dutiee in their 100 Best Websites for Women in 2013 and that our readership was skyrocketing. I founded Dutiee along with my friends about 2 years ago, as with any new venture there are always high-highs and low-lows getting recognized by Forbes and subsequently by DailyTekk for our design (A European site) and the large reader growth that we continued to see really inspired me and gave me that jolt of energy needed to keep at it and to aim to do even better – I felt I owed it to my readers and to the new visitors to my site.
So here I am – a new mom with a newborn and a website that I’m passionate about. To add to it all I am also a mom that was determined to raise her baby the old fashioned way. As I had the luxury to work from home I decided not to send my baby to a daycare. Also coming from a country and a household that puts great emphasis on natural homemade, freshly cooked food I just couldn’t think of resorting to convenience food. So I freshly prepared all three meals, no storing, no freezing and no formula. The only reason I mention this is to give you an idea of the kind of additional work all this creates in addition to regular baby and household chores.
At the same time my website Dutiee grew phenomenally – our readers continued to grow by over 100% and the average time people spent on our site grew to over 50 minutes. We enhanced the design of the website to provide a great reading experience from any mobile, tablet or laptop. Our content has always been very good but it became even richer with lots of great interviews and highly researched in depth articles. I also started a related site Ethfolk to provide people a place to discover well designed ethical goods.
So how did I manage all this? Well the answer is that my baby taught me. While I was inspired and purpose driven my baby taught me valuable lessons like how to optimize my limited time. He taught me to be creative with my work and my time, he taught me to do more with less.
As I could manage to get only 2-3 hrs daily and some days even less I had to be extremely focused in getting my work done. There was no room for distraction – no checking Facebook or Twitter or other sites that I use to frequently visit before. For people whose work requires being in front of computer would agree that it’s very hard to resist the temptation of not surfing the web, sometimes every 15-30 minutes between work. In fact there is a free app that people often use to block themselves from accessing distracting sites till they get their work done. For me my baby was the app, I was always concerned that he could wake up anytime and would instantly need my attention I had no option but to be extremely focused on work. I also got rid of the Facebook app on my mobile phone which really helped me in utilizing my day time more productively.
It’s hard to believe that I lived such a structured life the past 11 months. I would sleep by 10pm, wake up by 6am as I wanted some me time which was basically Dutiee time before my baby woke up by 8. I ate on time and cooked all three meals at home as I was anyways cooking for my family. In fact I ate every 2-3 hrs as I needed the energy to go on and I found cooking therapeutic, it helped me relax, it gave me time to think. I lived the routine my baby lived. I forced myself to sleep in the afternoon when he took his afternoon nap. Even though my mind was racing with ideas and thoughts around new articles or changes to the site. Sometime I just couldn’t get my mind to stop. But I knew if I didn’t take my afternoon nap I would be tired and irritated by evening and not be in a position to do anything at all. I drastically cut down on TV, I obviously had no time but even when I did find time I preferred spending that time with my husband usually chatting or hanging out. My husband’s been my mentor, my bouncing pad, I usually discuss with him design ideas, my writings, new articles etc.
The only other time I remember living by the clock was when I was in a boarding school in my childhood. Prior to my baby’s arrival I would be up till 2 at night, mindlessly surfing the internet or watching TV shows back to back on Netflix. There’ve been times when we’ve finished an entire series in just 2 days, being up till late and waking up late.
As I had limited time I needed to really prioritize what’s important and where I should put my time first. This is one thing that really helped enrich Dutiee’s content. Before when I had more time I used to cover any new social startup or innovation that came my way. But now since I couldn’t do as many articles as before I focused on those that I felt passionate about or I thought brought the most value to my readers. I started writing about things that would provide long term value to readers, information that they could use and always come back to refer to. I did a lot of How-To articles – given the wide array of exposure I’ve had in the development field and having a broader picture of trends and happenings. I’ve always been interested in learning how social ventures are using web to do good and what it takes to build one from scratch, this inspired me to interview founders of startups that are using technology to bring about change. These articles not only make for an interesting read but each article itself turned out to be a case study on growth and the use of technology. Also scheduling interviews, talking with founders helped as an external motivation to keep up with my writings and to feel the energy of the great trends unfolding in my space.
I never imagined that a baby who is so dependent on you for everything could teach you so much in return about life and about the attitude it takes to run a startup. Every morning my little boy wakes up with so much enthusiasm and boundless energy that it inspires me to be cheerful and to embrace my day and work with the same excitement. His curious mind is constantly trying figuring out how things work, always iteratively trying new things and not getting frayed by minor failures inspired me to be nimble, flexible and to keep trying different things to see what helps Dutiee.
My baby is always in a constant learning mode i’ve seen him wake up in the middle of the night to excitedly practice something new he’s picked up. I’ve learn’t from him to keep an open mind and to never stop learning. To approach every day with high spirits and to keep trying with the same fervor and enthusiasm despite failures and rejections.
I recently saw an interesting TED Talk on what do babies think and how adults should learn to think more like children to keep their imagination, creativity and innovation alive. You can watch the TED Talk below, there is a line from it that I absolutely adore and also summarizes the way I lived every single day over the past months.
What’s its like to be a baby? It’s like being in love in Paris for the first time after you’ve had three double espressos