I have only been an entrepreneur since 2010 which is a relatively short period in my life. But I come from an entrepreneurial family – my father and mother have their own businesses, my wife bought and sold a bridal gown store and is now onto her second business.

One of the things I have learned (and, sometimes painfully, re-learned) over the last five years is that being an entrepreneur is not a nine-to-five job. It is with you when you wake up, it is with you as you go to sleep, it is with you on the weekends and on vacation. Being an entrepreneur is part of you and a part of your family.

It’s a resource.

As I have worked to grow the two businesses I own, it has become clearer and clearer to me that the most precious resource that I have to invest is time. As a father of two wonderful little girls I want to be the best daddy I can be and I want to enjoy the challenge and personal growth that comes from working for myself.

Given those goals, I am working this year on improving how I invest my time. To me, just thinking about time as a resource to be invested rather than spent is a big change. Investing causes me to think through what is being built and what kind of return is expected. Spending tends to make me think of something with a high chance of being wasted or delivering lower than expected value.

Over the Christmas break I have taken time with my family to relax and recharge. But given where we have been staying, one of the opportunities we have also had is to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean on a daily basis.

How I began to invest my time:

  1. “Stack” activities – As an EO Accelerator member in 2012 I heard Phil Kristianson (Sierra Glass Block) speak passionately about “stacking” activities. We don’t have all the time we would want, for example, to work out, focus on our spouse and our children, go to church, work on our business, pursue a hobby, take vacation. So, one way to make the most is to “stack” – take two or more of those objectives and put them together in one activity. In this example I stacked three objectives – starting the day quietly to get focused, investing in my children, taking advantage of the opportunity to do something I don’t get to do every day
  2. Be present – Once we got settled with our blankets and made sure that we were warm, we all took a moment to take stock of where we were. We closed our eyes, took a deep breath, we felt the cool breeze on our faces and we listened for all of the sounds in the dark, quiet morning
  3. Explore – Once we opened our eyes we explored what was going on in front of us. What colors do we see and how are they changing? Where does the sun come from? What do we see in the ocean? Do we see clouds and aircraft contrails? Where is the wind coming from and why is it coming from there? Why do clouds move? With two little wondering minds there are few limits to the exploring we can do
  4. Review – While my children rarely lack opinions it can still be helpful to understand what they learned and what they enjoyed doing. In this case I asked them for their feedback about watching the sun rise and if they wanted to do it again the next morning. Wednesday I watched the sun rise with my youngest daughter. On Thursday both of them woke me up to go outside. By Friday morning the whole family was snuggled under the blankets watching the deep purples, reds, oranges and blues

So, investing in a peaceful, focused start to the day turned into a family activity and a chance to teach my children about the earth’s rotation, how clouds move and why the ocean can be moving and not moving at the same time.

Of course, I could have woken up and checked email, but the only time I picked my phone up was to show the photo that my daughter’s new “camera” had taken of the sunrise.