One of the biggest areas for self improvement for any man is Personal Accountability. If you aren't able to hold yourself accountable for your time, actions, thoughts, etc. how do you expect for your child to obey when you try to hold them accountable?
"Every father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice."
- Charles Kettering
From managing your time to simply doing what you said you were going to do and being a man of your word, your children are always watching. Below are a few tips and resources to hold yourself more accountable.
The Intentional Father is not affiliated with the resources below. We simply feel as though they are excellent resources to better yourself.
Phone Screen Time
How often does your phone get your attention over your child? Unfortunately, our phones take more attention from our children than we probably want to admit.
Spending time on your phone is not a negative. It only leans that direction when it starts to take away from time with your children or spouse. And for what? To see that someone you knew in high school got a new boat?
Take control of your time. Put measures in place to help and to keep you accountable. Below are a few good resources we recommend. Each item below is simply a tool, it is still up to YOU on how effectively you use it.
Both Apple and Android platforms have per-installed apps to help you be more intentional with your time. Each app allows you to access real-time reports showing how much time you spend on your device in total and also breaks it down to time spent on individual apps. They can tell you how many times you looked at your phone, whether it was due to a notification or organically. In addition, both allow you to set time limits for specific apps.
If you would like a more personal approach or perhaps more options and community, there are many apps that provide similar functionality with their own benefits. From determining the philosophies around why you look at your phone to turning your phone off to support a good cause, below are a few additional options.
The Space App is a personalized behavior change program designed to help you think about how you use your phone and how it affects your life. It helps you to see the opportunities to put down your phone and to look up at the world around you. Check out FindYourPhoneLifeBalance.com for more information.
Create a group to inspire your friends, earn rewards and Unplug for a Cause™
Track time in a group that is raising money for a worthy non-profit organization or is encouraging you by offering a reward. See your progress and your friends’ progress.
Plant a tree when you need to stay focused. If you commit to your task without getting distracted, your tree grows; if you cannot resist the temptation to use your phone, your tree dies. Over time, you will have an entire forest built from your focus and commitment.
One aspect of Personal Accountability that normally gets overlooked is managing distractions and giving each activity in your life full attention in that moment. As a father, husband, employee, etc., pro-actively remove distractions where able to prevent your attention from being unintentionally redirected. Be present.
Turn off Non-Time Sensitive Notifications
It's one thing to be intentional how often you purposefully pick up your phone, but how many times do you get distracted by a notification? Whether its someone liking a picture on Facebook or a weather alert, there are many reasons we pick up our phones without even realizing it.
We advise to limit the notifications you receive to only "time sensitive" information, i.e. phone calls, text messages, event reminders, or other means of communication you see fit. Don't allow a "Like" or "Tweet" to be the reason your phone gets your attention and distracts you from your current life moment.
Utilize Do Not Disturb Functionalities
To take it a step further, there are also many moments in your life where it is advantageous to block out all (non-emergency) communication. Within most of the apps listed above, there are Do Not Disturb features. This feature prevents any notifications, calls, messages, etc. from taking away your attention. Of course, there are settings to modify what notifications or calls are blocked, or for example, within Digital Wellbeing, there is a setting that allows a call to come through if the same person calls within a 15 minute window.
There are also many ways to activate this setting:
Manually turn it on
Some phones/apps allow you to turn it on when your phone is placed face down on a surface
Set a schedule. For example, have it automatically go into Do Not Disturb in the evening and while asleep.
Take advantage of this during intentional activities with your children or intentional family moments.
Understand Personal Limits - Remove Potential Distractions
The last aspect of Managing Distractions is to understand yourself. Understand what is able to take your attention, what makes your mind wonder, and put measures in place to limit those distractions. If it is your phone, take pro-active steps listed above. If it's hobbies that take away from your family, reflect on what is important to you and potentially reduce the extra items in your life vying for your attention.
To be an Intentional Father, those tough decisions have to be made. In addition, not only do they have to be made by you, but you have to be the one to prompt the decision point in the first place.
Understand your own limits. Remove distractions. Be present. Be intentional.
They all sound simple:
Do what you said you were going to do
Be on time, if not early, if you made a commitment
Remembering birthdays or anniversaries
Make a connection, simply send a text to a friend you don't actively see
For men, "forgetting" or just "not thinking about it" are reasons why we don't do simple things in our life that can lead to resentment or frustration in others. Don't be the guy everyone knows will be late. Don't be the husband that is scrambling at the last minute to find an anniversary gift.
Be the man people know they can count on. Be the man that will be there on time and prepared. Be the man that makes the first move to stay connected with those you call friend. Hold yourself accountable and be proactive in being the man you want to be.
Men are forgetful. Being one-track minded, as most men are, prevents the mind from thinking about items that are not actively in front of you. Understand this about yourself and do something about it instead of making excuses. To combat "forgetfulness", The Intentional Father recommends "Daily Reminders" to force your attention to the items that require it.
Daily reminders look different to each person. Find and understand what works for you. Below are a few suggestions for ways to set and track Daily Reminders.
Lists are a great way to keep track to "To Do" items, appointments, connections, etc. This is nothing new. But its about how effective you are and how you keep the list. Below are a few ways:
Hand written lists. It always feels good to physically mark a task off when completed. Whether it is a piece of paper, dry erase board, or chalk board, this is a great way to keep tasks and thoughts all in one place.
Find a "To Do" list App. There are many resources out there, from simple digital notepads to day planners with build in calendar functionality and reminders.
Send yourself an email. It is also possible to text your email (or simply text yourself) in order to quickly capture a thought or idea before it fades.
The truth is though, none of these methods matter unless you commit and actively use them. Try out one and see if it works for you. If not, try the next. If there is something you find useful that we haven't mentioned, shoot us a message using the link in the footer "Connect With Us".
Calendar Notifications are one of the most effective tool that every man has available to him that hardly any one utilizes to its full potential. Sure notifications are set for doctor appointments or to go watch a ball game with a friend, but why not use them more intentionally?
Below are a few ideas to utilize your phones calendar:
Never forget a birthday, anniversary, or any other big day. Setup reminders on your phone calendar for all of these days. The trick is to setup a reminder for about 2 weeks in advance to give yourself time to prepare for the occasion. Then, setup an additional reminder for the day before. Make sure the reminder is set to repeat every year without an end date. Now "forget" about it. It is a decent amount of up-front effort, but pays off year over year.
Pro-actively keep in touch with friends. Set a reminder for once a week or once a month to make a connection with a friend.
Pay bills on time. Look up and document the date each one of your bills is due. Set a calendar reminder a few days before.
Intentional Time. Whether it is to plan a date night once a month or to spend quality time with your child. Put it on your calendar and set a reminder to make it happen.
All of these suggestions take effort. They all take intentionality to sit down and setup the calendar item and reminder. However, once complete, your can put it out of your mind knowing you will be reminded when the time comes.