Life simplification redux…

Back in June, I wrote a post about wanting to simplify my life, and to enjoy life more.

I've made progress in some areas, not so much in other areas. Last summer I ended up pretty burned out, and I feel like I'm just starting to get caught up on a lot of things. So, here's a quick report on how I did, and what I'm planning on doing next.

Jay has also been on a similar quest.

So, one the plus side:

  • Get a job that's exciting and places fewer demands on my family time. Done.
  • Get the final inspection done on our ski place, and stop paying King County $500 each year to renew the permit.
  • Sell the motorcycles. Done.
  • Cancel some magazines. Done.

Work in progress:

  • Get my investments in order. We have a mismash of different accounts - multiple IRAs, CDs, and various investment accounts. I've opened a Scottrade account that has most of my stock investments, but I still have too much money in underperforming accounts. I also own some MS ESPP stock that I need to sell. On the other hand, I've done fairly well in the stocks that I've purchased.
  • Be more "there" for my family. I've been better here - I spend much less time on email, but my Halo2 time has been a little too much. I need to limit this to times when I really want to play, rather than just doing it because I can't find anything else to do. Of course, I do have a level 10 small team ranking to show for it.
  • Cook more. Not "heat up", but "cook". I really haven't done much of this, and have settled for making more pedestrian meals. I need to find a cuisine to work on, or a new type of dish. Suggestions welcome.
  • Remodelling. Well, this is probably going to be an ongoing project for a long time. I've gotten a few things done and a few others planned, but I just need to get off my butt and get them started.

Another project is "add storage to the house". It's somewhat paradoxical, but I've found that having good storage is a good forcing function to get you to go through things and get rid of stuff that you don't need any more. If a room is always cluttered even if you cleaned things up, it's easy for things to get out of shape.

I now have four 36 x 24 x 80" Ikea pantry cabinets in the garage, and three more that will go in our laundry room as soon as we get a floor down. They hold a considerable amount of stuff, and my garage is moving towards clean and organized.

What have you done to make your life simpler and more organized?

Comments (37)
  1. Vic Berggren says:

    I’ve adopted an ‘hours that I’ll work’ policy while I’m at home. Because I have a fulltime dev position and I run a business on the side I tend to get myself into some very long sessions at the computer. I’m married so that’s not very healthy.

    I’ve set aside an evening each week to do something/anything with my wife outside the house. NO computers allowed. We’ve taken up a weekly movie ritual. Getting completely away from a computer for a day is actually very refreshing.

    We are donating non sentimental Christmas decorations that we have not used in the last year. I pulled 12 32 3/8" L x 19 7/8" W x 17 1/8" H (30 gallon) tote bins from my attic. Iโ€™m fairly certain that I can get it down to 4 bins. While the attic is partially empty I’m using the leftover plywood from hurricane season (live in Florida) to finish out my attic floor.

    In this past Tuesdayโ€™s USA Today I read an article about banning email use for a day each week. Iโ€™m going to test drive that policy and see if it works for me. Hereโ€™s the article:

  2. Jim Argeropoulos says:

    Suggested cuisine: Well it is a genre more than anything. I have been trying to be come a master bread maker for a few years now. I have read countless books, and I find my self still learning new things. In the past two months I started reading the books aimed at real bakers, not the home bread maker. I learned a ton.


    *My kids get involved. Well the younger ones mostly, the older ones don’t get the same excitement about pouring in the flour and string, but cracking hazel nuts was just about a family affair last week.

    *Low start up cost. Most people already have all they need and the library has plenty of great recipe books.

    *Fresh bread

    *Friends love to get gifts, and they are often quite cheap to make


    *All consuming for my little galley like kitchen

    *Weight gain, well a little riding offsets that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    *Keeps you around the house during the "process". Occasionally I just throw out a batch in favor of doing something else with the family.

  3. Darrell says:

    1. Wrinkle-free clothing – don’t waste time doing something like ironing.

    2. A maintenance free house exterior – don’t waste time painting window and door trim or the wood on porches. Have gutter guards so you don’t have to clean the gutter (especially good since I have a 2 story house!).

    3. You already have a roomba. ๐Ÿ™‚

    4. Less beds, more grass. Also put down newspaper underneath the mulch in beds to reduce weeds.

    5. Donate excess housewares and clothing to goodwill. Closets and cabinets have more room, you weren’t using the stuff anyway, and you get a tax deduction.

  4. Jim,

    Interesting idea. My mom has been a bread baker from way back, and I used to dabble in it in my early 20s. I ended up with a pretty good recipe for rolls, but could never get a sourdough recipe that worked. I also didn’t like the effort of taking care of the starter.

    And I already have a KitchenAid, which is great for mixing and the first part of kneading.

  5. Todd Spatafore says:

    Eric, you said you ended up pretty burnt out. I’ve been in that situation before and I haven’t fully recovered. What are you doing everyday to motivate yourself to actually code when you get to work?

  6. Trilok. says:

    Hi Eric,

    Sold your motocycle but continuing long rides on your bicycle? Is it that you use bicycle only for exercise/recreation and a four wheeler for long distance commuting?


  7. The bicycle is for exercise and recreation. I do commute by car, but that’s mostly because I only live 2 miles from campus, and it’s a lot easier to carry stuff in the car.

    I might switch as I don’t carry my backpack around very much any more…

  8. jaybaz [MS] says:

    It’s reassuring to have someone to compare notes with.

    One of the issues with the Voluntary Simplicity type web sits out there is that they are for people who don’t have much money, and are willing to keep it that way.

    Just by the virtue of being software people we have the option to do what we do & get a lot of money for it. So some of the decision making is a bit different.

    I can completely afford to buy a second car, or eat out every meal, or hire landscapers.

    Regarding storage: For a long time I tried to figure out good ways to add storage to my house, to enable me to oranize my stuff better.

    I’ve since changed my mind. I realize I need some storage to keep things organized. But today I have so much stuff that I can’t remember all of it. If I don’t know I have it, or where it is, it does me no good, and just gets in the way of finding other stuff!

    So I continue to work on getting rid of stuff.

    Combining the two: sometimes you can spend a lot of money to simplify. Like moving to a house that’s closer to work, thereby getting rid of a car.

  9. Shital Shah says:

    I think best way to unwind from severe burn out is not to sit there, relax and do some light work. I don’t think thats gonna help much to get back fun in your life. I’m not qualified to advise however if I’d been in your place, I would do something totally different that might involve more physical movement then just clicking mouse. How about going out on a 3 month or even 6 month long really slow paced world tour stopping only in towns or quint places and absolutely no cities? Or may be rent out an apartment in Hawaii and just live there like an Hawaiin doing some local non-tech part time job which also involves some physical work (say in some fishing boat) for few months :).

  10. * got a roomba

    * quit BOTH caffiene AND nutrasweet

    * hired a yard guy

    * hired a maid

    * had a garage sale and sold EVERYTHING I hadn’t touched in 2 years (except mementos)

    * developed an automatic backup strategy

  11. I find that living at work/school makes my life simple. No more hassles of waking up in a bed or having to walk to work. My life is so much simpler. Of course having no life or family around always helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Dave R. says:

    I recommend quitting caffeine, or at least cutting down. It’s also worth making a list of tasks, however trivial, as completing these can give you a sense of achievement. Often long-range tasks (like "Complete work on the house" can seem insurmountable, but doing a bottom-up task list can make things seem more manageable, such as "Paint back fence"). Never feel that hiring people in is a cheat – that’s what you earn money for.

    Making time for things like reading, watching films or going out for a family meal is good, too – having a regular, dependable time when you can guarantee some relaxation gives you something to look forward to and it can make all the other drudgery easier to stand.

    Doing a "life laundry" can also be very therapeutic. That means throwing away all the crud you may have accumulated that you no longer need. Give all your old clothes to the charity shop, same for books you know you won’t read again; and the same goes for your PC – if you haven’t used a program or played a game in the last year, chances are you can tidy up your PC by uninstalling it.

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