Better Left To The Professionals

Sometimes it’s just better to leave things to the professionals.

Not my real lawn...

A little over a month ago my front yard was covered with weeds. We’d just come back from a long holiday to find that the front garden had exploded, helped by the winter rains and the spring sun. It was a mess.

We have this swing set for our young daughter and the weeds were halfway up it. The path was overgrown with all sorts of different plants and shrubs. The trees had grown too, resulting in the need to cut them back from the power lines.

Needless to say, the garden was a mess. 

It was a mess because nine months earlier The Wife and I had ripped up the front garden so that there was nothing but soil. We hoped to plant grass seed and begin to have the makings of a nice neat lawn. It didn’t happen. Instead we let the mess grow and grow with a little garden work here and there, but nothing like what was needed.

So when we got back from holiday, rather than spend the next three months trying to control it myself, and work toward a fresh lawn, I employed the services of a landscaper. A professional.

In two days I had a transformed front yard. Out went a few tired trees, the weeds, and everything that was there. In went fresh manicured lawn, ready to be watered and looked after over the coming months.

The lesson it taught me was that sometimes it’s better to employ professionals.

While I could have tried to save money and do it myself I know it would never have turned out to be what we got. No matter how hard I tried. Rather then mess around with machines, and rotary hoes, and grass seed, and additional soil, and all that stuff I’d rather make it easier on myself, and most likely my back pocket, by getting someone in.

To me, it just makes sense.

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Morning Routines

After disseminating around one million blog posts on productivity the consensus is that having a morning routine gives you the best possible start to the day.

I agree. Sort of.

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It seems to me that different seasons means different routines.

When I was in my early twenties I could get up early, have some quiet time to myself, go and accomplish my exercise goals, and then make my way into work.

When I began a job that started early my routine changed so the first thing I did was have a shower, a quick breakfast, and then wander down the street to the “office”.

When I found myself working some nights I had to adjust and sleep-in a little more in the morning.

When I became a father for the first time I had to change again.

My hat is tipped to those who are disciplined enough to stick to their routine no matter what. You know those people? They’re the ones that head out for a late night session at the pub and then get up at 5am the next morning fresh and rearing to go. They’re the ones who have such a life that they’re into bed at 8:30pm and will accomplish their days goals by the time your alarm goes off.

If I ponder these things for too long it can get depressing. I want to be able to get up early and achieve those things too. Some days I do, but that’s probably when I’m in the office at 7:30am. Other days I just want to enjoy life a little more and sleep-in.

I realise there is much that can be done before breakfast, I wonder whether I’m simple being sucked into a culture that pushes us hard to “achieve” and be “successful”. Some days I probably should achieve more, but other days there needs to be room to gain perspective and spend time with family, do chores, and sit and read a book.

7 Opportunities In Moving House

I’ve moved house numerous times. We’re probably up to about 8 times in the last 10 years. You’d think we’d be sick of it by now wouldn’t you? Well, in reality we are. Twelve months ago we moved into a modest house that we were fortunate enough to purchase. Hopefully this will be the last move for a while.

two 3d humans carry a home in their hands

However, in moving house so much, whether its been a move overseas or simply from one rental to another there comes opportunity. The opportunity I’ve grasped with both hands each time we’ve moved is the ability to declutter and work toward a more sustainable liveable minimalism.

Living in the same place allows clutter to build up. After living in one place for 4 years it took weeks to box and tidy up and get ready to move to another rental unit. I can’t imagine what its like for those who’ve lived in the same house for 40 years! The clutter and the mess and the stuff just builds and builds.

In the last two moves we’ve been involved in The Wife and I have specifically spent time going through our clothes, DVDs, books, files, and more looking at what we can do away with or pass on to others. In doing so I’ve learnt this opportunity to enter into liveable minimalism has allowed:

  1. A greater realisation of what is important to me
  2. A sense of feeling liberated with less and less stuff crowding for my attention
  3. The ability to give to others and bless them
  4. More time for other activities around the home
  5. Less decisions needing to be made about what I’ll wear or where things should be stored
  6. More space around the house and in my life
  7. A financial saving

What did you find when you moved house? Was there a similar experience to me? 

Thinking About My Christmas Presents

It’s this time of year where I begin to think about what I’d like for Christmas.

For the last few years our family has done the Kris Kringle thing. This means that names a drawn out of a hat and you need to buy something for your corresponding person to the value of $50. Easy. Sort of.

What our family also has in place is the rule where you give three suggestions to everyone, not knowing who is actually going to give you your present, so that they have an idea of what you’d like.

I’m trying to think of three things I’d like right now.

In the process of thinking through this I’m becoming more and more convinced that Christmas presents need to be about experiences rather than stuff. I’m sick of all the stuff I have, well, a lot of it anyway. I’m sick of getting more and more and more and forking out good money for stuff I won’t be using in a few months time.

So, I’m looking at simply asking for an experience. Perhaps a movie voucher or a restaurant voucher. Something that is tangible that I can use with others and we can go out an enjoy ourselves. Most likely it’ll be used for Date Night sometime in the future.

With Christmas comes the rush to buy more stuff. We don’t need more stuff. I certainly don’t.

What will you be looking to give and to get this Christmas? Do you agree, experiences over stuff?

Two Articles About the iDisconnect

Just over a week ago I divorced my iPhone. You can read about it here.

This evening I’ve come across a couple of articles highly relevant to my aims of disconnecting and simplifying life.

The first is from the Harvard Business Review blog. It highlights the benefit of disconnecting for an extended period of time and what might be worth taking its place.

The second is from 99U and is more concerned about social media addiction. If we’re honest with ourselves most of us are probably social media addicts and so it might be time to reassess the purpose for which we friend, share, tweet, follow and pin.

Again, like last week, I’m reminded of the question, “What am I really connected to anyway?”

iDivorce

Five days ago I divorced my iPhone.

Photo: Sean Dreilinger
By: Sean Dreilinger

Last week I walked into my local electronics store and bought myself this little beauty. A Nokia 110. I bought a micro-sim adapter and then took my micro-sim out of my iPhone 4S and swapped it over.

For the last five days I’ve been living with a phone that can’t do much except call and text. It can’t check where I am. It can’t login to Facebook. It can’t allow me to tweet. It can’t take good photos. It can’t sync my contacts with the cloud. It can’t do much at all.

Over the past month or so I’ve been realising how truly addicted to the iPhone I am. It’s just a beautiful device that I end up spending hours each day looking over, searching for nothing meaningful, checking for the latest updates, and trying to look important in doing so. It’s not because I need to do these things, it’s just because I want to use my phone.

I’ve been an iPhone user for the past 4 years. It’s radically changed how I operate and allowed me to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. For example, when travelling overseas I’ve been able to take photos, check where I am, send email and be on Skype all from the one portable device. That wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago.

But I’ve realised that there’s more to life than my phone. There are people in my life that need me, that should have my time and time is a valuable thing. Therefore, some of the goals I’m seeking to achieve in this iDivorce are:

  • Spend more engaged time with family and people
  • Be more productive and use my time more wisely
  • Not be so reliant on a device
  • Able to be less conscious on the device I have and be ok when it drops out of my hand
  • Distance and separate my working life with my social life as well as my online and non-online life
  • Break the iPhone addiction

These are the things I want to achieve over the course of the next month, possibly even longer. The iPhone has been the first thing I look at each morning and the last thing I look at each night. What a sad place that is when I’ve got a beautiful wife lying right next to me. For that alone it’s time to initiate an iDivorce.

How about you? Is it time you began a separation with your smartphone?