Being All You Can Be. Part V: Enjoyment.

In the last two sections on being all you can be we addressed the two financial, or “survival” sides to hard work: monetized work and self-sufficiency. Doing both of these things in some way will maximize your life by minimizing expense, giving you some spending money and freeing you from reliance on others. However what are we meant to do with all this spare time and money? Enjoy it, of course!

The other thing that makes work worthwhile, beyond money and independence, is enjoyment, pure and simple. This is what you have been working towards.

Everyone should have a hobby or two or three, but not all hobbies are created equal. Some hobbies eat more into your free time and money, some hobbies even generate time and money, some hobbies are pure dopamine and some build us up. So here are a few points on which to evaluate our hobbies.

1: Money.

Hobbies can be sorted into the expensive, the balanced and the paid.

An expensive hobby would be one you can’t afford to do weekly without controlling other expenses. For me that would be shopping and dressing up, which I love but just cannot justify as a full time hobby.

A balanced hobby would be one you can afford to do weekly without going into the red. For me that would be painting or dancing, which cost very little, but generally still cost me.

An earning hobby would be one where you can make enough money to pay for at least the expenses of the hobby, if not enough to give you a profit! An example for me is writing, which is also my job, and gardening, which saves me money.

2: Time.

Hobbies can be sorted into the no-time, the casual and the time-saving.

A no-time hobby would be one that you need to schedule in carefully to be able to do it. For me that would be my comic book project, which eats away the hours.

A casual hobby would be one that you can indulge every now and again without scheduling. For me that would be my blog, which I can fit in weekly or daily.

A time-saving hobby would be one that in the long run saves you time. For me that would be my budgeting and meal planning, which relax me, but also free up time over the week.

3: Productivity.

Hobbies can be sorted into sinks, even and productive.

A sink hobby would be one that eats away at productive time and yields few results. For me that would be anime, which can easily eat productive time.

An even hobby would be one you can happily do daily as it does not affect your productive time. For me that would be painting and gardening, where the results are not frequent, but the effort is not free of results.

A productive hobby would be one that yields solid, real results. For me that would be drawing or writing, where the results are immediately in front of me.

4: Health.

Hobbies can be sorted into detrimental, harmless and fitness.

A detrimental hobby would be one that actively hurts your health in the long run. For me that would be anime, where by sitting around watching something I am negatively impacting my physical and mental health.

A harmless hobby would be one that isn’t healthy or particularly unhealthy. For me that would be dancing, which is in theory good for me, but not required on top of my fitness regime. For others, dancing might be a fitness hobby, as it may be a vital core of their exercise regime!

A fitness hobby would be one that improves your health actively. For me that would be gardening, which does contribute to my fitness via constant low-level activity.

Myers-Brigss style, you can take the first letter of each of the four categories to categorize your hobbies. Another way of doing it would be to number each result in each of the four categories from 1-3, with 1 being least desirable and 3 being most.

Let’s use two examples: soap operas, ballroom dancing and growing berries. Assuming all three are a single person’s hobbies, all of which they enjoy equally, here is their breakdown.

Soap operas: Balanced, as it does not cost or earn; Casual, as long as they are flexible with watching it online; Sink, as it uses time and energy with no reward; Detrimental, as sitting still for extended periods and tuning out are bad for mind and body.

Result: BCSD, or 2211. Not the best hobby.

Ballroom dancing: Balanced, as even classes are inexpensive; No-time, as both classes and casual dancing need preparation and deciation; Even, as eventually results show in health and skill; Fitness, assuming it’s core to their exercise.

Result: BNEF, or 2123. A good hobby.

Growing berries: Earning, as it saves money; Casual, needs minimal involvement; Productive, as results are immediately visible and soon edible; Harmless, as it is active but not intense.

Result: ECPH, or 3232. A very good hobby.

That doesn’t mean soap operas need to be neglected! It is just a tool for considering how we use our enjoyable time.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Being All You Can Be. Part IV: Self-Sufficiency.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment.  And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Part III addressed how finance is important to being all you can be, and a few ways of contributing financially.

But where you cannot afford a service or product, where your financing abilities fall short, you needn’t go without. After all, if you need to, you can do almost anything yourself. Here are some self-sufficiency skills which will save you money on projects you may not be able to realistically outsource.

  1. Grow your own. If you can grow the food you eat, you eat better and save money. Consider getting herbs and a bonsaid lemon tree for the kitchen; tomatoes, courgettes, oranges, strawberries and raddishes on balconies; carrots, potatoes, rhubarb, berries and cabbages in small gardens, and fruit trees and various crops in bigger gardens.
  2. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Outsourcing these, even in the form of buying prepared meals, hiring a carpet cleaner or getting ironing done at the dry-cleaner, is expensive in the long term. Cut costs by looking after your hosue from scratch yourself.
  3. Basic plumbing and electrics. Plumbers and electricians cost an awful lot. Which is fine for big jobs, after all we don’t want a flood, death by electrocution or both. But when it comes to changing light switches and cleaning u-bends, we should be masters at looking after our house’s workings.
  4. Woodwork. Anything from mending a shelf to making your own pagoda, the more woodwork you can do the better your house can look for less.
  5. Feminine arts. As with woodwork, repeated again. The more you can make and mend on your own using sewing, knitting, crochet, darning and weaving, the less you need to buy to look and feel great.
  6. Literally anything. Think of things you spend on and ask yourself: can I do that? You may be surprised!

Next week we will look into enjoyment, the things we can do to make the most of all the time and money we free up with the previous two pillars.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being All You Can Be. Part III: Finance.

In Part II I outlined how there are three pillars to being all you can be: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. And all of them are crucial to being a well-rounded person.

Finance is an important pillar, because it represents the resources that we cannot handle on our own. In Part IV I will discuss the ways in which we can handle as much work as possible, but it’s important to remember that there is a limit to how much we can do from scratch. It’s the whole reason we needed an economy to begin with!

However finance is not just about earning money. Finance is, at its core, about a trade of skills, where you swap what you’re good at for what someone else is good at. Here are a few ways of fulfilling the financial side of your person:

1: Getting a job. The easiest way. Here you swap your skills for money, which you then swap for someone else’s skills. The exchange is distant, but it’s the easiest way of predetermining the value of your work and making sure you have covered all your needs.

2: Swapping skills. A bit more ambiguous, but works in small communities. You bake bread for the neighbour, she weeds your garden. A simple trade.

3: Saving money. If making money isn’t your forte, then saving money is a good way of increasing your resources. This will be explored more in the next part, but in principle whenever you manage to haggle a price down, so something yourself or locate a cheaper version, you have generated wealth.

4: Enabling an earner. This is the way well to do housewives have traditionally generated wealth. It is a mash up of getting a job and swapping skills. You use your skills at home so that the earner does not have to do anything when they get back, allowing them to work to the fullest and make more money when outside.

All of these practices generate wealth by exchanging your abilities with someone else’s, making it easier to get someone else to do those jobs which you cannot do, such as make lightbulbs or treat your infected cut.

Next week we will address the ways in which we can develop our Self-Sufficiency, to become all we can be!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being All You Can Be. Part II: Self-Sufficiency.

As mentioned in Part I, being all you can be is not just about doing a great job, but also about reaching your fingers into as many pies as you can comfortably handle.

The next element to being all you can be is working out what to focus on. After all, you can’t do it all or have it all, but you shouldn’t really devote yourself to one thing forever either. The woman in the last example is a police officer for her paid work, a housewife at home and a writer in her spare time. What is stopping her from wearing more hats? And why did she choose those three?

She wears three hats because that is what her time allows. Once you’ve worked all day, sorted the house and written for a couple of hours, there isn’t much more you can do. And she chose those three because they represent the pillars of valuable work: finance, self-sufficiency and enjoyment. She gets paid, she avoids paying someone else to do her work and she does something she loves.

And we all have potential to embrace those three pillars and build them into the life we want to live. When that time arrives, we’ll be all we can be.

In Part III I will begin to discuss each pillar in more detail, so we can be all we can be.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Being All You Can Be. Part I: Quantity and Quality.

When we hear someone tell us to be all we can be, we often confuse this with “be the best you can be”. If you are a writer, be the best writer you can be, if you are a housewife, be the best housewife you can be, if you are a police officer, be the best police officer you can be. But being the best you can be is only one half of the equation. To be all we can be we not only need to have the quality (be the best you can be), but we also need to fulfill a quantity quota (be the most you can be).

For example, I am sure that when I mentioned the writer, housewife, police officer explanations you imagined three different people. But one person could just as easily be all three. We are not just the thing we do most often, or the thing we make money from, or the thing we love: we are the sum total of everything we do. So not only would this woman want to be the best she can be in all three categories, she needs to acknowledge that all three categories are a part of her and that excluding any one of them to make herself better at another is not being all she can be, it’s simply redirecting whilst staying the same.

Thus, I put forward that whoever you are and whatever you do, in order to be all you can be you must do everything you can and achieve everything your heart desires. Quantity and quality alike. This series will be short, to the point and with plenty of room for thought or addition from you readers, so feel free to chip in! In Part II I will discuss the concept of self-sufficiency and the potential we all have for independence.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Things I Wish I Had Done Before My Laptop BURNED OUT.

So, I’m stressed right now. Very, very stressed. I have just had my computer crash and lost a week worth of work. Send the thing in to be checked, but there is no guarantee anything can be recovered. Which leaves me finishing a pile of work that I had already done. Annoying? Yes, very. Even Jon’s giving me quiet space to do my work, so I’m guessing it’s very noticeable that I am angry and stressed beyond words.

So here are five things I wish I had done before my laptop burned out, as a caution to myself and to others who take their work as lightly as I do.

1: Deliver things as soon as they’re done.

If you’re writing for work or for a magazine or volunteer group, deliver everything as soon as it’s finished. The only thing worse than losing a load of work is losing a load of work that has been ready to go for 24-48h and that I’ve been postponing. Writing over 40k words all over again in a night is the worst experience imaginable, worse than writing it in the first place. Do yourself a favour and don’t mess up like I did: deliver fast.

2: Set online backups.

Most computers today come with the option of online backups. Create an account and back up your most important work, updating it daily. It sounds like a lot of stress, but it is a life-saver in the long run. Many of my personal work files, such as my books, are saved on Amazon or my email account, which is brilliant to know!

3: Keep external backups.

Even so, try and keep external backups. I am usually good for this, every six months or so. Shame my last backup was exactly that long ago. Ouch. I think more regular backups of certain folders may be required. If the folder is updated every month, then two or three months should be the absolute minimum for backup. Plus, it’s a good safeguard against online formats breaking down.

4: Keep an eye on known problems and keep up to date.

I had no chance to guess this one. Apparently it was just the result of regular use for several years, including the usual issues of running it too long every once in a while and the odd bump. Still, it might have been in my best interest to bear in mind the issues that come with an aging laptop and to run more backups after the second year. When this bad boy is two years old I will definitely be running more regular backups and treating it more gently.

5: Save important work as you go.

I found this out the hard way the first time around as well. I think we have all at some point written several hours worth of work and research, only to have the computer crash, the session time out, the internet die or just to click “do not save” instead of “save”. So we learn to hit the save button at least every sentence and eventually find a happy medium of saving every few paragraphs. Well, that’s where I am right now. From now on I am going to store my most important work in various file systems and save it there whenever I make changes.

All I want is my books back. 😦

Any tips for feeling so stressed you’re about to be sick? It hasn’t gone since last week.

TTFN and Happy Saving!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… identify and avoid netsickness.

What is netsickness?

“Netsickness” is a term I am coining to describe the sensation of isolation our new, hyperconnected age gives many of us. The principle is simple:

  • As humans, we are supposed to interact very regularly with people who constitute our tribe. Even the people who lived in isolation would visit the village a couple of times a week and those who always stayed out of everyone’s way were either very low ranking or belonging to a mini-tribe of their own. In other words: whether it was one person or four hundred, we always lived among those we loved.
  • The other situation under which someone would live in isolation was by force. This was where something about you was not accepted by the tribe. Everything from incurable illness to extreme behaviour, from disloyalty to simply being disliked, could be a motive for your people to evict you to the outskirts.
  • Therefore, when we feel much affection for people and talk with them daily, we want to see them often as well. This shows us that we are wanted and liked and makes us feel happy and secure.
  • When the people whom we most love are not near enough to us, we get distressed. To our primitive selves, these are the people who would protect us from danger, cuddle with us when we’re sad, feed us when we cannot feed ourselves, laugh with us over the day’s events. When isolated from them, we get the sensation that we need to get back to them as soon as possible.
  • In essence, being separated from our tribe makes us homesick.

Enter the internet. It used to be the case that we most readily identified with those around us, but now we begin to form opinions and adopt ideologies that do not resemble those of people nearest to us. It also used to be the case that we would most often talk to those around us and nearest to us physically, but now we can spend all day and all night talking to people whom we will never meet. But our brains cannot tell the difference between people online and people in real life. To our brains, as long as they act and talk like people, surely they are people? With the key difference being that people on the internet are people we never meet. We cannot be protected, cuddled, fed or loved by them.

And that makes us homesick. In short, netsickness is homesickness induced by socializing primarily online.

But how do we maintain an ordinary online presence and get in touch with people across the world without making ourselves feel isolated from those we love?

How to detect netsickness.

  1. Do you feel a sensation of wanting to go “home”, without knowing where that is?
  2. Do you feel a constant desire to move, to get away?
  3. Do you find yourself thinking about online friends daily?
  4. Do you find yourself feeling anxious, angry and on edge after an online argument?
  5. Do you find yourself associating with online and in person friends on the same platform?

If you answered “yes” to all the above, you are suffering netsickness. You have allowed your online relationships to become connected to your in person ones and as a consequence you want to go out and meet up with your online friends.

How to prevent and cure netsickness.

1: Isolate platforms.

Separate where you talk to online friends and associates from where you talk to in person friends and associates. Also separate the places where you debate from the places where you interact in a friendly manner, maybe even create accounts for each type of interaction.

For example, as it stands for me:

Facebook, email and linkedin are primarily where I associate with people I actually know.

WordPress and twitter are primarily where I associate with people I like.

Reddit is primarily where I debate.

By keeping them all mostly separate, I reinforce a sense of real life versus the internet, and create an environment where I am comfortable versus one where I welcome abrasive conflict.

2: Restrict online time.

Sometimes the issue is simply one of time dedication. When we spend so much time on the internet we might start to feel as though this is where our lives take place, especially if we are dedicated to one or two sites.

In order to prevent this, consider the following measures:

  • Permanently block websites where you waste vast amounts of time unproductively, or getting wound up.
  • Add a time limit using a tool such as leechblocker onto each individual social site, so that you do not spend too much time on one particular one.
  • Make a point of splitting up time online with real life. Log off every hour and go for a walk, do some chores or just focus on writing and other work.

If you make a point to not live online, then you are less likely to feel bonded to people you do not actually know.

3: Make time for people.

In the same vein, try and make time for people you know in real life. When you put the internet before friends and family you can end up growing isolated from both groups, resulting in a genuine loss of belonging.

The time required with people varies from individual to individual, but in my case it looks like this:

  • See Jon daily, preferably for most of the day, even if we do not speak.
  • See at least one other person, but no more than three.
  • Once to four times a week see someone other than Jon, for reasons other than work.
  • See specific individuals every 3-6 months.
  • Have the odd day where there is no contact but Jon.

When I do that, I feel like ties are maintained, I feel sociable but not tired from excessive socialization.

4: Meet up.

We will always meet one or two people online whom we connect with on such a basic, natural level that regardless of intermittency of contact and an active social life, we will want to spend time with or around them. This will always result in a sense of longing, as these people have become like our own blood relatives, just because of our shared personalities, matching interests and compatible opinions.

So when all else fails: meet. This does not have to be a physical meeting, but merely breeching the barriers of the internet and reality. Seeing as these people have already become a priority to us, it would be worth our while to add them to our friends on facebook, our email contacts or our skype.

And that is the matter of netsickness, laid out.

Have you ever been netsick? How did you deal with it?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.