With young kids around, the laundry and responsibility for dependents figures become hours daily, not weekly. When they're a bit older there's less cleaning but now you're running them around more and ensuring they meet their commitments.
With more gadgets, chemicals and domestic appliances we've just invented higher standards and hundreds of new things to do. The to do list is 20x longer, but each task takes less time.
Whilst we might not want to return to weekly bathing and keeping a room, only for visitors, "for best" of Victorian times, some rebalance might be a good idea. Might even turn out to be good for skin and gut bacteria and the rise of eczema etc.
What we don't have, as it's been gadgeted away, is downtime. Kids, and many adults, today can not cope with being bored (the normal state for kids in the 70s for perhaps an hour or two daily). I saw that very clearly with my own kids and all their friends over the years. What used to be a trigger for inventing a game, building a den, or making something new with lego is far more filled with minutes on YT. More and more we've filled every second with things to do - by "necessity" and by choice.
In trying to make life easier most of us no longer seem to have time (or often inclination) to just chill watching the world go by for an hour a day.
Seems it all got too fragmented.
This hurts to read because it really nails it. This very thing has been on my mind quite a bit lately after watching my older kids now as young adults. We managed to keep them away from much of this simply because we never thought it necessary, but apparently not to the extent I wish we would have. Now with complete freedom of how they spend their time I’m not exactly pleased with the results. They still seem to be lacking the inner drive to create, but instead would rather consume.
My desire was for them to know how to be satisfied from within, developed from their own inner source, not coming from the outside, simply fueled by what they are consuming.
An anecdote: My dad was driven nuts by how much time I wasted as a kid and teen on gaming, and how it seemed that I had few productive interests,never built anything, and stopped projects as soon as I got bored.. He wanted me to be obsessed with something, but few teens are obsessed with anything but not being lonely, social interactions more generally, and just following a random walk exploration. Dad never won those fights to make me serious then.
But you know what? As an adult, I am quite different. I am now a post doctoral fellow conducting cutting edge neuroscience, having completed numberous complex, long-term research programmes that have required obsession, grit, and a determination to perfect his craft.
If your kids can avoid the usual pitfalls (e.g. a serious drug addiction) Im sure all your efforts will come into fruition when they are ready to committ themselves.
Today I buy my son Rasberry Pie's, laptops with GameMaker installed, etc hoping he too will find an obsessio. But he too resists i.e. stops as soon as he is bored.
C'est la vie
This is true, yes!
But I am concerned about what this does to them as a person. Life will kick them down (and then in the head for good measure), and a time will come when they are truly standing alone. If they are lacking the inner self, will they have the fortitude and the wherewithal to navigate themselves back up, even without any immediate payoff? Or will this constant need to feed be so ingrained they won’t know how to push through a hard time with little hope and almost zero positive gain, and instead gravitate towards what feels good for the moment?
But, your anecdote offers hope anyway. Thanks for sharing.
I wonder if it's some innate drive for kids because it comes up in multiple generations; listening to music, watching tv, on facebook or youtube?
I still don't really have an obsession. Committing to a field feels so restrictive compared to reading about a variety of things. As a result, I haven't done very well professionally, but my dad, who was obsessed, didn't do well, either.
I don't remember wasting that much time as a teenager, since if I wanted something, I needed to get a job and work for it. If there was any chance of my bettering the type of situation I grew up on, I had to make sure my grades were amazing. I had to deal with someone else's serious drug addiction in the family, and try to make sense of it, while committing to myself. I don't know if you were ever physically abused as a child because of the lack of drive?
I'm just saying, you may have had the privilege to waste time on someone else's dime, and everything still worked out alright. Not everyone has that. Some of us, if we're not willing to fight from the get-go, we're going nowhere.
Anwyays, congratulations on your post doctoral fellowship.
I got through college with my family on student loans, stipends, and food stamps.And you know what, my kids will have opportunities I never even dreamed of. There is no better feeling.
You decide for yourself what my anecdote is worth.
On another hand your kids are more spoiled with the wealth they were born into and potentially may have lower drive than you have.
Hard to tell how they would turn out.
An afghan (?) proverb I barely remember went something like this: "The king's father grew up in a tent; he worked hard, built his house, and led the people well. The king lived in a house but remembered the tent he was born in; he worked hard, built his palace, and led the people well. The king's children were born in a palace; they have never seen a tent. They are lazy and will not lead the people at all."
"My grandfather rode a Pony, my father rode a Pony, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel,"
Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.
Economists like to mention that just a few hundred years ago, an average worker's daily wages were only worth ten minutes of artificial light. Now they are worth more than 20,000 hours. This is progress. This is what we do.
Fuck the romanticization of poverty and hardship. That our children do not need to pour as much sweat as us into (literally) keeping the lights on is greatest joy of our success. That drive, grit, pain tolerance, and other survival-mode traits are no longer necessary or adaptive is the best thing that could be happening.
I suspect I will never be able to fully empathize with people who are sad about this. Different mindsets, I guess. Still, I think it's useful for us to be exposed to the opposing perspectives.
We aren't romanticizing poverty, I'm an engineer too and I'm directly involved in the 20k hours of light part, probably my contribution is a very tiny fraction of it but my children have grown up with not only no desire to work but no real desire to put their all into anything. It's not universal but it does seem more polarized than it was forty years ago when I was the age they are now (20-s).
Of course this is all anecdata but it is something that bothers such a large number of people that I feel there must be a kernel of truth in it.
I'm not sad they don't have to struggle to stay alive, warm, and well fed (not that I ever had to actually struggle either, merely plan ahead a little more) what saddens me is the lack of desire to create. Of course if we go far enough back you had to be creative just to live at all so perhaps we are seeing not a change but merely the revealing of what was always there.
When I first went off to college I failed. I did not know why I was there or how to do things. I dropped out and worked various jobs e.g. graveyard shifts at AMPM for two years, pizza delivery for a year, driver for a repoman repossessing cars..let me tell you that there were some pretty dark years then..
But I did succeed after failing
The point is not so much a libertarian fairy tale though. It was only after I met my wife and started a family did the focus of my life come together with a vengence. It was only because I received a lot of support from a supportive wife, a stable dad and mom, a good graduate advisor,and a minimally sufficient social services system. Without these I would not have succeeded coming from where I did..
Every time I come to Hackernews or Slashdot or Reddit, I really should be going to my editor and writing or picking a card off the wall and finishing that thing I want to do.
Obviously, right now, I'm failing. :-P
I think you have a good point about idle time being gadgeted away.
Also I think there is a tremendous potential in automation of physical labor (including remaining daily tasks). I wonder how much more free time we would have, if only 10% of workforce that currently does web/mobile/game apps (including myself) would apply their skills to automating their daily life with simple robots.
Dishwashers help with the bulk, but you end up with more dishes in the household (not worth firing up the dishwasher til it's full). With the things they can't do, and the baked food they sometimes miss, the rinsing beforehand, the loading and unloading, the saving is marginal. But 20 mins a day with hands in soapy water isn't fun, so...
Cooking -- we make more interesting things with far more ingredients, as the fridge is the size of a 60s house, rather than just keeping milk and cheese fresh. Or order takeout.
So track record says whatever future inventions bring us to save time, work (and chores) will expand to fill time available, and we'll be even more fragmented, with even more stuff.
Well then, just don't buy the stuff! Exercise some self-control.
How's that working out for obesity?
> How's that working out for obesity?
Personally? I am in tip top shape fellow gentle person. Tip top. I found that things don't make me happy, but experiences do.
Multiple loads means a multi hour time commitment to being on stand by to transfer and continue the process.
The programmer in me actually has resorted to throwing everything in the car and driving to a laundry mat if I have a build up for some life reason. Then I can wash and dry 12 loads concurrently and be done with it all in about 2 hours. Laundry mats are "the cloud" of home chores.
Now if somebody ever manages to automate the process of transitioning from washer, to drier, to sorted and folded in the home then they will rightly make a fortune as the time savings would be off the charts.
I load my little wheelie-cart, my laptop for some work or a book if I have time, and do what I'd normally do somewhere else for a couple hours. The only real differences are minimal interactions with humans, a need for quarters, and having to wear pants.
Folding is tedious. I hang everything except T-shirts, and some way to skip folding things simply to hang them at home would be nice, but that would involve a vehicle, which is its own bundle of urban hassle and silly for two blocks.
I'm not sure of the tradeoffs. If you have the space, doing laundry while you're in the house for other reasons and transferring manually is the least of the effort.
For the single drum units, you lose the ability to wash 1 load while another is drying. The perk is that you can throw a load in when you leave for work and it will be done when you get back home. If you have more than one those, you're extending your total wash time from
wash * loads + (1 dry time)
(wash + dry time) * loads
i am considering replacing my (unused, broken) dishwasher with a small combo washer dryer and continue doing dishes and cleaning by hand. i think that would be the optimal setup in terms of time and effort and money spent.
The skills for building a robot are quite different from the skills for building "classical" software. For example for classical software one can do correctness proofs/analysis, while for robots one can only do empirical tests or correctness proofs relative to a strongly abstracted world model. So in other words: Applying their (existing) skills into that direction would not have much value. On the other hand: If these people were investing years to develop the skills necessary for robot development, this would probably help; but who of this group is really willing (and can afford) to do so?
Of course there are robotics specifics - computer vision, motion planning (also forward, inverse kinematics), but these functions in principle could be hidden behind an opaque DOM-like APIs, while being implemented in a very advanced manner (e.g. trained deep learning models for vision, best SLAM algorithms, best planning algorithms). Just like the browser doesn't require you to draw webpages pixel-by-pixel on raw framebuffer and provides you with fonts, block model, events etc.
>For example for classical software one can do correctness proofs/analysis, while for robots one can only do empirical tests or correctness proofs relative to a strongly abstracted world model.
Objection #1: Almost nobody does correctness proofs in application and even in system software (e.g. the linux kernel), and yet these software projects work quite well, for example it is known that SpaceX uses Linux (with various patches) as a platform for its in Dragon and Falcon. In fact correctness proofs are mostly done by hardware companies, for some functional blocks, and maybe by the military. If you are interested in exploring this question further you can read "How did software get so reliable without proof?" by C.A.R. Hoare .
Objection #2: Proofs of correctness in logical or probabilistic sense are being done for various real systems by Cyber-Physical Systems community and by Machine Learning community.
>So in other words: Applying their (existing) skills into that direction would not have much value.
I still think that given good blackbox abstractions and familiar API much could be done. We can see beginning of it with maker community, arduinos and espruinos. More should be possible.
>but who of this group is really willing (and can afford) to do so?
I think programmers, investors and customers should be less averse to hardware. We could live much more pleasantly if it were true. Underautomated status-quo is daunting.
I just remembered this post which I think helps better capture some of what I'm talking about: https://plusbryan.com/its-just-wood But I think there's something else besides avoiding things that are mysterious. I think it has something to do with the physicality of the thing. At least something else is needed to understand the weird reluctance with working with hardware that a lot of software-only people have, who differently from the general public (who can't even use their computers) are sharp enough to battle with mind blowing complexity and solving mysteries of bugs or how new languages or APIs work every day behind their screens.
Doing laundry is a lot more than loading and unloading. If you have small children then you have to check everywhere for stains and apply something like Spray 'n Wash first. And then folding takes a lot of time. (There is a folding machine launching soon but it's expensive and might not be reliable https://www.foldimate.com/ .)
I've tried a couple of different Roombas. They simply don't work very well. The rollers get tangled on rug fringes. They get stuck under furniture. The suction is weak. They require frequent cleaning. In the end it's less hassle just to use a regular vacuum.
If this is the case your dishwasher sucks. Other than knocking big chunks (bones, cobs, etc...) into the trash there's no need to pre-rinse dishes on a competent machine.
I do agree that dishwashers don't save as much time as you would hope, but they do help. Handwashing and drying is slow.
The laundry machine is absolutely faster than beating your clothes against the washboard, but yes, it doesn't check for stains and it is still a big time sink.
Roombas suck. No argument there. Vacuuming a room is actually pretty quick, it's picking up all of the stuff first that takes forever when you have kids.
It seems to me that western people have become too entrenched in their familiar lifestyle and it is too hard for current technology to adapt to it as is. And so we live in a status quo where a tiny rich minority can afford to hire human servants to do their chores while middle class can neither hire human servants nor buy robotic ones.
Your experience is much different from mine. I bought a Roomba, then bought another Roomba, because I realized I needed Roomba redundancy.
Could not imagine life without Roomba!
I don't have carpet and no rugs. On hard surfaces I find Roomba does a better job then manually sweeping. But maybe different with carpet.
I'm studying up on udacity about ML and CV. Reading papers and just exploring the domain.
I think the future is amazing.
I started dropping off our laundry at my local laundromat about 6 years ago, it immediately improved my quality of life. Now if only they would put it away for me.
Sounds like an opportunity for a startup!
</joke> ... or so I thought.
There was the same amount of time, but it was allocated differently.
There were phone calls. If somebody calls you on the phone, you stop doing what you're doing and talk to them.
Apart from that, time was scheduled in larger chunks, with fever context switches. You watch a movie start to finish, not a bunch of 2 minute Youtube videos. You spend an evening printing photos in the dark room rather than two seconds on Instagram. You go to a chess club and play with somebody sitting across the table.
So generally you do one thing at a time for longer stretches, and have to plan those activities in advance.
Shopping was mostly physical shopping other than a few catalogs. I remember going into the city once a month or so to go to bookstores etc.
Bills were all a matter of writing physical checks once a week or so.
I also had a shareware software business during that period. So one of my weekly tasks was stuffing floppies into floppy mailer envelopes. (They could choose 3.5" or 5.25" formats with or without printed docs.)
ADDED: I should say that I spent a fair amount of time on BBS's prior to Usenet/Web.
I want to be able to read a non-technical book fully and I can't and I'm very unhappy about this whole situation.
It's surprisingly easy when forced. I moved apartment a few years ago to a small seaside town (mostly retirees and a few locally run shops). We had an old CRT style TV with very few channels. For the first two weeks we had no internet. It was pretty interesting how our differently we would spend the day. My friend and I would take walks around town or the beach, go surfing for a few hours, cook instead of ordering takeout, and then spend the rest of the time hanging out in the living room. The TV was on but we were mostly just chatting. Switch to two weeks later when we got internet. We spent much more time in our rooms on our computers playing video games or watching Netflix. We would still surf a couple of times a week but besides that we would only hangout for an hour or two in the evening if there was a good movie on TV. As frustrating as it was at times not having internet access I would say I was much happier during those first 2 weeks and with so few options for things to do my attention span was automatically much better.
Your message started with "What wouldn't I give to have such attention span!", and it turns out that you don't need to give all that much. Getting started is difficult, though.
If you do start down this path, consider reading Deep Work by Cal Newport to give you some ideas about how you can use the focus and concentration abilities you're building. Again, it's not perfect, but if you take the book as a list of suggestions rather than a strict prescription of what you should do, you'll probably find that you can adapt its lessons to make your life better.
Work on engaging in those activities a little bit longer then you currently can, and slowly increase the duration. Use a timer to set a limit. This would need to be done with regularity and focus.
The important thing is that I need to always remember that it's an addiction and I need to get it under control. I think limiting myself to a half hour or hour a day would be best.
Possible there is some positive there as well, and it keeps drawing you in. Instead of thinking of it as an addiction, think of it as something you do, that is part positive and part empty. Identify those parts that are positive, and praise yourself for them. Then over time, identify those parts that are empty, and realize, "oh, I can eliminate this."
I have to imagine you'd say the same thing about whatever hobby you could use to fill this time with. Perhaps your hobby leads to new friends, business opportunities, skills, or other general improvements in your daily life.
My kids (14 and 13) don't watch any TV. They don't even particularly like movies.
They do a lot of arts and crafts, they play games (board games and video games), and one spends quite a bit of time playing the piano. They both are spending more and more time talking with friends either in person or on Facetime or IM.
The video that they do watch is pretty much exclusively on YouTube.
The sad thing is it can jump into the middle of any activity. Getting lunch, wait one second text message which you need to respond to right now.
So, you get sent a text and people will generally assume you are ignoring them unless you respond.
If you check your phone in a meeting, and you don't have a family member in the hospital, you're wrong. It's discourteous in the extreme to check a smartphone (or noodle around on a laptop!) when meeting with others.
Also, there are more and less formal meetings, but in a technical meeting checking some point online with a laptop or phone occurs on a regular basis. It seems much more productive than having people just say random things that don't match up with reality.
Meetings should be short and to the point: 15-30 minutes should be normal, an hour abnormal. 'I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention' is rude, and so is wasting every other participant's time while context switching back to the meeting.
> Also, there are more and less formal meetings, but in a technical meeting checking some point online with a laptop or phone occurs on a regular basis.
Sure, but people shouldn't be programming, working on their personal blogs, reading reddit, checking HN, catching up on the latest Wikipedia articles, browsing Google News or whatever when they're in a meeting.
Participants in a meeting owe one another their attention.
Well, an agenda is part of the courtesy the meeting convener owes the participants, and a well-run meeting is part of the courtesy the chairman owes the participants.
Meetings are incredibly expensive: everyone owes it to their organisation, one another and themselves to make that expense worth it.
You owe attention to your fellow participants.
Then take action! You are not a passive victim of circumstances: you are an active participant in, among other things, meetings; demand that your fellow-participants behave politely.
Take responsibility for your destiny.
Is there any practical reason, that makes texting rude, discourteous, and unprofessional, besides that it unflatters someone's ego?
I, personally, don't think I'd be affected by "unflattering". In many circumstances, though, noodling around on a laptop in a meeting is communicating to the presenter that their presentation is unworthy of your time or attention - that is to say, you are disrespecting the presenter.
I think it's a moving scale, though, dependent on the importance of the subject of the meeting and the relationship of the attendees. In a casual meeting between friends, with low-importance subject matter, I would consider undivided attention unnecessary (and therefore exceptionally respectful if given). In a business environment, where the subject is business related, I would consider it necessary (and therefore the opposite is exceptionally disrespectful).
It's not about shows of allegiance: it's about being present for your fellow-participants.
> Is there any practical reason, that makes texting rude, discourteous, and unprofessional, besides that it unflatters someone's ego?
Human beings can't multitask: every second you're texting is a second of meeting content you're missing. It is rude, because it says to those speaking, 'what you are saying is not as important as what I am reading or typing.' It is discourteous, because it wastes their time. It is unprofessional, because a professional would do others the politeness of turning down the meeting if he doesn't believe his presence is needed, rather than attending and ignoring.
I think one difference other than the never-ending aspect of the internet is that when you're reading a newspaper or book you get sleepy when you're supposed to, whereas if you're looking at a screen the blue light keeps you awake longer and all your chores take longer the next day because you have less energy.
Weekend newspapers would kill you if dropped on your head from a modest height. Magazines had hundreds of ad pages.
Non-ad content used to be much longer. Many features and columns were equivalent to a long-read feature today.
This issue of Byte from 1981 (about Smalltalk) is a 312MB PDF with nearly 500 pages:
I think the blue light issue may be overstated. I used to read paper into the early hours, even after I was tired and sleepy. I still get a "must sleep now" cut off, even when surrounded by screens. It just happens later.
What isn't overstated is information volume. Hacker News and Reddit literally give you more links/features in 24 hours than Byte used to offer once a month. Each item may be shorter - sometimes - but there are many, many more things to read.
Now, because of smartphones, it seems everyone is caught in this same time distortion field.
As a result I purposefully try to look at my phone as little as possible.
Think of it this way, if through some sort of Matrix like situation our first experience of the outside world was through a small touchscreen, and then suddenly you took the red pill and were put into a world where you could touch, smell and see in full 360 degrees and feel wind and water and move and climb over things and interact with animals etc...it would blow your mind.
So why are we allowing ourselves to limit our experiences in this way?
You just need to understand you are not missing out on anything by not doing so.
This sort of internet addiction isn't just destroying productivity for grown up adults but studying habits of teenagers and school going kids too.
Try to take it 15 minutes at a time. Try staying away from internet 15 minutes at a time, then the next 15 and so on, I think it should work out perfect well.
There's an excerpt at: http://mentalfloss.com/article/18670/gin-sitcoms-and-cogniti...
What have I been doing instead? Riding my bike around town. Hanging out with friends. Not bad, but I've also taken up watching Youtube for hours every night.
The key is to not overwhelm yourself and to do something towards your goal. For example, don't try to set up the entire blog in one night, instead do a micro-portion, "oh, I better start downloading the webserver before I watch youtube." Or even, "oh, I better plug my server in and turn it on."
The key is to do something every night, and cut it into pieces small enough that it's doable. If you find yourself putting it off, that means you need to cut it into an even smaller portion.
I went for a run last week, and got to marveling how I had run from my front door into the mountains & back, how gradually the time had passed, and how those two hours would have zwip vanished in a forgettable blink had I been online.
It's amazing how fast the time can slip by.
I even try to schedule in periods where I do allow myself shallow work, like checking a bunch of things, or sating the information addiction that you and I most certainly share. Right now, I have maybe 50 tabs open between a bunch of aggregated tech/science news sites, and I'll spend maybe 1 minute at most on each one. If I did that just any time of day that I had a period of empty time, it would be just like if I left clutter anywhere that I had empty space. But since I've devoted this time to this task, it's kind of like putting everything you need for a project out on a table, then packing it up neatly when you're done with the project for the day. I know an end to the clutter is in sight, so it doesn't bother me so much.
The hardest part is always trying not to fill empty time meaninglessly. That takes skill, but it can be learned. I find I'm better at it when I've been keeping up with daily meditation in the morning and evening. But even if meditation isn't your thing, you can practice in other ways. For instance, when you are eating dinner, try to only be eating dinner. It seems awkward at first, to sit in silence (especially with a partner present) and just eat, but that fairly quickly goes away. Or, in the mornings, if you have coffee or tea, just drink coffee or tea and sit in silence. I tend to keep a notebook handy, and if something particularly strikes me during the silence, I write it down and let myself come back to it after I've finished my coffee.
I don't think it was any different before the popularity and ease of access of the internet. People assume that others were focusing on longer sessions of focus, but I don't think that's the entire truth. I think as a species, we've always struggled with this anxious itch to move on to the next thing, mere moments after starting the current thing. I think that's why (as you note) a lot of the older generations are turning to using the internet in much the same way as the younger generations.
My problem with that is that the mess in my room matches the mess inside my head. Do I feel bad that there are things all over the floor? Nope, it is really comfortable because it matches who I am.
I don't know how to solve this problem.
I feel the answer is in there. Live more in the now and experience the calmness, even though you may be just as busy as ever. Busyness is just a label you put on your activities yourself. I'm sure my son does not understand being busy and if he would he would label it as a positive feeling. Busyness is a feeling caused by thinking of all the things you still have to do. Some people feel it when they have to do shopping and cook on 1 day, some people seem to never feel it even though they shop, cook, visit friends, work and do sports on 1 day. It's very subjective and there are techniques (mindfulness?) to feel it less than you do now.
I then have plenty of spare capacity for both generalised planning and chilling out.
For me, note-taking just ends up being something else to worry about. Particularly when it comes to work.
I had been using org-mode for years before I started using custom capture templates and agenda views, and now it's clear to me that they're the magic that makes org-mode worth learning.
Compromises: no pictures, no phone. Other people make these things work, but it hasn't been worth it for me.
Oh and for reminders: Apple Reminders at 9:00, 12:45, and 16:00.
- When should I leave to get there by 20:00?
- Can I do something else along the way?
- What can I get done before then?
Edit: Not that I ever manage that myself of course but the theory is sound.
That said, there's a caveat here - as they say, "out of sight, out of mind", and I find it too easy to defend from being overworked by simply ignoring the todo list and not looking at it. This is dangerous and leads to failed obligations.
At least for me the key is to aggressively wean my to-do list, keeping items on it that I'm highly likely to complete in the next few days, as opposed to an ever-growing wish list.
I'm really not much of a productivity "system" person but David Allen has some good ideas around completing quick tasks, to do lists, breaking things up into manageable chunks, calendars being for events that are tied to a specific time/date, etc.
--> "busy" people
You shouldn't plan a grocery trip
You shouldn't schedule a grocery trip
You shouldn't consider your diet in advance (plan meals)
You shouldn't check if groceries are needed before shopping
You shouldn't make sure you have money in the bank before shopping
As an aside, those living on tight budgets typically have no choice but to think about everything in advance, like you're piloting a dinghy on the high seas.
A more practical thing might be to do your chores with music - so you'll focus on it and not on your next chore.
If you do your moment stuff, and forget to buy groceries, is that really a problem of not having food for diner? Just skip it, you won't die.
Why doing today what can be done tomorrow?
Then you only need to do planning on the really important stuff.
(Yes, this has really happened.)
You could also buy food off your neighbour. Since you only care about now, there's no point worrying what they will think in the future.
"I'll give you $10 for that packet of pasta".
What's the difference between $10 in your pocket and theirs?
What is the price of peace and contentment?
The key is to plan in the present, then do the next thing and the next thing, each time in the present. Living like this requires adult versions of faith, agility and resourcefulness.
Even with planning, there can still be time for: "when you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep". Not everything needs to be planned. Big things do, but not everything does. Know when to deploy the higher functions and when not to.
One place I've noticed this in that placing a high value on my own time comes off as self-important. As well, wondering why colleagues aren't placing a high value on their time, leave me bewildered.
Just the other day, a friend was showing me how he was playing around with React to create a calculator to show how much money he could save by getting gas over the border. Since we're on a US/Canada border town, we can save 5-10 dollars by filling up over the border. He's made his calculator just to help learn React. I asked him why he went to the US to get gas and he told me it was to save money. $5! It makes the 5 min job of getting gas into a 30 min chore. He's a freelancer which I think my company pays around ~100/hr. He doesn't think this is strange and no one else who was listening did.
For one, you can't just work more hours whenever you want, in however small of chunks you want. If something takes ten minutes, it's not like you could just choose to work for your salary for those ten minutes.
Second, not all work is equal, and you can't do all work for an infinite amount of time. Whether you are a physical or mental laborer, you only have so much productive energy for your job. You can't just work 18 hours a day and pay for everything else with the extra money.
My meaning was that I rigorously try to put a price tag on my free time, just like my minutes are counted and paid for at work. This really helps me to put many priorities straight immediately. Like GP's "oh hey let's fetch gas from 39 mins away to save a penny" example, it is usually very easy for people to give zero value for their own time when making such decisions. Putting a virtual price tag for that extra 25 mins helps to prioritize those things in life that are all lumped under the category of "free time"; family, kids, friends, just relaxing at sauna, whatever.
The best philosophy is to know where the cheap gas stations are near you. Try to fill up there when you need it, put five bucks of expensive gas in if you're low and you know you're going there soon, but otherwise don't worry about it. It's just not worth going out of your way and it's certainly not worth running out of gas in an effort to save a dollar or two.
In business, there's a principle that's something along the lines of "know your business". Your business probably isn't fixing the laser printer when it breaks, or (for smaller businesses) running your own hosting service. It costs money to do those things in-house, so it also makes sense to hire someone else to do it so you don't have to worry about it.
People often fail to apply that to their own lives. Some things just aren't worth fretting over when you can throw a bit of money at the problem and make it go away (or significantly reduce the scope of the problem). If owning a Roomba cuts down on vacuuming time by 75% then just pay the money and make the problem go away, your time is worth more than the amortized cost of the roomba.
The other one that's really surprising is car repairs. Changing oil is literally a half hour job, and many other repairs boil down to replacing an easily accessible sensor or something. The gains here are large, a garage will hardly look at a car for less than a hundred bucks. It's easy to check Youtube and see videos of someone doing the job.
There's also a lot of mistakes you can make even just in changing oil. I won't make them, but that's because I've already learned the hard way. John Doe has yet to put all the mistakes behind him.
I call it the 'small life'. Lots of people in town know me, I know them, build a pretty social life.
I am not going back.
- Found a job and dwelling that are reasonably near each other and the other amenities you need in your life, all in an area that's easily navigable by bicycle and foot
- Found a job that allows you to work only 32 hours while still paying enough to pay the bills
The other choices have radically lowered or removed the bills I am getting. I hardly get any mail anymore.
I love TV( youtube, Netflix, amazon etc). I grew up with state TV and there is no stopping me now. There are all kinds of amazing stuff on TV, there is no limit to how much you can explore the world. Eg: This week, I time traveled back to soviet union in the 50's got to look their communal houses, social classes, dress codes, social norms ect all while being entertained .
I would rather be emotionally dependent on TV than a bunch of unpredictable random strangers. 'Small life' to me not less stuff ( stuff is cheap), its having predictable emotional dependencies. I don't understand the minimalism movement, people are somehow emotionally tied to their couch so getting rid of it makes them free?
>ditched the car ( does away with a whole class of problems/bills ).
I never got into an actual car till I was 19 yrs old. Now I own a cheap new car that bought for around 20k from my savings. Only bill I pay is insurance of ~$100, and there is routine maintenance once every couple of months. I don't consider that 'whole class of problems'. I love owning a car, so much freedom and less dependence on random unpredictable human beings. Small life.
1. Work: 40 hours
2. Cooking: 3 h (who the hell cooks three times a day?)
3. Laundry: 0.5 h (once a week)
4. Cleaning: 1 h (and I am very clean, I just avoid producing dirt)
5. Buying stuff: .5 h (I try to avoid buying too much stuff I don't really need)
6. Bills: 0 h (they a are paid automatically from my account)
7. Small errands: 1 h
8. Transport: 4 h (I ride my bicycle to work, so one could count that as exercise)
9. Staying healthy: 4 h (in addition to the bicycling to and from work)
10. Finances: 0 h (I have no idea how anyone can spend so much time on this. I just live by the simple rule: don't get into debt and move some of your income automatically on a saving account)
11. Taxes: 0 h (automated in Germany)
12. Responsibility for Yourself: 0 h (weird point)
13. Responsibility for your dependents: 0 h (I'm not responsible for anyone and visiting my family is fun)
14. Being sick: 0 h
15. One time errands: 2 h (I have to do some irregular stuff)
16. Long term planning: 1h (because I'm actively thinking about it at the moment)
1. Attire and Grooming: 3.5 h (half an hour every morning, 3 minutes in the evening)
2. Sleep: 49 h
3. Eating: 1.5 h (breakfast and lunch is included in work time)
Overall: 109 h
Free time: 49 h
I think it all comes down to priorities and you current life situation. But one can influence most of these things and you have to decide what is really important in your life. For me, it's free time.
i work from home so i do usually. once you get good at cooking, most restaurant food is un-appetizing or extremely expensive for what you are receiving. it also helps me maintain my weight and not be a complete fatass.
i still eat out a couple of times a week but i'd say a good 75% to 90% of my meals are cooked at home. par-cooking common ingredients in batches helps a lot. it's basically like running a small commercial kitchen for myself.
once you get good at cooking it's basically a 'flow' activity. line cooks get 'in the zone' when the rush hits.
also, once you get the basics down most day to day meals take about 10-15 minutes to cook, not including roasting time which is passive.
the only downside for cooking to me is the cleanup. that never stops sucking for me and brings out my lazy streak.
People with children at home will obviously have very different time allocations (I do laundry almost daily, and if I let it pile up to fold once a week it takes 2-3hours to fold and put away everything. Family meal times can take 2hours each, depending whether we get the food ready quickly and the kids feel like eating. Someone is always sick. )
People who enjoy cooking, and people who actually care for their health.
I make five medium sized breakfast burrito's on Sunday night and refrigerate them. One every morning. That's a whole wheat wrap, a couple eggs, green peppers, and chopped onions. This takes me about a half hour on Sunday including cleanup and 5 seconds to grab one out of the fridge each morning. I supplement it with a granola bar.
I won't claim to be ultra concerned with my dietary balance, but you definitely don't need to spend a ton of time cooking to be healthy.
If it tasted better, I might still be doing it. It's actually the same sort of thing prisons feed to problem inmates to punish misbehavior, except they call it "nutriloaf", and put more actual food in it.
Mine was mostly eggs, coconut oil, and chia seed. It looked horrible, but it barely tasted like anything at all. I might tweak my recipe and try it again some day, but the family won't even look in its general direction, so somebody still has to actually cook meals.
I'll have my wok cleaned and put away for next time before the frozen pizza chefs have their oven preheated. Or I'll be half done eating my lunch salad before the frozen burrito comes out of the microwave.
I'm not sure that "open bag, dump salad on plate" even counts as cooking, but that's like 1/3 of my meals and the "cooking" process takes about 10 seconds.
I don't have orthopedic problems, but I've found that I'm generally more comfortable by the end of the day if I'm wearing shoes at home vs barefoot or slippers. This is especially true if I spend a few hours in the kitchen standing up to cook, etc.
Additionally, where I grew up it's odd/rude for a visitor to remove their shoes or be asked to remove their shoes. Different strokes and all that. :)
It took me a long time to realize this, but it finally clicked for me fairly recently. Record everything you do for a day, figure out which are of low or no value, and figure out how to get rid of them, create systems to reduce the time you spend on them, or delegate them. The most time-consuming things often can't be totally cut out, but they can be systemized or delegated. In the end, only you control your time (and if you don't, you have a bigger problem).
Edit: If anyone is interested in the resources I've found helpful in this realization and the implementation of taking actions to take back control of my own time, feel free to send me an email (in profile).
This is a big part of it, and it makes the comparison between Musk or Branson and an average Joe a bit disingenuous. They have the wealth afford to delegate many things that consume an average person's time. I doubt Musk does his own grocery shopping, and Branson likely doesn't scrub his own toilets.
Let's say someone with bad time management goes to the grocery store every day, and the nearest one is a 10 minute drive away. They spend at minimum 45 minutes going to and from the grocery store, choosing food, waiting in checkout lines etc every day. That's over 5 hours per week! Musk spends 0 hours. But it's not all or nothing. Instead, a 30 minute investment of planning out a general meal schedule and grocery list for it on Sunday, and one trip to the grocery store might take an hour and a half. That's 3.5 hours of savings per week!
Repeat this for cooking, cleaning around the house, etc, and I guarantee you can find significant time savings in systemizing routines. If you save even 2 hours every week, that's an entire 8 hour work day per month. If you make, let's say, $300 daily as a software engineer that's quite a bit of savings! Even... maybe enough to hire a house cleaner and someone to do grocery shopping for you.
In my experience the best way to de stress is to walk, but that's obviously not feasible for most. It's worth moving to make it possible, in my opinion.
Mass transit is pretty awesome too. Even if it takes longer, you can plug in your headphones and zone, netflix and chill, or best of all, take a nap.
Biking in urban areas can be pretty stressful, but the exercise it provides is pretty effective at helping the body recover from stress.
Mass transit would be much more appealing if you could, though!
Depends where you live. For me mass transit at rush hour is incredibly stressful.
Commuter rail might not be as crowded but has its own set of issues.
But I've always lived in places with polite people, especially at rush hour. We may be jammed in but we're polite.
Instead of taking a train and bus 30+ minutes to work, I leave when I want and know it will take me around 15 minutes to get there. Maybe I'm weird, but I find driving a lot more relaxing than public transport (at the moment it's really hot here so AC helps). If I want to get groceries I can stop in a supermarket on my way home from work, instead of walking 15 minutes each way (bonus: it also has a bigger selection and cheaper prices).
If I want to get out of the city it's easy, I can drive for 20 minutes instead of taking trains and buses for 1 1/2 hours and I'm at the sea. Before if I wanted to do that I'd book a car from a rental place, go collect it, return it hoping I didn't get any scratches, where as now I can be spontaneous.
Having a car can be expensive (I estimate over the life of my car it'll cost me around €2000/year + fuel) but for the benefits it provides, to me that is a justifiable cost.
I'm learning to hate cars. The damn things are a time sink. In the UK we have to take cars for MOT each year and generally we service once a year. That's two half days gone, but I try to make best use of the time by working in a coffee shop while it happens.
Then there are the unforeseen things. Door locks breaking. Tyre replacements. Punctures. Remembering to top up the air in the tyres. Washing them (I pay for someone to do this, but it's still something on your mind). Replacing wipers. And the wiper fluid of course. Checking oil and tyre pressure.
Just the sheer time I spend in petrol stations. Why aren't all petrol stations self pay? I try to avoid ones where I have to go into a shop but it's not always possible.
Insurance. Oh great, the yearly "you raised my premium 10% but I can see I can get it cheaper online" phone call. I resent having to make this.
And then there's the cost.
Sorry, that turned into a rant.
You could hire a chauffeur and make him take the car for MOT and everything else but that's so much more expensive that you don't consider it an option. You could get a bike and put some milk crates on the back but that's so much less effective you don't consider it an option.
There's very few true necessities. A lot of resources can be saved if you manage to identify a "necessity" that you can work around by leveraging specific aspects of your situation.
For me it's a much tougher decision because the costs are much higher due to mandatory both-ways insurance being required. I basically can't afford to have both savings and a car where I live. Damn shame though, because I would benefit immensely from having a light truck (something the size of a Hilux).
If I want to bring handguns to a range, the law basically requires that I own an automobile. If I want to get construction materials or inexpensive/exotic Korean groceries, I need an automobile.
Your estimate for the cost of owning your vehicle is actually considerably lower than just having a public transit pass for that same year where I live.
+1 from me. Public transport in London is a nightmare during rush hour, I'd happily trade that for an equivalent drive. Probably wouldn't be (much?) more expensive either.
The tube during rush hour is a special kind of hell. People do it because driving through London at those times is pointless, you'd never arrive. Lesson learned the hard way.
Car with a driver. Flexibility + you get to do other stuff besides driving.
But I guess affording that means more work and stuff.
I have 2 kids - i have to directly manage a relationship with my wife, with each kid, with both kids, and with my wife and both kids. She has to do the same. I have to indirectly manage a relationship between the two kids, and with the wife and both/each kids.
To do it right would mean breaking up those 10 free hours I might have into each of the above.
For those of us who have kids, you just sit back some days and wonder... How little we recognized at the time, the sheer freedom of being able to just head out for dinner or a drink any day of the week, plop down and watch whatever movie we wanted, sleep in on the weekends, etc.
OP does acknowledge the workload of having children is "indefinite" but doesn't really do justice to the reality of raising children.
The funny thing is how that theoretical 10 hours per week of free time will somehow make way for the ~40 hours per week spent on the children. Shopping for new shirts because they don't excite you anymore? Yeah, parents ain't got time for that BS!
And this is a deep confession that I've never really told anyone: I envy my divorced friends with kids. Every other week they (usually) are child free. And get to do things like mow grass, have a dinner with an SO at a place that doesn't have a built-in playground, or go on weekend trips on a whim. That guaranteed time without children that you get from custody agreements has a ton of perks. I won't admit this out loud, though.
You should give it a try, my wife and I get occasional nights and weekends off, its pretty nice. Also we live in an area with an active city parks and rec, and we have a childless date night with each other this very Friday night, I don't even know what parks and rec class my wife signed the kids up for (probably the fall kickball tournament, the Halloween party is next month). We also send them to day camps a couple times each summer so we have some married adult time while the kids are theoretically getting exercised, educated, and socialized.
My experience is "For profit" camps tend to charge what the market will bear ($$$$$) and always have openings. Parks and rec charge what it actually costs to provide the activity (maybe $20/day/kid?) but reservation slots fill up fast every year.
1 day off to every 5 on or 2 to 10 is a very different pattern than 7 to 7 consistently until they're grown and hopefully self-sustaining.
Taking care of kids is relatively scalable, in that it's a full-time job for one person to "engage" (and I don't mean "watch" or "babysit" or "entertain" but more like "actively plan and execute a meaningful day's activies") one child, and it's nearly the same full-time job for one person to engage six children.
So I imagine sometimes how much better a job I could do if I could really focus and devote my full time and attention for 1 whole day out of 7 on a small group of children. What would we be able to plan and go out and accomplish and learn about? If you had 6 adults taking shifts with 6 - 10 kids?
I'm very lucky to be able to command a high hourly rate for software consulting. So I can work <40 hours a week and still earn enough to outsource 90% of the items on this list (cooking, cleaning, etc.). I definitely have way more free time now than I ever did as a student.
Seriously, people always act as though students have an easy life. In my experience, I was much busier and less happy when I was in college. Not to mention that real work is, for me, much more meaningful than the fake work which constitutes most "education."
Also, technology really has reduced a lot of these time demands. If you're still manually paying bills or balancing your finances, you really need to automate that. There's no reason to spend more than 15 minutes a week on that sort of thing.
The people who work their butt off in college (by some combination of working while going to school and going all out in a difficult major) usually have an increase in free time once they're only working 40 or 50hr per week and not bringing their work home every day.
I dry clean my clothes myself, so yeah I agree clothes _can_ take up to 2 hrs. But picking out what to wear and polishing your shoes shouldn't count as an extra 10.5 hours a week.
Most people enjoy buying stuff, especially if it requires research because then they get psyched about it. Who doesn't like a new car? Other than that, it should be pretty rare to need to research for window cleaning products. You just buy what looks alright on the shelf and if it sucks don't buy it again.
The rest I'll agree with. Most people I see that "waste" their time are doing things like, marathoning Game of Thrones, drinking or celebrating something.
Here are some real wastes:
- Going after companies to get your money back for either incorrectly or over charging you, or charging you for services not rendered.
- "Market forces" raising prices, causing you to move right freaking next door so your rent can stay the same, or even lower.
- How about those Dr. appointments that you scheduled, only so you can wait an extra hour to actually be seen.
- Warranty covered oil changes that take an hour or even two (last time it happened to me).
- Standing in a 40 minute long line at the store because despite having 30 register's, they only have 2 cashiers. There is self checkout but of course it's already full of people struggling to understand how the machine works, or they're just generally slow moving.
- Holiday traffic/parking, where do all these vehicles come from? Even small towns get congested it's a real mystery to me.
- Spontaneously waking up in the middle of the night for a few hours, then oversleeping the next morning. Also, you need to go to bed early now to make it up.
- Paperwork for just about any government related activity. I just listed my SSN on three different pages why do I still have to fill this in again?
BTW, if you want to reformat your list so it can be read without scrolling left and right for each line, you can use a · on each item, leave a blank line between them, and not indent it. The typography sucks but not quite as bad as what you have now.