Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 5, 2012
I was talking with an acquaintance the other day about my week and listed off what I had done and what was left and apparently I had a much bigger list then theirs and they asked with a shocked look on their face “How do you get it all done?”
Yes I was a very busy guy, I write this blog, do the odd freelance gig, help friends with odd jobs, fix things around the house, renovate the house and yard, work 90% at a day job, put an additional 10 to 15 hours on school board business a week (meetings, parent calls, reviewing material and asking questions to the administration) for three years. Some how I also still find time to spend with my kids, talk with my wife. Now without the school board work things I do admit things are much more relaxed, but I did learn some good skills from those years.
While I’m not a productivity guru, but I do know the issue with always having more things to do than time to do them all. So I’ve managed to develop a bit of system of dealing with things, which might help you a little bit with your busy time this holiday season.
1) Keep the Calender up to Date
I run an electronic calendar that I would literally be lost if I didn’t have it. I keep my work calender fully updated and export a copy to my Google Calender with then sync with my tablet and iPod Touch. So I always have a calendar on me with reminders of what is coming up next.
2) Know your Priorities
In some respects I’m lucky when it comes to my priorities in life. I never have to guess when something if more important them something else I just know. It also really helps that I have taken a first come first serve idea to time management. If you want me for something book it right now. I work on a first come and first serve system, which I will only break for very important reasons. So when you ask and I have the time I will typically say yes.
3) Cut out the Crap
I like to tell people that I typically have about an extra 10 hours a week over them…how? I don’t wast any time on crap. I’ve went through my life with a fine tooth comb looking for grains of time and put all it towards what matters the most to me. So in the process I’ve killed off a lot of my obligations or habits and found ways to squeeze usage out those extra five or 10 minutes blocks of time you have in a day.
For example, I used to play a lot of video games when I was younger before kids, now I almost exclusively play only with my kids. I’ve also given up watching anything on regular TV, I’m a pure DVD or Netflix watching guy. Why? I should be able to watch a show when I want, not when it is on (and you save commercial time). I’m also prefer books to most forms of entertainment, since it is possible to read a book in 10 to 15 minutes chunks of time. Also I kept iPod Touch on my just about all the time so I would use my five minutes to clean up my email and then sync it back later on.
4) Book yourself
While I generally operate on the first come first serve time booking method I was also careful to always book in some me time each week. I always tried to keep one free evening a week to relax and hang out with the family then also do another time slot over the weekend. I know I get really bitchy if I’m too stressed so managing that makes me a much better person to live with.
5) Never waste time…unless that is the goal.
I’ve liken myself to a shark some times…if I stop moving I’m sure I’ll die some weeks. Except when I’ll planning on doing is nothing..then I can sit still and let my mind wonder for like 30 minutes and never feel a drop of guilt…because that is what I’m supposed to be doing then! It might sound odd, but the occasional break of nothing is hugely enjoyable when you really busy. Wasting time becomes the ultimate luxury. You just have to get used to repressing the urge to do something.
So that was what worked for me, but how do you handle your really busy weeks in your life?
Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 4, 2012
So with the new car in the garage, we had a short discussion on the fate of the old car. We decided we still like being a one car family so we were going to sell it (To the shock of most people I know). Of course, the Echo was only my second car I’ve ever owned so my experience on selling a car was basically non-existent since I haven’t done it in a decade.
Of course I was aware of some of the basics and I knew enough to consult with some of friends who are car geeks. Given my situation (I’m a busy guy) and the car’s condition (fair, but it needs some work), it was suggested I get somewhat aggressive on the pricing to get a sale quickly. You could get more, but that takes time.
So I cleanup the car…I’m embarrassed to say it hasn’t been this clean in years. Do you have any idea how hard it is to clean out Cheerios bits from all the seams? Anyways, then I took a picture of the car looking all shined up and sat down to write the ad.
In the end I kept it simple short and sweet: 2001 Toyota Echo, 160000km, green, fair condition $2500 OBO.
Then I dumped the ad onto a local used sales site and then to my shock watch a pile of email pour in of people looking for a car. I had initially planned to keep it up for a week and then sell to the highest bidder. But in light of the numbers of requests to see the car I decided to close my window. I would show the car for just two days and the highest bidder would take it or if someone got close enough to the asking price I would sell it right then.
Then I started to understand all most at once a lot of people say they are interested in buying your car, but about 1/3 people never show up to view the car and take it for a test drive. Ugh, frustrating.
In the end I got a eager guy stopping in first thing on the second day that was looking for a newer car. His current was a 1991 Toyota for like 260,000 km. He was a nice guy and knew his stuff on the work needed on the car (which I was also honest about like it needed a new windshield). He offered $1900 cash and payment in 30 minutes. I rolled the idea around in my head for a while since my drop dead number was $2000. Could I live with $100 less than that for not having to show the car to a bunch of other people?
In the end, I decided my time was worth that $100 and sold it right then and there. Could I got more? Perhaps, but it came down to the classic time vs money. I wanted the rest of my day free of this groundhog day experience of taking test drives and answering similar questions over and over again. Now looking back at it I still don’t regret my choice. After all when you are planning an early retirement it is fairly obvious that I usually choose time over money.
So do you have any adventures in car selling or buying? Any tips for everyone on what to do?
Posted by Robert on August 6, 2012
This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and worked as a financial adviser before retiring at age 35. He is married, has three kids and has returned to school with the goal of eventually living and working overseas.
I enjoy swimming regularly at the local pool. In between laps, when I stop to rest and catch my breath, I often watch other swimmers. I have noticed that there are two main approaches that people appear to use. There are swimmers who are there for fun, who do what they feel like and are there to have fun. There are others who either bring a swim plan or use the clock to push themselves and who appear to push themselves. I don’t push myself every single time I go swimming, but I don’t expect to become a better swimmer unless I’m working toward a goal.
Having a goal, either for distance or for speed, requires that I push myself and stretch to reach my potential. I have found that my goals must be measurable, be under my control and be believable. Eventually, I’d like to be able to swim 500m in 8:00. That’s measurable, because I can swim 500m and time how long it takes me. Today it took 11:00, so 8:00 is not really realistic. I’m not entirely sure what it will take to be able to swim that fast. That’s why my present goal is not to swim 500m in 8:00. Instead, my goal is to be able to swim six 100m intervals on 2:00. It may only be a step toward my long-term goal, but it’s within my ability and it’s believable, so I don’t get discouraged by a goal that’s too far beyond my reach. With this smaller, nearer goal, I’m committed to doing what it takes to achieve it, and I have fun working toward it.
Each session, I record my result. Each week, I expect to make some small progress. If I never tracked my speed, I wouldn’t know whether or not I’m making any progress, and I’d really just be swimming for fun. My goal would end up being just a wish. But as I see slow increases, I feel the positive effects of pride in my accomplishments. Every month, I also have a week of reduced exercise to allow my body to rest and recover. How would these ideas apply to personal finance?
First, it’s essential to set a goal. If the goal is a big, faraway goal like retirement, it should be broken down into a series of more manageable and nearer goals. As a financial advisor, I broke down the retirement goal into annual target amounts. To focus on what’s in a person’s control, it makes sense to set savings targets, and accept market growth as a bonus (when it occurs). When a person can see that they are meeting their targets, they can feel comfortable that they are making progress and doing what’s needed. They can also motivate themselves to save their target amount by seeing the progress toward their ultimate goal of retirement.
And there’s nothing wrong with taking a month off to go on vacation or buy something you really want. We can’t sacrifice all the time without eventually wearing down. After all, the journey is meant to be enjoyable. How do you ensure that you’re making progress with your finances?