Sunday, November 28, 2004

Living simply

For the last year I've been trying to simplify my life.

This effort was inspired by a couple things:

Reading about long-distance sailing ("cruising"). In blue water, you have to be ready to maintain everything on your boat. Things break, and you're on your own. You can't take it to a repair shop, or have a new one sent by FedEx. Having a lot of money will do you no good!

There was a point in one of the books where the author met another blue water sailor, a Swedish doctor. Doc had outfitted his boat with all the latest gadgets. Author asked him if he enjoyed sailing with all that stuff. Answer: "No, they keep breaking & I'm always repairing something". It seems that the amount of time you get to spend actually sailing is the time left over after keeping everything working. Conclusion: sailing enjoyment increases as complexity decreases.

Question: does a similar phenomen appear ashore?

Maintaining computers at home. In my home I had:
SERVER - domain controller, file server, DHCP server, DNS server
HTPC - home theater PC
Wife's computer
JAY1: For everquest
JAY2 - For another everquest session that I mostly ignored (trader in the bazaar)
JAY3 - web
browsing, doing work while at home & playing EQ
Rio MP3 receiver - brings music to the kitchen
work laptop
a Virgin WebPlayer

When there was a new virus threat, I had to go to each of these machines & make sure they were correctly up to date. Hard disks, memory, or powersupplies would die at times. Sometimes it was on the machine hosting the printer, so no one could print. Or the server would fail to boot after an automatic update, and I wouldn't notice until DHCP leases expired. I shared My Documents across all machine, which added additional complexity. I would regularly get a call at work from the wife saying that something or another was broken.

Let's face it, being a network administrator is a full time job!

Now, I love computers, so building & maintaining this was a lot of fun. But eventually I noticed that a lot of time was going to these tasks, and not enough available for some of the other things I wanted to do. I was especially missing out on time with my family.

The stuff you own owns you. I had 3 motorcycles, 2 of which didn't run. No time to fix them up. No time to ride. I had tools to maintain them, but I they were in a big mess. I had lots of screwdrivers, so that I could always find one when I needed one. With so many tools, I had no idea what I had. I couldn't keep track of them all. I had tools I had never used. I had tools I had never opened!

As I started to look around my home, I realized how much the stuff I was was costing me the my most precious resource: time.

So since then I've been working on getting rid of as much stuff as I can. I started with the junk. By removing it, I can navigate my house & stuff in it with less difficulty. Next is the stuff I that I don't use much or at all. My rule is that if I haven't used it in the last year, and don't expect to use it in the next year, I should get rid of it. I can afford to buy a new on when the time comes.

The big challenge is getting rid of the stuff that I do use. This is actually about changing how I live. I haven't made much progress on this yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

I'm down to 3 computers + Rio + work laptop on weekends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

life is a complicated as you make it.

I also don't like the phrase "I don't have the time" - its all about making the time. A better phrase if meant sincerely is "I'll try to make the time".

simplify away - very feng shui ----- kal.

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