Tag Archives | stuff

The Story of Stuff

Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff.

Came across this web site today via an email from a friend. She suggested we show it to our kids. I think everyone needs to see this.

“You cannot run a linear system on a finite planet.”

p.s. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Moving. It’s so much damn work.

packing boxes

After 8+ years in our house my family moved last week. We started the process the week before with a medium purge of items taken to the local thrift store. Then about a week ago things started to get a little bit hectic.

Last week, Tuesday evening, I came home from work and my wonderful wife, bless her, has started the packing process while trying to entertain the likes of our three boys–not an easy task for anyone. Wednesday I spent the last hours at work until returning this past Monday. Our Wednesday and Thursday (yes, Thanksgiving) were spent picking up every single piece of what we own, deciding if we keep it, give it away, or pitch it. We managed to fill 2 dumpsters worth of trash. We also managed to fill one-and-a-half loads of a flat bed truck to give to a thrift store. Friday the movers arrived and managed to move 95% of our stuff in under 3 hours–amazing. That left me to get the final 2 loads of random items, wall hangings, paintings, and yard items (bicycles, etc) on Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday afternoon we had everything out of our old house.

There was a long, I mean very long, period during those 6 days where I thought that it would never end. Boxes kept getting packed but nothing seemed to be progressing. It was a sea of endless stuff. It was a very frustrating experience. The tipping point was when the movers took most of our stuff away. However, when I was getting those last couple of loads of items it was as if I was experiencing a mini relapse of what took place before the movers arrived.

The key I found with looking at your stuff was this:

  • have I used or seen this in the past six months?
  • if yes, keep it
  • if not, do I want it?
    • will it cost more than $150.00 to replace it?
  • if yes keep it
  • if not, give it away
  • if its not worth giving away, trash it

That’s a pretty simple flow chart of processing your stuff when moving.

I now write this entry from the living room of our brand new house. It’s an extremely nice dwelling and a great place to make a home. We are now in unpacking mode but that is much more fun that packing up.

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Overwhelmed? Me too.

Fire Alarm

Meetings, email, projects, laundry, dinner, kids, cell phone ringing! Don’t pull the alarm yet. They all demand your time and attention many at the same time as each other. No wonder our sleep-deprived lives are fueled by a steady diet of caffeine all the while stumbling around dazed and confused.

I recently read an article in the most recent Oprah magazine titled, “Wait! Stop! It’s All Too Much” by Martha Beck. I don’t typically read Oprah but my wife has a subscription and recently read this article and had to pass it along to me. Why? Because the stuff I complain about on a frequent basis was talked about in this article. The feeling of overwhelm is usually characterized by something called attentional blindness. It’s the feeling you get when presented with too many stimuli. As the article says, ” you sink into a muddled netherworld, like Dorothy in the poppy fields of Oz. Your intentions grow fuzzy. Is it dementia? Is it Alzheimer’s? Sheer cursed laziness? None of the above.” I have had this feeling on more than one occasion and it’s disabling.

A great example.
For a great example of attentional blindness go here and watch this video (It takes a moment to load).

You need to focus on the white team and how many times they pass the ball. Go do this now and then come back and continue reading. Don’t continue to read until you have done this.

Done? Great. Now how many times did they pass the ball? I counted 15. Should be about right. Want to know what is really the trick in that video? About halfway through a person in a gorilla suit walked through, thumped their chest and walked out? Did you see that while you were counting? If not, you just experienced attentional blindness.

You should go and read her full article. She does give a 6-step process for helping train your clogged mind to focus and help strip out the overwhelm. I highly recommend it.

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Disconnecting

Plugged In

I think that those of us who are plugged in to the Internet for most of our waking day are reaching a saturation point. Too much Internet, too much of the time.

I know many of us have felt the burden of going to burnout and back. However, I feel collectively we want to be unplugged more. The nature of our working lives requires us to be connected for communication, information, and news yet I know I for one could do without a bit of the Internet, for about an entire month.

I seem to remember an experiment from a while back where the situation involved some people in a house and the only way they could get stuff for the house, furniture, appliances, food, etc. was by using the Internet. I almost wonder what it would be like to not ‘connect’ to the Internet for, lets say, a month.

I have done a week without the Internet and cell phone. My family and I travel to the White Mountains of Arizona and stay at a dude ranch that is completely off the grid. Its not a spa-like retreat, so no hot tubs and massages, but it is wonderful being that detached and not being able to do anything about it. The deluge upon your return is no fun, but during that week it is nice until the night before its back to reality.

I wonder if this is just a pipe dream of mine. I would need to get work delegated and systems in place to make this happen so that my absence would almost not be felt.

It would be truly blissful.

I wonder, do you think this is feasible?

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A whole ramble of thoughts

This is my first attempt at speaking the text of my blog. I am using a headset with voice dictation software. The title of whole ramble of thoughts is somewhat appropriate seeing that I am going to try to speak about many things here.

First is the foray into voice dictation software.  I have used this stuff before but have never been successful.  This is proving to be a rather decent experience.  I must admit it is a bit strange speaking and watching the words show up on the screen.  So here is to the future of what I hope to be more frequent, interesting, and thought provoking entries.

Previously.
In my previous entry I spoke about modes of communication and since posting that I’ve given some more thought to the idea. It was brought to my attention by someone who read what I posted that there is real value in having a face-to-face meeting with people. I don’t deny the value in that experience.  However, when looking at the larger picture of where I am spending my time and what value is derived from where I spend my time it seems logical to me to be a bit more stringent, hell just plain stingy, with how I spend my time. That’s not to say that I will never have a face-to-face meeting with the person again, I certainly will.  I think what I’m getting at is assessing how important is it to meet with that specific person regarding that specific issue.  It’s more about assessment of the meeting than anything else.  Do you really need to spend that time doing that?  Or is there something more constructive you could be doing with that time.

del.icio.us
Also since my last post I have been trying to clean up my del.icio.us bookmarks and have been experimenting with some new social media sites.  One thing is for sure, the interface for editing and deleting book marks within del.icio.us is too damn time-consuming.  You are only allowed to select one item at a time when it’s clearly possible to engineer the screen for me to see 25, 50, 100 bookmarks at a time and edit them simultaneously and then submit them.  However, I have been pretty pleased with the experience of using the del.icio.us website as a way to manage my bookmarks.  I primarily work on a Macintosh and I also use a Windows XP machine to get work done. Having the ability to access all my bookmarks from both machines at any time is pretty sweet.

Pro Bono.
Presently I have about three or four websites that are in the very final stages of completion.  I should be publishing them within the next few weeks.  It will feel great to have these projects done. I have some new work on the horizon and I need to clear the decks before I can get started.   A couple of these websites are pro bono websites and I recently read a great article written by David C. Baker of ReCourses that spoke specifically to providing pro bono work for the public good.  He smartly suggested the idea of creating criteria that each possible pro bono project would need to measure up to in order for you to work on it.  He suggested gathering an advisory group that would review potential pro bono projects and objectively measure them against the criteria that you’ve established.  Furthermore, he suggested posting a simple one-page application on your website and having that promoted in the local business community.  This way you would receive applications for your pro bono services.  These applications would be reviewed by your advisory group and they would select the most appropriate projects for you to work on.  This is such a smart way to include pro bono work in your creative practice.  Presently, my pro bono work arrives in my workflow somehow out of the ether. I really don’t know how it ends up there. What I do know is that I plan to employ this strategy for working on pro bono projects in the future.

Closing.
This may be as many words as I have posted in a single entry.  This is largely due to the fact that I’m speaking these words and they are appearing on my screen.  It’s pretty damn cool .  But at the same timea bit disturbing to watch your words appear on screen.  I find myself pausing at weird times and that causes the thought process not to flow as well.  What I imagine happening is that I can eventually sit back and not look at the screen and the words will just come out of my head excuse me I need out of my mouth and into the microphone and onto the screen and here they are.  Overall I’ve only had to edit about five or six words from this whole entry.  The accuracy is amazing. Anyhow that’s it for now.

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