Video: Regretting Time Spent at Work

Sep 302011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed regretting time spent at work. The question was:

At death, should a person regret all the years spent at work? I often hear the saying, “No one ever laid on their death bed wishing they had spent more time in the office.” What should a person think of that — and of the fact that so many people agree with it — in light of the virtue of productiveness?

Here’s the video of my answer:

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! Also, all my webcast and other videos can be found on my YouTube channel.

Value-Dense Buying

Apr 142010

I’m delighted that Trey Givens found my offhand comment about “value-dense buying” of use to his thinking about his spending! Here’s what happened.

Back in early March, Trey blogged about the return of his credit card debt:

Last January, February, and March were not pleasant times for me as I struggled to pay off my credit cards. I was successful at it, but I did it in a way that just was not sustainable. Flash forward to this January, February, March in which I’ve managed to drive my credit card balance up to more than TWICE the total it was a year ago when I went on my push to pay them off.

I wrote the following quick comment in reply:

Your standard method of dealing with money (until now) sounds a lot like Oprah’s method of dealing with her weight: lose quickly by unbearable deprivation, then when the goal is achieved, binge binge binge. That leaves you worse off — physically and spiritually — than never going on the diet.

Maybe your finances need a paleo diet? Do value-dense buying and avoid the junk?

Anywhoodles, the solution isn’t “moderation,” but pursuing your financial goals while keeping the context of your other goals and values. That sounds like what you’re doing, so I hope that works well for you.

A few weeks later, Trey blogged:

Ok, but no joke. That’s EXACTLY what I need! I even said so myself that I’ve been thinking about my spending and saving in a very wrong way. “Value-dense” is the focus I need!

So Trey has decided that OCON, despite the expense, is worth the money. I hope so! (Personally, I expect to have a fantastic time at OCON this year!)

Mostly though, I hope that I’ve hit on a useful metaphor for thinking about spending. What do you think?

The Ratio

Jun 162009

Ari Armstrong recently said something like the following to me: “I have a hundred ideas for every ten that I could implement, and of those ten, only one gets done.” Too true!

Right now, I’m busy figuring out what few work projects I should pursue out of all the myriad possibilities open to and of interest to me. Until recently, all such decisions about future plans were largely set aside until after the dissertation. I was just collecting a kind of bucket of post-Ph.D possibilities. Now that I’m done the dissertation — and defending on Thursday — the time to make some tough choices has come. (I’m probably not going to announce my future plans; my readers will just have to see them unfold.)

In addition, I’m catching up on all of the life-management tasks that I set aside over the past six months, as my policy was that I didn’t do anything unless it was somehow obligatory, unavoidable, or on fire. That’s a slow — and often dirty (literally) — process. It’s good to see some progress on long-delayed plans, however.

Working from Home

Jun 102009

I found these observations from a software engineer on the good and bad of working from home fairly apt. However, I was downright intrigued by some of his life/work hacks, particularly given that my work and play isn’t always clearly distinguishable. The blogger writes:

I write code for a living. I also write code as a hobby. This means I often spend all day sitting at a computer writing code; the first part of the day for work, the second part for fun. It’s easy to let the work part of my day extend into what should be the fun part of my day, so I have to set certain boundaries. I’ve evolved a few life hacks that help.

First, I have two laptops: one is my work laptop, one is my personal laptop. I only use the work laptop for work, and I only use the personal laptop for non-work. When I’m done with work for the day, I turn off my work laptop and put it away to avoid the temptation to check my work email or something silly like that, which would likely result in me getting sucked back into work when I should be relaxing.

Second, when I’m working, I work in my home office with the door closed. When I’m not working but am still doing computery things, I either open the door to my office or go sit on the couch with my personal laptop. The open/closed status of my office door helps change the feel of the room from a place of business to a part of my house, and when even that’s not enough, relaxing on the couch usually does the trick. I’m pretty sure the cat has picked up on this too; she rarely bothers me when I’m working, but she seems to know she’s more likely to get attention when I’m not working.

Finally, I don’t work on weekends or holidays, period. No matter what. Even if I’m bored out of my skull and would rather be working. I’ve been tempted, but so far I’ve always managed to resist. I know that as soon as I start letting work intrude on my days off, I’ll launch myself down a slippery slope.

What do you do to make your work — and your play — more productive?

Adventure Box

Jun 042009

This idea of an Adventure Box from Amy Mossoff is just too fantastic:

The Mossoffs are a young family (although the individuals composing it are not so young), and until now we’ve been a bit unsettled, but we’ve managed to start at least one family tradition that I think will stick. I call it the Adventure Box. Every year at Christmas time, we decorate a shoe box in gift wrap and put it on a shelf that is easy to access. Throughout the year, we put mementos from trips, special occasions, along with all the greeting cards we receive, into the box. Next Christmas, we go through the box and label each item so that we won’t forget what it meant. Then we write the year on the box and put it away and start a new one.

It’s a simple idea, but we love doing it. It gives us a place to put all of those things that you don’t want to throw away, but which have no “home.” And we don’t stress out about getting a souvenir from every single place we go, but having the Adventure Box in mind gives us something to think about when we’re at a new place, and helps to tie all those experiences together. Going through the box is a great way to wrap up the year, and every single time, we’re surprised at how many fun things we did.

For further details, read Amy’s whole post. I love the idea, and I’m definitely going to implement it. I’m not a collector, nor particularly sentimental about stuff. However, I would like to save some important personal mementos of Paul’s and my life in a reasonably organized and compact way. (I hate clutter.) Also, Paul and I do enjoy reflecting on the unexpected and interesting twists and turns of our lives. The holidays are an excellent time for such reflections. An annual “Adventure Box” would allow us to do all that — without much time or effort.

Thanks for the great idea, Amy!

Happiness in College

Apr 192009

Some months ago, Miranda Barzey — now of the blog Ramen & Rand — wrote to me about her disappointment in college. I offered some advice, largely based on my own experiences. The result was this delightful blog post: Depression in College: Getting Out of my Own Way. Here’s the opening paragraph:

I had always expected college to be awesome. High school felt more like a daycare than a place to learn (albeit a few classes). So senior year, I was so excited to finally get out, to move onto bigger and better things at college, to study what I wanted and leave all the immaturity behind. Coming to college, I expected stimulating conversations with interesting people. I expected people who really loved what they were doing, who were passionate and intellectual. I expected… more.

She quotes my whole e-mail to her, and I really enjoyed her list of the ten things “to make sure life was better this semester.” Go read the whole thing. And be sure to check Ramen & Rand regularly.

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