How We Did It – Part 1 – Fighting the “Tyranny of the Ordinary” (she said)15 Dec 2010
How did we get the Vacation Lifestyle we currently enjoy? This is the first of a three-part series on specific steps we took to shape our lives and habits. We hope that this is beneficial in your life, Unexcused Absence or not. Please chime in with your own suggestions and comments!
Fighting The Tyranny of the Ordinary
Modern life has a way of making you work to stand still. You clean your house, but it gets dirty again. You pay your bills and check your credit report. You renew your driver’s license. All these tasks – shredding pre-filled credit card offers, remembering internet passwords, tracking frequent flier miles and their expiration, paying your taxes, etc. – constitute the Tyranny of the Ordinary.
Long before we even imagined an Unexcused Absence, we focused on two things which would reduce the Tyranny of the Ordinary. First, we eliminated repetitive tasks. Second, we reduced the amount of stuff we owned.
Step 1 – Eliminate Repetitive Tasks with Automation
Writing checks, filling out envelopes, finding stamps and mailing bills wastes time. Paying bills automatically simplifies this chore. Nearly all merchants accept payment automatically via credit card (earn points or miles!) or via a bank draft. There is no need to pay each bill as it arrives in the mail, and the payment is on time every month!
Step 2 – Digitize
Digitizing stuff (paperwork, music, movies, and books) makes the information more accessible. Need a copy of your lease? It’s on your laptop! Thanks to a digitizing campaign, we now have most paperwork, music (including old cassette tapes), movies and books available on the computer. We access all of our music with an iPod, and we don’t own a single cassette tape.
I simply love having books around. But since my purchase of the iPad, my shelves have gotten a lot lighter (Kent is not a book hoarder like me). I find many of my favorite classics for free on-line (gutenberg.org). I couldn’t part with all my battered favorites, but I can now travel with ALL my Jane Austin, Twain, and Melville in a small 7” by 9” device.
Our books, music, movies and paperwork occupy about one quarter of the space they did three years ago.
Step 3 – Backup
The term “cloud computing” refers to keeping data on the internet rather than on a local computer. The esoteric phrase “in the cloud” means that data is independent of a particular computer, tucked away somewhere on the internet. Once committed to digital forms of paperwork, music, movies and books, it is critical to backup data using a service such as Mozy. ‘Nuff said.
Step 4 – Eliminate
Acquired easily and rarely relinquished, things tend to create their own life by requiring space and maintenance. Things should be useful or enjoyed on a regular basis or they simply waste your resources. It’s not about paring down possessions, but making sure each item has immediate value.
Celebrating our Victory
Our small victories over the Tyranny of the Ordinary gave us the flexibility to pursue a unique opportunity. When the possibility to work at Beaver Creek arose, we were able act. The bonus of our new thinking? Over $400 at a garage sale, and several thousand dollars from Ebay sales. Not bad for stuff we weren’t using or enjoying!
Tired of fighting the Tyranny of the Ordinary? Got tips? Please comment!