Monday, August 30, 2010

Digitizing: Laying the Foundation

We are compelled to hold on to paper documents “just in case” they are needed later.  CDs are strewn in the house, car, and everywhere in between.  Something about the age of DVDs and Blu-Rays has enticed us to own movies instead of being content renting them.  Family photos are stored in shoe boxes, albums, envelops or wherever we decide to stash them rarely to be looked at again.  A good deal of the clutter in our lives can be digitized and organized.  Today we will cover the foundation of what is necessary to digitize much of our lives.

Three things are necessary before continuing.  First, as with most things I will write about, this is a lifestyle change and not a one-time fix.  Secondly, it is important to have an organization system before you start.  Finally, it is very important to backup everything you digitize.  The technology we use is empowering, but it will fail and a good backup minimizes headaches.

Let’s start by laying down the organization system for storing everything.  Windows gives a decent start by having “My Documents”, “My Music”, and “My Photos” folders.  “My Documents” needs more granular folders to make locating your information easier.  Those folders will depend on your situation and needs.  I have folders for legal documents, insurance, education, statements, and a few more.  The “My Music” folder will be organized automatically by Media Player or iTunes.   We talk about ripping your CDs in a later.  Photos can be organized in a variety of ways.  I choose to create a folder for each year, under each year there are folders for each month, and under each month there are specific events.

Organizing in a system similar to what I outlined above will make the task of backing up much more simple.  An external 1TB drive can be purchased for less than $100.  Simply drag and drop the contents of your “My Documents” folder to the external drive folder.  We will go into much more detail on this in a later post.

Upcoming posts will guide through the digitizing process of documents, music, photos, and movies.  In the meantime, take a look at your “My Documents” folder and get acquainted if you aren’t already.  Organize the digital documents that you already have and be ready to move forward.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Commandments of Simplification

1.  Define your own American dream that doesn't involve a a fat mortgage or being in debt.
2.  Work to live, don't live to work.
4.  Refuse to be defined by the stuff you own. 
5.  Sometimes more is just more, not better.
6.  Material possessions tie you down physically, emotionally, and financially.
7.  Simplicity is good for the planet.
8.  Simplicity sets a good example for our children.
9.  Jesus lived a simple life.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What is all this about anyway?

 My quest is to find a reasonable balance in the areas of simplicity , finance, and environment.  These three areas are tied together very closely.  Production of stuff is bad for the environment, buying stuff costs money, and stuff clutters our life.  I strive for a life between that of a Monk and Paris Hilton.

We live in a society that is in love with its stuff.  Material possessions define our worth.  The person with the most bling wins!  Our economy is based off the concept that each year will be bigger than the last.  Success is defined by making a profit AND growth.  As individuals we are the same.  It is not enough to do as well as our parents; we must do better.  Do better is code for have more stuff.  We have closets, basements, garages, and mini-storage units  full of stuff.  It reaches a point that we don't even know what we own.

Money and stuff have a close relationship since money buys stuff.  We are taught that we must do good in school so that we can have a good paying job when we grow up.  Improving the world comes in second to having buying power.  The community college in my hometown has an advertising campaign underscoring the focus on money.  Billboards throughout the area show pictures of young people with SUVs, money, and other material goodies in the background.  Somewhere education has deviated from being a quest for knowledge to a quest for money.  People seek out jobs that provide material wealth over personal satisfaction.

Our environment is deeply impacted by our relationship to stuff.  The production, operation, and disposal of stuff all has an environmental impact.  Recycling is great, but not producing something in the first place is better for the environment.  Without the pressure for material success, one can take a job that is personally rewarding instead of the most profitable.

Stay tuned folks.  All of the above happens in small steps and that is what I plan on documenting it here.

Upcoming Topics:

  • My Commandments of Simplification.
  • Needs vs Wants; The Joneses and You
  • Organization of your digital life - pictures, music, and more.
  • A Trip To The Grocery Store
  • White Flight Math
  • Cell Contracts & Extended Warranties are for Chumps
  • Car vs. Bus
  • Mini-Storage Units, A Sign of Gluttony