June July Goal Review

Lots of garbage happening in the US this last month. While my June goes out well, July and onward will see some work not recorded on the blog.

That said, a review of what I have some say in:

June Goal Review

  1. Write 10 Blogs
    1. Won! I have blogs for the next few months – so many, I now find myself having to plan which will come out when, trying to tie them together in some semblance of a theme >_>
  2. Private Follow-up
    1. Won! The follow-up did not conclude as I expected, but progress and a plan has been made. Appears I will be carrying on in Las Vegas!
  3. Weekly Time Out
    1. Failed. While getting out to see some good friends and catch up all around, I did not remain consistent with a bare-minimum get-out once a week 😦 Shame!
  4. Publish Gunslinger in The West
    1. Won! Done with the … do I want to call it “Gunslinger in The West Alpha?” Anyway, checkout last week’s post showing off the 1- and 2-pager (2-sides, 4-sides). There’s also a preview of the full version, it pending some formal formatting and art commissions.

July Goal Proposal

  1. To Vegas!
    1. Guess the vacation could not last forever. (I regret none of it.) Now back to Vegas to do some housekeeping, so this will give me plenty to do to settle in.
  2. Map Making
    1. Someone important to me has a =huge= historic battlefield map all drawn by hand. The goal here is to put pictures of that map into a digital format – either cleaned up or rendered digitally (which I have already sampled).
    2. Bonus: There are unit pieces also done by hand – I know how to make them into digital, printable versions 🙂
    3. Bonus: The map and units have a manual! As a bonus, apply my writing and game design knowledge towards this, rearranging and generally fill the role of an editor.
  3. As Above, So Below 1-Pager
    1. As Above, So Below has been on the shelf for awhile. It was my first unique application of BITS using Dungeons & Dragons as an inspirational base. While the reference was wrong, I feel confident I could condense dozens of pages of manual into a 1-pager of the necessary bits. (+Playtesting!)
    2. Bonus: Create a 2-pager, much like I did with Gunslinger in The West (which I feel is a better copy than the 1-pager).
    3. Bonus: It has been months – about time I updated the full version of this game with my evolving game design knowledge!
  4. Weekly Times Out
    1. I failed this in June, but with the goal of moving back to Vegas, going to take a crack at this again. Get out twice with others every week – this can be a digital meetup, so not too put upon here!

We look ahead, but never forget what has already come. May July be hot for you and I in feeling, action, and accomplishments. Until then, cheers.

Play “Gunslinger in The West” Now

June 28th 2022: Huzzah! A preview of the full game is available too! See here:

For June’s goal, I am counting Gunslinger in The West as out now! Have a one-pager and a two-pager condensing a larger 15-page document I’m keeping on the backburner for some more formal testing (graphic design would be nice to have too).

Without further ado, Gunslinger in The West:

Prelude

The West is a land of the lawless and everyone else. You gave up all to come here as a Gunslinger on your horse with your gun to protect – or to take – what little is left.

Perhaps you found some fortune on the way, perhaps you made some friends, all fleetin’.

Regardless of how the sun set, you are here now. There is no Law or government man to tell you what, so how will it be? Save the innocent from the rough? Rough ’em yourself? Explore the wild, undiscovered places? Seek your own justice or justify your own acts?

Your skills got you here, but they will only help keep what is yours yours, steel and soul. So roll your two dice, rely on what makes you particular, pray to luck. You will need it.

Features

Be a deadly Gunslinger in The West with your posse of partners. Fulfill why you are there or get into your own kind of trouble.

  • 2d6 minimal math (-2 to +2) rolling at-or-over 🎲🎲
  • Character creation, progression, and scars
  • Minimal stat tracking via “Particular” skills
  • Game Marshal (GM) guide
  • Riding, hands for hire, and service costs sections
  • Problem and place creators
  • Period-appropriate tables of items and androgynous names

Play Now

(Links below go to Google Drive and the latest game document.)

A single page (both sides) giving the highlights of the game.

(Check this one out!) Two-pages that fill out the system with generating tables, guides, Gunslinger creation and progression, and more!

TBD – Full game system written with extra characterization, examples, and Belle’s Town, and introductory showdown. (Art also TBD.)

The Future and Past

The TODO list is pretty clear cut:

  1. Get the full game updated with the changes from one- and two-pager templates!
    1. See the above preview!
  2. Explore art opportunities.

But what got the game here?

In all truth, Gunslinger in The West is a test project to see what a BITS game with only specialties (the S and no BIT of BITS), called “particulars” in this game. To genuine surprise, this take on the system works quite well!

Further, exploring what it is like to play a ‘hero’ character was eye-opening for development. I will be applying this later to a Halo / DOOM inspired RPG – keep eyes out for it! 👀

Ride on, Gunslinger! Cheers to your time in The West ~

In Europe as a Digital Nomad

It was my privilege and honor to live and work in Europe as a digital nomad this past spring 2022. From the bustling expanse of London to the luxurious leisure of Montenegro, these experiences have molded me, teaching me so much.

I share with you some general takeaways – comment if you would like to see a more detailed breakdown of the locations that hosted me for months in 2022!

Be a Good Student

The first thing I needed to do for my travels was be a good student, if no a better student than I have been in years.

For you, learn from others who travel for weeks and months at a time. What where their challenges, what have they learned, how did they deal with situations fine and foul.

The grief and generosity of others online, in videos, and on forums is invaluable. Google search “digital nomadism” along with the features of where you want to go (and check out my #travel tag).

Headed to Europe? Which country or countries? What is the local currency? Tipping culture? Language and medical system? Et. al. There will be no end to the questions, but it is up to you to do the groundwork before your trip.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

If you are working remotely, work remotely. There is virtually no reason to tell your workplace where you are working from, so long as there is a place to collect mail, an internet connection, and your time is managed.

Asked about where you might be – unless the boss or coworker is buying you a plane ticket for business – a simple “I am visiting folks” or “I am in a different time zone for now” is both true and vague enough that they ought leave it there. You are under no obligation to specify when it is no-one else’s business!

Time to Talk About Time

Speaking of time management, the easiest way to pull DADT is to adjust your working hours to the time zone of your workplace. If you are clocking in at the same time, any questions or talk of where you are are no matter.

As for adjusting to times abroad, unless they are on the same side of the planet as home, this can be a hard adjustment. What worked for me was:

  • Eat little in transit. That way, when you arrive, you can either have a big meal to start the new day or go straight to bed if it’s nighttime. That leads to:
  • Do as the locals do. Eat meals at the local time, start walking to destinations, take cold morning showers and hot evening ones, get groceries the first day, and get the right amount of light throughout the day.
  • Avoid light at night. This is quality life advice – you will be ready for sleep sooner the sooner you cut out evening artificial light. And, if you feel the need to nudge yourself to bed, taking 1-3 mg of melatonin is extra effective (light hampers melatonin use)!
  • Save your health. Take naps in transit (bring a hat or eye mask for light, earplugs for the plane noise), pop sprays or tablets of zinc every hour or so, wear a face mask, wash your d@mn hands. These measures help ensure you are going to enjoy the trip!

Pack So Much Less

Skip the roller bag – instead, go for a backpack, maybe two.

You think there isn’t enough room? Let’s talk about that:

You are going to be carrying everything you have for weeks and months. Most places in the world are likely to be cheaper than where you are now (looking at you, U$A), so purchasing any necessities will be a breeze. Dragging a bag makes it hard to move fast either through airports or across towns and tags you as an easy-mark tourist. And your human bias says to handle any possibility, when 20% of what you want to take will handle 80% or more of your trip.

To help you pack, a rule of thumb I came across was to pack your bags, then remove half of what you packed, taking the rest.

Another is a rule of 3 or 4, meaning only 3-4 shirts, undies, socks, jackets and pants, etc.

Ultimately, here is my packing list before I shipped off to London, all contained in 1 30-/35-liter computer backpack, a drawstring bag, or worn through airports:

  • 6x shirts (all buttoned sans 2 for workout), undies, socks
    • A useful number, since I have since lost wear to wear (holes and such). Still could have bought replacements!
  • 1x pair of jeans, shorts, swimwear (look like shorts)
  • 1x loafers, running shoes, flipflops
  • 1x sweater
  • 2x local power converter (and maybe a power strip, too!)
  • Toiletries (day and night moisturizers, non-greasy sunscreen, clippers and tweezer, disposable razor, travel lotion, toothbrush and paste, sampler cologne)
  • Electronics w/ chargers (work laptop, personal laptop, cell, watch, headphones, earbuds, Brio Beardscape trimmer)
    • I highly suggest learning to cut and trim your own hair – it is empowering!
  • Passport, vax card, scratch notebook, journal, wallet, local-currency cash (~400 was more than enough for more than a month).
  • Snack food (2-3 high-quality protein bars, electrolyte mixes)

Things I ended up buying over 3 months:

  • SIM cards for data and local calls in the country or area.
  • New jeans because the brought pair ripped.
  • Another journal, some pens.
  • 1:1 replacement toiletries.
  • Groceries and hair conditioner.
  • Supplement vitamins.

That’s it 🤷‍♂️

Apps to Save Your Bacon

A shortlist of apps to check out that made my stays a breeze (none of which I get kickbacks for):

  • Airbnb – turns out that even in the US many places will have cheaper stays than paying apartment rent (let alone hotels!). The price, safety, and flexibility of Airbnb is unparalleled.
  • Hoopla (or other media app) – through my local library, I get 20 free pieces of media to check out a month.
  • NordVPN (or other VPN) – safety is important. I have my VPN on literally at all times – it secures my digital presence so I didn’t have my financial or personal information stolen abroad.
  • Skype – I bought a phone number and a US-calling plan for less than my regular phone service. Using data, I could call any US number for free and receive free texts (send for 11c). Great when I needed to give a US number for others to call.
  • Traveling Mailbox – Get your mail sent to a US address. Dozens of cities to choose from, pretty affordable, and I haven’t hit the max mail received or opened for many months!
  • WhatsApp (and perhaps Telegram) – a standard for any international traveler. Be able to text, call, and send pics to folks on WhatsApp who have your phone number. It uses data instead of cell service, so you can stay in touch even when you don’t have your old phone number.
  • Wise – international banking and conversions for better rates than your bank. Also can use any ATM twice a month without incurring fees from Wise (though the ATM may have its own). A must-use for getting cash when your bank doesn’t operate where you are!

All this fails to mention your flight provider’s app, social apps to share the adventure, banking apps, payment apps like Venmo, and ride and delivery apps local to your new area. Get what you need before you need it!

Explore New Places and Palettes

Get out. First day, if possible. Get out and keep getting out.

Go to the places that don’t speak your language. Eat the foods you can’t 100% identify. Enjoy the famous locations, sights, dishes, and events your trip’s location is known for. Yet, schedule in days of rest every 3 or 4 days or so – you need to recover to fully enjoy things!

It is so easy to take an area for granted if you are there for a long time. “It’ll be there tomorrow” you might say – don’t believe it. Before you know it, it’ll be time to move on!

That said, meander. Take your time to experience things, especially the casual atmosphere of being a local. If you are going out, think of one or two things to do that day, and linger on those things. Again, the time will be over before you know it, so be present for it. If there is anything left over at trip’s end, all the more reason to come back 🙂

Bring a Friend

Sometimes you need an excuse to get out, sometimes you may feel safer having someone watch your back. While not required, I encourage you to try nomadism with a friend.

Yet, a partner your friend must be. This means they are on your wavelength – they are the same socioeconomic class, have outgoing energy, have your endurance, have similar interests, are OK spending time on their own and with you, and are companionable without a negative mindset.

Without any of the above (a nonexclusive list), cracks will form over time, making the travel a bit more bitter. Try not to resent each other, communicate, and get after it ~

Set a Date to Leave Without Return

Go. Do it now. Within the next 3 months, within your means, buy the ticket, even if it departs later on. Commit. Any plans you make are less valuable than hot air without some action towards it.

Have your departure ticket? Great! You can start making other plans (tourism, housing, etc.), but don’t buy a return ticket just yet.

Again, stay in your location for awhile, at least a month (you can get the biggest discounts this way). A lot happens in thirty days, though, so hold off on returning home.

Perhaps you will want to visit a neighboring country, visit friends in your nation of residence, have to show up to jury duty, get an injury or sickness, lose or gain a job, who knows. Try not to close out your adventure before it even begins ~

Now Go Forth!

You have all of mine that comes to mind. A one-stop-shop to begin the rest of your life.

Being a digital nomad has been transformative for me. Going to Europe for the first time (and for 3 months!) was amazing. Great for my health, great for my finances, great for my productivity, great for me.

Long-term working travel will be great for you too. All you need to do is take action to make it so.

More questions? Take action here to let me know! I am happy to share finances or on-the-ground insights – heck, might write more posts here regardless 🙂

When you get to Europe as a digital nomad or anywhere else, let me know! Your experience will embolden my next trip out. Cheers to us both!

What You Get Reading “Homo Deus”

Homo Deus – i.e. “Human God,” top-rated book by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, author of multiple other best-sellers – hit me like a brick when I read it.

I have covered butt-kicking, life-changing books before, so let this be another added to the list. Though, let me give you my personal spark notes – what little they are – for what to expect for what you get by reading Homo Deus:

Humans Are Dividual

We are of many minds in one body, hardly an “individual” by any reasonable expectation of what makes a human a human. Thought, action, and even memory all change based on context internal and external, and changes over time.

Another way to put it would be that people wear many masks for the parts we play in our own lives and the lives of others.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Humans try to assume something is known, attempt to take comfort in something certain.

Yet how might that be certain? All the puzzle pieces might seem to be in the box, but until the puzzle is put together, how can one be sure?

The Truth-seeking crusade of science, the firmest field of knowledge towards what might be real, hedges virtually all of its claims with “this may be wrong” and “there is more to know here.” In that way, we humans must always account for our own ignorance in literally every claim we make or piece of knowledge we take stake in, be it ourselves, others, or the world at large.

What Comes Makes All Before Obsolete

Human history took tens- or hundreds-of-millennia to accomplish pottery, baking, and basic plant domestication. Countless generations laid bricks in foundations and fortresses and footpaths for empires. It took one man a lifetime to learn just enough to make a decent shoe if he was gifted, passing that knowledge on to at least one or two sons before his death if lucky.

The works of this species in all recorded history were reproduced and exceeded in the last 100 years. Change and creation have only escalated – what took years, now months; months, now weeks; of weeks, a single tweet can wipe away a week’s efforts.

If change takes as long as a year, we are counted lucky, for everything that comes next makes everything that has come before obsolete.

Question Yourself

Is life just a set of algorithms, our existence only justified by being better data processors for the model?

Is intelligence the greatest benefit? Or does consciousness hold more value?

What is life when algorithms know us better than us?

These questions are vague intentionally, allowing answers for yourself or for considerations about society at large. Whatever the answers end up being to those with the means and opportunity at some future time will decide great changes to come.

Handling Humans

Democracy (a system of distributed power and processing) acts slower, yet is more thorough than other decision-making forms. It works well in high states of change, when idea surpasses implementation.

Autocracy (central processing; efficient, yet emphasizes systemic bias) works when implementation is more important than ideas. ‘Get it done no matter what’ has been the mainstay of all cultures up until the last spit of two centuries, and even yet has widespread adoption.

One or the other is only “good” or “bad” in if it is being used at the most optimal times. Holding onto one method when the other would really do causes unnecessary strife. All of this proves to be yet cyclical as intentions and executions change.

Durant agrees about the cyclical nature of our species. As a renown historian, Durant points out that decision-making in economies and governments repeats over and again as the waves of policy change. (Set aside the observations that autocracy has been the #1 driver for species advancement historically and that the merit of democracy in the last 300 years has yet to be proven more than a coincidence for the astronomical growth thereabouts.)

Not a lot, yet these are the things to keep in mind for what you get reading Homo Deus.

Highly recommend the book, as it humbles oneself towards what unknowable future comes!

Need to Decide? Read This

What to eat, what to wear, whether to get out of bed, or when to fall asleep. What jobs to take, tasks to do, or relationships to foster or let falter.

Decisions make our lives.

I have needed to make a multitude of decisions in my life, yet I have encountered something you are very likely familiar with: Indecision.

Analysis paralysis emerges from many causes: anxiety, fear or fear of missing out (FOMO), and more.

Whatever the cause, when you need to decide, read this collection that has helped me so very much in making life-changing decisions:

HALT

HALT before you make any large decision or have non-trivial discussions.

H – feed your hunger. Have something to eat, a cup of water to drink.

A – calm your anger. Hot feelings deliver burning, impulsive words that can scar.

L – accommodate your loneliness. Talk with a friend, search online for similar situations… it is dangerous to go alone, so take some company!

T – rest your tiredness. You are worse than drunk when tired, so at least nap if not getting a full night’s rest!

You good? Continue:

Ask the Right Questions

Whatever decision comes up most in these questions, do that immediately. When complete, repeat:

  • What makes all else easier or unnecessary?
  • What gives me the most satisfaction?
  • What creates more time?
  • What tangentially improves my skills? Relationships?

Tied or stuck? How about:

Hypothetical Feeling

You have two choices, X and Y.

Imagine and convince yourself you have decided to do X. How do you feel? Bad? Doubtful? Anxious?

If so, do Y and know you made the best decision!

High Quality > High Quantity

Being pickier when it comes to quality removes decisions that fail higher standards. Choosiness saves time and the need to make so many decisions.

Further, spending time on a few high-quality decisions is much more valuable than a lot of trivial nothings. Chores and daily habits come far distant second to keeping up relationships, investing finances, and deciding on employment and relocations.

Yet none of that matters if not executed on – if making a decision, do it ASAP. Even if the decision is imperfect, good now is virtually always preferred over great later.

Forgiveness and What Not

You are human with a finite amount of time and will to act in that time. So is everyone else. With that in mind, forgive yourself for making a decision not to do something (so long as it is a decision, and not laziness or avoidance).

Heck, enable yourself to decide not to do. “What not to do” lists – or better, “principles and policies” – can be more important than “To Do” decisions. So decide what not to do to clear the way for more important decisions to be made!

A final note to put fears and doubts aside: So long as it is not a catastrophic decision, you will be OK, as it is OK to fail (usually). So what counts as a “catastrophic decision?”

  • Anything that addicts or permanently changes for the worse your mind’s capabilities. (Certain drugs, brain damage, dogma, etc.)
  • Anything that hobbles or cripples your body. (Lost limbs, physical weakness, etc.)
  • Anything that brands you with a society’s Scarlett Letter. (Failing family, crime, overt perversions, etc.)

Set Yourself Up for Future Decision Success

By now you hopefully have made some decisions you can live with, that will not scar you catastrophically.

You can do better still. Start living by these pieces of advice to make you future decisions even easier:

  • Simplify. You are better for having less to be concerned about.
  • Long-term Yes/No. Relationships and activities are so important for your future need to strive to be of the highest quality.
  • Act now. It is the only thing you have to do – “JUST DO IT.”
  • Sleep adequately. It is the foundation of all health.
  • No added sugars. You are and will be worse for the simple carbs fogging your brain.
  • Meditate. Appreciate and reflect in the ways best suited for you.
  • Exercise. Even if it is a walk to meditate.
  • Zoom out, slow down. Chill. Busy-ness is poverty.
  • Journal. Take note of gratitude and record patterns. “Rubber Ducking” is a therapy all its own.
  • Fats and proteins. Brain and brawn. These will keep you young and vigorous.

Read more about the above in my 10 Themes from Tribe of Mentors.

Need to decide still? Read all this again. Bookmark it. Read again and again – this is a decision that will benefit you for a very long time as it has benefited me.

Cheers to all you are going to accomplish ~

May June Goal Review

April was a mess, so May came to assist in getting me back on track.

Not only am I back on the tracks, I have a dopamine hit driving me to some feisty ambitions 🔥 The review:

May Goal Review

  1. Death Walk
    1. Won! Wrote some letters to be delivered if anything unexpected / unfortunate happens, along with figuring out that I really, really need to get to finishing some of my projects. I also got out of a… mismatched situation (I signed paperwork not to say more – just know it has let me be very much more relaxed!).
  2. Plan June
    1. Won! Doing some more traveling to visit fam in June while also restarting a work search (nothing too hectic, as I am fortunate to have some time already bought). Also in the process of getting some major work done on myself medically, so there is that to plan for!
  3. Seize May
    1. Won! Old castles, car trips, meeting new friends, being at the beach every day… My physical exploration has been solid. Intellectually, I have revisited creative projects of mine, letting me formalize plans that carry over into June.
  4. Rest
    1. Won! Quite literally stopped to smell the many roses with this one. Pet dogs, scratched cats, lingered on the water and sand of warm beaches… All qualitative – quantitatively, I spent 50% more time on leisure in May, so calling this a win 😁

June Goal Proposal

  1. Write 10 Blogs
    1. Only a month of blogs left written in advance. I might need more. Why? Because:
  2. Private Follow-up
    1. A private situation of mine that requires my full attention and dedication. It may actually blow half of June, all of July, and all of August away, so writing two months of blogs above is definitely called for 🙂
  3. Weekly Time Out
    1. Time to see the family! Time to see friends! At least once a week, guarantee social and personal time out, something unique and significant!
  4. Publish “Gunslinger in The West”
    1. GitW has been a long time coming – I won’t go hunting for the original blog post mentioning it, but it has rules written, play tested, and even a bit of formatting and artwork done. Time to get a copy (even if it is an artless free-to-play) out publicly. Let me be ambitious here – they say the first publication is always the hardest! So here is to more work getting out there to come!

Gosh! Feeling better already. May has been a blessing, it setting me up for success in June. I am about to get after it – how about you?

Cheers to your own reviews!

Time for a Task List

Blessed be the list makers.

Someone, probably

Ever since university, I have been way, way busy with many different plates spinning.

The best help to keep track of things? (Drumroll, please!)

Task lists.

That’s right – “do this, then that” lists have saved my bacon more than I care to recount.

How I have kept myself on track in accomplishing goals has evolved over the years to suit my needs as they arise. If you need help with our own success (getting it or excelling it!), it is time for a task list for you, too 🙂

Generally:

Each item on the task list should take more than ~10-15 minutes, but no more than about 1 (or 2, at the extreme) hours to complete.

Skip adding daily habitual tasks you need no help with. This could mean no list-item for brushing teeth or taking a shower, yet could include exercise or a reminder to dedicate time to having lunch. As such, laundry could be a task item because it happens only infrequently (i.e. less frequent than every day).

When written, keep tasks short-and-sweet. 6 words or less thereabouts to remind you of what to do (e.g. I listed writing this blog as “Blog #6”, the weekly review before publishing as “Review Blog”), a phone number or detail to help you, and that is all. Any more is largely time wasting for your task list 🤷‍♂️

I find 4 tasks a workday (i.e. not including my job on a personal task list) is typical, 8-10 on a non-workday the same, so keeping this in mind is a great way to start. There may be more done sometimes, there may be less, but your tempo is for you to discover over time.

Separate “work” (i.e. employment) from “life” – what you need to do at your job has no place being on your personal list. Both work and life ought have task lists, but neither has place on the other as a distraction!

(If searching for a job is your new job, then sure, include those tasks too, but do not forget to schedule leisure too!)

Use boxes! Checkboxes, that is. An x or ✓ just feels so tactile, so good – crossing out a completed item is a simple joy that encourages further accomplishment ❤ (Paper and pen really feed into this feeling.)

If you feel you are not getting your boxes checked in the best order or as many as you would like to, track your time. Do it for a day, a week, two, a month. Time tracking keeps you honest and your task lists prioritized. I have used Toggl for free for years, with my current time buckets like so:

  • Job
    • Individual development tickets and broad “support” buckets for meetings, answering questions, and planning.
  • Goals
    • “Tasks” for the monthly goals, but I throw in exercise, blogging, writing, and game design here too.
  • Others
    • Dates, meals together, lengthy conversations.
  • Leisure
    • Gaming, reading, movies, shows.
  • Chores
    • Maintenance routines (making food, waking up, showering, laundry etc.) and travelling.

Just Write ’em Down

As things come up, put them on a list. As that list runs to the end of the page, rewrite the tasks left to do in whatever order you see fit on the next page. If you have more than a page of things left to do, you have too much! Decide on what not to do or to delegate, and get those things off the list.

This can be utter chaos, yet you will have your task list!

Kanban Boards

These were popular when I was in university a long while ago.

Put every potential task onto a “card” or “ticket” in the “To Do” column. When starting on that task, put it into the “WIP” column. When done, move the card to the “Done” column.

Pretty simple – both in setup and execution with notecards on bulletin boards or using online programs. While meant for teams of people to know how the rest of the team fairs, boards worked great for me for a long time by also customizing the process (e.g. adding a “Planning” or “Review” column, or color-coding tasks on type or priority).

Calendar

Block out chunks of time to get tasks done. Include locations, people and contact deets if needed. Keeps your plans on track or lets you know if tasks are going “over budget” as it were.

Google Calendar is great for this because it has functionality in addition to appointments:

Have something to do? Create a task for it, adding extra notes internally. When done, click the checkbox to complete it.

As days carry on, uncompleted tasks carry over, stacking with others as time goes on. Easy drag-and-drop functionality lets reorganizing happen fast while also keeping track of the daily schedule.

Hours, Days, Weeks, Months

Mark down what needs to be done in the next few hours (today), days (this week), weeks (the month), and months (calendar quarter).

This list needs to be rewritten every day, so this time can serve as meditation of what is so important in needs to be done today, or what can be put off. Move things sooner as needed, and get started on future tasks earlier if ahead and so inclined!

Priority Sections

This was my go-to when writing this blog post some weeks prior to posting, so this has been kept fresh!

Every day, I list sections on a page consisting of 4 checkboxes, each section separated by a line. If I want to get something done sooner, I add it to the topmost section; if it can wait, I jot on the bottommost.

As the day begins, I tackling the first section, perhaps dipping into the second as opportunity comes. When a second completes, I take a break by doing a task for leisure (a goal of mine to spend more time on leisure) – playing a video game level, reading ~30 minutes, watching an episode of some show.

For me, sectioning my task list is the best way at this time for me to treat some formerly rampant workaholism. It may help you, too!

Category Sections

My current technique.

Same as the above – sections of 4 – but only 4 sections per day. Those sections are my current priorities, coming in “Job”, “Projects”, “Relaxation”, and “Chores”.

Can hit them in any order, getting some 8-12 done a day. from starting breakfast to dimming the lights. Not all 4 in a section need to be filled to leave room for the impromptu, but I find chucking surprise tasks into a large list* for tomorrow to be a better option.

* This list is a text document on my computer of priorities 3-2-1 (0 doesn’t make it). I judge a task based on “+1 Now (within the month-ish) or +0 Later?” “+1 Required or +0 Optional?” “+1 Heck-Yes I Like It or +0 Dislike?” I pick from 3 on down to fill the next day’s tasks!

Which Task List Is Best?

The million-dollar question. And the hopefully not-too-flippant answer?

It depends 🤷‍♂️ Depends largely on the situation you are in and the task list that best fits how you work.

What matters is that you have a plan of action, then stick to that plan. That is where tasks lists shine, being a great companion for me and are or will be for you too. Now is the time for a task list, so get after it!

Work for Pay, Not Free

The zeitgeist regarding labor is smarter now than it was just 10 years ago as it comes to work, pay, et al. As with all things, it could be better.

One of the ways thoughts on employment could be improved is to work for pay, not for free.

Here are points on how:

Experience

Experience is garbage. The person offering “experience” in exchange for cold, hard cash cannot go choke on that “experience.” Why? Because it holds no tangible value.

I.e. experience is “free.” Do not work for “free.”

Denied a Raise?

Say a coworker is earning more for the same (or even less!) output than you, or a new employee is offered higher compensation. You attempt to negotiate a raise but are denied.

What now?

Either:

  1. Quit (but only if you have another job lined up, are financially set to take a well-deserved break, or do not require the wage-slave benefits like health insurance)
  2. Get cut by cutting back the day-to-day effort (collecting that sweet, sweet unemployment insurance)

Do not wait! Act now for your own benefit. Check out some other options and help on cutting back:

Get a Pay Cut?

First, what counts as a pay cut? A few things:

  • Meeting or exceeding performance expectations, not getting a raise despite that.
  • Not getting at least a cost-of-living increase in wage (as of May 2022, that is North of 8.3% – anything less is wage theft by the employer).
  • Demands by work to work more.
  • Org or team changes that decrease the quality-of-life at work.

If any of the above or similar occur, it is time to cut back in proportion to how the employer has cut back on you. A few ways to do that:

  • You can always quit if able (see above).
  • You Earn Commission
    • Raise your rates, especially for this employer.
    • Retain control of your work (e.g. a photographer keeps the unwatermarked originals, an artist holds Photoshop files, programmers source code local to themselves).
    • Aim to drop the employer (if 80% of pain comes from 20% of clients, drop that 20% sooner than later).
  • You Are Hourly
    • Clock out on time.
    • Do 0 (zero!) extra.
    • Take your breaks on time and use your paid leave regardless of business needs.
    • Reread your job description; when told to do something outside of that agreement, decline to do it (unless the employer is ready to immediately renegotiate the agreement, with an immediate pay-bump for you 😉)
  • You Earn Salary
    • Over-estimate the time it will take to do things, making sure your work takes up that extra time. (I find an extra 30-40% is a useful tool if previous performance has not been recognized.)
    • Again, do nothing extra – it is not in your job description to organize events, work on other products or projects, or in your incentive to work on anything that hasn’t been agreed on with management for how you will be judged (i.e. Objective Key Results – OKRs – used to define pay performance).

What Else?

Work advocates like the hustle-hustle-hustle icon Gary V speak to “getting in” for time vs. any other compensation, even experience.

E.g. serve coffee and run packages for the CEO for free – that may work for a select handful with a decent safety net, but that willful enslavement is not something I can ethically get behind.

And if an employer ever offers or suggests working for free, they have done you a great favor: the employer has shown you they cannot be trusted to act fairly or honestly for you. You might still do business, but you will be fighting everything the employer says because everything they say will come at a cost to you.

So if you have other ways to recognize employer exploitation or how to maximize your earnings under subpar conditions, share them! Your work has value, so work for pay, not free.

The Real Values of Your Job

You get a wage, yet that is not all. What are the real values of your job? Or any job offer?

Base Pay

The hourly or salary numbers of the job.

This is a guarantee of value. Out of virtually all other values, this is the most fundamental because it is not a hypothetical. You will be paid this by law, otherwise the law is broken.

Additionally for hourly, though a person could expect HOURLY RATE x 40 HOURS, that may not be the case. Adjust accordingly, in that it may be 35 hours instead, or there is overtime pay on the regular – talk with your coworkers about these expectations.

Stock

AKA Options (more volatile for gains or losses) and RSUs (more guarantee, less risk). This is flexible value in an employer offers at a discount or pre-set rate.

For many in, say, the tech industry, this is the bread-and-butter of employment, the real value of their compensation. For pennies on the dollar, you can gain stock then sell it at a steep profit.

Be warned: Stock is fickle in that it can fall nearly as easily as it can rise (at least in recent years). What you may have banked as the cornerstone of your finances can become so much bitter ash.

Time Off

Sick days, vacation days, holidays. Each day is worth about .4% of Base Salary (1 8-hour day in 2000 annual working hours).

Not something to sniff at. These values can add a significant proportion to the overall value to a job, but be careful if anything is “unlimited” – these days have no value if not taken or are allowed to be taken (these instead have negative value as a lie from the employer).

Matches

Talking about the big one here – 401K matching. The employer will match dollar-for-dollar a 401K contribution.

Free money here. A very important value, though it is not offered everywhere and only works if you are able to. Keep an eye out on this!

Bonus

Annual performance, sales, commission – these can be substantial, or trivial. They can happen often, once a year, or not at all.

Whatever bonus gets offered (if any), take note and negotiate on this too!

Misc.

Largely subjective, include any other items you feel might be of value to you in your work. This bucket is mainly for values of a few hundred dollars, but could be worth a lot more.

Examples:

  • Commute Time (less is more! 0 is best)
  • Special Health Insurance Benefits (specifically of benefit to your upcoming year or lifestyle; you ought be getting basic health insurance regardless!)
  • Snacks
  • Gym Memberships
  • et al.

As with everything, a lot of these offerings only have value if you reap the value from them. If not using anything of benefit, it has no value to you and should not be included in the value of the job.

Experience?

You can’t even choke on experience, so it is of virtually no value here.

Can you gain training, networking, and exposure while on another’s dime? Sure, yet there still needs to be that “dime.”

Are some employers worth it? Perhaps. Big names, such as Google, Facebook, or Apple are all great names in virtually any field, while some banks or law firms would be great in their fields. Yet these employers are tiny compared to the vast swath of the broad market, where you are likely to be employed.

Experience is nice, but again, it cannot feed you.

Putting It All Together

Job Value = Base Pay + Stock* + Time Off + Matches + Bonus + Misc.**

*Stock is the number of shares given in a year multiplied by (market right now – rate given in the offering).
** Money is time – the more money you keep, the more time you will be giving your future self, so do not discount time savings as being worth a lot!

This will give you a dollar amount, the real value from the real values of your job.

April May Goal Review

How are you doing? Here’s me:

April Goal Review

April has been insane. A whirlwind. A trying time.

With some extra travel that resulted in a ruinous chest cold (cold, not COVID – took test), my misery made things sour both in my social and personal life. The sickness killed off more than my health. Spending days doing nothing but sleep and drugging myself enough to do a semblance of work at the day job, April has not seen much time spent doing anything else, much less attempting to “get my mojo back.”

Yet, all this has helped me take less for granted. I have learned further what “rest” can be. After I write this post, I will spend an afternoon with myself in some gentle breezes by blue water. Though sad, my future is much clearer now.

May Goal Proposal

  1. Death Walk
    1. I have taken these periodically since 2018 when a great friend and I had a teary conversation (tears all mine). Death Walks are incredibly important for putting things in order, so I will take one in May and get to acting on it.
  2. Plan June
    1. May is fairly flexible, yet I can begin major plans for June and even July. Visiting friends and family perhaps, getting major tasks scheduled. Though plans may turn out to be worthless, the planning will be invaluable!
  3. Seize May
    1. I have a unique opportunity to explore places far flung and see important friends long departed from. Like planning June, it is time to get it on the calendar to make up for lost time!
  4. Rest
    1. My time-tracking process had no equivalent entry for something like “smell the roses.” Now, days by the water, reading because I want to, and generally “chilling” – let me be no stranger to self care as I seek to forge a new self.

I think this feeling counts as “burn out.” So I take myself up by the shirt collar and give myself a good shake. Should I end up working on roleplaying games and writing in May? All the better – can count it as part of the Death Walk as I find out about myself.

You, take care. May be seeing a few of you very soon – cheers through then!