For a while now, I’ve said that time is my most precious resource.

I have a young family, a stressful job, and more ambitions than I have the time I’d like to fully indulge in, so often I find myself watching the clock even more so than I do my checking account balance. I can always make more money (sort of!), but no matter how hard I try, there are still only so many hours in a day at my disposal.

So for the last four years – specifically since the day that Christopher was born – I’ve been a telecommuter, working out of my home office and only going in for meetings that couldn’t be handled over the phone … which let’s be honest, in this day and age were few and far between!

I found that working from home was a good fit for me because it kept me in close proximity if Sara needed any help with the boys during the day. She still handled most of their daily care, but if she needed a hand changing a particularly messy diaper or wanted to share something adorable that they were doing, I could take a short break and come help.

It also made it so much more convenient that she could run to the store or go pickup Christopher from school while the twins were napping because I was still in the house with them doing my work.

It was a great system that came crashing to an end recently when my employer announced that they were ending our telecommuting policy. No discussion, no exceptions – they just wanted everyone back in the office to facilitate collaborations, despite the fact that we’re a global company and most of the people who I collaborate with are located in other countries… 🙁

I’m not going to rant and rave about that because this isn’t the time or the place, but what I can say is that over the years I’ve definitely learned that office life really isn’t for me. At least not right now it isn’t – the fixed schedules aren’t conducive to my life with three young kids, the commute is a giant waste of precious time, and in the end I know that I’m personally far more productive working privately at home without all of the distractions that come from working in the same building as 500 other people.

Sometimes other workers have a negative opinion towards telecommuters because they think that they’re just sitting at home, goofing off all day long.

I know because for a while I was one of those people who hated hearing that somebody was working from home that day because often times it was tough to get a hold of them, and frankly there was probably a bit of jealousy in wishing that *I* was sitting at home on my couch with my laptop instead of stuck in a stuffy cubicle for 10 hours a day, slowly watching my life flash before my eyes, too!

But the thing that I realized once I started enjoying the comforts of telecommuting regularly for myself is this – just because someone is physically in the office doesn’t mean that they’re actually doing anything productive with their time.

You can screw around at the office just as easily as you can at home – wandering from one co-worker’s desk to another for just a few minutes of idle chat, meetings that are booked for far longer time than they actually require, aimless web surfing and social media browsing, or even just taking an hour for a task that should take any reasonable person five minutes … don’t let anyone claim credit for being busier than you are just because they did it wearing pants. 😉

So needless to say, my world is even a bit more chaotic than normal right now because I feel like my precious time is even more constrained than ever. Not being able to throw up a load of laundry or wash a few dishes to help reduce the pile in the sink on my lunch break is already starting to take its toll and tensions within the family are higher because we don’t see each other nearly as much as we used to.

In a way, it really makes me think about work and why it is that we work the way that we do because it doesn’t always have to be this way.

Some jobs, of course, require a physical presence – retail, dining, hospitality, shipping – but for jobs that put us sitting at desks for 50 hours a week and with so many online tools to allow people to work together from all corners of the globe, the reasons are few and far between why people should be tethered to one certain desk to put in their time and it’s hard to see how the positives could possibly outweigh the negatives when you consider how freeing it can be for an employee to have more control over how they spend their day.

Right now I’m struggling to adjust – I’ll get by, but I’m not really happy about it. The upside is that it’s forcing me to reconsider some things that I’ve let slide for far too long out of a sense of just being comfortable. I’ve got a few ideas for ways to change things up, and I’m getting to the point in my life where I’m less willing to take no for an answer – 2,400 hours a year is just too much time to spend discontent.

I suppose we’ll see what happens! 😉

#ServerProgress

December 20, 2016 8:56pm
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Update: Got the scottsevener.com network of sites moved back over to its new home, everything is resolving correctly and not in 48 seconds per page load, and it’s being served through Varnish + Apache … woohoo!

Mind you, I’m not entirely sure that it’s configured correctly because speeds aren’t tons faster, but we’ll work on configuration tweaking another day … I’ve got so much catch-up writing to do now… 😛

Over the weekend I’ve spent some time rethinking productivity and trying to reassess the different things that I want to be writing because truth be told, I’m really not writing as much as I would like to be right now.

And while it’s too soon to say for certain, the hunch that I’m riding on at the moment is that realistically I could be getting a lot more done by curbing the procrastination and a good chunk of the time that I waste griping about things on social media because if you were to really take me to task over how I’d like to be able to look back at my time, which do you honestly think that I’d rather be able to boast – a portfolio of great writing over all of these subjects that I’m passionate about, or having posted some really great zingers arguing with my Republican friends (and even complete strangers) on social media?!

I really want to try to refocus on creating and leave the petty bitching for those other people online who don’t create.

So going back over my repertoire, I’ve already tried to post a thing or two this weekend on Just Laugh, and eventually my rarely weekly humor column should stumble back into that fold, too.

I’ve also got this really swell Thing-a-Day project that I haven’t blogged about here or linked to just yet, but I’ve really been enjoying that because it sort of forces me to write at least something every single day!

So the question from here is … what else???

Though I’ve had fun with the editorials that I’ve been occasionally writing, I really want to keep them a limited engagement for topics that I find myself motivated to write more serious and in depth about, as opposed to it becoming a regular feature where I have to actively hunt for stuff to comment on every single week.

The one that I keep circling back to is Disney World, although at this point I admittedly have conflicting thoughts about it…

  • Pros:
    • love Walt Disney World.
    • I always find myself overwhelmed with things I could write about whenever I’m there.
  • Cons:
    • It’s a great place to unwind for me and I’d hate to interfere with that by adding deadlines, scheduling, etc…
    • I’ve tried a few different ideas in the past and none have really caught on … humor, reviews, general commentary.
    • There’s always the possibility of hurting my other projects by further segmenting my time instead of really focusing on one or two things.

But then again, it could just be that I haven’t found my beat with regards to writing about Disney World yet and I really do feel like there’s a project in there somewhere that could be a whole lot of fun, so maybe I just need to put a little more time into it and really think about some of the things I’d like to read about that I can address in a unique way, and also don’t require twice-weekly, rigorous trips to the World and/or reposting the same park updates and press releases that a lot of other WDW bloggers already do today!

Who knows – maybe it even involves dumping MyTimeWithTheMouse.com and trying an entirely different approach using a nice, simple (and already done!) WordPress theme that I don’t have to spend a year custom coding to get exactly the way I want, only to later become horrendously outdated until I just want to scrap the whole thing and try something else a few years later!

This is clearly going to require some thought, so in the meantime – here are a few fun pics from recent trips this year that will hopefully serve to motivate me, and I guess you can feel free to enjoy ’em if you’d like, too… 😉

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How Much Do You Pay Yourself?

March 1, 2016 8:53pm
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So you might have guessed that I’ve been in kind of a personal finance mood the last couple of days. Yesterday I posted about investing and the value of time, which led to another random question that I started musing in the shower this morning … how much am I paying myself each month?

Overall I like to think that our budget looks pretty ok. True that it still has way more debt than I would like, but we also make a conscious effort to save and put money away for retirement, so what exactly does that picture look like???

Turns out it looks something like this…

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To be honest, it only took me about 10 minutes to gather all of the data for this exercise – it probably took longer for me to format the graphs just the way I wanted, though I suppose your mileage may vary if you happen to have a lot of credit cards to sort out or something. For what it’s worth, I keep a spreadsheet handy with how much of each of our debts goes to principal vs. interest to help us decide which to pay down next…

It should also be noted that my figures above also include employer retirement contributions like matching and whatnot, so it’s not solely income – more like income plus benefits – if you’re looking for something like Debt-to-Income ratio or a housing ratio, though for what it’s worth our numbers seem to be well below the recommended limits for both (debt – 19% vs 36% limit; housing – 16% vs 28% limit).

Although I thought that this was a good start, distilling it down even further really got me to the meat of what I wanted to see…

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This chart takes the previous and groups everything into one of three categories – day to day expenses, debts, and savings – and so it’s easy enough to see here that right now about 21% of my household money is currently being saved aside for another day. Granted that 21% makes up multiple goals – emergency savings, Christopher’s college fund, and retirement – but I think it’s interesting and arguably a little more motivating to look at the monthly progress every now and then instead of simply net worth – debts vs assets which can be a little daunting!

Now to make that green slice a whole lot bigger as the light blue slice fades away… 🙂

Get Stuff Done.

January 30, 2015 1:21am
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It’s easy for me to start new things, unfortunately to a fault when I’ll have a to-do list filled to the brim with no plan in sight of how to actually finish any of them.

This goes for pretty much everything in my life – writing, work, personal stuff … my life is more or less run by to-do lists, to the point where I often find myself spending more time managing said lists than I do actually completing and getting things off of them.

And that’s a problem! But it’s a problem that I’m aware of, and I’m trying to do better at it.

It’s especially painful when I look at some of my lists now and can single out a dozen or so tasks that might take less than five minutes a piece … reason asks why in the world I didn’t just do the task when I was putting it on the list! Of course, there are some valid excuses – like maybe it’s a writing idea that I literally got at 3:30am and noted down from the comforts of my pillow, or maybe I was in the middle of working on a much larger task at the time and didn’t want to interrupt myself.

Either way, now it’s going to take me an hour to blow through all twelve of them in one shot, which is a much grander feat than simply knocking out a few simple things here and there.

I think a bigger part of doing this better in 2015, though, is simply in identifying one or more of the larger tasks in a given list and saying, “I’m going to get one or two of those done today – no matter what.” so that in theory at the end of the day I can always look back and say that at least I did that as opposed to a few random things here or there, but nothing really of any substance that’ll make me feel good about circling back to the list to begin again tomorrow.

There have been far too many days in the past couple of weeks when I go to bed feeling that I was completely and utterly unproductive with the time that I was given, so maybe instead of just incessantly making lists and getting a little done on a few of them, my time might be better spent just honing in one less things and following them through all of the way ’til the very end.

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Spent a good couple of hours wrapping gifts this evening – no wonder the wife stopped after she had taken care of the ones for her side of the family! What you see here is mostly done, divvied out into more or less three piles in preparation for shipping up to New York and West Virginia and Michigan. We’re still waiting on a few more packages from the likes of eBay and Amazon, scheduled to hopefully arrive on Thursday.

According to the website, we’ve technically got until Saturday to ship via priority mail and have these puppies beat Santa to their respective trees of destination. I’m actually hoping to get them all in the mail on Friday, both to give us a little wiggle room and because we’re heading over to Disney this weekend, so we’ll see…

I don’t even want to think about how much shipping is going to cost for all of this stuff!!!

Late Night Distractions

April 9, 2013 12:24am
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Sometimes you’re really productive and get all sorts of writing done, and sometimes you end up spending half the night watching people sing surprisingly fun covers of songs on YouTube… 😉

Internet, Take Note!

December 15, 2012 1:09pm
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This may very well be the only productive thing that I do today…

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Prioritizing My Mind

August 7, 2012 2:31pm
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to have to put some other things on hold in order to get through the rest of this month in one piece.

I’m very much not happy about it, but the truth of the matter is I’ve just got way too much on my plate right now and nothing is getting done while I sit around and stress about not having enough time to spread around.

I’ve got a project that was supposed to be done a week ago, and another that I wanted to relaunch soon.

I’m way behind on my writing in all sorts of different capacities.

And oh yeah, I’ve also got this house that I just bought that I’m trying to move into!

P.S. Also, diet & exercise.

It’s just too much, so I’m picking a couple of things at a time and as I make my way through those, then I’ll get back to work on something else. It’s probably going to mean more stress later trying to tie up loose ends come year’s end, but right now it’s really all that I can do.

Moving & Overdue Project #1 – you’re up, with writing catch-up and diet & exercise on deck after them…  😐

Don’t mind if I do!

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