Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Challenge: Choose Wisely

Main Quest: Let Go Or Be Dragged Current Mission: Choose Wisely
But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.

This challenge is all about spending my resources more wisely. Not just money, though that is certainly a piece of it. Time and space and energy as well. I have been spreading myself far too thin in recent years. After having devoted some serious work to thinking about how and where this has manifested in my life, I have the beginnings of An Attack Plan.

This is a consciousness-centered goal, even though it will have tangible efforts and measurable results. Grading it overall will be extremely difficult, because even with concrete items, this is more about achieving a certain zone. I will definitely be keeping regular posts of what I do, and tracking my tasks and such, but the final analysis is going to be how closely I achieve the ideal space that I'm envisioning. Obvious increases are to CON and WIS and DEX.

I think I'll leave it at that and take five points each for an A, with percentages for lower grades taken across the board. Keeping track of all that there is to be done is going to be a challenge in its own right. I'm not certain how best to do this, short of printing the pages below out and taping them on a wall, making tick marks on the various items. [Wait. That idea has merit suddenly.]

Alternately, I could group the items by date, since some of them are clearly Before the Move or After the Move. Heaven help me, but I don't really want to get into spreadsheet land again. Also there are obvious groupings of one-offs versus weekly or monthly items. GAH. This will take a hard hat.

Time: It's about time that I let other folks do the heavy lifting with regard to regular task management. Subscriptions help in this immensely for me, since I don't have to revisit a decision I already made (buy X every time_period). Also, it keeps me from doing the food security freak out that results in me buying caseloads (not hyperbole) of food.

Tasks: 8/8 A+
  1. Beef: Buy and process a steer. Store beef in weekly distribution amounts in a small chest freezer. Feb 18 - steer ordered and cut sheet delivered. Awaiting notification of pick up date. April 5
  2. (N.B. Buy a small chest freezer if the upright one doesn't fit in the apartment.) April 5.
  3. Local, seasonal fruits and vegetables: Set up a delivery subscription with a local provider for fresh, local, organic produce. Feb 18
  4. Coffee: Set up a delivery schedule with a local roaster for organic, fair trade coffee delivery. Feb 17
  5. Wine: Set up a monthly subscription for delivery of my favorite reds. Feb 17
  6. Contact housekeeper to set up weekly services. Feb 18
  7. Contact Peacock Salem for dry cleaning pickup and delivery account. Decided we are going to do our own laundry as part of weekly chores.
  8. Pay car insurance for the year. Feb 18: found out six months is as much as can be bought at once. Done.

Routines to Establish: 3/3 A- for not actually writing them down, but we have been great about communicating and then following through, and that's really what this piece is about. We are still planning to write all this down in a checklist format for the week, and also to have a shopping list for the week posted on the board so that we can list our preferences (there are no guarantees, of course) taken into consideration when the shopping actually gets done.
Weekly Food purchase - no more than is needed for the week, enforced by cash. This will be supported by a Menu Plan for the week, finalized on Monday nights (the night before the produce delivery) when we do the weekly refrigerator clean out.
Chores - everyone's chores explicitly stated, posted, and with a check-off sheet, updated daily and replaced each week.
Daily routine - posted as part of the No Surprises plan, especially including kitchen closing time, quiet hours, and television and entertainment schedules

Space & Stuff: I need to clear my space, literally as well as metaphorically. I have been weighing myself and my family down with stuff, and we haven't really been as mindful about what we have. Clutter drives me crazy. Cray-ZEE. So we are getting rid of everything that doesn't fit, that we don't use regularly, and reducing the rest of it to Very Useful Items. To help make me do this, I'm moving into a very small, two-bedroom apartment from a medium sized four-bedroom house. I looked around a long time before choosing the place we are going, since the places we have been have been nice, but not well laid out, and inefficient in their construction (can you say utilities bills?) as well as use of space. The place we are going is modern, with a maintenance staff around the clock and high-efficiency everything. We are looking forward to it, all of us, even if it means that privacy is going to be hard to come by.

Tasks:   14/14 : this list is complete. There is some unpacking and settling in that remains, but very little indeed. This is a major win. A+
  1. Sort Clothes. Donate everything useful that we don't want, don't wear or doesn't fit. Feb 19 - nearly done with mine. Began Vivian's as well.
  2. Have everything must go sale on craigslist once all other stuff is moved to new place.
  3. Donate anything that doesn't get moved or sold.
  4. Sort bathroom items and pare down to essentials.
  5. Sell current queen beds and dressers
  6. Buy twin beds with built in storage
  7. Deal with the Basement Boxes: they all have to be dealt with no later than March 30, so start now. Feb 14 - One Box
  8. Deal with the Scary Closet. Feb 18 - First Round. Feb 19 - second round. Nearly done.
  9. Sell washer & dryer
  10. Sell lawn mower
  11. Donate the majority of the books.
  12. Sort toys and personal items in our bedrooms and closets.
  13. Pare down to one foot locker and a four-foot closet bar with shelf.
  14. Donate everything that doesn't go.

Money: I need to reduce my regular maintenance expenditures in general, and deeply rework where and how I’m spending my limited resources. I need anything that goes out to work actively toward the keeping of my sanity and health; everything else must go. Financial health is its own freedom. To that end I need to pay debts as quickly and as timely as possible; I need to decrease my weekly / monthly expenses; and I need to increase my weekly and monthly income. (Gosh, when it's written down like that, it seems so simple, doesn't it?)

Tasks: 12/14 The things I haven't done are essential post settling in things that allow me to make some money. I have talked with my brother and he's going to start taping a weekly cooking show that I will post on you tube. (I can cook, but have no clue about videography and editing. Yet.) This might end up tying in with money or it might not, but I'm looking forward to it and in the meantime, I'm still financially sound. Still, this is a solid A.
  1. Submit two resumes a week to jobs that actually work for me. Being selective isn't really a luxury most folks have in this economy, and I’m right there with them. But if I die of a heart attack from job stress (a real and pending concern), I won't be able to provide. Feb 18: Pace, L&K, March 6, March 21, March 22, March 27, March 31 (Crowning Touch) April 3 (Finch), April 4 (leclair ryan & Bella)
  2. Keep credit cards at 25% or less. Period. If it has to go on a card, pay it off from the bank account. Chances are I can get by with what I already have. Cards go t hit hard when I needed to do the final moving push and found myself in a bind. I'm really glad I had the room on them to make the choices I did, and I have a plan to work them back down over the next challenge. Three of them are below 25%, and the fourth is at 57%.
  3. Establish automatic payment to credit cards. 2 of 4 as of March 1.
  4. Make a schedule for debt payments with amortization dates included. This schedule has been made and will be a backbone piece of next challenge.
  5. Make a note of my credit score every month. February: 518 (ok, that’s embarrassing) March 5: 525 (better but still red-faced about it) April 1: 559 (that's a nice step in the right direction)
  6. Establish automatic draft for electric, cell phone, rent and amenities payments. The finance company charges a pretty penny to process stuff automatically, so I'm setting up a routine for the electric, rent and amenities payments. Cell phone is established.
  7. Cancel gym membership February 18,
  8. Cancel water, internet, gas accounts after the move. Scheduled for Monday, April 7, but that's technically after the challenge ends.
  9. Downgrade the cell phone plan drastically. February 18
  10. Verify automatic payments for student loans, medical debts, and credit cards. March 6
  11. Investigate to make certain all medical bills from this summer have been found and collected into one account. Wow. This is like falling down a rabbit hole. But effort has been made, and that was the point of this item. Some bills have been found and payments established. Others have been relegated to the wait-and-see stack as we here in Virginia try to find out what the heck is going on with Medicaid and the ACA.
  12. Make automatic deduction to savings for emergency fund. Set this up as a task in my calendar, and will establish a routine amount now that I know what to expect from support.
  13. Let people have the opportunity to buy my food. Online subscription for the week.
  14. Clean apartments. Set up an appointment schedule for folks to hire me and a teenager to come in and do basic cleaning on their apartment for $50 a week.

Energy: The whole reason for this mission is to acknowledge that how I spend my energy is deeply meaningful to my health in all its manifestations: emotional, physical, mental and spiritual. I deserve a life that is calm, predictable and lovely. I can't be a good mother or provider or student or friend if I don't make the effort to achieve and maintain a life that allows me to be my best.

Tasks: 10/11
  1. Regular acupuncture and medication for the heart (at least one per month). February.
  2. Regular hair cut (at least one per challenge). Feb 21
  3. Daily quiet time. This has saved me.
  4. Study time to improve my chances of switching careers well. There are a million burger-flipping jobs out there, but no one really wants a 44 year old graduate degree holding technical guru for that. And since I’m done with the IT world, I need to beef up my credentials in the legal world in order to transition without destroying my family or myself. On track to have a 4.0 for this term, and have signed up for two classes for next term.
  5. Networking: Monthly meeting of the paralegal professional association or similar group Networking breakfast; Toastmasters
  6. Classes: Two paralegal classes a term until certification is complete Feb 17 - April 25
  7. Professional Associations: Join the local chapter of the professional association.
  8. Cooking. This is my Happy Space, and I need the luxury and energy to revisit it in a loving, creative way at least once a week. Once I moved into the new place, I have done happy cooking nearly daily, and I am truly loving it.
  9. Yoga. Bend but do not break. Yoga helps my in so many ways. Find a weekly class that fits my schedule and my budget. The Sunday classes at the new place have been sporadic, but will hopefully become more regular.
  10. Water. Drinking water regularly helps flush toxins out of my system and keeps me grounded in a way I don't really understand, but have truly come to love. So I need to keep doing that. Two litres or more a day. As of April 1, this has been a breeze. Thank goodness for having established this habit over the past several challenges.
  11. Walking. Keep track of my daily steps. Minimum of 5,000 a day for this challenge. This was a challenge indeed, but there has been meaningful progress over these many weeks. I nailed this in March, and am looking forward to keeping the momentum going. April has seen no day under 5,000 steps, and quite a few at 10,000 or more.
Edited  by Heidi