setting limits Archives

When to buy a book

Only get it when

- you'll read it at least 5 times.

- it's a reference book you'll use a lot.

- you need it under a time constraint (i.e. now) or must have it longer than the loan period at the library.

- you're planning to damage it during use (e.g. flour-filled baking books, workbooks, bathtub reading material).

- you plan to donate it to the library.

- to support the author.

Otherwise, use the library!

Posted on March 17, 2007 at 03:52 PM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Hundred Dollar Christmas

Try this: spend $100 or less on holiday gifts this year. I think you'll find you can achieve a more rewarding holiday season by not making the silly assumption that the pleasure you cause and appreciation you demonstrate is directly related to the pain of subsequent credit card debt.

Here’s the bottom line: we have so much stuff that a pile of presents is no longer exciting, no longer novel. [Read more of this post from Bill McKibben]

What you may be really surprised to find is how little you miss the old way of doing things. My family gave up the gift thing in favor of just stockings a few years back and the holidays for us are now a relaxed, warm time to hang out together and share cool stuff like foods & music & books & movies we've discovered over the past year. A lot of the time we even just enjoy being together each doing our own things and occasionally piping up with good lines from books or a pretty new image found on Flickr. No big production, no big expectations, no comparing your stack against someone else's; just good company and tasty things to eat and the absence of obligation.

Posted on November 28, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (3)

Anti-aggravation Week #2: Make 'em Fix It

Renters, call your landlord and report that broken stuff they're supposed to keep working.

Home-owners and those with more strict lease agreements, bring in a pro and just get the most irritating home flaw taken care of.

You deserve to live without dripping faucets, broken doorbells, dead stove burners, holes in walls, and similar nonsense.

Posted on November 21, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (1)

Discard blinders and a memory that only works in the very short term

So we're going to hang Saddam Hussein. That'll clearly solve everything.

Now I'm not saying he isn't guilty of war crimes, but where did he get his tools of death? Who was backing him when all this went down in the 1980s?

The United States of America. The United Kingdom.

Remember those old pictures of him shaking Rumsfeld's hand?

Read Robert Fisk's November 6th essay in the Independent, and then ask yourself this:

"Who are we allowing the sales of weapons & deadly biological agents to today and who are they killing with them?"

We must hold our governments and our corporations accountable for their actions because as far as the rest of the world and history are concerned, we are accountable for what we permit.

Posted on November 8, 2006 at 08:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Qualified Yes

Here's a great tip from Merlin Mann's 43 Folders that I somehow missed at the time. Instead of an outright No answer, you might be able to give a qualified Yes. As in "Yes, I'll post 365 Discardian tips this year, but every now and then one might come up late and I totally reserve the right to provide more than a few tips that are just links to someone else being clever."

Posted on July 18, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

Optimizing your game time

Some of us like to relax with games on the computer or video gaming systems. Unless you're blessed with as much free time as you want and don't have anything else on your list you'd rather get done, you might want to limit the amount of time you spend distracted in these alternate worlds.

Here's a simple suggestion from D. Keith Robinson:

Play on an easier setting than you might otherwise.

Yes, okay, maybe you aren't challenging yourself properly, but really, what's your goal here? To become better at this particular game or to relax and have fun? Weigh the satisfaction you achieve after 30 minutes at easy vs. hard and go for that which leaves you jolliest.

It's just like tossing a ball around in the yard instead of suiting up for a regulation football game; who cares if you aren't playing it the tough way? Don't you get enough tough elsewhere in your life?

Posted on May 24, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

Don't live in overdrive

There is a terrible pressure to stay in high gear at all times in today's culture. There's a hidden message that with enough caffeine you should be able to go go go all day and night.


Of course you can't run your metaphorical engine in the red nonstop any more than you can any real motor. You've got a certain capacity, which you most definitely should exercise the fullest quite often, but slow down and recover afterwards.

There are things we fundamentally need to stay happy and healthy and wise.




When that little voice in your head is saying "Too much!", be sure to build a rest into your schedule as soon as possible. If there's a crisis, you might need to make it a shorter rest, but there is always a way to take a few moments to step out of the noise, look out to the distance, breathe and rest your mind.

When that moment comes that you can't take the longer break you need, at least schedule it. Plan to use a vacation day, give your regrets for that social obligation that was going to take up all of Saturday, skip the TV tonight and go to bed early.

It's really truly definitely okay that you can't Do It All all the time.

Posted on May 23, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

Email Mastery: Pay for checking your email

Don't sit and press the "Check Mail" switch like a lab rat hoping to get a tasty food pellet.

Yes, okay, you might get something you can answer quickly and scratch off your list, but that will not be as important as what is currently on the top of your to-do list.

Set your automatic mail check to every six hours. Yes, I said 6 HOURS.

As you get done with the things you've prioritized as important for today, you will check for new mail, but not before you've gotten at least the #1 thing on your list done.

As Merlin Mann said

Don’t let the blur of movement try to replace one elegantly completed task.

Variant rules:
- "okay to check first thing in the morning to catch changed priorities"
Set the timer for this one, though; you are only processing. After you go through it, you will do the most important thing you've labeled "Urgent". I like to download the mail at home and then process it on public transit.

- "close mail program when doing tasks that don't require something in email"
Cut out the distraction. At the very least, minimize the program and hide your active programs Dock or toolbar.

- "buy microbreaks too"
Want to spend 5 minutes checking personal mail? Not 'til you've crossed something off the list, bucko.

Posted on April 12, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Two-Year Rule

Discardian Ruut Ackses (which is a fabulous name, by the way) recommends you get rid of anything you haven't used in two years. He writes:

Less is more when you don't live in a mansion. That's the only way to cope in a modern British house, and we stick to similar rules to yours to prevent our place becoming a reality tv episode of "Look at these poor hoarding lunatics".

We have a three bedroom house that struggles to fit two people if you let your belongings take over. To keep the size and space comfortable, we run "The 2 Year Rule" on every space in the house, regularly. We have a minimalist living room now, with just media stack, DVD/game storage, some LCD lighting, coffee table, one or two nice pieces or art and two couches.

The two year rule has cleaned out every room, every drawer and every cupboard. We own nothing but the essentials that we use and some nice art. Open a drawer, and look at the contents. DId you use any of that in the last two years? If not, sell, donate or bin it.

It helps to remember that stuff is just stuff. Stuff is not your friends or your family, and nothing should hold a huge importance to you. We have very little that we are attached to, and even less that we would have to grab if an evacuation call came. I'd probably grab my partner's antique violin, my Thinkpad, my gadget bag and my AIBO. The rest is disposable.

The hardest part was disconnecting ourselves from our library. We don't have room for shelves of books and now, as soon as they are read, they get given away, traded, donated or binned with only a few exceptions.

We recycle as much as possible and try not to waste anything useful.

This is a good technique. And if it doesn't work out, you can always look into starting that reality tv show...

Posted on January 25, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Zero-Sum Approach

Discardian John Hritz has gone zero-sum with books, CDs, clothes, DVDs, etc.

By zero-sum, I mean that to buy one, I donate one or more. This gets me out of the binge and purge mentality of organizing. I try to have a place in mind for something I want to buy and if there's already something there it has to go.

This is a great method to give yourself time to adjust your habits and home. Try it out for a few weeks!


Posted on January 24, 2006 at 12:01 AM in setting limits | Permalink | Comments (0)

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