Succeeding at life

I’m at an interesting, forward-moving period in my life. As you may have noticed by the abundance of links around here on the topics, I’ve been studying up (geeking, if you will) on productivity and personal finance.

My personal finance skills have been shit all my life. My parents were horrible role models in finance — no savings to speak of, horrendous amounts of debt, and a nice stack of neglected debts (foreclosures and the like). What I learned from my parents was how to live paycheck to paycheck. It wasn’t that money slipped through the cracks, necessarily, but it was that they were fine living in the moment.

Living poorly off of a teacher’s salary for 6 months (which is really plenty of money) taught me that I don’t want to live that way. I’ve written already about my debt — I have it, and ignoring it won’t make it go away. I’ve also written already about my budgeting. Nothing new there.

But I’ve been integrating personal finance with Getting Things Done productivity with Zen-To-Done productivity, and I’m in a strangely elated place.

I read both of Dave Ramsey’s “important” books — Financial Peace and Total Money Makeover. There wasn’t much new in the books, since I’d read the details of his process through blogs. What was new, though, were the forms in the back of the book. I’ve digitized those forms into Google Spreadsheets for my viewing and editing pleasure. I don’t use his paper budget, but I did get ideas for expenditure categories I hadn’t thought of from his.

Now, my budgeting isn’t quite settled yet. I started budgeting at the beginning of January, and left CMS at the end of January. I didn’t have steady income for about a month after that, but kept up on the budgeting. Now that I’m gainfully employed, the checks will start rolling in. So I haven’t had a full month of income while budgeting yet. Nonetheless, PearBudget is serving me well.

Next up is GTD and ZTD. When I left teaching, I decided to spend my time off focusing on my productivity, projects, and goals. I did a very good job on the productivity and projects. I use Palm Desktop and ShadowPlan for my GTD implementation — nothing particularly fancy there. What’s nice, though, is that my PDA (especially when combined with my Targus Stowaway keyboard), is a complete mobile office for me, sans Internet. (In fact, the first draft of this post was typed in SiEd.) I’ve gotten into the habit of doing weekly reviews and setting my 3 Most Important Things every day. It’s been awesome, and I feel like I’m making progress in my life.

Last weekend, though, was the first of the month. It was my first First of the Month, though, so I woke up on Saturday at 06:30 very excited. I did my GTD weekly review and ZTD monthly review of my goals.

Goals? Hmm. I have projects, but I’d been treating those as goals. A bit of reading I did (here and here) suggests that I should set yearly goals separately. I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, so I didn’t bother setting any back in January. Last weekend, though, following that advice, I wrote out my lifetime goals and set my one for the year. Rather than focusing on several goals this year, I’m going to go full out on one. Zen Habits suggests that you make one of your MITs every day something that helps you reach that goal.

It’s hard. There’s so much I want to do. My plate is full of projects — the game WO and I are writing, my volunteering, my cats (who require a decent amount of playtime, lately), weight loss, upwards financial progress — to take just one goals and hit it every day is intense.

I have a slew of posts I’m writing and even more topics I want to write about. Now that I’m more comfortable with my job schedule, posting here will become a higher priority.

And I’ll finish with what I promised so long ago: cat pictures! They’ve been out of their cones for about two weeks now, but I still load up these pictures when I need a laugh.

Jackie (my Sexy Mama kitty):
Big cone!

Look me in the eye...

Greg (my distinguished gentleman of a cat):
Gorgeous Greg

Greg in a cone

One Comment

  • Travis

    It’s funny that my reader popped this up today, because yesterday I found a very cool GTD app for OS X called “Things.” It’s still in alpha testing, but most of the functionality is bug free and it’s very well designed and organized. I don’t think you have a Mac, but for those who do, check out Cultured Code