Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo featured above is from a walk in Iowa City on 15 May 2021.
In May I returned to providing an outgoing voicemail greeting that is updated daily. This way, anyone calling will get some information about my availability for the day, and when to expect a response from me. I have a similar automatic reply for text messages when I’m unavailable.
When convenient for others, my preference is usually to receive an email rather than phone call. Emails are easier to find, organize, and prioritize. I’m also able to provide links and attachments.
Text messages are a good way to communicate on matters that require a quick response, but otherwise email makes more sense.
Starting in August 2020, I began posting my personal newsletter and Resources For Life newsletter at the beginning of the month rather than the end of the month.
I found with an end-of-month deadline, the newsletter would get completed in haste with other activities having a priority. Setting a goal of getting the newsletter done early in the month helped me not feel pressured. It was on the top of my list of monthly tasks, but need not be rushed.
In recent months I’ve switched to forward-looking tasks, preparing for and completing tasks ahead of the goal. I’ve started this month’s newsletter a day early so that after some revisions and reflection it will be ready to send out on the first of the month.
I have some other monthly tasks that I start preparing for in the final days of the previous month.
As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, April was mostly spent working on annual finances and bookkeeping. As a result, May was very busy catching up on web project commitments and some unplanned tech support needs. This had me working 7-days-per-week to catch up and keep up. I’m still keeping a busy schedule heading into June.
Something else keeping me busy in May was the purchase and setup of a new primary computer used for my daily work. I wrote about the process. [More Here…] This required some planning. The new computer uses a different processor than the previous one (the Apple M1 replacing the Intel Core i7), so I’m trying to limit my work to the software written for the new processor. The old computer is still running, but had some ongoing reliability issues so it needed to be replaced.
Another slight disruption during the month of May was caused by a Microsoft update that caused some Windows computers to have startup trouble. I assisted people who had crashed computers, and had to perform a fresh Windows 10 installation on my own computer.
Fortunately for all of the above work, I have backups and didn’t lose any data.
Due to the excessive tech work last month, in May I created only four posts on the Resources For Life website. You can see the latest new content on the What’s New page.
Road to Minimalism
In recent months, in addition to doing less writing, I’m spending less time on dozens of other non-income-producing activities and initiatives I was involved in previously. In my December 2017 newsletter, I referred to this as “Bringing in the Fishing Nets.”
This downsizing and simplifying will take years and involves shutting down numerous websites, closing outdated online accounts, and going through hundreds of boxes of old work-related items in a pursuit of online and offline minimalism.
Going forward, I want to make sure my schedule and life are as lean as possible. Having to work seven days a week through the pandemic, and through the Derecho storm, during power outages, despite multiple system crashes, has taught me the importance of being prepared for the next crisis situations and not being overextended.
I plan to contribute less to the Resources For Life website, and starting with the June 2021 newsletter, I plan to have quarterly seasonal updates for RFL rather than monthly. I’ve discontinued the Heart Songs program which I started 20 years ago, because it was an example of something that had been taking more time. I’ve explained more about that below.
The direction I’m heading in will be an increasing focus on tech services and web services. As I’m looking to the next 20-30 years, I need to anticipate that I won’t be able to continue working 60 hours a week, so I’ll need to plan accordingly.
I’ve enjoyed sharing music each month through the Resources For Life newsletters. Starting this year, I’m planning to switch to occasionally sharing music through posts on the site, but not as featured items in the newsletter.
In the past, I’d encounter new music while driving and listening to the radio, or at restaurants, or watching movies, or a new TV series, etc. With the pandemic I’m at home more, working more, and not exposed to much new music. These days, much of the music I hear, I already know. It’s not new.
In the past, one of the primary opportunities for me to enjoy music was during my daily workout. I’ve changed my exercise routine and these days go on nature walks without listening to anything other than nature. My work these days requires more focus, or time on the phone with people, so the role of music in my life has diminished.
Because I’m no longer exposed to music on a regular basis, finding songs to share every month required some additional time in an already busy schedule.
In addition to these factors, the music industry has gone through seismic shifts in recent decades. For many years I used an Apple iTunes playlist sharing feature to share music. That service was eventually discontinued. Other similar services came along, but didn’t last. YouTube has been the most recent service I relied on to share music, but often great music videos are not available months later. Either the artist removes their own videos from YouTube or someone not authorized to share the music is asked to remove it from a personal YouTube channel. Spotify allows for playlists and sharing links to songs, but not all music is available there.
Given licensing and copyright restrictions, I considered using services like Artlist.io as a source for unique royalty-free music that I could share without worrying about it not being available in the future. The music comes with a lifetime unlimited license to use and share through created works. However, the service is expensive, the collection is limited, and it takes time to download and manage the items. I did use the service for a while. Here’s a music video I created from one of the songs I liked. [View]
The Soundcloud music service is a nice way to learn about and follow local musicians and lesser known musicians, but downloading and sharing can be a bit limited, and the premium service is expensive.
For all of these reasons, I’m planning to phase out the Heart Songs tradition.
Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.
Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 20 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the life map presented on the Resources For Life website.