Someone Please Create This Company: Travel Freely

I hate packing!

I hate packing!

Every time I travel, I think of a service I’d like to have.

In a nutshell, I really dislike packing.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I think part of it is that I used to be so dirt poor, that I’d stress about forgetting something that I wouldn’t be able to afford at my destination.  I’d worry that I’d forgotten something that would render the trip useless.

Of course, I can’t recall one time these fears actually came true, but nonetheless, the packing process wreaks havoc on my OCD-impacted psyche.

To ease my concerns, I’ve made a checklist of the items I usually need, along with a “best-practices” section so that I can remember lessons learned (example: waking up at 4 when a taxi is arriving at 4:30 isn’t good; wake up at 3:45 instead).  Yah, I know I’m weird — but having a list seems to shave a bit of the mental anguish from the experience.

Though I’ve done it dozens of times p/year and nothing really bad ever happens, I still find myself disliking the process.  Ask my wife; she’ll tell you what I go through.

So here’s the idea: What if you could pack the ideal suitcase, and ship it to a company.  Let’s call them “Travel Freely”.  When you make your travel arrangements, you simply send your reservation to Travel Freely, and magically, upon arriving at the hotel, your luggage is waiting with everything you need.  No waiting around at the airport.  No need to pack.  Just click-and-go.

Opening your suitcase, you see all your favorite clothes have been cleaned, pressed, and are ready to rock.

When you’re done with your trip, you check out of the hotel and they ship it back to Travel Freely, where everything gets cleaned and replenished, awaiting your next trip.

Of course you’d have some options when you make your request, like the # of days you’ll be gone (so that the right number of shirts are available), or if you need any additional items packed (like extra Advil).  These items would pull from a list of your favorite necessities and would be added with a few clicks or swipes on your iPhone.

What do you think?  Am I the only one that hates packing?  Is there a service like this?  Would anyone use this?

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Why It Sucks To Be In Multiple Places At Once

Daddy & Abby

What does it take to be present, like Abby is in this picture? I doubt her mind was anywhere but on my lap, in that swing.

Do you ever have days you just don’t feel completely present — like there’s something between you and the outside world? Or where you’re physically present, but mentally somewhere else?

Maybe you’re:

  • With family, but wanting to check that newly arrived text message
  • In a meeting, but worrying about the emails you’re falling behind on
  • On vacation, but dreading the last day when you’ll mourn that it’s over

I’m sure you’ve got your own examples (I’d love to hear about them in the comments).

So here’s the question: Why is it so hard to be fully alive in the present? Why is it that we’re often (mentally) somewhere else?

For me, one root-cause seems to be my addiction to

Read more of this post

MLK Day Photo Dump

Monday of this week was a holiday here in the United States, honoring Martin Luther King.  I actually forgot about the holiday until the previous Friday, so it was a nice surprise to get an extra day with the family.

We started the day by making our to-do list. My wife and I are fairly task-oriented, so on days we want to get crap done, we make a list.

Our list included updating our finances (we recently started using Mint.com to automate our finances, which you can read about here), writing a post about my time with Dave (homeless), who I met in a Target parking lot, and doing some work.  On weekends or holidays, I love the feeling of being in the flow while I work, especially if I’ve gone for a run, had a nice shower, and eaten a good breakfast.

Another item on our list was to finish a home improvement project: we decided to add some stepping-stones to our front lawn, which meant making a trip to Home Depot (which also meant planning around Abby’s nap schedule).

Abby loves driving her cart!

Abby loves driving her cart! This outfit killed me — so cute!

Abby loved being in the cart, and squealed with happiness as we rolled her around.  Read more of this post

What’s Your Casket Score?

Earlier today, a friend and I attended a men’s gathering at Rock Harbor.  The discussion centered on how as guys, we need to foster and invest in strong relationships with a small group of other dudes.

(The same is true for ladies, but it seems to be easier for them … guys don’t seem to be as naturally wired for community.)

The speaker said he finds that most guys don’t have a “best friend.”  The next thing he said struck me:

Imagine that a casket requires 6 people to carry it – 6 people who are the best of friends with the deceased.  If tomorrow were your funeral, how many close friends would be carrying your casket?

Really makes you stop and think.  Do you have enough close (best) friends to carry your casket?

What’s your casket score?

Fact or Fiction: A Home Business = Freedom?

For many, the idea of owning a business is synonymous with freedom, flexibility, and riches. In another post, I’ll explore this notion, as I can argue both sides of that statement: I’ve seen many business owners become consumed by their business, to the point where the business owns them.  They’re miserable.

But that’s for another day.

Today, the question is whether it is possible to have a small at-home business that provides a meaningful level of financial and personal freedom. By meaningful, I mean something that generates the equivalent of a full-time income, with the possibility of scaling beyond that should there be a desire. Read more of this post

Living Off the Grid: Ditching Cable for Netflix and Hulu

You may know that when my wife and I got married, we agreed to not have a TV for the first year.

This doesn’t mean we didn’t watch stuff — we got our fix using Hulu and Netflix to watch The Office (we’re on to Parks and Recreation now), or Charlie Rose, Front Line, and TED, none of which require cable (or a TV for that matter).

The momentum of not having a TV carried us for the next year or so, and I honestly forgot about it all together. [But my wife didn’t. The issue recently came up again, as you can see from her post here — but we agreed to stay TV-less based on some of the research that seems to show that the best policy is no TV for a child under two. More on that in another post.]

But the recent discussion about getting a TV raised another point: let’s say we do get that 70-inch beast. Back in the day, I remember paying around $100 p/month for cable. I’m really not looking forward to that.  (Call me a cheap SOB)

Between what you can stream online and services like Netflix and Hulu, why spend the money?

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Do you use a service like Netflix or Hulu, and a digital antenna to get local channels? How do you watch live sports?  What’s your secret to living off the cable grid? 

Where You Spend Your Time Reveals The Truth

Do you really know where your time goes? Have you ever stopped to actually track it?

It’s been said you can see the true nature of your heart by looking at where your money goes (which I think is true). I also think you gain insight by looking at where you choose to invest your time (a form of currency).

A little ways back, I tracked my time spent at work, measuring everything I did on a minute-by-minute basis. My goal was to compare where I really put my time versus where I felt it was going. I learned some very interesting things (like: reading and responding to email sucks up a lot of time — a lot more than I thought).

Since I’ve been off work the past week and working with my wife on closing 2012 and entering 2013, we’ve been intentionally discussing what’s important to us (our values).

I decided to create a spreadsheet (yes I love spreadsheets!) to measure where the major chunks of my time go in a typical week. I’ve created six major activities, and allocated the amount of time spent in each daily. You’ll notice there are day-to-day variations in certain areas, like on Wednesday (date night with my wife).

Here’s the spreadsheet:

Where I really spend my time

Where I really spend my time.

In reality, my six major activities in rank order are as follows:

#1: Sleep 33.63%
#2: Work 32.74%
#3: Family 25.60%
#4: Spiritual 3.87%
#5: Blog 2.08%
#6: Work-out 1.79%

The Truth

So, while I say that my faith is important to me, in reality it is 4th on the list. While I say that my wife, daughter, and family is important to me, in reality it is 3rd on the list. Outside of sleep, work dominates where I choose to invest my time.

Without passing judgment on myself, I’m going to let the analysis sink in, and think about what should change (if anything).

What about you? Have you done an audit of your time, relative to where you want to spend it? If not, what do you think you’d find?

 

Using Mint.com to Manage Family Finances

As we draw towards the end of the year, Sarah and I are preparing for 2013 in a number of ways. One way is to improve how we manage our household finances.  We have a method (described below), but it is cumbersome, time-consuming, and complex.  So today we set out to find a better way, which I’ll describe here. Read more of this post

Why I Love Getting Smashed

Dad and Abby

Abby (and mom) teaching dad a valuable lesson about marketing.

Yesterday, as we sat at our kitchen table — me scrolling through my blog idea backlog, my wife holding our 7 month old daughter — I mused, “What I should blog about?”

“Oh, oh! You should do a Christmas Photo Dump!” she excitedly replied.

“WTF is a Christmas photo dump?” I wondered to myself.  Guess I’m out of the loop.

She patiently explained it is fairly common to share personal pictures, especially on the blogs she reads. “That’s why I read blogs — not for the boring crap you normally write about,” she explained, kinda tongue-in-cheek but actually pretty serious.

“Why would anyone be interested in seeing our Christmas pictures?” I asked, still not convinced.

Boy was I wrong. Read more of this post

Christmas Photo Dump

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from doodles!

Yesterday was our daughter’s first Christmas (and our first as parents).  It was a magical day filled with many memories and blessings.

I normally post things related to entrepreneurship and the business of software, but since we are multi-faceted people and family is very important in having a grounded perspective, I’ve decided to do something a little different.

Actually, I can’t take credit for the idea — my wife convinced me that people are interested in more than just  the usual blah blah blah (I’m sure she’s right!).  So, here’s a photo summary of our day.  Enjoy! Read more of this post

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