Weeknote for 5/16/2021

Housekeeping

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I’ve entered the messy phase of tidying. Marie Kondo says you need to purge before you organize, but really there’s some pre-purge organizing you have to do. You have to get all the items from the category you’re working on in one place. That’s what I’m doing now with my semi-organized storage boxes. I have them all piled up by category in my bedroom. That made it easy to sort the other boxes I’d lazily thrown random things into.

Coffee

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Beaumont Colombian Ground Coffee: 3/5. I struggled with it less than the Beaumont Classic Roast I tried, and I pretty much stopped noticing the variation in the brewing results. It’s not my favorite, but I’d buy it again, especially since a tub lasts a long time and is cheap.

Finances

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I caught up on some of my church donation backlog. Regular donations to church (usually 10% of income) are a Christian tradition and one that is deeply ingrained in me. But as someone who has only paid spotty attention to his finances, I’ve gone for long periods without giving as much as I intend. Then every once in a while I wake up from my negligence and catch up.

This time, after calculating and donating my salary-based backlog, I realized I needed to account for my freelance income, and since I’m more financially literate now, I decided it would make sense to pay “interest” based on inflation. I calculated the remaining amount, but I decided to give the remainder once I have a better picture of my total financial situation and other factors.

I took a closer look at retirement and found out it costs too much. My question was, if I’m expecting to retire in two to three decades and to spend in retirement at about the rate I do now, how much do I need to contribute to my retirement accounts, given expected inflation and investment return rates? The Wiley books don’t really address this, but The Balance comes much closer. The answer, if I’m running my numbers right: about a third to half my current salary. It’s not feasible, and it’s further motivation to increase my income.

This is one reason I wondered how low-income earners could ever practice the typical notion of financial responsibility. It’s way too expensive. Maybe the real answer is: Don’t retire.

This week starts the Thinkulum project month of June. My plan is to finish my cost estimates in the first couple of weeks and plan my investments (or at least learn in detail how to plan them) in the last couple of weeks. I’m thinking in July I’ll put my financial plans in motion.

Business

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In The Messy Middle, Scott Belsky tells us how to keep a startup alive. It’s aimed at founders, so on the surface it isn’t that relevant to me (yet), but I’m intrigued by the idea of managing myself as a team and my life as a startup, so I’d like to study how I could adapt his advice. One reviewer complained that the advice was disappointingly standard, but I still found it thought provoking. It got me thinking about how to be a quality employee and about the main business venture I have in mind. My one gripe is that the advice seemed anecdotal rather than statistical, which I suppose is common for books like this.

Rescue the Problem Project by Todd Williams appealed to many of the values that are especially vivid to me right now. It highlighted the power of thoroughness and order. It reminded me how deeply I care about principled action. It told me that with the right perspective and enough preparation, you can face tough problems with confidence. And it reminded me that the ideal solution can be the wrong one if it doesn’t fit the project’s constraints, a caution I often need to hear. The book was a satisfying listen.

One quibble I had is that he thinks agile isn’t suited for large R&D projects, but one thing that’s drawn my attention back to agile recently is Everyday Astronaut’s discussion of SpaceX’s development process. I suppose you could say project size is relative. If your budget is big enough, iterating on an enormous rocket every month isn’t a big deal.

The Art of Taking Minutes by Delores Benson is a dated handbook on meeting minutes that nevertheless feels like a solid starting point. I bought this on sale a while back because I care a lot about recordkeeping. But I knew it was time to listen when Todd Williams told me meeting minutes were important for project recovery. I was intrigued by the glimpse Benson gave into corporate life, and I have a new appreciation for the work of a secretary. The book even had a handy list of common terms and phrases you can use in your minutes write-ups, which is something I value because most writing should be as mechanized as possible.

This entry was posted in Business, Coffee, Housekeeping, Money, Project management, Weeknotes. Bookmark the permalink.

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