Nowadays It’s All about the Outsourcing

You should be outsourcing!

Lately, I’ve been outsourcing a lot.

Not necessarily in the traditional sense – for example, I haven’t started hiring folks in a far-off call center to accept my calls and deal with my problems. But I have been putting a prime focus on assigning the caring about various things in my life to someone or something other than me.

It’s all part of my massive purge campaign. This is the purging of my mental life, putting the caring and worry someplace other than on myself.

That all sounds very dramatic, eh? It’s actually pretty basic, boring, and mundane. The examples of “outsourcing” are probably even ones that you wouldn’t think of that way.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Here’s one: I moved my blog’s hosting service from a do-it-yourself vendor (DreamHost) to an all-inclusive they-do-it-for-you vendor (WP Engine). Sure, I can host and administer my blog myself, but I decided that the cost of giving that small care over to someone else (about $30 per month) was well worth the freeing up of my mental house so that I am just a little less tempted to waste away an afternoon fiddling with admin stuff when I should be writing.

So that’s one.

Purging and Tidying

Another, a little more abstract perhaps, is that I’ve outsourced my personal organizational system to a book I read recently. It was a book about “tidying” and the basic take-away for me is that now I have to throw everything out. Now, I’ve spent years arguing with my wife about why I absolutely need to keep various little items stashed in closets and on shelves around the house, so outsourcing this decision to a book I just read is a huge step for me.

But the truth is, the book “spoke” to me, and I decided to trust it wholeheartedly.

Now I no longer worry about whether or not I can toss in the trash all the stuff sitting on my basement shelf – you know, the stuff that just nags a little at me mentally every time I pass it and think to myself that I really should “organize” it someday. Now I have the freedom to just get rid of it all. And really, there’s probably nothing on that shelf that I need, want, or will ever care about again once it is gone.

So that’s another example.

Outsourcing Other Personal Productivity Stuff

The list goes on and on. More concrete outsourcing like we are planning to have an accountant do our taxes this year. And more abstract outsourcing like “I will do anything Tim Ferriss tells me to do” because I think he’s cool and I just want to be like him.

This post here is one of my rambling posts. That’s because I’ve been at a standstill as far as how to move forward with this blog.

So… I decided to outsource the problem of the standstill – by putting thoughts down and publishing out to the world, I’ll come to decisions about next steps as I see how my posts are read by the world and/or how I think about the posts once they are out there.

The point is, I am taking a problem that could remain internal (and stagnant), and I am finding a way forward by assigning some aspect of trust in its solution to something outside of myself.

Skills, tools, coding and learning

In no particular order, a list of the skills, tools, coding ideas, guidelines, and learning goals I have on my mind right now…

  • Always be deploying
  • Build stuff that is small and useful
  • Don’t let politics get in the way of trying things
  • Emacs
  • Mac
  • Lisp
  • PowerShell
  • Python (especially on App Engine)
  • Big data views of my personal data via Google Apps Script
  • Share information and ideas as publicly as possible
  • Functional programming
  • Scala
  • Testing, testing, testing
  • Document only what is useful
  • Don’t wait and hope for what you can’t control
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Data buckets
  • Scripting
  • Minimalism
  • Throwing out commitments and renewing the important ones daily
  • Kindle books
  • and… Minecraft 🙂

This post is just a mind dump. It makes sense to me. If you are out there on the Internet somewhere reading it and not “getting it” – that’s okay, the idea is for this list to be evocative of the sorts of ideas that are important to me (and which I think are generally important for others as well). I’ve written other posts on similar topics on this blog which are more “coherent.”


A little app idea based on the List of 100 Dreams

I’ve got a little software idea based on something talked about in Laura Vanderkam‘s What the Most Successful People Do series – the idea of the List of 100 Dreams.

So I’ll put my list into a Google Drive spreadsheet. Then write some Apps Script which gets scheduled to run, say, on a Wednesday. When the script runs it reads through my list, picks about ten random items from my “dreams” and sends them to me by email.

When I get the email I’ll use that list as a prompt to pick my “anchor events” (as Ms. Vanderkam calls them) for the upcoming weekend.