Blog

022 Optimization 2.0

My Office
Grandson Likes the new Office

Well folks, I’m sorry for the break in content. I’ll get back on track. Chronological followers of my site will remember my last post was I Quit! That was back in January. So it’s been almost two months since I posted any new content. Not my proudest moment. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into optimizing my mobility. Specifically, I’ve been focused on being able to work as flexible as possible, from wherever or whenever it fits into my life.

First off I had to set up my office. Since I didn’t have a decent desk I needed to get one. My wife found this beautiful desk and chair for $250 on Craig’s List – truly a great deal. Sure, we could have gone out and bought a brand spanking new 10k desk and chair. We “have the money”. But that would be wasteful of our resources. That’s not how we roll at PawPaw’s! We like to get the most value for our money. I could sell that desk years from now and get what I paid or more for it. I now have a place to work that’s even big enough to hold a small “bored” meeting with my grandson! He likes to come to work with PawPaw. If you look to the right you can see the nightstand on my side of the bed. My office is optimized for commuting. It now takes me longer to make my bed than it does to commute to work. Not too shabby.

A desk is a great place to work, but it’s useless to me without communications to the outside world. My new company really embraces remote working and is awesome at ensuring you can remain productive with solid communications. Shortly after I accepted the job, a new IPhone XS showed up. Then a large monitor, a laptop, a docking station and a printer/scanner/fax. Everything showed up at my house before my first official start day at work. I already have a fast internet connection, so hooking up all this new high tech gear was a snap.

Now that I’m all set up, it’s time to prove to my company and myself that I can do this remote working thing. Game on! There’s a lot for me to learn about the job and the whole remote arrangement to remain efficient. We’re doing teleconferences on multiple apps and video conferences on multiple apps as well. We have common file locations on SharePoint that allows us to edit common documents while in a meeting talking about them in real time. The number of tools available is unlimited. My brain isn’t though. So, I had to quickly learn how to use all of these new programs efficiently across my computer, iPad, and iPhone. I wanted to be mobile and not tied to my “office”. (Sometimes I require working from my backyard hammock swing!)

My productivity has increased significantly. The distractions in a formal workspace such as a cube farm, rows of offices, open workspaces, etc are excessive. I have far less distractions than actually “going in” to the office for work. Less distractions means more concentration, more deep thinking, and more productivity. I didn’t even realize it, but there are actual studies out there that agree with what I’ve been noticing. Also, when I take a break from work, my breaks are more productive. I cook, clean, make a quick run to the grocery store, wash clothes, and do numerous other small tasks that now don’t take away from being with family. With these small things knocked out during work, they no longer compete with quality time with those who matter the most. It’s a win-win. But wait for it…it gets better!

About two weeks into the job, I was presented with an opportunity to test my new mobile job. One of my sons wrecked his car on a Friday and needed a car to get to work on Monday. He called asking whether he should take his good buddy’s offer to get a newish car for about $16K. His friend had all the paperwork ready to go and it was a decent car. However, we agreed that it was outside of his price range. To make a long story short, there were no “under $5k small gas sipper” cars in his area. Living in Dallas, I knew we could find many and in a hurry.

So Friday night I searched some cars and we made a top three list. I purchased the best of the three cars the next morning. It wasn’t a loan…my wife and I don’t loan money nor did we need to! My son had done such a good job following some of the FI principles, he had money available to do this! I purchased the car, then he immediately transferred money back to my account.

I then drove his paid for car to his house in Alabama on Sunday, he drove his paid for car to work on Monday and I was able to spend some quality time with the one son who lives out of state. This is great! I was able to help my son in a time of need. I was able to extend my stay because I could work remotely. I wanted to prove this out for the many more times when I’ll do the remote thing! What a blessing that short trip was. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to maximize my quality of life by not being strapped to a location for work!

Since I’m the new guy on the team, I’ve been extra busy and neglecting this blog with recent material. My focus was on a Big Rock in my life. But this optimization isn’t as much about the money. Don’t get me wrong, this optimization is about the quality of life. I value my family more than any job. If I can be more available for my family and still have the same or better income, security of a job, and fulfillment from doing meaningful work then it’s a win-win for sure.

So far, the only thing that has suffered is this blog. The consistency has taken a dip. But with my work arrangement getting pretty well set up, tested, and proven, I’m ready to get back to blogging. First, I might need to hold a meeting with the grandson…in the hammock.

021, I Quit!

houses near the rice wheat field under the clear blue skies
Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Well, I did it.  I quit my well-paying and pretty secure job to do something different.  I’m moving on to greener pastures.

My wife always says I don’t do change well.  Thus far, my career has consisted of 20 years in the US military followed by 12 years at a civilian company.  So, in the last 32 years, I’ve had only two jobs.  Maybe that is a sign of the old ways, but that’s been the path I took.  If you go back and read the first post , it will become evident that it’s not all about the money.  There are way more important things in life than money.

This blog has helped open my eyes to other things in life.  In some ways, this new job is just a continuation of similar things to help achieve goals.  It has a good salary to take care of monetary needs.  The job also has good insurance.  (You can read how important having good medical insurance is to my family at The $500,000 Tooth Ache post.)  There’s the 401K plan with company matching.  So, the base of security and steadiness needed for my family remains firmly in place with the new job.  More of the same.  No significant changes in that area.

However, the new job is radically different in other ways, which played a big part in the decision to make the change. This new adventure allows me to work from home!  At this point in my life, that has become very important to me.  My aging father, who is approaching 80 years old, lives with us.  We also have one of the kids and her 4 year old son living with us.  Our daughter is fairly young and at the stage where she’s working long hours, commuting, etc. to establish herself in her blooming career.  My new job allows me to be home with my dad in case he needs something.  It also allows me to be a backup to our daughter for when the grandson needs someone to stay home with him.  Or for that matter, any of the grandkids could be dropped off in a pinch.  I’m a sucker for those now 7 cute grandkids.

So, I’m going to practice what I preach.  I feel like at this time in my life, a change is needed.  This new career move will allow much more freedom to spend time doing what is most important. These things are more important and bigger than just punching a clock to run on the hamster wheel of work to make ends meet.  If nothing else changes, I’ll save 360 hours a year on the commute alone!  A lot can be accomplished in 360 hours!  Who knows.  Maybe I’ll even be able to blog more now!

Sure, there will be an adjustment period.  Staying focused, disciplined and effective at my new job is important to me as well.  Learning to avoid and manage the distractions will be critical to my success.  Of course, as anyone who works in a large office knows, there are always interruptions.  The distractions from home will be much less. In the old job, distractions were almost constant.  Many were work related, but not all of them.  So, even if slightly distracted at home, it can’t be nearly as many as in the previous office situation.

Just an important final note here:  I didn’t “quit” my job until I had another one in place. I had plenty of money in the bank to cover any transitional gaps.  My wife and family were supportive of my decision.  And, I remain in a field that both energizes and excites me.  It’s all good.

So, I’m off to greener pastures.  Wish me well!