Living a bit more intentionally in 2016

It’s easy to get swept up in the Horde, and shuffle along making the easy decisions, the same one that everyone else is making.  On the surface this seems to make life easier, we don’t need to fire up the old brain as often.  Leaving the pink mush fresh and recharged to REALLY absorb the shitty bits of information oozing out of the pus filled Celebrity Big Brother, or some other similar shite.

Thing is, following the majority tends to lead you on an endless and pointless path of consumption, mass produced tat and the apparent ‘easy option’.  The kind of path that leaves you with a pile of pointless goods and a distinct lack of skills (other than the ability to ask someone to do something in exchange for some of your money).

Buying more house than you need, buying a new car every three years, listening to shitty pop music (rather than bands that *actually* write their own music and love what they do, like these guys), driving when walking or cycling is an option, watching mindless shit on TV, paying £40 for a Ted Baker t-shirt and making fucking idiotic statements like “It’s just impossible to save from month to month“, “I’ll have to work to 70, retiring is for those with trust funds” or “It must be my metabolism, it’s just slower than other people’s“.

Let’s continue to drain venom.

The succubus of consumption and the path of least resistance goblin are always watching, waiting from the shadows, ready to prey on our insecurities and vacillation.  With that in mind here’s a few things that I am doing to live a little bit more intentionally;

Cycling more
Unless it’s hailing skull sized pieces of ice, errands are done by bike.

Mrs Z and I have bikes set up with racks and pannier bags, more than capable of lugging a weeks worth of food shopping a few miles back to the house.  We’ve done it and believe it or not, people didn’t throw their spare change our way assuming we were destitute because we were riding bikes and not driving a Nissan Patrol.

It’s free exercise chucked into your weekly routine.   During your weekly shop you become less inclined to buy tat you don’t need as you actually have to carry it.  You actually get to earn your Marmite and beer this way.

And it is far less stressful than travelling by car, nipping by a traffic jam actually decreases stress levels.

Using less power
In a display that would make many a consumerist chuck up their iced Starbucks latte all over their SuperDry jeans, Mrs Z and I forewent the normal exchange of Christmas gifts.

Instead we bought an energy meter in early December to better understand when and how much power we are using.  AND you can download data and make graphs.

We aren’t power munching monsters, but it’s interesting to see how much each appliance uses and learn where we can cut back a little.

It only took about 2 minutes to set up and is providing me with smashing information on our power usage.  Who knew the toaster and the kettle were so power hungry?  Well, we all do, you’re forcing those little electron fellows through resistance after all, but seeing it on a power meter is cool.

Lowering the heating bill
We’ve reduced the temperature in our house by a couple of degrees over the winter.  This means two things;

– Lower gas bills.
– It’s colder in the house.

To an outsider it might seem like we are deprived, so short on money that we’ve rotated the thermostat anticlockwise a few degrees.  Far from it my imbecilic friend, far from it.

We discovered this amazing thing – you are actually allowed to wear a jumper in doors.  To avoid odd looks and visits from the Police, you can wear more than a jumper.

I’m not sure when it became the norm to have houses so warm you have to wear shorts or pass out, but it seems to be going that way.  I’m here to tell you that if you don’t have it this warm you will not get arrested.  A couple of degrees cooler is cool.

Walking in from the cold outdoors to a house over 20 degrees Celsius is far from pleasant.  Leaving a house into the cool winter air is a chore if your ambient temperature is above 20 degrees.  If the house is cooler, say at a nice 18 degrees, your body is already primed. No need to disrobe in the hall way to avoid passing out from excessive heat and you save money.

The tough turn their central heating right down and watch TV in their pants and ski goggles.  We’re not there yet.

Less time in front of the TV
It really is the cancer of creativity, yet on an evening after work it is oh-so-tempting to put your feet up and whittle away 3 hours watching some spirit crushing shite.

Since starting writing this blog I’ve cut down time spent watching TV, to about an hour a day.  And that’s an hour watching something pre-recorded that I actually want to watch, not Mock the Week repeats or Storage Wars. And there is no need to watch adverts.  Not.  A.  Single.  One.  That means less time for the powerhouse of corporate marketing to batter its way into you psych, less seemingly random impulses to buy tat and a happier life.

This also includes less time mindlessly surfing the internet, another time suck.  We all know how easy it is to get sucked into a YouTube wormhole and lose a couple of hours watching dogs play in the snow.

It’s amazing how quickly something becomes a habit, I’d much rather crack on with my sputtering attempts at writing rather than watch TV of an evening.  And I’ve found that the more I’ve cut out the black hole time suck that is TV the less I’ve missed it and the more I get done.

Less is more
Most of the above are cutting something down (even cycling more could have been pitched as drive less).  As Ermine puts it (maybe slightly paraphrased);

It’s about finding how much is enough

This applies to both accumulating wealth (avoiding the ‘one more year syndrome’) and how much of your limited resource of time is spent doing what.

Some of the above will directly save me money, using the car less and turning the heating down.  There are other benefits as well, increased fitness and a smashing pair of legs for one.

Others will give me more time to be productive in, more time to read & learn…

Hmmm, free time
All of the above has left me with a surplus of free time, a void that needs to be filled.  And a void that seems to have a natural skew towards laziness if we are not careful.  It would only be too easy for the Ogre that is TV to worm it’s way back in.  Besides, I can only stare at the moon whilst pondering Financial Independence for so many hours an evening.

With some money from Christmas and a bit of my own stash I bought a DSLR camera to fill the void now that I am done with exams.

Secondly, I’ve booked onto a basic carpentry and woodwork course in February (hopefully they still have places, their website is a bit….webshite).  It costs a little, but should give me the skillz to tackle some more impressive projects.

Pretty sure picking up some new skills in photography and carpentry is better than watching Don’t Tell the Bride.  I could be wrong.  Then again, carpentry led to H. Ford landing a role as Han Solo (perhaps slightly exaggerated).  I’m sure there was another famous chap who used to be a carpenter…

Mr Z

3 thoughts on “Living a bit more intentionally in 2016

  1. weenie

    "The tough turn their central heating right down and watch TV in their pants and ski goggles"

    No ski goggles, but I do wear jumpers and fleeces in the house and well, I have a "tv blanket" (bit like a duvet!) too for when I'm lounging on the sofa! Like you, I only have the tv on when there's something specific that I want to watch, I never flick through the channels to 'see what's on'.

    Hope all goes well with your carpentry and woodwork courses. I thought about taking up a new hobby this year but in the end, decided that I'd just continue with my homebrewing.

  2. Mr Zombie

    Channel surfing can be such a time suck, it's incredible.

    I tend to spread myself too thing with hobbies! But I will have a deluge of hours to fill with exams being done 🙂



    Hi Mr Z,

    Sounds like a great idea. I watch TV less than I used to but probably still too much. I do find that sometimes you do just need to mentally check out and let whatever is on wash over you. My brain is usually working overtime so it's nice to just veg to an old episode of friends 🙂

    Saying all of that, I never seem to have enough free time so maybe that is where I need to start looking at!

    With the heating bills… well it's been easy this year as it's been so unseasonably warm. The real test will be when the cold snap comes. Our heating has probably only been on for about 1 hour each evening to take the chill off, but I know when it gets colder (kinda trying now isn't it) unfortunately the heating will be on a lot more. We have it around 20 or sometimes just below, depending on who looked at the thermostat last 😉

    I look forward to seeing your posts on energy used, I was going to do one similar but haven't even got a proper energy monitor yet (I was going to infer usage per item via our smart meter… turned out to be far more hassle than I can be bothered with though) so I will just await your post instead!



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