My Unweek

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fortune: Your are busy but you are happy.

From the Big New Wong, 6th & H, Chinatown, November 2012

Well, the fortune got the first part right at least.

I am trying very hard to wrest control of my life back from the forces of chaos that seized it months ago.

Through sheer stroke of luck, I ended up with a completely unscheduled week this week, and immediately became committed to keeping it that way, to not scheduling anything, just keeping it open. I was very excited about this prospect, but then with the week at hand, started to worry about the best way to spend it. Catch up on my work? Work on the house? See if I remember how to use a cookbook?

So many options!

I was having trouble figuring out what to do, and worrying that I would squander this precious resource. Ultimately, I decided I needed to think about it as an Unweek.

An unweek?

Let me explain.

In the tech world, there is something called an Unconference.

An unconference is basically a conference with no set agenda for sessions. So instead of having everything mapped out, this “expert” talking about this topic at eleven o’clock in the Tulip Room, you get a bunch of people together and the first session is people pitching topics. You can make a pitch for something you want to present, or you can make a pitch for something you want to learn about. All of the potential topics get written on post-it notes and then things get combined and written on a whiteboard and assigned to times and rooms and off everyone goes.

I’ve been to two unconferences and I’m now completely sold on the idea.

The person who has run the unconferences I’ve been to is our local tech guru/social media superstar Ruby Sinreich (who, in 2007, got a flat tire on her way to a presentation she was scheduled to give and used Twitter to get a ride to the meeting — I tried to tell that story for more than a year before I was able to tell it without first having to explain what Twitter was and why anyone would use it). Ruby has given the intro to the unconferences I’ve been to and explained how it works. She says there are two rules for an unconference:

Rule #1: Whoever is here is the right group of people to be here.

Rule #2:¬†If a session isn’t working for you — if you are not learning from it or contributing to it — it is your duty as an unconference participant to leave and go to a different session.

So I decided that I need to apply those rules to this week.

Whatever I think of to do is what I’m supposed to be doing. And if what I decide to do turns out to be not so good, I need to go do something else.

So that’s what I’m doing.

In other news…

(1) I am working on an Eating Down the Fridge project to close out the year. I got a new refrigerator in August, and the freezer is completely different from my old refrigerator, and smaller, and I can’t find anything anymore because the previous system I had doesn’t work with the new setup so I end up putting everything I take out anywhere it fits just so I can just close the door and get on with my life.

I’m working on getting rid of everything in my freezer (and also my pantry, just for good measure) and starting over with a blank slate and maybe figure out a new system that I can keep track of.

(2) I have grand plans for a series of “how to shop” posts that will outline my strategy for shopping and eating for approximately $100 a month. I have been hoping to get to this for a long time, and in October had a conversation with someone I’m friendly with who said she really wants to see it, she really needs it, she needs help. So I promised her I would get to it and put it up and let her know when it was done. And I will. Soon.

In the meantime, those of you who are interested and have not yet read it can check out the links to the Hundred a Month project¬†linked in the sidebar. That’s not exactly a how-to, but it does outline a month of shopping and eating for approximately $100 a month that I wrote about in 2010. And some of the posts are kind of funny.

(Note that the best way to navigate through that project is to use the calendar in the sidebar. If you start with the post linked in this paragraph, you’ll be on January 7, 2010, and you can click the blue numbers in the calendar to get to the next post.)

(3) I went to the library the other day looking for a Dave Ramsey book, because he gets referenced a lot but I’ve never read anything of his, but unfortunately everything was already out. But I noted that his book was published by Thomas Nelson, which is a Christian publisher, and that reminded me of America’s Cheapest Family, by Steve and Annette Economides, who also have some Christian publishing link (though I can’t remember what that is right now, if it was their original publisher or their agent or exactly what the link was, I just remember noting it when I was researching them earlier in the year) and that reminded me that I started writing a review of their books that I never finished and posted.

So that will be coming soon, since it’s actually mostly written. I just need to review and make sure everything I wrote makes sense and isn’t likely to offend anyone and then put up.

And that’s what’s going on here.

Hope everyone has a good week. Or unweek, as the case may be.

4 Responses to “My Unweek”

  1. Christine Says:

    I was impressed when you did the Dollar a Day project, and I really think your idea of a Hundred a Month would be very useful for many, many people.
    Did you know that Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, NJ has just embarked on a SNAP challenge, as of today? I think he could have used your advice. It has been in the news. He is a vegetarian, so might be able to do better than some folks.

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Man, most of the SNAP challenge people are so ill-equipped to do that. They all make the same mistakes.

    Maybe I should review the SNAP challenges to use as a starting point for what not to do. Yes, this seems like a good idea but here is why it is not and here is what you should do instead.

  3. Christine Says:

    It seems like Mayor Booker made some poor choices as to what to get for the week. I am following this saga, and he is going to be very, very hungry by the end of the week. He is doing updates every day. I don’t know how much cooking he usually does, but he could use some tutelage in better food choices.
    I am currently living on SNAP while I recover from knee surgery, and I do very well on it. But I have been cooking for almost my whole life, and I know how to buy in bulk and search for the less expensive ingredients.
    I look forward to whatever you choose to write about this.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    I did look up info on this after I read your comment and wrote a post in response, which I will put up later tonight.

    His first mistake was to spend all of his money at once. Gives you no chance to get better as the week goes on, or to adjust based on how hungry you are. You’re stuck with what you bought on the first trip.

    Sometimes reading about how public officials do with this challenge makes me wonder how they’d do with unlimited funds. A lot of the mistakes they make seem more fundamental and not even a direct result of lack of money. I feel like before we get into the food stamp challenges, we should do a “feed yourself for a week with no processed foods” challenge. Once they’ve mastered that, they can move on to limiting how much they have to spend.


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