I’ve come to the realization that there are a lot of life hack websites out there with interesting hacks, tricks, good-to-knows and this-may-come-in-handys but many of them fail to bring it all together under one cohesive theme with an end purpose in mind.
To set myself apart from the herd, I’ve decided that regardless of the size of the hack, the end purpose I’m going to keep in mind is to increase freedom and maximize life, which falls right in line with lifestyle design mantra. Toward that end, from now on with each hack I’m going to give a quick explanation of how that hack has impacted my lifestyle, be it big or small.
So far, I’m not 100% of the way there in achieving the lifestyle of my dreams, but it’s the journey that often makes us appreciate the destination even more. We’ll see what works, what doesn’t and what I learn along the way. And I’ll share that journey with you in hopes that you achieve your goals and dreams.
Make sure you read to the end as I’ll share an important lesson I learned on focus…
Lifestyle Design Hacks for March
Water Dispenser Woes
Hardly a month goes by where I don’t find myself fixing something around the house. This time it was the water dispenser in my refrigerator.
To get cold, filtered water one must open one of the two doors on my fridge and use their glass to push a button which dispenses water. A piece of plastic that actuates the water dispenser switch behind the rubber button broke, over filling my cup until it poured over the brim. Luckily, I was able to stop it sooner than later.
The idea of opening the refrigerator to get water rather than accessing it from the outside may seem weird and distasteful to some (as it did to me at first) but having an internal dispenser saves a lot of space inside the fridge that would otherwise be taken up by the internal components of an external water/ice dispenser. In other words, I can cram a lot more crap into my fridge than I would be able to if I had access to water in its various forms from the outside.
The fix was stupid-easy with the part costing me $15, shipped.
Lifestyle design Impact: Once again I saved a handsome sum of money by doing this myself. Also, since I’m a geek and gear head (in the sense of all things mechanical, not just cars), this was a learning experience for me; this gives me fulfillment, a very important part of lifestyle design.
Which Smartwatch to Watch?
I ended up with a chance to test 2 different smartwatches head to head. I wrote a whole blog post about this called A Tale of Two Smartwatches…
Lifestyle design Impact: I got to geek out and compare 2 different (yet similar) gadgets, which was fulfilling. Of course, I kept the one that I liked best. Want to know which one it was? Read the post 😉
A few months ago I started a Facebook group (which I highly recommend you join) to go with the website. I already had a Facebook page, but pages seem to be on the decline right now.
Custom tabs, which were hot a few years ago have all but faded into obscurity thanks to changes Facebook made. And if you want to reach your fans you have to pay to play.
Sorry Facebook, I already paid you via ads to get a lot of those fans, now you want to charge me again to reach them?!?
Greed ruins everything, and indeed it has ruined Facebook pages, at least for now.
Groups are the up and coming thing and a good way to engage and reach your followers for free. The problem is getting followers in the first place, or “seeding” your group.
After doing research on Facebook groups, I found that the magic milestone to hit was roughly 300 members. Once about 300 members are accrued, give or take, Facebook supposedly starts promoting your group for you for free.
To get things started I added some of my friends that I thought may be interested. I didn’t ask them because they’re free to leave whenever they want (and some did), but you may want to ask first via a quick message.
I then started joining groups where people I want in my group may be hanging out.
The catch is I was careful here. I was not spammy and did not constantly promote my group. First, I added value to the groups I joined by participating and helping people out. I also read the group rules and followed them as not all allowed the promotion of other groups. When I did promote my own group I made it very casual as to not be an in-your-face kind of advertisement.
My next move was to message my 500+ LinkedIn contacts and politely ask them to join. This was done over a period of time in batches of 20.
As I was doing the things above I also used Facebook search to find and message people who had liked my page and people from other groups I was in.
I’ve recently broke the 300 barrier and am waiting to see if what I heard about Facebook promoting it is true. Either way, I plan to keep growing the group.
Lifestyle design Impact: the group itself is about lifestyle design and life hacking so it is very fulfilling and fun for me. I get other people’s posts, comments, and insight on things and in the future I may be able to monetize the group or use it to grow an email list.
Killing a business: an important lesson on focus
In my blog post How to Really Make Money Online I talked a bit about how I was making money on eBay by purchasing tablet PCs (both broken and functional), breaking them down, and then selling the parts.
Recently I’ve made the decision to stop and run-out my current stock, which is getting smaller and smaller. There are a few reasons for this.
First, even though I was making money and the business model had the potential for expansion, I also had to lock up my money by buying and holding a stock of tablets. Recovering the money spent on certain lots of tablets often took months.
In addition to that, it was a big time-suck that was pulling me away from the things I really wanted to do — things I’m passionate about with potential for income, but aren’t making any money yet.
Here’s how the business normally went…
First, I had to find my stock and buy it cheap enough to resell the parts at a profit. Then, the listings had to be created, which, at least for new products, involved my tearing the thing apart, taking pictures of the components, researching to see what price they were selling at, then creating the listing.
The listings for things sold in the past did not need to be recreated, but when parts were sold I still had to take the units apart to extract whatever component, then wrap and ship it. Touch screens are both expensive and fragile, so I had to be extra careful about packing them for shipping; even then a few got broken, which was a loss for me.
Then there was the hassle of dealing with customer questions and complaints.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a great reputation on eBay and would never intentionally deceive a buyer or rip them off.
Often, I’d be asked for tracking info (…it’s been 2 days and I don’t have my part, send me tracking…) which was both a hassle and often impossible as smaller components were shipped in an envelope with a regular stamp in order to save money.
Ebayers are a fickle lot who often expect their wares to be shipped for free, so in order to remain competitive most of the things sold were shipped for free, but everyone knows there’s really no such thing as free shipping.
Most of my “complaints” were from people who apparently had either forgotten how to read descriptions or were in too much of a hurry to be bothered with reading three sentences about the condition of the product.
Leaving and getting feedback was another chore. I’d leave just about every buyer positive feedback, but only received feedback in return from a small percentage after doing so. In order to combat this and grow my feedback ranking, I’d often message people who did not leave me feedback in return at the beginning of the following month and ask them for it. Even then, many of the people messaged never left feedback.
All this added up to a significant amount of time, stress, and hassle for which the sum of money I was making after fees, shipping, etc just seemed too paltry.
Sure, I could have expanded by buying different tablets and/or moving into smartphone or laptop parts, but that would require even more time from my already over-loaded schedule (which ones sell? and how easy are they to take apart? were some of the questions going through my mind as I considered this).
Achieving great things requires sacrifice, and sometimes that sacrifice involves jettisoning a time-sucking, unfulfilling source of income in hopes that the things you really enjoy working on can replace and exceed that income sooner than later. Achieving great things also requires focus, which is hard to muster when one has their hands in too many pots. Those are the two reasons I choose to exit the eBay business, at least for now.
Lifestyle design Impact: quitting eBay not only reduced my stress but most importantly freed up some of my time to focus on other potential income streams that I’m much more passionate about. Plus, it was not passive because I was required to source the products and also wrap and ship them. The only negative was the loss of a relatively small, but still nice to have, source of income. My hopes are to make up for this loss as quickly as I can.