Simplifying 2013


Simplify. We’ve had a sign that says this in our kitchen for several years, but starting KickoffLabs really drove the value of simplification home for me.

With limited resources (and your time on this planet is a limited resource) the best answer isn’t to improve, fix, or add things until you’re happy. The best answer is often to cut stuff, remove clutter, and focus on a few awesome things. To that end I offer you some simplification goals for 2013.

Reduce the number of your online personas and virtual things

Managing virtual things is as bad or worse than managing all your real possessions. For me this means:

  • Dropping “EvolvingWe” and simplifying my own site down to
  • Killing off at least one of the 3 personal email addresses I have.
  • Removing our family blog and porting the recipes over to We set this up before we realized Facebook would be the way we share stuff about the kids.
  • Deleting any app off my phone that hasn’t been used in a month.
  • Deleting our picture library down to ones we’re thrilled to have showing on the Apple TV. Do we need 11,000 photos?
  • There is music in my library I don’t know why I bought. Why do I carry it around on my phone?

Finish 2013 with significantly less physical stuff than you started with

When you get a house you realize that you begin filling it with stuff. When you have two kids it gets worse. I’m tired of owning, maintaining, storing, and managing all the stuff in our lives.

Gretchen and I briefly started looking into downsizing our lives into a condo. I dream we still might… but I’ll settle for ending 2013 by getting rid of more stuff than we acquire. I ended 2012 by selling off a bunch of things, but there is a LOT more to go through. You’re on the chopping block if you are:

  • Crappy plastic kids toy that makes repetitive noises and requires a tiny screwdriver to replace batteries.
  • Clothing I don’t wear during the season it’s are appropriate for.
  • Stuff the kids have outgrown. We’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of stuff passed onto us and it’s about time we do the same thing for some other parents.
  • Sporting equipment not used in the most recent season.
  • Video games or physical media not played in months.

Only purchase the best stuff

You can save time and money by owning less stuff. Then you can pour your extra dollars and attention into things you appreciate. After family and friends consider only purchasing things you really need, love, or will save you time. Use the money you saved not buying crap to buy higher quality items.

Consider it the “Applefication” of our lives. Stuff that breaks down and requires maintenance or extra effort to use just isn’t worth it. Stuff that just works saves you time. For example:

  • No more home PC. We just replaced it with a big hard drive and cloud storage. With laptops and iDevices that’s essentially what the PC had become to us anyway.
  • Replaced a car with one that requires less costly and routine maintenance/upkeep.
  • Replaced our boring point and shoot camera with a nice Cannon T4i. The iPhones replaced the point and shoot, but now if we want to take great looking pictures we can tell the difference in quality. 🙂
  • Higher quality clothing that we love, will wear frequently, and will last.
  • Kids toys that serve an educational purpose, imaginative play, or offer longer lasting value. We haven’t been buying Gabe tons of Hotwheels… just a few individual high quality cars from Cars as rewards.

We’ve had to tell Grandparents and friends they they are buying too much stuff for our kids. We’d like the kids to appreciate what they have and spend more time playing and learning with us.

Dissolve any side projects that aren’t paying off

Side projects are great if you are getting something out of them. But, I’ve been bad at knowing when to cut them off properly.

  • I’d been selling a series of videos around learning mobile app development. The videos are still good, but are quickly getting outdated. They don’t make enough money to be worth maintaining. So I’m going to figure out how to give them away for free.
  • I have two mobile apps in the App Store that I’m going to sell to another owner or just give away for free.
  • I had a website that talked about consulting work I could do. I hated it. I removed it.

Most of my income comes from KickoffLabs. The business also offers plenty of opportunities for side projects and experiments to keep me busy in the next year.

Ignore haters and the competition

When you run a business like KickoffLabs it’s hard not to take everything personally. What’s worse is that if you are doing things right there are a certain number of people who just won’t like you and your business. They’ll feel it should all be free or that it’s “fucking terrible that you don’t offer Y as well”. I’ve had to learn to stop writing back to these people other than “Thanks for your suggestion.”

I also used to watch competitors too closely. I’ve now un-followed them on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. I’m running the best race I can. Customers will tell me the important differences. If the competition does something that’s newsworthy I’ll hear about it anyway. Watching their every tweet wasn’t getting me anywhere and it wasn’t informing our plans.

That was a long post on simplification. I should probably have cut some stuff.