Is That Too Expensive?

Here are some precise questions to help answering this vague question.

“Could I easily lend this item?”
“Could I leave this item unattended?”
“Could I ship this item without stress?”
“Would I fret if this item was broken?”
“Could I re-purchase this item if it was stolen?”

If you mostly confirmed, it probably means that the item in question is within your budget. Otherwise, it is probably too expensive for your current financial situation.

Just because an item is within your budget, it doesn’t mean that you need it though – check my approach to Possessional Minimalism . If you feel like you are seeking satisfaction via luxury, you might want to read Two Factor Theory: An Approach to Life Satisfaction .

Why I Refused To Become a Mentor with Everwise

I have been mentoring people for a long time. Hoping that I would find new people to mentor over the Internet, I have applied for mentorship at Everwise. However; after our initial meeting, I didn’t like their model and cancelled my application. Here is my final message to them.

I have evaluated our phone call, and I regret to say that I won’t be part of the Everwise ecosystem at this time.

Here is my feedback:

I have voluntarily mentored countless people so far, without charging them anything. Simply out of good will. That’s one way of mentoring. I also understand that mentoring can be a business. Involving compensation within the process can be fair enough in many cases.

However, your model is based on being an intermediary company charging the clients and paying the mentors nothing. Instead; you offer a social platform and mentoring experience.

If this would be a free service for all parties, I could join it as a mentor out of good will – I do mentoring all the time anyway. But when compensation is involved, I start evaluating the system as a business. And the non-monetary compensation you offer doesn’t appeal to me, frankly.

Best regards…

No Instant Defective Device Replacement at Apple Online Store Turkey

Summary

I ordered a new iPad from the Apple Online Store Turkey, which had a minor defect on its screen. Apple support said that I would have to wait 10 days for a replacement. Brick & mortar Apple stores do instant replacements in such cases; therefore, I don’t recommend anyone using the online store for substantial purchases.

Details

Last week, one of my peers approached me and asked if I’d be willing to sell my (2012) iPad to her. I use my iPad in meetings and on the stage in case I need to read music while playing. Therefore; it has an important place in my daily life, but I don’t need too much computing power. Nevertheless; I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to upgrade my hardware. We shook hands, I passed the iPad to her and ordered a new one from the Apple Online Store Turkey. Needless to say, the delivery was very fast and I was playing around with my new Apple toy in no time.

However; I noticed a black fleck on the screen. It’s not a dead pixel because it’s visible when the iPad is turned off as well. It’s either a tiny crack within the glass, or a little piece of dust between glasses. It doesn’t really affect my usage, but defects cause raised eyebrows when you are re-selling your device. And why not have a perfect device when you paid for it?

Being a long time Apple fan, I confidently contacted support to talk about my replacement options. The people I talked with were very polite and knowledgeable; however, the result was very disappointing. They said that the cargo company would contact me within 48 hours, pick the defective iPad up, carry it to some facility for inspection, and a new one would be sent to me within 7 days. That makes 10 days in total. Although I asked for different options, I was told that there isn’t one.

I could get an instant replacement if the purchase was made from a brick & mortar store.

I use an iPad extensively at work and on the stage, and sold my old iPad. So I don’t have 10 days to live without an iPad. If that was an iPhone, living 10 days without a phone would be impossible either – not everyone has a backup device. Therefore, I was forced to live with my defective device. I don’t know what else to do, and I’m very dissatisfied.

Bitter lesson learned: Never ever purchase a substantial Apple device from the online store unless you have a backup, because you don’t get instant replacements like the brick & mortar Apple stores.

Supplementary

The order was made at 2017-07-11, my order number was W430294017, and the incident number of the issue was 100236141732.

Possessional Minimalism

I am a strong advocate of minimalism in terms of possessions. When I moved to Germany, all I had was a backpack, a suitcase and a bass guitar. That was enough to start and sustain a new life. Today, I do my best to live on this philosophy, and the benefits are significant.

Last week, I discussed this subject with a colleague of mine; and decided to write about my kind of minimalism.

Principle

First of all, one has to recognize his/her needs. If you “need” something to survive, do your job, sustain your hobby, or simply feel good using it, that’s fine. However; chances are, a large percentage of your possessions are there simply because once you believed you need them. If that’s not the case today, they don’t have a place in your life.

Textile is a common category among most people. If you wear that shoe frequently, keep it. If another shoe didn’t see the sunlight in 6 months, it needs to leave your life – assuming that it’s not a rare special occasion / weather oriented item. If you are wearing that shirt on every possible opportunity, keep it. If another shirt is collecting dust in the dark corner of your wardrobe, it needs to leave your life.

The same principle can be applied to other topics in your life; such as tech items, hobby gear, furniture, utility stuff, etc.

Reasons

But why? Why not keep everything until the wardrobes crack and cabinets vomit?

First of all, possessions cost you. It costs you time, money and energy to possess an item. You need a bigger space to store them (which could mean a higher rent), more time to organize them, more energy to maintain them and more patience to endure the frustration while searching for that one item you need at that time.

Chances are, some might have given up organizing stuff a long time ago. They would simply live with vaguely organized piles of possessions, or the “etc-drawer” is the fullest drawer of the house.

Those are the tangible costs. However, there are intangible costs as well.

Every item you possess takes up a small toll on your psychological sense of freedom. The more items you possess, the more dependent and cluttered you’ll feel. In other words; to quote Fight Club, “Things you own, end up owning you”. You probably won’t notice that until you really give things away. I can’t describe the feeling of freedom and independency when I gave up 95% of my possessions when I was moving to Germany. No physical clutter can be worth more than this emotion. Maybe that’s what spiritual teachers mean when they praise poverty.

Another aspect is; having piles of unorganized items at home reinforces the belief that you are an unorganized person with a low level of conscientiousness. This belief might affect your behavior at work, social relations and many other areas in your life with a flavour of self fulfilling prophecies. With a little dose of selective perception, you might end up being a really messy person. Having an organized household with a minimum quantity of significant items works in your favor.

Self worth can also be affected. Imagine a shirt you purchased to wear outside. After a while, you don’t wear it outside any longer, but keep it to wear at home. Well; could this mean that you value your outlook towards total strangers more than your outlook towards yourself and the people you share your home with? Aren’t you worth of self-praise when you look at yourself in the mirror at your home? Wouldn’t it be nice you could pull off any shirt from your wardrobe, look at the mirror and be happy with it; whether you are at home or outside with peers?

Hygiene is another problem. It is really hard to keep a large quantity of items clean. Dust, mold, mites and germs love dark deserted nooks. The more items you possess, the more of those you might end up living with.

There is also the aspect of social responsibility. An item you don’t really love and use might be the favorite possession of another individual who can’t afford what you can. A nice-to-have item of yours might be cruicial for another person. As the saying goes; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Why not give it away and make others happy?

For those people of faith, giving possessions and alms to those in need is also praised a lot in the holy books. In some verses, it is stated that people only really give when they give the things they love. You might want to look up into that if interested; because giving away your trash might not be enough for spiritual advancement.

How

Obviously, donation is not the only way to part from an item in your life. If you want to get rid of an expensive technical possession, you can simply sell it online. It is not really a donation, but a fair way to reduce clutter. Whatever the method is; if I convinced you about possessional minimalism, it’s time I tell you how I do it.

I make a distinction of planned vs sustained donations.

Planned donation is the type of activity where I gather my possessions of a certain category (such as textile), pile them up, and sort out the items I’m willing the donate. This can be done once every season. The trick is to decide what to give and what to keep. Here are some questions I ask to decide.

If I would be moving abroad, would I take this with me? 
Yes: Keep. Maybe/No: Donate.

If I would be moving to another house, would I take this with me? 
Yes: Keep. Maybe/No: Donate.

Do I love and use this item as much as day one? 
Yes: Keep. Not sure/No: Donate.

Is there someone who would benefit much more than I do? 
Yes: Donate. Not sure/No: Keep.

As mentioned before; the exception of donation might be rare occasion items, such as a tuxedo or snow coat, which get used once a year but are essential.

Sustained donation is the type of activity where I monitor my possessions within the flow of life. For this to work, I create loops of items. For example, I tend to wear the lowest shirt from my pile of shirts, and the clean shirts go on top of the pile. If a shirt stays at the lowest level for a long time, it means that it doesn’t get used much, and it might be time to donate it.

Another sustained principle is the one-in-one-out approach. For example, I limit the quantity of shoes I possess. If I buy a new pair of shoes, I donate the least liked shoe in my wardrobe.

A very important part of sustained minimalism is prevention of possession. If you don’t buy something, you prevent clutter in the first place. For this to work, one needs to recognize the borderline between needs and desires. As stated before; if you “need” something to survive, do your job, sustain your hobby, or simply feel good using it, that’s fine. If you are buying it out of desire, boredom, in a whim or because of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome); you might be better off not buying it at all.

This is easier said than done, obviously. Marketing and media strategies keep pumping unrealistic images of superiorities to make you feel inferior and purchase stuff so you can catch up. You end up spending money to possess more hygiene items to make up for a lack of motivators, which doesn’t really work. I recommend reading my post Two Factor Theory: An Approach to Life Satisfaction for more details; one can gain a lot of freedom by understanding how this pattern works.

For every purchase, you should be asking: Is That Too Expensive?

Conclusion

Having a lot of possessions costs a lot and works against you. I hope that I have convinced some of you to reduce your pile of possessions. I can only talk about the freedom and independency that I feel; you need to experience it for yourself. Once you taste this emotion, I think that you wouldn’t want to go back.

Why I Avoid TV

No, I don’t watch TV at all. Never seen a single episode of Lost, Game of Thrones or Prison Break. Don’t watch the news, sports or any show either. Instead, I allocate my time on productive occupations. That’s how I find the time to write books or keep up with the bands I participate.

I would like to openly evaluate my last year to demonstrate how this works for me.

TV Statistics

According to multiple studies, an average adult spends 4 hours per day watching TV. I will cut this in half so that most readers can relate to an average rate of 2 hours per day.

When you sum it up; this makes ~14 hours per week, ~56 hours per month and ~730 hours per year. Assuming that an average work day is 8 hours long, it means that an adult spends ~90 workdays on TV.

This is a lot of time.

People have different preferences. You might be spending much less time on series; but you might be spending time on video games, newspapers, trivial social events, etc instead. Therefore, I would like to generalize the abbreviation “TV” as “Time Vampires“.

My Secret

Spending TV time on productive occupations is my secret.

If you check my Website; you’ll find that I’m a software architect, a writer, an active musician and a yogi simultaneously. People often ask me how I manage to run those occupations in parallel. Well, time management and discipline is an obvious answer. However; before managing time, you need to have some free time in the first place.

Avoiding TV (time vampires) altogether is how I find free time.

This leaves me 90 workdays (about 4 months on the job) to do whatever I want. This is more than enough to write, practice songs and do some yoga.

A Year Without TV

For instance; my SAP Press book on ABAP Design Patters took me one year to finish. And it is around 400 pages. This means that I wrote ~1 page every day for an entire year. Assuming that a page would take me an hour to complete, I can safely say that I published a book instead consuming the time I saved from TV. A profitable exchange, right?

730 annual hours – 400 hours spent on the book left me with 330 hours. Assuming that I practice bass guitar for 30 minutes every day in average, I have spent 180 hours practicing music. This means that; avoiding TV has also enabled me to play gigs.

This still left me 150 hours of free time. Assuming that I do 30 minutes of yoga every other day, it means that I have spent 90 hours on yoga. This still leaves 60 hours of free time. I have probably spent this time on movies, YouTube or video games. But those are not habits. Exceptions don’t define you, but habits do.

The only significant downside of TV avoidance is; I don’t understand some references and jokes among my peers. Well, I can live with that – I’d rather have another published book + my gigs under my belt.

Conclusion

Being aware of time vampires in your life is an important first step of taking control of the way you live. Video games, newspapers, magazines, trivial social events might be TVs that affect you.

Once you start saving free time, you can start doing time management to achieve your goals over time. I have published a Turkish speech on time management which might guide Turkish speaking readers. Others might be interested in researching methods like GTD and Pomodoro.

Dismissed From TM Center

I would like to share an incident I have experienced in the TM center of Istanbul / Turkey.

Although I am not a TM practitioner, I practice mindfulness meditation (20 years), yoga (5 years) and am one of the founders of Shamoon. Being familiar with meditative practices, my attention was drawn to TM by a practitioner friend of mine.

Going one step further; she invited me to TM center Istanbul to join a meditation session + conference. My intention was to join the practice doing my own mindfulness meditation and listen to the speech to get familiar with TM.

However, the outcome was quite different. A lady, who is the leader of the center and who knows my friend quite well, dismissed me out of the class because “I was no TM practitioner”. She said that I can watch an introduction video somewhere else, but I can’t join their session.

From my point of view, this is a very rude behavior. I visited countless mosques, churches, yoga centers, meditation centers and other similar places. No matter where I went, people were always very warm and welcoming to visitors, and I was always allowed to silently participate their practices. This is how my understanding of spiritual growth is: Welcoming and open.

But the approach in the TM center was quite different – I was dismissed out, despite the fact that my friend is a regular practitioner and I told about my background very politely.

Nevertheless; me & my friend left the class, partially shocked. Her relatives, who are also TM practitioners, learned about the incident and said that they are disappointed & doubt if the TM practices they learned were genuine.

I’ve sent an e-mail to the TM headquarters in India to prevent any misdirected prejudices. How should I evaluate the exposed behavior? Is this a personal mistake of a single teacher? Or would I be dismissed like this in any TM central – and why is that necessary? Am I dismissed because I didn’t pay yet, or is there another reason? However, I didn’t get any reply.

End of story.

How I Lost 16 KG

Let me start by telling you that I’m no nutrition expert. Before going on a diet, I strongly advise you to agree with your doctor and visit a competent nutritionist. If you continue reading this post, it means that you are taking full responsibility of anything that could happen to you in case you follow the methods mentioned.

OK, that was the boring part. Now, the fun part begins. Yes, I have lost 16KG (35 pounds) in a year. I would like to share how.

First of all, some math. 1 KG of fat approximately contains 7.500 calories. If you want to burn 1 KG off your body, you need to burn 7.500 calories. To lose 16 KG, I had to burn 120.000 calories without ignoring my nutrition needs.

This is a lot. Considering how efficient the human body is designed, it is much more than one can reasonably burn with sport. My short cardio practice would burn around 250 calories, so it was obvious that I needed to lower my input as well.

Therefore, I got to know my body. Considering my job, life style, gender, age, weight, etc; a test told me that I need 1.800 calories per day. If I eat 2.000 calories, the excess 200 calories will probably turn into fat (weight gain). If I eat 1.500 calories, 300 calories will be burned off my fat (weight loss).

However, I was also informed about my critical lower limit; which was 1.200 calories per day. If I go below that limit, my body would do unpredictable things (like turning *everything* into fat) or my overall health could be damaged.

Every person would have different calorie values, those were mine.

So the idea was to eat about 1.200 calories per day, and never exceed 1.800 calories (except some rare cheat days). In case I did sports one day and burned 250 calories, I allowed myself to eat +250 calories too – so that I don’t fall under the critical limit of 1.200.

Following that calculation means that I would burn 600 calories daily. Considering that 1 KG of fat is worth 7.500 calories, I would lose about 2 KG per month.

And this is exactly what I did. I basically modified my shopping and eating habits and started counting calories. Following the idea that whatever enters the kitchen eventually enters your stomach, I stopped buying junk food & snacks completely. It took some discipline and planning too: I had to think about not starving on lunch & dinner when I was having my breakfast. You get the idea.

It was also important to make a distinction between an empty stomach and hunger. They are not the same thing. Your stomach may not be as full as you are used to be, but if you got all the nutrition you need (not *desire*), you are good. Getting used to an empty stomach is part of the game.

I also used a helpful app called My Fitness Pal, which counts your calorie input & outputs and tells you how much more you can eat that day. It also shows you that a chocolate bar equals 3 plates of boiled vegetables, so you start to prefer eating more and feeling relatively full over eating junk and feeling hungry.

Well, it worked like a charm. I had cheat days, unfavourable weeks and whatnot; but at the end of the year, I burned 16 KGs. Losing weight over time also gives the body the necessary time to adjust.

I don’t know if this suits you or not, but that’s what I did.

Stay healthy!