A New Policy for 2011 is better than a Resolution

I don't like corporate talk and corporate world. I prefer small-business world. But I do like mocking the way corporations work in my daily life. In our struggle to a Zen and Minimalist life my wife and I decided to introduce to our family life something normally practiced in the big corporations: policies.
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What are policies? Habits defined and agreed upon.

Big corporations have these policies on dealing with this and that... so we decided to copy that and to make sure we don't gain too many unnecessary "materialistic fat" this year we decided to introduced some new policies in our home to make sure both me and my wife know how to deal with certain things.

Just a few short examples of our "box and packaging policy":
  • We don't keep CD, DVD or BluRay disc packages
  • When we buy a DVD or BluRay disc, we put the disc in the 100-disc box near our TV set and throw away the packaging. Always.
  • When we buy CD we immediately rip it using iTunes to put the music to our iPhones and iPods, throw away the packaging and put the CD in the big 100-disc box.
  • New policy for 2011: We don't buy DVDs. Bluray players got cheaper and we got a player for our bedroom and have Playstation 3 in the living room. No need for DVDs anymore. The HD quality is a lot better.
  • New policy for 2011: We only buy BluRays we want to watch more than once. Otherwise we rent movies. We've had too many one-time movies in our collection. Waste of money.
  • We don't keep the original packaging of stuff we buy past 7 days
    • When we buy stuff (and we try to buy less of it this year) we keep the original packaging only a week. This policy makes us use the stuff we buy and try it out and make sure it works. If it doesn't we return it to store in original packaging. If it does work, we keep it and throw away the packaging.
    • Although manufacturers claim they won't respect warranty without original packaging, it's against the law and it's really not true. So why keep the boxes?

    Policies are non-negotiable.

    The cool thing about policies is that they are more than guidelines - they are the law. At least in our house. So if I'm tempted to keep a BluRay box of a movie I like, my wife asks me: "Michael, what's our policy on the boxes?" and the box goes away. The same applies to the boxes of the IT-gear I buy. The geek in me wants to keep these new shiny packages of the latest Apple gear but my wife firmly reminds me our policy on the boxes... and of the fact that I was the one to actually suggest it in the first place.

    Policies could be a cool way of introducing habits.

    The problem with habits is that it takes a lot of time to set a habit in motion. It takes days, weeks or even months. When you set up a policy and it's your governing law, you don't need that time. The policy is there and it keeps you from going sideways... and if you set it up with your loved one, they help you keep them in power and refrain you from going "against the law" :-)

    Policies help you set up automatic rules for stuff that doesn't matter.

    Thanks to our new policies I'm not thinking about a lot of stuff I'd normally be tempted to think and analyze. I know what the policy is so I act accordingly. I build a habit with a policy and focus on the larger goal I have in front of me. The policy thinks for me. It is the law after all :-)

    Policies are better than New Year's resolutions.

    Resolutions are... wishful thinking with a new name. You don't measure them, you don't track them, you just say them to yourself and hope for the best. So instead of thinking about resolutions, introduce some good policies for 2011 and make sure they align with your goals. The policies will help you not to think about small stuff and focus on your goals this year and maybe you'll even get a little more done than last year. Who knows?

    Bonus - some other useful policies for 2011 I just introduced at my home-office:
    • No checking of email or social networks before 11 am - to make sure I don't start the day in "reaction mode" replying to email from other folks... but I get something useful done before I'm open to communication.
    • Twitter client for Mac or Facebook page only open when I intend to use it. After being used, quit.
    • 6pm ends my work day. At the latest. Then I spend time with my family no matter what.

    What are your policies for 2011?
    I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
    .. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
    .. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
    .. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

    Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 (productivity)