2019’s Goal #3 – I am automating my home 🧹💆‍♂️

If you’re wondering what my goal #1 and #2 are, I am yet to write about them. 😂 In the meantime, I am ready to talk about my 3rd goal for 2019 i.e. automating my home.

Well, It’ll be a side “hobby” and I’ll take it real slow. Things that I’ll automate are:

  • Cleaning (With a Robot Vacuum Cleaner which potentially has good mobile-app integration so I don’t have to be home to start the device)
  • Lights (voice-controlled with Phillips Hue Bulbs)
  • Fan (voice-controlled if I find a workaround with my existing fan system)
  • Geysers (voice-controlled with Smart plugs)
  • TV (By installing a separate RC signal with Raspberry-Pi)
Few of the things (to start with) I’ll automate

Why automate?

This goal of automating the house comes from my long-lived fascination of 3 things:

  • Clean living environment – I am extremely fanatic about cleanliness. I’ve picked it up from my mom. Since the time I started living alone, I have always cleaned my house on my own. I don’t like dust getting accumulated for a longer period of time (2-3 days max is my threshold). Also, I don’t like unorganized stuff around me – this comes from being a designer as I am constantly trying to find symmetry and better layout in my designs and that transcends to my lifestyle as well. ✨
Cleanliness and organized stuff is what someone will notice first in my house
  • Productivity hacks – I have always gravitated towards the idea of improving productivity. I keep trying productivity hacks every now-and-then to better the output from what I already have, either for fun or for work. Although these experiments don’t lead to the desired output most of the times, irrespective of that, I do like to optimize little/big things around me. (P.S. I mostly do it for fun/learning. I am not a productivity-Hitler). 👨‍💻
  • Automation – Since the day I read the book, The 4 Hour Workweek, I started thinking about automating stuff that either takes a lot of time to get done or that I do not enjoy doing repetitively. For example, I like to prepare my breakfast and order lunch & dinner every day but then again, sometimes I just don’t want to. So I automated this part of my toutine with a service like Eat.Fit in Bangalore. Similarly, in my day job as a Product Designer, I introduced a design system so it can automate the component update process through all my mockups and hence speed up my design process (Read about why design systems are important here: Brad Frost’s Blog. 🤖

So what first?

I have always cleaned my house myself. I used to do dust-cleaning and mopping every weekend when I was in Pune. But then I moved to a bigger house in Bangalore. While dust cleaning was still manageable, mopping floor every weekend used to take a lot of time and effort. So finally, I started mopping every alternate weekend And for dust cleaning, I bought a hand-held vacuum cleaner last year expecting it to make my life easier. And honestly, it did make my life easier as mopping (a harder task) was down from 4x to 2x every month. 💪

But here’s the twist. In India, houses pick up dust easily because they’re mostly surrounded by busy roads and construction sites. Yes, the construction never stops in this country and we barely use any tools to isolate dust at construction sites. This led me to automate the dust-cleaning process for my house once and for all.

So, I am taking the first step towards automation by buying a vacuum robot to automate floor dust-cleaning. After researching a lot on Vacuuming Robots made by companies like iRobot, Dyson, and Xiaomi, it seemed like all of them were doing the same job quite decently but the prices varied a lot because of the brand names. Xiaomi’s robot seemed like the best of the lot as it was 1/2th the price of iRobot and 1/4th the price of a Dyson robot. Plus this was my first try at vacuuming robots, so I didn’t want to spend a lot and finding that my money wasn’t worth it.

Xiaomi’s Robot Vacuum Cleaner packaging on the left and the device itself on the right

The Xiaomi’s Robot Vaccum Cleaner collects dust from the floor as far as it can see and reach; it cleans in a systematic path vs a random one and if the battery gets low while cleaning, it goes to the charging dock, charges itself and resumes back from the same spot. The best part is that it comes with a really intuitive app developed by Xiaomi itself. Have a look below.

From left to right: Mapping of the house done by the house, You can choose in what mode the robot needs to clean, You can also ask the robot to clean only specific areas drawn by you, and you can also move the robot manually using a remote control interface from the app. 🧹

The Verdict

After buying this robot and using it for 8+ weeks now, I can attest that I wake up to a clean house every day without having to worry about it. Dust accumulation has gone down and because of that, I am mopping the house only alternate weekends or maybe less. As for the robot maintenance, the dust is very easy to dispose off as it gets contained in a filter box, so that’s also an “easy” one and contributes to less work/time spent on robot maintenance. ✅

In a nutshell, I’ve been using this for 8+ weeks now and I think this will be one of my best return-on-investment purchases of 2019. 💰

Getting along with minimal lifestyle-design again – #ProjectDoMoreWithLess

2016 has been an interesting and learning year for me. Both personally and professionally.

Personally, I was into my new relationship and was learning to adapt to differential habits we as humans have. It’s interesting how we want everyone else to be like us i.e. force our likings/habits and in the process ruin the relationship altogether. My learning from this is to embrace difference we all have as humans. I am still learning and it’s a long way to go.

Professionally, 2016 was more like reading/learning year for me. I didn’t design much but was reading about design and product development/management. My learning from this journey is that don’t just read articles or watch videos, put them into action. Plus, do one thing at a time and keep your mind focused on one goal until you get a good grip on it. Pretty obvious, right?! Well everyone has their right to their mistakes – a Good mistake that I did, was taking up too many projects at work and doing average in all of them. A year passed and from a design point of view in my career, I was at the same place I was in 2015. I grew very little in terms of enhancing/developing my design skills. Again, that’s another story for another blog post.

This blog post is about a new habit that I am trying to adopt lately. It’s about finding happiness by owning less. It’s about clearing up space around, both physically and mentally for the things that matter the most. It’s about reducing stress while increasing satisfaction and thus happiness in life. It’s about practicing Minimalism in every aspect of life.

This realization of practicing and putting minimalism in place came sudden and strong when I moved to a new apartment this year. In past 3 years, I’ve moved to 4 new apartments, all in 4 different locations/neighbourhood.

House #1 [Delhi]

House #2 [Delhi]

House #3 [Pune]

House #4 [Pune]

This constant change has led me to know more about the things I own. Every time I move to a new apartment, I come across things that I haven’t used for ages, but still kept them for any x number of reasons.

This year, while moving to my 3rd apartment, I noticed that I wasn’t using about 20%-30% of my total stuff and probably will not in near future as well. To give the gist, I had 2-3 shirts that I never wore, a small fridge that I wasn’t going to use because I live in a fully-furnished apt. now which has a bigger fridge, 2-3 extra bed sheets, 3 blue inked extra ball point pens, 2 same color highlighters, so on and so forth.

It was clear that I have hoarded a lot and using very less of my stuff. I’ve tried shedding things in the past but I do it when I am free or have nothing to do on a weekend. But this time I wanted to take this seriously and make this a habit. I needed to shed my belongings.

[Side note: If you’re struggling to see the value in adopting minimalism, don’t read further. Go and read why & how Joshua BeckerJoshua, Ryan and Leo Babauta adopted minimalism.]

Starting this year, among my other new year resolutions, I decided to audit my belongings, from big to medium to the smallest thing that I keep, I’ll audit everything, every 3-4 months. But in order to audit them in the most effective manner, I needed a system where I can track all my useless belongings better so later I can come back to it and decide to throw, donate, or sell.

Here’s how I am doing it:

  1. I am auditing every section of my house every 3rd or 4th month depending upon my availability and stuff hoarded along the way. After shedding a little in the last 6 months, I still have 3 closets to review.
  2. I have divided 4 sections for 4 weekends for the audit month. For example, I’ll audit kitchen the 1st weekend, bedroom room on 2nd, washroom on 3rd, and if anything is left, I am keeping the 4th weekend for that. Since I live in a studio apt., I don’t have rooms i.e. there’s only one room which has attached kitchen and washroom + a small balcony, but dividing them into sections is still easy.
  3. Maintain a note – Track everything. I am using Evernote to keep track of things that I am not using. You can use a notebook or a A4 paper. Don’t let this be an excuse. Just use anything to remember what you’re not using and can shed. Ex:
  4. Action time! Sell, donate or throw – Just do it! Once I’ve identified the items I’m not using or going to use, from different rooms/sections of my house, I decide what to do with them. I am using a combination of The 20-20 Method and The KonMari Method to decide what to do with my items. [I’ve explained what both of these rules mean below]

Rules you can follow:

You can use different rules or a combination of them while auditing and deciding what to do. I’ll list 3 of them here:

  1. The 20-20 Method by TheMinimalist.com says: “If you can get the item within 20 minutes of where you are and by spending less than $20, then you donate, sell or throw the item”
  2. The KonMari Method™ by Marie Kondo says (simplifying here) that if your belongings don’t spark joy when you hold them or when you’re around them, you should discard them. This is quite subjective and needs to be understood before applying.
  3. One Job, Multiple solutions Method says if you have multiple items for doing the same job, you can just keep one and shed the rest. For example, if you have 10 pens and you usually use 1-2 of them, you should shed the rest. People often keep things for the sake of keeping it. A lot of us are hoarders in general and like to collect stuff. Remember that collecting for the sake of it, is dangerous. It adds up to your space mentally and physically. You’ll spend more time maintaining stuff that you don’t own compared to using that time to do something you love.

So what’s my progress?

I’ve started auditing my stuff this year but will be doing this more seriously now. Here are things that I’ve shed so far (with details):

This will be an ongoing process and I’ll keep updating this post. If you want to stay updated and follow me on my minimal journey, you can follow me on my Instagram Profile – I’ll be updating there too.

If you’re auditing your belongings or just starting up, I’d love to know your process and the journey so far. Feel free to mention in comments!

DIY : Smartphone holder

A few months back my phone (Blackberry Z10) started being buggy, slow and non-responsive, so I had to buy a new phone. I bought a OnePlus 3.

For some context, I have also started working towards designing a clean and functional workspace since last 2 years. Here’s what my current workspace looks like (long way to go though):

desk-1

desk-2

More on the history and love of designing a great workspace in a separate blog post. Moving on, I wanted a phone holder for my new phone because of these reasons:

  1. I spend most my time on my desk when I work on design/non-design related projects. So picking up my phone every time some notification has come up takes time and is annoying after a couple of times.
  2. Just peeking what has come and moving along (if it’s not important) with the work that I am doing is preferred
  3. I like things organized and clean around me

So I decided to make a phone holder instead of buying as I didn’t want to spend Rs. 500 or more in a good and sturdy phone holder. Below you’ll find steps to design your own phone holder and how much it can cost you. Here’s what the final model will look like:

finished-look

So, here are the steps to design your own phone holder:

  1. Sketch your design. Here’s mine:
    step-1-sketch
  2. Stuff you need to design the product:
    step-2-things

    • Mount board x 2 – Rs. 50
    • Long Scissor x 1 – Rs. 150
    • Long scale (30 cm preferred) x 1 – Rs. 150
    • Fevicol (100 gms) x 1 – Rs. 50
    • Feviquick 3 gms x 5 packs – Rs. 50
    • Binder Clip (6 pieces) – Rs. 100
    • Total will be Rs. 300-400 if you have few items like Ruler and Scissor at your home. Otherwise, the cost will go around Rs. 500 or below
  3. Cut long sheet to create the base (6 cm wide and 42 cm long):
    step-3-cut-long
  4. Fold from the middle and glue them together to make the stand sturdy:
    step-4-fold-to-make-strong
  5. Glue the board together with the help of Fevicol and clip them with the help of a Binder clip to make sure that all the sides are glued evenly:
    step-5-glue-them-together-and-clip
  6. Fold them around the middle so that one side is 12 cm and other is 9 cm or less. The 12 cm will be the base of holder:
    step-6-fold-from-the-middle
  7. Add bridges. The bridges should be the width of 1-2 cm length depending upon your speaker/charging port placement at the bottom of the phone. Bridges will be used to rest the phone:
    step-7-add-bridges-for-the-back-support
  8. Cut one more mount board with same width i.e. 6 cm and glue it with the rest. The length will depend upon the angle you want for the holder. I used 6 cm for the bottom and 8 cm for the top:
    step-8-connect-with-the-rest-1step-8-connect-with-the-rest-2
  9. Put a bit of Fevicol and Feviquick around the joints to make the bond stronger:
    step-9-put-fevicol-on-the-joints-to-make-them-sturdy
  10. Here’s how it’ll look like once gluing is done:
    step-10-heres-how-itll-look
  11. I also made two, one bigger for my OnePlus 3 which is 5.5” and a smaller one for my BlackBerry z10 (if I use it ever):
    step-11-made-two
  12. Put a little more Fevicol on the sides to smooth the edges out:
    step-12-smooth-out-the-sides-by-using-fevicol
  13. Once you’re satisfied with the edges and overall finish in terms of smoothness, paint them with any wood paint color. I chose white:step-13-paint-them
  14. Here’s what it’ll look once painted well. Remember to add 1-2 layers of paint to make it look more glossy. Here’s the bigger model:
    step-14-finsihed-bigger
  15. Here’s the small one:
    step-15-finished-small
  16. Here’s the top view of my workspace now 😀
    step-16-finished-top

Hope the steps are enough to give you a gist of the process and can be helpful if you decide to make one yourself.

Tip: Use Feviquick smartly and don’t let it touch your skin, or else your hands will look like this:
zhands

Let me know if you have any thoughts/comments about this DIY smartphone holder. Happy creating! 🙂