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Episode 90 | MAKING A "HOUSE BOOK"

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne Unquote.

Last week I talked about the acronym HALT! Which stands for hungry angry lonely tired and about maintaining balance in our lives. It’s available right now if you want to check it out.

Today’s episode is the last in this mini season and today I’m going to discuss one very simple thing that you can do right now, if you have not already done it, to make your life easier and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in regard to living our everyday lives. Yes, this podcast is specifically aimed at creative people and film pros but every one of us will still have real life tasks and responsibilities which I’m sure you know all too well, if we do not stay on top of, will damage our creative and work lives and slow down our productivity. Today I’m going to talk about making up a HOUSE BOOK.

In our working lives it’s fair to say that we all have to handle some fairly complex things to one level or another. I have found myself coordinating, producing and directing some very involved international projects and films on occasion and any film project that I handle in those roles, even her in the UK, is no simple feat to bring together. As a fight director I’ve spent months coordinating immensely complex battle sequences with community actors that have never held a sword before and as a 2nd unit director I’ve had to pick up every single dropped shot from the main unit of a feature film and try and patch them together at the same time as I and my team also shot as 2nd camera and fight director on the main shoot. The complexity of things that we can stay on top of and achieve in our day to day work lives is really very impressive, but we don’t always carry that control and oversight of complex matters over into our home life. Incidentally, I’m very proud that my 2nd unit team on Outpost Rise of the Spetsnaz shot 20% of the total number of shots on the film. All whilst fulfilling our other roles within production. I don’t talk about it often but it was a helluva feat.

As I said though, at the same time as we do these incredibly complex things we also have to ensure that we are on top of our household and family responsibilities. I’m not really talking about things like doing the dishes, shopping for food, hanging out the washing, or ironing the kids school uniforms as these things are immediate and although time-consuming they are right in front of us and therefor clearly have to be dealt with. They require our immediate attention but they usually aren’t particularly complex or mentally straining.

There's a way to do it better - find it.

Thomas A. Edison Unquote

The household stuff that most of us could deal with better, in my experience at least, and this is my podcast so that’d largely what I have to go on, but the household stuff we can do better on and make our lives easier with is things like insurance, car payments and MOT’s, mortgages, rental charges, taxes and general household bills like internet charges, phone contracts, gas and electricity. These generally come around in a cycle. It’s easier nowadays to leave these things running, but sometimes easy isn’t going to be the best way to do things.

Although I’ve always felt on top of this sort of stuff I’ve never actually been on top of them. I start to think about these things at some point in the year just as their deadlines are coming up and if I’m busy and something is automated to just cyclically repeat, I’ll just let it run over without checking it. I can’t count the number of times when a car’s MOT is nearly up by the time I am dealing with it in in all honesty I’ve more than once missed that date.

Carelessness does more harm than a want of knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin, Unquote

I think it’s fair to say that what is out of sight is out of mind so when these things we have automatically renew, they are all too easy to ignore and allow to roll on, while we are caught up in something “more important” or “more creative”. Taking a look at an insurance renewal of mine recently however I realised that I was just about to get scammed because of my inattentiveness. The cost of renewal for my boiler insurance had been hiked by 7 pounds from 14 to 21 pounds a month in the new contract which came through via email. Now, 84 pounds extra a year may not mean much to some of you but to me, who has had a 90% drop in income due to the coronavirus outbreak this was a significant amount.

So, I called them and as I was on the phone they gave me a new quote of £15 a month. Still a hike but a significantly lower one. That wasn’t all however. The following month I reviewed my bank account quite regularly as I was awaiting a payment for one of the very few gigs I’ve been able to pick up in covid times and I noticed that Domestic and General, my boiler insurance company had actually charged me twice. Once for £21 they wanted to bill me and once for the agreed £15. If I hadn’t noticed THAT then I could easily have lost a significantly larger amount of money. My point in saying this is that it’s worth taking a little time out of our days every month or so to check that mistakes haven’t been made and to see if there are better offers on the table. I pay 6 different insurances a year. If I was able to save *4 pounds a year on each one, for the sake of a few phonecalls. That’d be £504 a year.

If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life.

Bill Watterson unquote

So, this brings me to the question what is a House Book. Well that’s simply what I call the folder or binder in which I have now keep of the important information relating to the house, or matters pertaining to the house. In that book I keep everything that is relevant to the smooth and efficient operation involved in the more mundane aspects of my life.

It has partitioned sections with poly pockets filled with insurance policies, pet and vet info, t providers and council tax details, mortgage information, car info and also a page of tradesmen. In the tradesmen section I write down who I have most recently used and if they were reliable or not as the next time a problem comes around I can’t always recall who was good and who was bad and who was a terrible communicator or who didn’t turn up. Someone I had a note about being unreliable last year, I thought I’d try again this year as I was short of time. They were full of excuses year too so they have been deleted from that section and a new name is in their place. Everything in the book is up to date, so if an insurance is renewed I take out the old policy, shred it, and replace it with the most up to date one.

The last thing that I do in my house book is to tape in a piece of paper on the inside of the front of the binder, right at the front of the book with the renewal dates of stuff in there. That means that if I have a gig suspicion that something is about to be up, I can have a look and without searching half the house, find out exactly when a renewal is due or a certificate is about to expire.

Peter Drucker says that Efficiency is doing better what is already being done and taking a few hours to get your home life and bills in order will pay off huge dividends in terms of reduced stress, saved money, reduced errors and conserved energy. Being in control of these all too easy to ignore real life matters will enable you to be more confident, more focused and more relaxed in you work life too.

Call to action:

Your call to action today is to do exactly what I suggest here. Grab a binder, some dividers for it, and some polythene pockets and start to put together all of your household related paperwork in one place. Take a few days to do it. Make the calls you need to make. Note down the dates that are important at the front of the folder. Throw out the out of date information and collect the names of all those tradesmen and women that you have used recently and put them all in their place.

As you complete this book you may also want to transfer the dates that are on the inside cover of your book to the electronic diary, I use google myself and it works well, and mark them as annual. Also put a separate 1 month warning into that diary so that you know that a deadline is coming up.

Further to that, as new policies or information comes in, you must remove the old pages from the book and put the newer info in the pockets to keep it current. It’s not rocket science this and it does involve you using some paper and a printer which is arguably not so good for the planet, and a drag if you haven’t got access to one, but the benefits of having a physical copy of everything relevant to your real life commit expenses is immeasurable and well worth the effort.

It’s hard to explain the satisfaction that this will give you, the confidence that you will feel about things that were just rattling about in your brain before and the control it will give you over your life. This is your call to action. Make time for it in your schedule. Start gathering your info together. Get it done.

Summing up

My message is simple this series: take control of your life. This House book idea is an easy way to achieve a large degree of control over things for an extremely small amount of effort. I’m sure that some o you are already on top of it and have your own system. This one is mine. I hope it gives you some ideas and it makes life just a little bit easier and happier for you.

Next time:

This is the last in this miniseries and although I may still release the occasional episode I don’t plan to do another batch like this for some time. I’m taking the year out to get on top of a number of things and the podcast is just too involved for me to give up a lot of time to it.

Thanks to all the sponsors of this season. Your contributions are greatly apprecaited! today's episode was sponsored by:


Reconnect SCIO is a Scottish charity set up in 2017 to help evolve our nations cultural heritage. Reconnect is committed to inclusion, to utilising and where needed restoration of historic buildings and landscapes. Operating out of the Regal Theatre in Bathgate with huge plans to renovate the building to make it part of the community again and produce/host professional theatre projects.

Here is an article about them which you may find interesting:

Also please check out my friends at ARTOS DIGITAL

Christopher & Electra McPhillips run Artos Digital, an award-winning social media first marketing communications company, providing consultancy in social media management, copywriting and vlogging.

Prestige Scotland Award: Social Media Agency 2021-2022 (Lothian)

Finally, please check out the other shows that are hosted as part of the indie film hustle podcast network, there are some great podcasts there and I can’t recommend them enough. Please also continue to spread the word about this show as word of mouth really matter and the better the listener download numbers the more likely I am to continue it in future.

If you want to get in touch to suggest a topic you can always send a message through or give me a shout on twitter @filmproprodpod

I’ll finish today with the words of our old friend Napoleon Hill who said

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Are you satisfied with where you are and the direction you are going? If not, take control of your life and change whatever needs to be changed. You and only you have the power to do this. You can change your world!

Now take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY AND SUCCESS!

The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu

You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website

You can follow my personal account on Twitter and Instagram @fight_director or follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @Filmproproductivity

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Thanks: A Himitsu Music: Adventures by A Himitsu


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