The Polyincome Slider Design Process (PSD Process)

Introduction

This document is a design process and set of tools and expresses one way to use permaculture for designing polyincomes. It is based around a design tool called 'Polyincome Slider' to evaluate trade-offs between these elements in designing a new ways of looking at income. It uses other tools from permaculture and recommends using simple financial tools such as spreadsheets to sum incomes and spending. It is based on the OBREDIMET design process. This process was designed using permaculture. See appendix for a fuller explanation.  

How to use this Process

Follow the design process step-by-step in a linear fashion using the design tools as appropriate. You can follow this process applying very comprehensive rigour and precision to it, or use it as a rough evaluation tool – that is up to you depending on what you want to get out of it. For example you could try and identify all of your spending so you can tweak your habits, or you could just go for ballpark figures to help you decide how to change things.

Design Tools Overview

Tool

Description

Polyincome Slider

A tool to visually assess current income, spending, and use of time, borrowing the idea from land designs of creating a basemap.   It then helps you to evaluate trade-offs between these elements in designing a new ways of looking at income.

This document contains an image of this tool. When using it, make your own simple blank copy – the one included here is an example. It is specifically designed to be very easy to recreate in a few minutes and allows for your own creativity in how you draw it, the symbols you use etc. You will likely have more or less lines for income etc on it depending on the complexity of your design.

Polyincome Design Slider (PDS) Template

This is a document you can use to write-up your design/ Specific sections of the document are used at different steps in the design. You can find this document after the process and polyincome slide tool below. The blue text is guidance and can be removed from your design document.  

Income / Budget / Time Calculator

This is a spreadsheet tool for recording different forms of the elements for earning, spending and using time. It aggregates each Income Element into an annual figure for income.  

Time Recorder

Software or an app to record for a period how you spend your time. Timesheeter Example. 

SWOC / PNI

A permaculture tool used to explore your personal attitudes to your current income, spending and use of time.

Input / Output Analysis

A permaculture tool to help investigate beneficial relationships between the elements of the design

Principles

A set of principles to apply throughout the design and particularly when evaluating design decisions.

The Design Process

Process Step

Question / 

Action

Potential Tools

Use of Tool

Observe

Vision

What is your vision for the design?

PSD Template:

Vision

Recommended: Outline your vision for the design. See template for questions to help

Vision

Who are the subjects of the design?

PSD Template:

Vision

Essential: Consider who the design is for. See template for questions to help.  

Income

How do you get your money?

Polyincome Slider

(Basemap)

Essential: List income sources and mark on the slider the annual amounts earned. These will be called 'Income Elements'

Income

Income calculator

Optional: If your income sources are several and varied, you may want to use a spreadsheet to tally them up, and perhaps aggregate a few sources to reduce the complexity. Spreadsheet Example (to follow). If you already have your own, there is little value in translating what you have to the example.

Spending

How do you spend your money (including servicing debt)?

Polyincome Slider

(Basemap)

Essential: List the main ways in which you spend money and mark on the slider the annual amounts spent. These will be called 'Spending Elements'.

You may want to include categories of spend like 'Housing', 'utilities' and 'entertainment'

Spending

Budget calculator

Recommended: Use a spreadsheet to tally-up the expenditure that you make. Spreadsheet Example (to follow). If you already have your own, there is little value in translating what you have to the example.

Time

What do you spend your time on?

Polyincome Slider

(Basemap)

Essential: List the main ways in which you spend your time and mark on the slider the amounts of time you spend on them. These will be called 'Time Elements'.  

You may want to include things you want to spend more time on, like 'family', fun and 'sleeping'

Time

Time Recorder

Optional: Consider using software or an app to record for a period how you spend your time. Timesheeter Example.  Then aggregate this up to an annual figure.

Time

Time calculator

Recommended: Use a spreadsheet to tally-up the time you spend on various activities. Spreadsheet Example (to follow). If you already have your own, there is little value in translating what you have to the example.  

Review Basemap

What is your income / Spending / Time Polyincome Base Map

Polyincome Slider

(Base map)

Essential: You have created a 'basemap' of your income, spending and time elements using the the Polyincome Slider. Review this and check it makes sense and tallys with your current life. This can be accurate or rough, depending on how precise you want the design to be.  

Vision

What do  you like and dislike about earning and spending money, and time?

SWOC / PNI

PDS Template: Vision

Recommended: Perform a SWOC, PNI or similar analysis to consider the observations that you have made.

Boundaries

Goals

How much money do you need and would you like?

PDS Templete: Vision

Recommended: Use the information in the Polyincome Slider & Budget Calculator to consider whether you could live off less, or whether you would ideally need more to be comfortable.

Goals

What is your capacity to change?

PDS Template:

Vision

Recommended: Consider how much you may actually be able to change. See template for questions.

Time

What would you like to spend more or less time on?

Polyincome Slider:

(Target overlay)

Recommended: Use the information from the Polyincome Slider, the Time Recorder and the Time Calculator to consider how you might adjust your Time Elements to different amounts of time on them. If there are new Time Elements that you have not previously spent time on but would like to, add to the Polyincome Slider.

Resources

Skills

What current skills allow you to earn or save money?

PDS Template:

Resources

Essential: List the skills that you have that might enable you to earn income in different ways, or save money if you were to spend more time using these skills.  

Opportunities

What opportunities are there to enable you to earn or save money?

PDS Template:

Resources

Essential: List opportunities that you are aware of that you might be able to incorporate into your design.

Training

What learning and training can you do to create more income earning opportunities or save money?

PDS Template:

Resources

Essential: List and describe the learning and training that might enable you to undertake changes in your design. What are the time and money costs of the training?

Evaluate

New incomes

What are your potential sources of income?

Polyincome Slider

(Target overlay)

Income Calculator

Essential: Revisit the Polyincome Slider Base Map and add in additional 'Income Elements' to an Evaluation Overlay  – ways in which you might be able to earn income. Consider the resources you listed in the previous step.

Note that the Evaluation Overlay is the same physical item as the Base Map. The new Income Elements are shown with a different symbol to the Base Map.  

Optional: Use the income Calculator to determine the levels of income you could earn for these 'Income Elements'.

Revised spending

How can you adjust your spending?

Polyincome Slider

(Target overlay)

 Budget Calculator

Essential: Use the information you created in Observation to play a little with your information to update the Evaluation Overlay.

Can you cut down or increase expenditure on things you spend money for example? Utility bills, housing, entertainment, food. If you have used a budget calculator, make a copy and adjust the figures to what could be reasonable if you were doing things differently, like living in a smaller house,  growing more food yourself, or cutting expenditure on fun.  

Changing time

What would you like to spend more or less time on?

PDS Template:

(Target overlay)

Time Goals

Essential: Use the information from the Polyincome Slider Base Map, the Time Recorder and the Time Calculator to consider how you might adjust your activities to spend different amounts of time on the 'Time Elements'. Add in new 'Time Elements' to update the Evaluation Overlay for things that have come up that you did not spend time on previously, or that have increased in importance significantly.

Can you spend more time on some Time Elements that enable you to reduce your Spending Elements? E.g. Growing more food leads to spending less on food. Having received training, servicing your own vehicle means spending less on vehicle maintenance  

Evaluate the trade-offs between income, spending and time, interacting with the following questions.

Polyincome Slider

Essential: Play with the Polyincome Slider by adjusting income, costs and time elements so that balance is achieved between them in a way that you have enough time to earn the incomes you want to, and that you have enough to meet the spending needs.

It is strongly recommended that you interact with the following two steps to ensure that permaculture  is embedded into your thinking.

How can permaculture principles be used to assess your choices?

PDS Template: Principles

Recommended: Consider each of the principles and how they might be reflected in your emerging decisions concerning your income earning, costs and time.

Can beneficial relationships be established between your choices to ensure the overall design flows?

Input / Output Analysis

Recommended: How can the Income / Spending / Time elements that you have chosen interact to enable them to be more viable? For example, can you use the time spent commuting to work for learning, processing vegetables, or repair clothing? If you want to spend more time on exercise, could you cycle to some of your work.

Design Decisions

What changes will you make to your Income, Spending and Time elements?         

Polyincome Slider and / or PDS Template:

Design Decisions

Essential: Each occurrence of a difference between elements in the Polyincome Base Map and the Polyincome Design Map represents a Design Decision. The sum of all Design Decisions is the Design. List and describe the Design Decisions. For example:

Income Element - Main job at ECC: I will resign from ECC

Income Element - Teaching Permaculture: I will increase the teaching of permaculture to earn a target of £3,000 per annum.

Spending Element – Housing: I will decrease spending on housing from £12,000 to £9,000 per annum

Time Element – I will target spending 90 more hours per annum on growing food.

Implementing the Design

How will you make these changes to achieve your design

PDS Template: Design Decisions

Essential: Describe how you plan to achieve the above targets. This can be freeflow text or diagrams, since the elements would be expected to interact significantly to achieve the design. For example,  

By resigning from my m ain job, I will be able to focus on generating income opportunities as a permaculture teacher, and spend more time growing food. This will lead to reduced costs and time spent commuting, and reduced costs of food.

Ensure that you describe how you plan to achieve each design decision.

Implementation Plan

What are the steps you will take to effect these Design Decisions and by when?         

PDS Template: Design Decisions

List the steps required to achieve the Design Decisions to describe how you will achieve the Design. Bear in mind at this point the Principle: Use Slow and Small Solutions, to only take on enough reasonable change.

Build in to the plan a set of Evaluation points that take place at important stages in the implementation.

Implement and Maintain

Follow the Implementation plan and refer to the design

Polyincome Slider:

PDS Template:

Design Decisions

Periodically revisit the design to determine whether you are following the plan, and to motivate you to follow through with the design decisions that you have made.

Evaluate

How does the reality compare to your design decisions?

Polyincome Slider:

Optional: At each evaluation point you have created in the implementation plan, map onto the Polyincome Slider the reality of the situation.

Tweak

What changes do you want to make as a result of your evaluation

Polyincome Slider:

PDS Template:

Design Decisions

Optional: Consider what changes you want to make to the design in light of what has happened and what new factors and opportunities that have arisen that will affect your original design.


Polyincome Slider Design Template

Vision and Goals

Outline your vision for the design. Consider the following questions and write a few sentences. You dont have to answer them all, they are a guideline to help your thinking.  

  1. Why are you doing a polyincome design?
  2. In broad terms what would you like to change about the way you earn and spend money, and spend your time?
  3. Consider who the design is for.  Is it just yourself, for example, or your family? It may be more appropriate to consider your family because you can then analyse your family income and expenditure together to give a more well-rounded perspective. Other options could be communities, clubs, charities or businesses. From here on when the process says 'you' it refers to all the subjects that you identify in this step.
  4. What do  you like and dislike about earning and spending money, and time? (Perform a SWOC, PNI or similar analysis to consider the observations that you have made.)

<< Add vision here >>

Use the information in the Polyincome Slider & Income / Budget / Time calculators if using to consider the following questions:

  1. Can you live off less, or would you ideally need more to be comfortable?
  2. Would you want to live on a lot less?
  3. Would you like to earn income from multiple sources?  
  4. Can you give up your current main job?    

<< Add goals and note capacity to change here >>

Resources

What current skills allow you to earn or save money?

What opportunities are there to enable you to earn or save money?

What learning and training can you do to create more income earning opportunities or save money?

Skills

Opportunities

Training

Design Decisions

List and describe the Design Decisions. For example:

Income Element - Main job: I will resign

Income Element - Teaching Permaculture: I will increase the teaching of permaculture to earn a target of £3,000 per annum.

Spending Element – Housing: I will decrease spending on housing from £12,000 to £9,000 per annum

Time Element – I will target spending 90 more hours per annum on growing food.

<< List design decisions here >>

Implementing the Design

How do you plan to implement the design? This can be freeflow text or even diagrams, since the elements would be expected to interact significantly to achieve the design. For example: By resigning from my main job, I will be able to focus on generating income opportunities as a permaculture teacher, and spend more time growing food. This will lead to reduced costs and time spent commuting, and reduced costs of food.

Ensure that you describe how you plan to achieve each design decision.

<< Describe how you implement the design here >>

Implementation Plan

List the steps required to achieve the Design Decisions to describe how you will achieve the Design. Bear in mind at this point the Principle: Use Slow and Small Solutions, to only take on enough reasonable change. Build in to the plan a set of Evaluation points that take place at important stages in the implementation.

Step: A title for what needs to be done

Description: add a little detail, such as the steps required to ‘Establish the chicken area’.

People: indicate who or what group would do this step.

Timings: make notes about how long and when this step can be done.

Step

Description

People Involved

Timing

Appendix: Using Permaculture to Design this Process

To be completed