Are we too conditioned to convenience?

While looking at furniture a few weeks ago I was considering one item and found myself thinking ‘This unit is a little low. The drawers will end up not being used for the purpose we intend for them because it requires bending over to use them”. My God I thought, have we really gotten that used to convenience that this could be an issue, what is the world coming to. At what point did we get that spoiled, and when I say we I am not just talking about my husband and I. I am talking about Western society in general.

Laziness would seem to be the initial culprit here and in some cases it may be but in fact I think sometimes the opposite is actually the problem. Loading ourselves up with too much responsibility, so that something has to give, is more likely the issue in many cases. We then find ourselves doing counter productive things in order to “save time”.

Stop and think about the things we do, or don’t do for that matter, because it is just one more effort to add to our already busy day…

  • Driving round and round in a car park looking for the most convenient parking spot rather than walking a few extra yards. We waste time and gas, adding to carbon emissions, and rob ourselves of the chance of a little healthy exercise. In the end we have actually wasted more time than we saved.
  • Buy “time saving” gadgets in order to streamline the jobs we can’t avoid. In my experience many these gadgets don’t save time and just add clutter to our homes, waste to the environment and rob us or our hard earned cash.
  • Buy convenience foods, often over processed, over packaged and over priced and I don’t need to tell you the problems all three of those things cause to our health, the environment or our bank balances.
  • Overloading our children with toys to keep them amused because we don’t have enough hours left in our day to spend some quality time with them ourselves ~ once again adding more expense to the cost of living that we work too hard to upkeep. It is a vicious cycle isn’t it.
  • We pick things up while shopping, change our minds, and just put them down where they don’t belong. Contrary to popular beliefs you are not doing the staff a favour by keeping them in a job doing this. You are just displacing product in the store possibly causing a loss of sale and adding more strain to an already overworked staff. The amount you pay for items is determined by the cost of manufacturing, shipping, store rent and staffing expenses. The more mess the more hours required to maintain the store, and the more you pay.
  • Don’t pick up after ourselves, then clutter accumulates and we live in a constant mess. The stuff has to be dealt with eventually, it may as well be now rather than later. Living this way can be more stressful than making the effort to stay tidy. Cindy’s post ~ One minute rule ~ has some fine examples how spending one minute now can save you countless minutes of inconvenience later on, and that has to be more convenient in the long run.
  • Dropping litter may seem more convenient than holding on to it until you find a trash can but it costs everyone eventually. Someone has to pay for the clean up and although there isn’t a obvious fee I can guarantee you that we are all paying for that in local taxes somewhere along the line.

You may have noticed that the cost of convenience only adds to our work load. In some cases there is a monetary cost in others it costs you in time. How much of our lives are we prepared to give up  just to pay for stuff that we don’t even need or could avoid paying for.

Today’s Declutter Item

Somehow I don’t think we are going to find a use for these around the house. They can certainly be decluttered.

3D Glasses

 

Something I Am Grateful For Today

The weather has been less than optimal when it comes to taking our evening walk lately but today the clouds parted long enough to allow us the privilege. It was nice to leave everything behind, including the cell phone, and just walk and talk. I can hear the rain coming down out there again now so we were quite lucky to find that gap.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I agree, sometimes thing can only add to work load. Too bad that most people don’t realize it or are too lazy to actually hold a little paper until they find a trashcan.

    BTW: Nice layout!

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      I have to say the littering thing really really makes me mad. I don’t understand what people are thinking in this day and age where the effects of litter on wildlife etc is so well disseminated. We all ought to know better.

      • I used to clean the parking lot at McDonald’s when I worked there (late 1990s), and you’d be *amazed* at how many people cleaned their car out by just dumping everything onto the ground outside it.

        We’d find decent-sized piles of food wrappers, plastic bottles, etc. We were pretty sure that each pile was from one car, because they were all together by one parking space.

        And this when there are trash cans no more than 50-60 feet away, no less.

        *sigh*

        It just blows my mind. Yes, the occasional bag, piece of paper, whatever gets picked up by the wind and takes off on you – but there’s too much litter out there for that to be an explanation for all of it!

        • Hi Robert,
          I have seen this happen right before my eyes in a Mcdonald’s car park when I was living in the US. This guy in a big pick-up finished his meal, toss the garbage out the window and drove off. What sort of person does that? How does that person treat his own home and the people around him I have to wonder.

  2. Great observation. I am no longer tempted to buy kitchen gadgets because of a couple I’ve had in the past (blender and food processor) that took more time to use and clean than they saved in labour OR time. (Not to mention the storage room they use up.)

    • Hi Jo,
      I have found this myself. I recently bought a new immersion blender because I do find them very useful and are a lot easier to clean than the big ones. I was disappointed though the Kenwood didn’t have the design gumption to put drain holes in the lips of the underside of their bowls, when they go in the dishwasher they collect about a half a cup of water in their base that then slops all over the clean dishes around them when you pull out the drawer. Not happy and I will be writing to the company about that.

      • Maybe the problem isn’t with the bowls, but with the fact they’re in the dishwasher, another “gadget” that can be more trouble than it’s worth…?
        *puts away her hand-washed wooden spoon used only for stirring trouble!* 😉

        • Hi Tracey,
          I must admit I do wonder about the dishwasher at times. I think I have solved the bowl problem though, they come with rubber lids/base grips, if I leave the grip on the base while it is in the dishwasher maybe the base won’t fill with water. We will soon see. I am nothing of not determined to make things work my way.

          • A bit of care and a power drill could solve your issue too, if your bowls are made out of an easily-drillable material (like plastic).

            I’ve added holes to a few things that needed it in the past – you just need to be very careful that you don’t put them in the wrong place!

            Or just wash those few bowls by hand – either option works. 😀

            I definitely agree about the utility of the immersion blender…and I talked about my decision to not use the dishwasher anymore at

            http://www.untitledminimalism.com/2011/03/foodie-friday-firing-the-dishwasher/

            I’ve been pretty happy having given it up!

            • Hi Robert,
              I wrote to the Kenwood to tell them I wasn’t happy with their design and I am waiting to hear back from them. I have already considered the power drill solution but I think I have a new solution which I am trialing tonight. Good for you giving up the dishwasher I must admit it is a luxury I am not prepared to do without at this stage.

  3. Colleen, I agree with pretty much everything you say here, except the part about the furniture. I find that it is very hard to use low drawers effectively, not because I dont want to bend over, but because it is indeed an awkward position from which to lift, place, and sort out and keep organized. Ergonomic is not necessarily lazy. 🙂 So maybe your instincts were correct.

    • Rachel K, this was my reaction about the furniture too, but I couldn’t quite get it figured out well enough to put it into words. You said it just right!

    • Hi Rachel K,
      I agree entirely with what you have to say here and in fact my husband said exactly the same thing. If a person is going to buy new items especially as large, long lasting and expensive as furniture it makes perfect sense to buy what suits ones needs. This just happened to be the moment that triggered the basis of this post. The drawer in question was only slightly low and we were planning on using this item as a hall table and drop off point for keys, phones, watches etc and my first thought was it wasn’t convenient that we would have to bend slightly to do this. Needless to say we didn’t buy the item because these days we are very particular about what we buy because we hope it will last us a very long time so needs to suit our needs.

  4. I agree convenience has gone a little too far. I think it has helped spawn the “quantity over quality” phenomenom with household items. We lower our expectations of an items’ usable longevity because they want us to have it cheap and fast (and unfortunately need to replace it fast too).

  5. Ideealistin :

    Oh Colleen,
    you just reminded me of the one minute rule, Cindy wrote about … And I have to admit, I thought, I invented it. For roughly two weeks I’ve been following the rule that if I notice something that needs to be done and it only takes one or at most two minutes, I HAVE to do it right away in order to fight my procrastination tendencies. If it takes longer and can’t/won’t be done right away, it goes straight onto the to do list (which also prevents micro tasks landing there because the list has a fixed spot in the kitchen and even in my quite small place it just would be silly to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen to write down “make the bed”). I guess this nicely shows that even if some information does not come at the right time and even if you don’t remember ever having read it, it’s not necessarily lost.
    So thank you for feeding my brain with your information and thoughts every day! Apparently they do some spinning there.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      even if one doesn’t act on information straight away the seed of thought does spin around in there until we are prepared to act upon it. Good for you coming to a point where you are prepared to utilise that tip even if you forget you even read it.

    • I like that – if it takes longer to walk to the list and write it down, than it would take to do in the first place, just do it! 🙂

    • This is actually a core tenet of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology. Any task that can be done in two minutes or less should be done *now*, not put off.

      Everything else needs to wind up on some sort of calendar or list (in what DA calls a “trusted system”) so you don’t forget it.

      You know you’re onto a good idea though when multiple people come up with independent of each other!

  6. Love the new look!

    Nothing drives me more insane than seeing shoppers take the store’s plastic or paper bags. Especially when they only have one or two small items. I usually bring my own bags for any kind of shopping outing, and on the rare occasion I forget my bags I’ll just carry my purchases in my two hands or I’ll load up the cart and pack everything in the car bagless. For vegetables I’ve been reusing the same plastic bags for years and I have some cloth and net bags as well. Bag the bags! We don’t need ’em. Great post! Really got me thinking!

    • Hi typeAminimalist,
      oh I am with you on this. I carry a fold up bag in my handbag and it has come in useful so many times. Like you if I don’t have a bag, which rarely happens these days, I pay my penance for being careless by having to juggle the items back to my car. I have great respect for the stores that have the strength of character to refuse to provide them. It particularly annoys me when they quickly put a bottle of milk, or similar, into a bag before you have a chance to say no when the this item has its own handle.

      • I’m trying to get to the point where my wife and I remember our plastic re-usable bags when we go to the store.

        If I’m buying a gallon of milk (frequently by itself, on the way home) and the clerk asks if I want a bag, I’ve gotten to where I reply to “no, I think it’s pretty self-contained”.

        I’ve bought *bags* where the clerk asked if I needed a bag. 🙂 Why would you put a backpack in a plastic bag….?

        • Hi Robert,
          yes, that bottle thing really drives me nuts. I was in Target today (in Australia) where they now charge 10c for bags and these bags are made of some sort of compostable material which is a great alternative. They discourage you from taking a bag by charging for it (The Europeans have been doing this for years) and what they do provide is something less harmful. Good for target I say they have already stopped over 100,000,000 plastic bag from going into landfill.

          I carry a fold up bag in my handbag and it has saved me from needing a store plastic bags so many times already.

    • TypeAminimalist,

      I so agree. I use reuseable bags for the shopping, including a zip-round model in my purse for other shops, and reuse the supermarket tubs with lids (many, many reuses each are possible), and vegetable bags also. the brown paper bags for breads and mushrooms can also do multi-trips before being thrown into the compost.
      I hate to throw stuff that I didn’t need out after a trip to the supermarket.

  7. Hi Colleen! Your blog looks great! I have been thinking more and more about storage (bags and packages), but I don’t see a way to eliminate it completely. The funny thing is that before, when I didn’t own a car, I carried reusable bags everywhere, becuase they made transportation home easily. Now, that I have a car, I keep forgeting the reusable bags. I guess I will start leaving two reusable bags in my car when I go to the grocery store. The thing about comodity is that the less you have to do, the lesser you want to do. When I go to a mall, a supermarket, or anywhere that has a parking space, I park on the first (and I mean it) spot I find. I get annoyed when I go to these places with other people and they go round, and round, and round, and round, until they find the exact same spot they saw the first time. Just park the car! Sorry I am getting carried away. But I agree with you. A few more meters walk, or taking the bus, or having reusable bags, it will not hurt anyone. Great post!

    • Calico ginger :

      Andréia, the car boot (trunk) is where my grocery bags live all the time – then I never forget them and I don’t have to store them in the house. I bought two especially big ones that velcro to my trolley, so stuff can go straight from the register counter into them and then into the car and then into the house (teenage son provides the muscle). I’m also like Colleen and have one of the pretty fold up ones stashed in every handbag I own.

    • Hi Andreia,
      when I first returned to Australia and reusable bags were so prominent I bought some and, like you, kept forgetting to get them out of the boot (trunk) of the car. I would then refuse the bags and juggle my stuff back to the car, I soon learned to remember the bags.

      As for car parking, there is another thing I hate about parking here in Australia. In America people were usually courteous in parking lots when you are trying to back out of your parking space they would wait patiently for you from the minute your reversing light comes on, even when they didn’t want your spot. Here you can be ¾ a car length out of your spot and they will go around behind you. This is doubly annoying when they then drive around the lot and come back to park in the spot you just vacated. God forbid they could have just waited for you in the first place. Maybe it is just a Newcastle thing but it happens on a regular basis. I was a little naughty a few weeks ago when I guy in a big SUV did this to me, he then parked up closer to the store and I noticed his reverse lights on (he was going to reverse to straighten up) so I stopped behind him,blocking him from performing this maneuver, while I waited, more patiently than necessary, for another car in front of me. I had the last laugh that time.

      • Oh Colleen, you were naughty, but very funny 😀 ! Here in my hometown, whenever we go somewhere, people usually wait for you to vacate the spot. But it depends on the area of the town. If you are trying to park in downtown area, on the street, “good luck to you”!They might shove you to get a spot 😀 😀 :-D! I usually pay and leave my car in a paid parking area. Less hassle. But as your post said we pay for the convenience, we just shouldn’t take it for granted, nor abuse it. I will put those reusable bags in the trunk of my car right away.

        Do congratulate me on getting rid of way to many plastic containers that I had on my kitchen. I went from a messy full cupboard, to just one shelf. And I still have plenty of plastic containers 😀 ! I wasted, again, more time thinking about it than actually doing it 😉 😀

        • Never worry about taking time to make the right decision about getting rid of otherwise useful things. I work on the premise that if I am still decluttering something else while I take time considering another thing then that is fine. Were I doing nothing and getting nowhere while I made up my mind that would be another situation altogether.

  8. As someone with scoliosis, I would say bending hurts. Back when I used chests-of-drawers, I had all of them elevated so I wouldn’t have to bend.

    After someone backed into my vehicle in a mall parking lot, I switched to parking far away from other vehicles. I suppose that I seek inconvenience in other ways as well.

    • Hi Jude,
      practicality must prevail where physical impairment is present that is for sure. We have no such excuse.

      It is far more inconvenient to be without your car for a week or so while it is being repaired than it is to walk a little further in a mall car park. I think you have the right idea here.

  9. Like the new look. I also so agree with what you have to say. When I was in college I had to interview a store manager regarding business practices. This was in the 80’s when I was going for my business and computer work. I talked to a grocery store manager and learned that even back then they paid for the work of one full-time equivilant worker just to put things back where they belong. They also usually lost 3/4% to the loss of people not putting refrigerated or frozen foods back but just leaving them any old place. We pay for that. Imagine that in this day and age and I’m sure the percentages go higher.

    As someone disabled, I have found that I have become very cautious about the furniture I buy because bending over very much is a pain. We are so sorry we bought a front loading washer for several reasons but a big one is having to bend over to get everything in and out. Yet, I will not get rid of something I already have due to inconvenience. Sigh!

    When I’m out and about I am always picking up someone else’s trash and throwing it away or picking up items that have not been restocked properly if I don’t have to walk far to do it. I’m always rehanging clothes items too. So irritating that people can’t put things back where they belong and throw stuff all over the place. Don’t they realize that, again, someone is paid to do it and that means we pay for it. One thing that is really nice to see is how many people/businesses here in the states will take a section of a road and keep it cleaned up. Saves taxpayer money and teaches people to be neat.

    I wish I could get enough reusable bags to take to the store with me when we do our major monthly shopping. Unfortunately, I never seem to have enough. At least I take the plastic bags I get back so they can be recycled.

    • Hi Deb J,
      you make some very good points here and it is nice that someone picked up on the problem that messing thing up in stores is a burden not only only to the business and employees but to the shoppers back pocket. The fact that you were the only one to comment on this just goes to show how little care and though is spent concerning this issue. It is one of those situations like littering, recycling, obeying laws… those of us who do the right thing continue to pay in one way or another for those who do the wrong thing.

      • the Other Lynn :

        I found a tutorial for making shopping bags out of t-shirts. Since they are machine washable and breed like rabbits anyway, I’ve made quite a few. It’s super easy and got tshirts out of my husband’s closet that aren’t being used anyway!

  10. Just the other day I was waiting to pick up my daughter from the health club where she lifeguards. While waiting for her, I noticed many cars circling to get the closest parking spot to the door. Wait- these folks were coming to EXERCISE yet they disdained getting a little free exercise from parking further from the door. How ironic!

    • Hi Phillygirl,
      first of all welcome to 365 Less Things it is nice of you to add your voice to our little group. What you say here is quite true and I see it happening all the time, perfectly intelligent people, I imagine, for the most part performing these acts of sheer pointlessness.They drive around and around wasting ten minutes when a one minute walk would have got them to where they wanted to be. Avoiding exercise to get your exercise would have to be the pinnacle of pointlessness. I could understand if it was raining cats and dogs and they were avoiding getting drenched but the do the same thing on fine days and in undercover car parks.

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