Everything but the Oink

Sep 10

It’s not a unique concept, and it certainly isn’t something I arrived at first, but over the past year or so I’ve been working on making more out of what I have, and making sure I use things more completely. The phrase I’ve thrown about is one that I have appropriated from CGP Grey and Myke Hurley on Cortex, and that is “The Year of Less.” My take has been a bit different, so let’s talk about that and see if you think there’s any benefit to this strategy for you.

In our highly technical world it’s very easy to get caught up in the unending march towards faster, better, and more. It’s enticing. It’s exciting. There’s always a new and shiny thing on the horizon. Computers and electronics have always driven this kind of change and adoption. Phones have made this an order of magnitude more prevalent.

My original goal had less to do with some desire to “do more with less” and more to take care of clutter that had been accumulating in my life. There was a seemingly unending pile of “stuff” that had been purchased for one reason or another but never really got much use. Some electronics, some household items, but it’s the same general issue.

The epiphany came during this cleanup process. As I was going through the “stuff” I began to realize how little of it I actually needed. Many of the items I had could do double or triple duty if I used them a bit differently which would allow for many other things to be gifted, donated or disposed of. This was the ‘monkey touch the monolith’ moment for me: I had too many unitaskers. Too many oft ignored specialist tools that were mostly taking up space.

There are cultures in this world that are very good at making full use of the animals they raise for food. While some people may find it strange or off-putting to eat chicken feet, ox tail or pig ears, there are other places that use the whole animal. Making full use of every last thing on the beast. To do any less would be to disrespect the pig, or the cow, or the chicken. Use everything but the oink. Why should our technology be any different?

As long as my stuff is working I don’t need to get the new shiny. Phones should last more than a year (or two). Computers should last more than a few years — I’m hoping to get at least 6 out of mine. It was time to stop accumulating and using the things I have more completely. Time to get more out of what I had. So I’ve eliminated the “stuff” replaced one computer, and have reduced by a full 1/3 the number of IP-addressable devices in my home.

I’m not trying to change the world, just make my own a bit more efficient and a lot less cluttered.

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