Voice Over - Go Small

Lifehacks are a form of self-inflicted change to make your world or self better. They come in many forms ranging from long term career development plans to tiny changes in your world that remove friction or ease you to a better, more productive self. I sometimes think of Voice Over as a lifehack in which I’ve created a commitment device that compels me to THINK, read, explore, and articulate new ideas. It is my lifehack against intellectual entropy and ennui.

But sometimes, it isn’t about a big idea; it’s about a small one.

About a year ago, I realised that just about every time I come out of the shower at work I was in a really foul mood. The whole experience routinely left me cranky which meant that at least twice, sometimes three times a week, I started the day off in completely the wrong head space spewing red frame curses and bad energy all over the room. That’s just not cool, right?

So I looked really closely at that shower experience and asked myself what the hell was within my circle of control that would make it suck less. I mean it’s never going to be fantastic. The water routinely runs out and the shower stall is tiny. Also, I’m pretty sure that Kiwis have never discovered the concept of an extraction fan to reduce humidity in these wet coffins as I have yet to EVER take a shower in a public place here where they have one. But surely there was something I could do to make it less horrible.

Turns out there were a few somethings. The first had to do with clothing. A distressing number of times I spent the day drifting around the office commando because I would forget to pack my underthings. Yes, if you’re now looking across the third floor of NZI at me askance, it is a true and disturbing fact that I have sat in meetings with you getting upskirted by the HVAC system in a truly provocative and disturbing and bare-ass naked way. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Mood.

Hack: Pack the night before. Every night before going to bed, I added a ritual to get my backpack in order complete with keys, clothes, spectacles testicles shoes wallet. Put my coffee mug next to the machine and laid out the capsules. Bagged up the lunch to grab as a unit from the fridge. Tick. DONE. No more cold pretty parts.

The towel was also a problem. I’d forget to pack a towel. Trust me when I tell you that drying off with a sweaty gym shirt is not the same. The packing hack helped. But I would still sometimes forget and be towel-less.

Hack: Bring a towel, take a towel. With the idea that it is better to use a slightly skanky towel than a pair of used socks, I never take the current towel home until I’ve brought the new one in. Tick. DONE. There is ALWAYS terrycloth in my life.

The last one might have, believe it or not, been the most important. I was forever dropping stuff getting in and out of that shower cubby and my locker. There is something about juggling a bag, keys, shampoo, soap, hair brush, phone, wet towel, etc that meant that literally Every.Single.Time. I would drop something. When I leaned over, I’d drop a second something. It felt like a comedy skit every morning with Toast as the punchline.

Hack: A bag for shower stuff, another for work stuff. I brought in a water proof shower bag that holds all my shower stuff and now I always take my entire backpack (not just my clothes) to the shower with me. Tick. DONE. Nothing ever drops. It’s always in a bag when I move from location to location.

These small simple changes to my physical space measurable impact on my life. Showering at work is now not a burdensome, irksome trial but a quick and easy ritual. There is just one less source of frustration in my life.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is to do something like this for yourself. Start with the question: What is a small niggly thing in my life that routinely bugs the crap out of me? It could be a drawer that always jams, an overfull closet, lunch box containers that always leak into your bag, keys or glasses routinely lost, or events always missed. Your life is actually materially less in a tiny but discernible way because of this annoying Thing. Now … hack it. Just make it go away. We don’t have to put up with this. We aren’t victims. We can improve our lives not just with aspirational, long, difficult challenges, but instead by proactively addressing little, vexsome grievances.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~ Rumi