#373 - Simplicity & Embracing “Good Enough”

6 minute read

Motto: Keep It Simple, Stupid

I suck at what I'm about to write about.

An overarching theme for most of my posts lately (and because my writing so closely relates to my thinking, an overarching theme of most of my thinking lately), is how perfection is truly unattainable. Not only personal perfection/perfection of the self, but the perfect tool, the perfect photo, the perfect anything. None if it doesn't really exists... but nearly everything I deal with on a day-to-day basis is good enough. I need to learn to live with good enough (in moderation).

Example given:
I love containers. It's kind of an embarrassing or stupid thing to even admit; but I love them. I love how they organize the things we need and how they make those things easier to move around. 
I love backpacks and messenger bags. 
I love waterbottles and lunchboxes. 
To stick with one example for the sake of argument, let's look at containers meant for drinking out of - I'll loosely call them waterbottles

I own a lot. They generally fall into a few different types.

Large, uninsulated Nalgene bottle
They hold a lot. They are dishwashable. They can be stored in the refrigerator to insure you've always got cold water. They are tough as nails.
They don't maintain temperature. They sweat a lot. They don't really fit in anything. They are heavy when they're full. They can't be used for hot liquids.

Small, insulated Hydroflask
They are small enough to fit anywhere. They don't sweat. They are very portable. They maintain temperature. They aren't terribly heavy when full.
They constantly need refilled. They are a bit of a pain to drink out of unless you get a fancy lid. They aren't dishwasher safe and therefore difficult to clean. Also they hold so little that if you do put something in them that requires you to clean them out afterwards you're getting a full amount of hassle for a partial amount of benefit. They are prone to dings.

Large, insulated Hydroflask
They hold a lot. They don't sweat. They maintain temperature. 
They are a bit of a pain to drink out of unless you get a fancy lid. They aren't dishwasher safe. They don't fit most places & are heavy. They are prone to dings.

Large, insulated tumbler
They hold a lot. They don't sweat. They maintain temperature. They are easy to drink out of. They fit in nearly all cup holders.
They aren't dishwasher safe. Their lids aren't water-tight, therefore they can't be packed away and forgotten about.

Tervis insulated tumblers
They come in two sizes. They don't sweat. They maintain temperature. They are easy to drink out of. They fit in nearly all cup holders. They are dishwasher safe.
Even their big size doesn't hold all that much. Their lids aren't water-tight, therefore they can't be packed away and forgotten about. Some how I manage to always dribble or spill a bit of whatever I'm drinking.

Small, uninsulated Blender Bottle
The blender ball makes protein drinks easy. They usually fit in most cup holders. Their lids are usually safe enough to not worry about leaks.
They don't maintain temperature. They are annoying to clean. They generally are pretty small. They make a rattling sound if they're empty. They break too easily (in my experience). 

In matrix form:

But here's the deal - every single one of those options work. They are all fine. Each of them could easily be my "main" option that I use for everything. I could learn to live with and work around whatever flaws any given option has. They don't even have to be viewed as flaws. They are only flaws because I choose to think of them that way.

The same thing can be said about any of my backpacks or messenger bags. The same thing could be said about my Chromebook vs an iPad. The same thing could be said about the iPhone and any of the various Android phones I've drooled over. The same thing could be said about Google Sheets and Airtable. The same thing could be said about Google Sites or Google Drive or Notion as a host for Gillespedia.com. The same thing could be said about todoist, Things 3, Google Tasks, Microsoft Todo, Wunderlist, or Google Keep. The same thing could be said about most things I've spent days and weeks and months thinking about.

Do I regret that time? No, not really. Maybe some of it. Mostly I regret the anxiety. I've spent unnecessary effort trying curtail imaginary situations in which not having feature X causes me serious harm. I've spent more time in my life than I care to admit looking at options for which liquid vessel I wanted to take to work for a given day. Do I want portability? Do I want to bring the blender bottle?

Moreover, I own more crap than I need. Seriously. I have 6 Nalgene bottles, 2 HydroFlasks, one of those Yeti tumblers (mine's a knockoff cause who cares), 2 Tervis Tumblers, and 2 Blender Bottles. My cabinet overfloweth with cups. I own 3 backpacks and 4 messenger bags. I've owned 6 lunchboxes in the past 5 years... and not one of them was "ruined", they all just "could have been better". I own a Chromebook that is an incredible piece of technology, and yet I found myself looking at iPads the other day because my Chromebook is 2 years old. That's insane. That the behavior of a rampant consumerist sheep.

Unrelated to the above.

Sleep. Deep sleep, specifically. It's a precious thing. I've been having trouble with it lately due to having a sick kid. It makes things difficult. If "having a thrown-off biorhythm" is a real thing, it does that. I went two nights with no single span of sleep lasting longer than probably ~2 hours, and on that 3rd day I think I dropped more pens, water bottles, cell phones, pieces of paper, and whatever else you pick up on a daily basis than I did in all of the month of May. A lack of sleep shows you how fragile a well-working brain is. I still am operating at ~70% capacity, if it's not clear from this writing.

Top 5: Flaws in apps I called "Flawless" in Column #371's Top 5
5. Apple's Clock App - Active alarms are not highlighted well. Given their standard huge list of alarms at slightly different times-approach to an alarm app, I shouldn't have to scroll the list to be sure there is an alarm on. They should put the active alarms at the top of the list.
4. Google Photos - I'd like the ability to have my Google Photos backed up to my local machine automatically. Of all my digital files, photos are the most precious, most irreplaceable... as much as I trust Google, I don't trust that something terrible couldn't happen to them. So I'm manually downloading them. It's a pain.
3. Pocket Casts - Podcast transcripts would be great. Also having to pay for the web interface keeps me from widely recommending the app. It didn't support CarPlay.
2. LastPass - This one is tougher. LastPass is pretty stellar. It's organization scheme is a bit unnecessary. My website logins don't need to be in folders. It's a bit unclear to me how sharing passwords works, too.
1. Pocket - There are other apps that can do the core of what Pocket does that also do a looot of other stuff. Pocket allows you to save articles for later and notate them. So does Evernote, Notion, and other .

"To be happy we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action;"
- Mark Manson, in a book I started reading after writing this post -