Perhaps this scenario seems familiar: getting ready for work in the morning and being on auto-pilot since the same mindless routines you’ve done for the past 1,983 consecutive work days have now become muscle memory. However, on this day there’s a break in the system because when you get to the bus and reach for your Metrocard, you are suddenly enveloped in a hot panic to discover your wallet isn’t there.
Maybe that hasn’t exactly been your situation, but we’ve all been there before when even a small glitch in your daily routine feels like a significant disruption to the rest of the day. I went through this recently when I couldn’t find my wallet on my rush to an important morning meeting, and ended up choosing to just go on without it rather than being late. It might have been a foolish choice but when you are going through a bout of panic, you don’t always make the best decisions. Luckily I had $13 in cash in my back-pocket to spread throughout the day.
Though I was able to manage having enough to spend on bus/subway fare and food from a halal cart, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I was unfocused for the entire day and pretty much miserable thinking about all the cards and personal information packed into my missing wallet. Luckily, the wallet would reappear 48hrs later. But after that episode I made a promise to myself that I would ensure this never happens again.
The quickest fix to making sure I don’t lose my wallet was getting one of those smart wallets I’ve seen occasionally pop up on my Instagram feed. I ended up with a sophisticated wallet from Ekster that not only was made to be ultra-slim but also included a GPS tracking card (called The Parliament) to pinpoint where the wallet is in case you are ever separated from it. Almost immediately I found that not ever having to worry about losing my wallet was incredibly gratifying, not to mention kind of fun too since clicking a button to dispatch my Metrocard and/or credit card made me feel like James Bond during dull transactions.
Though upgrading my old fat wallet may seem like a minor change, it ended up creating a domino effect on how I approach my daily routines and ultimately made my life easier.
The benefit of having a routine is that by doing something so frequently, you don’t have to think much about what it is you are doing. However, therein also lies the drawback because since everyone has so many different routines they loop into throughout the workday, many don’t realize that there are a lot of things they can be doing more efficiently.
The first part of that realization requires taking a deep look into all of your most common routines identifying which ones can use an upgrade. Before I decided to purchase a premium wallet, I was already sick of my old fat one weighing down my backpocket so there wasn’t a lot of friction holding me back from replacing it. How often do you think about the mundane objects you use each day until an episode like losing one forces you to consider an upgrade though? Probably not much at all, so that leads into the second part of the realization.
Over the years following college, I’ve slowly found myself untethering from many of the consumer brands I spent lots of money procuring. It was more of an unconscious decision to not worry about impressing others with status symbols anymore, but in the wake of that I became more purposeful in the clothes and products I bought. These days I only buy things that make me more comfortable, serve a really good purpose, or simply make things easier regardless of the brand name.
If you are also at this point in life, than this is the ideal time to consider small upgrades to the everyday items you use during your routines. All you have to do is ask yourself two questions about the new items you think can replace older ones:
- Does this product make things easier for me?
- Does the cost of this product end up saving me money long-term?
When I considered getting a high-end wallet the answer to both of those questions was yes, so it was an easy decision. Shortly after seeing how much a simple wallet upgrade pleased me, I used the same questions to guide me through upgrading other everyday items I never gave much thought to enhancing. What followed was an assortment of products that did actually make my everyday routines easier, more efficient, and cost-effective such as a smart coffee mug that improved the office coffee to the point of no longer spending money at Dunkin Donuts, a pair of wireless earbuds which has a 24hr battery and much less expensive than Apple’s version, and even signing up for a grocery delivery service that would give me back hours of time each year by no longer having to wait in line at the supermarket.
Today lifehack culture seems so prevalent that I think it’s made many of us unhealthily obsessed with improving our lives. There’s obviously nothing wrong with that but when your place in life and career become a source of constant frustration due to not being where you want it to be, it’s going to cause damage to your mental well-being. This is why I think that it may be smarter to target the smaller everyday things in life for improvement, instead of the larger ones that you might not have the power to change.
Of course, many of these products and services aren’t exactly new but my inability to consider making changes to my daily routines made them new for me. In actuality, if I had been taking time to pause and analyze each of my routines, I probably would have saved myself much more time, money, and energy by adapting to changes earlier.
It shouldn’t have taken me an episode like losing my wallet to re-think my daily routines, so the next time you see an interesting product being advertised, don’t always be so quick to dismiss it because you might be missing out on something that could make your days easier and much less stressful.