February 2, 2021

Make It Easier by Making It Harder

by Bryan Johnston in Life, Productivity1 Comments

Minute Read

We’re all about convenience and ease-of-use now. Everything needs to be simple, and user-friendly, and quick. We stay logged on to everything so we don’t have to sign in the next time we check our email or Facebook page. We have keyless entry cars so as not to be slowed down by the “hassle” of putting the key in the door and turning. We cook in microwaves, have beer fridges built right into our recliners, carry computers in our pocket or bag to do every single thing for us, and valet parking to save us the one minute walk. La vie en rose, no?

Here’s the problem: all that convenience and speed is, by and large, horrible for us. It leads to bad habits, choices, and lifestyles. It’s time to take inconvenience and time-consuming back. To grab it by its cumbersome horns and rejoice in all its plodding slothfulness. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but so much of what we do “wrong” can be fixed, helped, or improved by making it just a teeny bit harder or more difficult. Go with me on this…

Tip #1 – The Arms-Reach

How often do we place things beyond arm’s reach? Practically never. And it allows us to stay sitting or lying down like a gluttonous Roman emperor. All day. Every day.

We all know we need to be more active, even if only a little bit (remember the 1% Rule?). Therefore, try this simple trick: place stuff further away than you can reach without getting up (I’m kind of stating the obvious here, but sometimes we need that). That includes the TV remote, your drink, your phone…whatever. It works (just don’t bring it back with you after the first time). It might not seem like much, but having to physically get up each and every time you want to check your Twitter feed results in a) a bit more movement than you were getting before, and b) you might just check your Twitter a little bit less (which is a good thing).

This is also great advice for anyone who has trouble getting up in the morning. If you’re like the other 97.654% of people in the world, you have your alarm clock on the nightstand right beside your bed. When that alarm goes off at 5:45am, what do you do? You hit the snooze bar. Again and again. Move the alarm clock across the room. Put it on your dresser, or bookshelf, or desk. Anywhere that requires you to actually get out of bed to turn it off. Once you’re up, the likelihood that you’ll simply hit the snooze and go back to bed is significantly less.

Tip #2 – Clear Your Online Settings

This one is a virtual game-changer (meaning it alters your online life, and not that it’s almost a game-changer).

Clear your settings on all your social media, online shopping websites, and email. The benefits are twofold:

1) If you have to sign in each and every time you go to Facebook, or Google+, or Twitter, or your email, then you’ll probably go there less frequently. It might not add up to extra hours each day (although it might…you never know), but it will reduce the frequency and give you more time for more important things. True story. Just remember to logout each time, or set your account to automatically logout for you whenever you close the tab or browser.

2) As to shopping websites, most of us create an account that then saves our payment options. Your credit card and/or bank details are there on file, making online purchases easier than stubbing your toe. Amazon calls it “1-Click Purchasing”. Want this? <Click>. Done. You’ve paid for it and it’s on its way to your house in mere seconds. How many impulse buys have we each made because of that?

If you remove those details from your account, and click “no” each time you do shop and it asks if you want to save them for next time, you’ll shop and spend less online. If you actually need to get up from your desk, go and get your wallet/purse, and fish out your credit card, you’ll think more about the purchase and whether or not you really need it. It won’t curtail all shopping, but it will slow you down. And that’s a good thing.

Tip #3 – The Slow Food Revolution

No, I’m not referring to slow cookers (although they are wonderful and fall into this category). The slow food revolution refers to the global movement to get people away from fast and convenient food and drink products. Why? Because they tend to be more expensive, less healthy, and full of preservatives. Bad, bad, and bad.

Microwaves fundamentally alter the molecular structure of the item we heat, and not in a good way. We are just now starting to look at the effect of “nuked” food, but suffice to say, if you can avoid it, you should. Slow food refers to cooking “real” food (veggies, meat, grains) in the “old-fashioned” way our parents and grandparents did. Sure it takes more prep and cooking time, but it’s undoubtedly better for you, and generally cheaper. Store-bought shepherd’s pie vs. homemade? The choice is clear, and you’ll know exactly what goes in it when you actually make it (try reading the ingredient list of any convenience product at the grocery story…it’s frightening).

The same goes for those ubiquitous Keurig coffee machines. Yes, they’re super fast and convenient, but they’re also more expensive and less flavourful. Buy coffee beans and grind them just before you need them. You’ll never – ever – go back to anything else once you’ve tried freshly ground coffee. Longer procedure? Yes. But worth it. So worth it. And if you’re making coffee for one, that’s okay, too. Just grind enough beans for 1-2 cups, and use a French Press.

The Slow Food Revolution should really be rebranded the Slow Revolution. It’s not just about food anymore. We’ve become a society obsessed with speed and convenience at the detriment of, well, everything else. From razor blades (disposable blades are way more expensive and irritate your face much more than a traditional single or double-edged safety blade) to the drawn-out death of letter writing, we want everything lightning fast and immediate.

We would all do better to slow down and make things harder for ourselves. And, let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite as cool as shaving with a safety or straight razor and a shaving brush. Just like Grandpa used to do.

So slow down. Look around. Enjoy it. And make everything you can as hard for yourself as possible. In all aspects of your private and professional lives. Throw up some obstacles. Trust me.

What other ways can we slow down? Life moves fast, but do we need to follow suit? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Bryan Johnston

Former high school English lit & drama teacher. Current writer, stand-up comedian, & improv performer. A big switch? You betcha.

International expat for 12+ years with stops in Beijing, Dubai, Shanghai, & Guangzhou. Dad to a university sophomore, an eleven-month old charmer, & the two best doggos. Lover of funny things & people. Oh, and craft beer.

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