Friday, January 13, 2012

Stuff that works

As a user experience designer* my work is all about making people's lives easier. Experiences well designed allow us not to have to think so hard about how to do certain things, which leaves us space and time to think and do other things. It's all good.

Outside of my work I'm also interested in a streamlined (aka easy) life. What I mean is that the spaces I live and work in, and the things that surround me help me get done what I need to do, rather than hinder it. Clutter is my enemy, not only does it block my physical space, but also my mental processes resulting in me wading through distractions to get to the end goal. In my home I believed I'm always paring back - "Do I need this?", if not it goes to the charity shop or gets sold on Ebay. When my sister and I shared a house she joked that one day she's come home and all that would be left is a chair.

Recently, my friend Kate did a big clean out and she has really inspired me to dig deeper and take a closer look at what is hidden in the back of my cupboards. My motto for this task is 'stuff that works'. I don't mean I'm going to throw out broken items lying around (although I will if I find any), but anything that doesn't work for me is going to go. For example, I have a shiny red plastic container that I thought would be great for biscuits. Unfortunately it doesn't seal properly, and as I live in a humid climate the biscuits go soggy. So it's pretty useless really yet because it's a nice red I still have it. Or my handbags, of which I have about ten. I use three of them constantly, two others are my evening bags, but the rest are gathering dust and taking up valuable closet space.

Well not anymore. Starting tonight stuff that doesn't work is going out. I'm also looking forward to applying this motto to my clothes. How many items do you have that are a bit too short, or shoes that are uncomfortable no matter how many times you wear them? They cost a fortune and you can't bear to part with them. Well now is the time. If I end up with only two pairs of shoes (which I doubt), so be it.

Which brings me to my second part of the motto: when shopping from now on I'm going to really think 'does this work for me?' before I spend my hard earned cash on it. It sounds harsh, but it all goes towards making my daily life just that little bit easier.

PS: I will still keep things that make my environment beautiful. I recently bought a candle from Garlands in Surry Hills. I light it every evening - the scent is delicious.

* For a great introductory book on user experience take a look at Steve Krug's Don't make me think!

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