The biggest mistake I made in the last month was not a $200,000+ strategic mistake or a technology meltdown.
It was my damned garbage can.
I’ll tell you how it happened.
As much as I believe that the Big Wins matter, sometimes it really is the littlest things that take over your day.
Just think about the last time you woke up — for me, my lamp is on the other side of the room, so I have to GET UP to turn it on. AAAAHHHHHH! I start my day off annoyed.
People laugh, but this actually makes a big difference in your day.
Let me show you what I mean. I decided to keep a list of daily annoyances around my apartment — everything from my bed and my lamp to my door handle. Nothing was too small to note!!
- Oh god, I have to wrap my hair dryer up and put it in the medicine cabinet?? Noted.
- I don’t have enough hangers for my coat, so I have to store them in two separate closets. Waa….now write it down.
- My garbage can is kind of ugly. Also, I hate having to bend over, shove it back in, and fiddle around with it to close the cabinet.
I understand how trivial these sound. Honestly, we all have these little annoyances in our lives, but who are you going to talk to about it? Tell your friend how “annoying” your garbage can is, and they’ll look at you, sigh, and start telling you how kids are starving in Africa.
True — but it’s still annoying to have to wrap my hair dryer cord up every morning.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. On its own, having to wrap the cord isn’t that big of a deal.
But combine that with 50 other tiny annoyances…and suddenly you have a day filled with little inefficiencies.
50 small sighs at things that aren’t individually that bad…but add up to a day filled with mental clutter.
The worst part is, who are you going to say this shit to? Your friend? What’s he going to say? “Dude, I don’t give a damn about your hair dryer. Let’s get a beer.”
(Or my favorite: “You think THAT’S BAD? Bro I’m about to lose my job and my girlfriend is halfway out the door.”)
Sorry about your buddy’s girlfriend, but I actually think those 50 tiny annoyances add up to a lot.
You might wake up with the loftiest of intentions, the most energy, the biggest cup of coffee. But the Tyranny of Little Everyday Bullshit conspires to kill your noblest intentions.
That’s why I decided to write down every single minor annoyance in my apartment. I didn’t care how trivial they sounded…I wrote them down.
After I made a list, I decided to add little touches to my apartment to make my day more efficient (e.g., a hook for my hair dryer, a few organizational touches, etc).
Notice that garbage can I mentioned.
To use it, I had to bend over, pull it out, etc. Yes, I get it, if this is a serious problem Ramit, you should thank your lucky stars, shut up, etc.
Anyway, I remembered seeing my friend’s apartment, where she has a cool garbage that rolls out. It’s super smooth. I know, I need a life. So, I got it and installed it.
Boom. Fixed — forever.
To anyone else, if I’d mentioned how annoying my garbage can was, they would have laughed in my face.
(They wouldn’t even want to hear about it…so naturally, I decided to send this to 1 million+ people. God, I seriously love not having a boss.)
But these minor annoyances actually have a real cost. One or two daily annoyances are normal. But when they happen every day, and you combine them all…that’s a lot.
A lot of lost productivity. A lot of frustration. A lot of energy looking backwards on the things that don’t work instead of looking forward to things that do.
It’s almost like starting your day with these huge, ambitious goals…and then realizing your calendar is already packed with pointless meetings scheduled 4 months ago. Ugh.
A lot of people feel embarrassed admitting the tiny frustrations they feel every day.
I don’t think it’s embarrassing to admit it. I think these are real, and we should talk about them. And once you fix them, they’re fixed forever.
I recently wrote about being weird and being okay with it. Totally politically incorrect…and also true.
Yes, it’s weird to think about a garbage can. Yes, it’s weird to keep a list of tiny annoyances around my apartment.
Do I give a shit? No.
I want to improve my life, and I know that by fixing these little things, they go away — once and forever. And that means I can focus on the things that really matter to me, not wrapping the cord around my hair dryer.
Forget what other people say.
I want you to pick the most ridiculous, tiny annoyances in your day. The ones that don’t seem like that big of a deal (the ones you “shouldn’t” complain about), but they actually suck.
What are they? (Remember, one of mine was having to walk 3 steps to turn on my lamp!)
Leave a comment below. Let me know. No judgment.
It’s not shallow or wrong to want to improve these. And I think I can help.