Dec 14, 2008

The Little Things that Change Your Life Really Quickly

Every now and again, you see something and you say to yourself "That's a good idea". Sometimes it's the big things, like a different bank with a lower mortgage rate interest, a fuel efficient car, a type of insulation or even a kind of lawnmower. You just know if you were to switch to any of these it would somehow improve your life since they are such an integral part of it.

But other times, you see something really small and you think "Wow, if only I'd switched to this before." Well, this is my story of something really small, something I bought yesterday and already I know it has changed my life and changed it for the better.

Prior to My Purchase

A few weeks ago I was chatting to some friends of friends. People I had met a few times before and already knew I liked them both. They were telling me of their habit of switching every single electrical appliance off at the plug when not in use. The only thing that stays on in the house when they go out is the fridge (actually, they said everything but I presume the fridge stays on).

This includes the likes of the TV, DVD player, stereo, speakers, microwave and all those other things with the shiny clocks, the bright displays or the standby LED lights. We know these are a constant drain on power (and therefore money) so why not switch them off? I knew, but I didn't really practice it.

I'm Not That Good

There are some things I do but switching things off by the plug isn't one of my strong points, which is weird, because I always used to do it. I guess I just got out of the habit. I have always switched off the microwave but my main problem (and mainly because I'm a geek) is that my router and my computer stay switched on. I will have to change this at a future time but now I decided to concentrate on something else.

As we were talking, I curiously asked one little question which eventually brought about my purchase yesterday. I asked "What about your alarm clock?"

"Mine isn't plugged into the mains, it's on batteries, just a small travel alarm."

"Ah", I said, "That's pretty cool."

Not sure I had that 'Wow!' moment yet but it got me thinking, enough to actually go out and get myself a cheap (real cheap) battery operated alarm clock yesterday. My old one, a plugged-in one, with a bright and energy zapping red LED display was having trouble tuning in to certain radio stations anyway and the non-radio alarm was a horrible dull noise which sounded more like a jet engine trying to start but not actually going anywhere. So in reality, it was about time I got a new one anyway.

Added to the fact that I had a new reason for getting one too.

My New Alarm Clock

When I bought it in the shop, I realised that the alarm clock also had a temperature gauge on it. Cool, that's pretty neat. Still no wow factor but nice nonetheless. Then I got it home.

I duly opened up the very small packaging and pulled out a square of about 2.5"x2.5"x1". My old alarm clock was at least 6"x2"x4" so already I had made a lot more space on my side table. Seeing as I'm in the middle of decluttering my house, I started thinking out that this new alarm clock was a winner.

But that's not all. The old alarm had it's power cable running forwards of the bedside cabinet since there are no plugs behind it(it's an old house). With that taken away and the long aerial gone too, the area to the side of my bed is no longer a strewn and busy place but more a tranquil, quiet and warm place.

I started liking the alarm clock even more.

My Two Weather Stations

I bought an electronic weather station a few years ago and have been hauling it around to each place I moved. Alas, the only thing I ever looked at it for was the inside temperature since all the other readings just didn't bother me. Also, my Mum (for all her love and kindness) actually bought me a similarly duplicate weather station for Christmas last year and I've never had the heart to sell it or give it away. (We all know what I think about Christmas presents anyway.)

But enough is enough.

I decided that with my new temperature sensor in my new tiny alarm clock, I could actually get rid of both of these unnecessary weather stations. Wahoo! Another quick win for me, my house and my new simple life and another win for the small, cheap and somewhat-versatile alarm clock.

The Drawbacks

Not everything in life goes as swimmingly well as had been going thus far and I soon figured out the one minor and the one major drawbacks of the new alarm clock.

Firstly, there are only two buttons to the whole clock. This means that having to set the time, or more likely the alarm, is a complete pain. It doesn't even allow you to keep the button depressed to increment the numbers faster. Ah well, this is minor and I can live with it since I rarely change it anyway and usually just switch it off at the weekends.

The other drawback however is when I realised that this clock doesn't even have a snooze button. You know, the one you press in the morning just so you can get another nine minutes sleep. Then because that wasn't enough, you press it again for another non-satisfactory nine more minutes. This, as far as I was concerned, a terrible mark against the almost perfect new purchase.

Taking What You Want From Life

Over the course of the day though, I figured that both of these minor disadvantages could be made to work for me rather than against me. On the point of the inefficient button pressing, I have decided to set the alarm for 7:30 in the morning and to leave it at 7:30 in the morning, for every single day of the week including weekends. I am not going to bother trying to change it at the weekends or any other time unless I have special reason to.

This will make sure I get up at the same time every single day and maybe one day my body willget used to it and not actually need the alarm anymore.

But the best thing I think I figured out with this alarm clock is that, without having a snooze button, once the alarm clock went off, I would have to force myself out of bed, no matter what! As soon as I figured this out, I knew that this was now a 'Wow!' purchase, not through any fault of it's own but due to the way I shall be adapting to my new beeping friend.

The Full Story

I didn't realise originally how much or how quickly such a small purchase could provide but I'd like to recap these new advantages just in case you missed them:

  • I don't have to listen to crap and over-advertised radio in the morning
  • it doesn't burn through grid power all the time I'm not using it
  • it takes rechargeable batteries
  • it has uncluttered my bedside table
  • it had removed hazardous cables stretching to the plug away from my bed
  • I have removed two other unnecessary gadgets from my life
  • it will set me a regular (and reasonably early) time to get up at the weekend
  • it will force me out of bed at a particular time instead of snoozing around all day

... and of course, the reason why I wanted to get it in the first place, is so that it lowers my electricity bill ever so slightly. However, the thought of not having another appliance switched on all the time led me to turning off most of those other appliances too. This is where each individual gains adds up.

Take From this Story What You Will

You might think that this whole alarm clock story is silly, small and insignificant. That's fine, take from this story what you will but I'm willing to bet that there is something small you have bought, or changed in your life, from which you got enormous satisfaction. It may even have had further repercussions further down the track and you never know how much the addition of all those small but incremental changes finally make to your life.

This is also a story about how negative or disadvantageous things can be turned to your advantage. I mean, having more time in my day is something I am already looking forward to...

...all because of one small, energy efficient, compact, temperature reading, non-snoozing, hard to use, little beeping alarm clock which is now sitting happily on my bedside table next to my lamp, my notebook, a pen and nothing else.

Ah, happy days.

Let me know of any other things which at first seemed small to you but later took on a whole different meaning.


Money Minder said...

Greetings from Canada!

We dumped our alarm clocks too. Around the same time we got rid of our home phone. Now we use our cell phone as our alarm.

I actually sleep much better withouth the LCD display adding light to the room.

Enjoy your new clock!

Mama2ce said...

Love it! Great article :)