Sometimes I feel most of the people working under capitalism have resigned themselves to be juiced. I imagine us all as little halves of fruit, climbing into one of those hand juicers (so there’s no mistaking a fellow human is responsible for this plight), and being brutally squeezed until every last drop is collected. Then we’re set free to do what we want, but there’s so little left of us to do anything with.
Pretty much from step one, I’ve cared deeply about work-life balance. My mom was an amazing person, but I witnessed how her job took up most of her time and only left her with more stress. I am determined to find a better balance than she did, and celebrate that balance. Here are four things that make me better at my job that have nothing to do with my job.
1. Tushy Bidet
I have a hunch that there are more Americans who want to use a bidet than it seems, but they just get embarrassed to talk about it. This one’s for you:
When I poop, I shoot a highly pressurized jet of water into my butt, and it’s awesome.
Seriously, there’s a reason I put this at the top of my list. My butthole feels clean for the first time in my life. I remember reading something like this on Reddit a while ago (I’m paraphrasing a little):
If you got shit anywhere else on your body, you wouldn’t just wipe it with a piece of paper. You would wash it!
This didn’t make me run out and buy a bidet right away, but I did find myself remembering that comment every time I was on the toilet. To be honest, I still only thought of bidets as a standalone thing that rich people had.
Then COVID-19 and the accompanying toilet paper shortage happened. At the time I lived near a pretty small grocery store that was picked clean in a matter of days. There was a larger grocery store a bit farther away, but I wasn’t confident they would be any better off, and I was afraid that walking with a large quantity of TP would make me a target for some kind of Mad Max style raiders. Still, I needed to figure something out. Between drinking a lot of coffee and eating a lot of canned beans for the foreseeable future, the clock was ticking.
Enter Tushy with their bidets that actually look… pretty nice. Sure, it’s still a bidet. But it’s unobtrusive and I unironically love the light wood accent on mine. It makes me happy to look at while I poop.
Installation was much easier than I thought it would be too. I rate myself at about 3/5 on the handiness scale, but I had never really worked on a toilet before. Still, by just following the directions and fiddling a little, I was up and running.
“Okay sounds cool,” you say, “but what does this have to do with marketing?”
But alas, such a question reveals your ignorance. I admit, I was like you once. Before feeling the wonders of a clean butthole, I simply dealt with tyranny of endless squares of toilet paper. I used to pay more money for a worse time in the bathroom. But now, I am free, and I cannot go back. A clean butthole is a clean mind.
2. Natural Light
I spent a lot of my life in a basement. That might sound a little strange, but there wasn’t anything nefarious about it. My childhood basement was just where we stored train sets and bins of Lego, so naturally I played down there often. It was also where I set up my own little “office” in high school to do homework and play PC games (you can guess which I did substantially more of).
In college, I ended up in a lot of small and poorly lit rooms. I really didn’t mind though. There was a certain asceticism to it that appealed to me. Or maybe it was depression, I dunno.
Anyway, when looking for apartments as a full adult, I didn’t really put a premium on natural light. It wasn’t something I ever cared about, until I did.
My current apartment’s light isn’t anything special, just two relatively large Eastern facing windows, but holy cow do I love them. It sounds so simple, right? Just sunlight?
To be clear, it’s not like sunlight solves my problems, but taking a deep breath while feeling a warm beam of sun on my cheeks (I’m talking face cheeks here if you’ve still got your mind on the bidet) is an amazing way to get a moment of calm. More than a few angry emails have been avoided thanks to natural light.
3. A simple lifestyle
You could call it minimalism, but sometimes people have weird associations with that word, so I don’t often lead with it. I prefer the term simple living because that’s how I think about it. I make a conscious effort to identify the handful of things I actually like and eliminate everything else.
This mindset manifests in just about everything. I don’t feel very strongly about clothes, so I try to keep a capsule wardrobe of a few pieces I can wear with anything. I try to avoid hobbies that involve getting lots of stuff (although an exception to that rule is coming in the next one). I keep my cooking utensils as simple and multipurpose as possible. I even live in a fairly small apartment with a partner and two cats because we didn’t see a need for more space.
Let me tell you, having less does wonders for stress. There’s less to clean, less to sort through, and just less visual clutter in your day-to-day life. That last point is especially important when working from home.
Simple living doesn’t mean I starve myself or stop myself from enjoying things. It just means I’m realistic about the things I’ll actually be able to use or do. For example, I got really interested in learning about book binding recently. Book binding isn’t especially difficult to pick up, but it does require a fair amount of supplies that I don’t have. I really considered investing in those supplies, but ultimately I gave myself a reality check that it would cost a good amount and take up a lot of space in my apartment for something I was only really interested in doing a few times. So, I didn’t do it.
Some people might say I’m missing out on trying things, and that’s fair enough. I do miss out on trying certain things. But I’m always doing a mental calculation of enjoyment vs. time, money, and space, and often the later is more important to me.
4. Caring about side projects and hobbies
I absolutely love to build and paint models and miniatures. I told you there was an exception to my simple lifestyle.
I give myself permission to indulge money, space, and time into a handful of things I really like, and cut out the others. Miniatures, tinkering with electronics, reading, and a bit of photography are what I choose to care about. Jiujitsu is up there as well, but with COVID I’m putting that on hold.
To be honest, I haven’t been great about pursuing my hobbies these past few months, but I’m trying to get better. I was forced to realize that there is not a linear relationship between time spent on a task and skill at that task. Practice and experience are of course helpful, but you hit a point of diminishing returns that’s so powerful you start to get worse at the things you’re practicing.
You can look almost anywhere to find examples of amazing ideas that were inspired by something totally unrelated to the job at hand. Check out this cool video I watched recently about how the design of Japan’s bullet trains was inspired by the best parts of different birds.
Being a well rounded human with interests outside of work makes me exponentially more creative and adaptable than when I work 14 hour days all week. I am both better rested and more inspired by getting out of my tiny bubble.
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I’ve learned that I am better at my job when I spend time caring about things that have nothing to do with it, and a clean butthole is a clean mind.