My wife and I have a water cooler.
Yup, one of those things with the fancy blue bottles that you see in offices. This is because our tap water is nigh on undrinkable. The city water around here smells vaguely like sulfur, and tastes as bad.
And to save a bit of money on the water jugs, we fill our own bottles at the store. This gives us the benefits of clean, wonderfully-filtered water, without the hassle of paying the water company for delivery.
It also creates a problem.
The other day we ran out of bottled water, and had the thought that people in that situation would probably have – “we should have more water jugs”.
Which got me thinking.
Defining The Real Problem
Of course there’s an immediate problem here – we’re out of water. And in the normal consumer mindset, having more water jugs looks like the obvious solution to the problem. But there’s another problem lurking just behind the immediate problem:
Why were we out of water?
Given that we bring water jugs to the store, fill them, and bring them back home, there are two basic possibilities here.
- We actually have enough if we acclimate our habits to the situation. For example, if we made sure our water jugs were in the car before we went to town, that might allow us to stop and get water on a frequent enough basis to solve our problem.
- Even if we acclimate our habits as best we can, we’ll discover that we don’t have enough. Even if the water jugs are always in the car, if we only go by the grocery store once a week that wouldn’t be often enough to keep them full.
Based on those two ideas, we need to figure out which option is the most sensical for us. Thinking about it this way, we immediately realized that the first option worked perfectly for us – we just needed to adjust our habits.
Of course this isn’t just about water jugs.
This Applies To Everything
This applies to your wardrobe. It applies to the number of pairs of scissors you own. It applies to whether or not you need both a huge-screen smartphone and a tablet. It applies to whether or not you and your spouse need your own computers, or can share one. It applies to the number of place settings you have for silverware and dishes.
Are there easy habit changes that will eliminate the need for whatever new item you’re thinking of?
And it’s worth considering that acclimating your habits might seem unreasonable to you. If both you and your spouse only need the computer for an hour a day, but you both always need it from 7 to 8 pm, it might not be feasible to re-work your entire schedule around saving a couple hundred bucks on a used laptop.
But if your spouse goes to bed an hour earlier than you, maybe you can save that few hundred bucks – and save yourself having the extra laptop, bag, chargers, and other accoutrements occupying your space.
After all, isn’t not bringing it in in the first place even better than having to declutter it later?