Patrick Rhone introduced the world to the idea of sensible defaults back in 2010. His wisdom has lasted with me and I am always working towards implementing this practice in my life. This is one system for making choices in combination with the ideas of “good enough” and “this will do” that just resonate. These phrases are simple enough to not have to meet the ridiculous criteria that items need to meet in order to make something “The best X” as decided by sites like The Wirecutter or The Sweet Home.
This is a list of the products in my life that add value and that I no longer need to consider. This is not a buyerʻs guide, just a glimpse at my choices. They are not luxury items by any stretch they work well enough and allow me to find flow in what I am doing. For now, this is what I have:
In order to be deliberate about what I bring into my home and life, I don’t hold onto junk in the form of bank pens or free pencils. I rarely have much use for paper products so I don’t hold onto the notepads or folders I get from attending conferences either. I just rarely need things that I don’t see myself using. I opt to give them away instead. This is what I keep in my house and choose to replace.
Paper Mate Sharpwriter - To some, a plastic mechanical pencil is sacrilege. To me, this all I ever need in a pencil. This is the pencil my father chose and it works for me too. I havenʻt needed a pencil sharpener in years. The only problem before was having to dispose of them. With our makerspace at school, finding a way to reuse the place shouldnʻt be much of a problem anymore.
Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine - These pens are cheap enough and offer a smooth and simple writing experience. I am absolutely not a pen snob, nor do I want to be writing with just anything. This pen is a compromise that sits perfectly in the middle.
Sharpie Accent Retractable Highlighter - I use a highlighter frequently when I am reading texts for school or work. I will rarely switch to another writing instrument for comment, but it just makes everything all the easier that this is retractable with a click on the back. I use these while reading and just clicking between actually needing to highlight and not needing to makes for a great experience. No one wants drying markers so this is great effort.
This category falls somewhere in between an everyday carry and things that I wear on my person that just work.
Garmin Forerunner 35 - A great beginner’s running watch and step tracker. Since getting this watch, I had worn it every single day. I love that it is a simple screen with not too many bells and whistles, but it gets the job done of tracking my runs and rides. This lasts several days so daily charging is not an issue. Doing interval training is an easy few clicks. Perhaps, if I get more into swimming, I may want an upgrade, but right now this has been perfect and I will replace it with the same model if anything happens to my current watch.
Patagonia Tech Web Belt - Replacing a belt that I had been using for nearly 8 years was rough. It is funny how even an accessory like that can become such a part of you. When I had to replace it, my wife suggested checking out Patagonia for something that may last as long. I have my fingers crossed that this will be that belt. I have been wearing it everyday and with few moving parts, no buckle, and an easily adjustable system, I am anticipating using this for a long time to come.
Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphones - I mostly listen to podcasts and audiobooks when I am out of my house. I don’t require expensive headphones for these purposes. These earbuds are both cheap and useful and the inline mic has given me no problems. I don’t love buying expensive headphones simply because they are so easy to lose. Many of them, as you know, are easy to break, with wirings fraying internally or my dog getting a hold of them. These $8 headphones have been working perfectly for nearly a year. Comparing this to the 4-6 months that I was getting out of The Skullcandy earbuds that retail for around $20, the value is obvious. As long as the new 4″ iPhone has a headphone input, I will continue using these.
For many, apps come and go, floating in and out of users’ lives when they no longer serve a purpose or when a shinier version comes along. My criteria for choosing applications is finding ones that maintain a balance between simplicity and a flow that integrates into my muscle memory. Another equillibrium that I seek is that it the software has enough power so that the limitations are being occassionally pushed against but not so much that working within the application feels confining 1.
Byword - This is the app that I am using to write this very post in. It is my default Markdown writer and every review will tell you that it works and has worked for years. Only recently did I have to introduce another Markdown editor (TapEdit) for iOS and how I have structured my workflow after moving to Blot. Byword has been and will be my go-to for writing in.
Put that on your whiteboard and build it. No, I understand how vague that is. So goes the idea of opinionated software.↩