Standardizing

In my continuing quest to simplify my life, I've started standardizing some things in my life. Part of that has been about developing routines to simplify my day-to-day life, although that's not really different than how I normally operate. Everyone will develop daily routines to efficiently get through mundane tasks and move on to dealing with the rest of the day. Mostly though, I've been moving towards standardizing my possessions and things I need to use. Simplifying the products I use has made my daily life less of a hassle. The things I've changed include:

  1. Tupperware. When I'm cleaning up the kitchen at night and putting food away, nothing annoys me more than seeing a pile of mismatched tupperware and lids. I'm already doing the odious task of kitchen cleanup (usually sometime around 10 o'clock at night); the last thing I want to deal with is searching through a wretched pile of containers and lids to find a match. Consequently, I settled on only three styles of containers: round takeout plastic tubs, cylinder soup takeout containers, and rectangular Gladware. Everything else, I gave away or put away somewhere.
  2. Phones. Since I handle all things electronic or tech-related in my household, I finally decided having my wife on Virgin Mobile and me on Page Plus was a royal P.I.T.A. I told my wife to burn up her minutes and then switched her to Page Plus. I then switched us all to Motorola phones so we'd only be using chargers with mini-usb connectors. Having to deal with finding the right charger for our phones is now not a problem since all our phones use the same type of charger. There's no confusion of plugging the power connector into the headphone port as I've witnessed some of my family members do with Nokia phones. And when I need to hack the phones (to customize a ringtone or something), there's plenty of online resources for reference.
  3. Electronics. A myriad of different charger and connectivity options works ok for me. It doesn't seem to work so well for many members of my household and family, so I heavily favor devices which use common plugs. If a device uses a proprietary connector (instead of mini-usb), it loses massive points. This applies to cameras, gps, mp3 players, etc. Some devices idiotically have proprietary audio connectors so you can't use standard 3.5mm or 2.5mm headphones. I don't care how cool the device is. That's a sign of a company trying to screw you over. There's no good reason to re-invent the connector wheel other than to charge extra money, lock you into a product, and royally piss you off when you can't find the special connector. I unfortunately do still have a Sandisk mp3 player which uses a proprietary connector, but it was cheap. When it gets replaced, I'll pick a player which uses a mini-usb connector so I don't have to keep extra proprietary cables around.
  4. Batteries. Other than stuff like the smoke alarm, alarm clocks, and wrist watches, everything else I have that requires semi-regular battery changing uses either AAA or AA batteries. Flashlights, mp3 player, remote controls, noise cancelling headphones, etc. are all using AA or AAA batteries. No more AAAA, C, D, CR123, or crappy button cell batteries are allowed.

There are some other things I'm working my way to standardizing:

  1. Socks. I wear mostly white athletic socks, but I have white socks from different sock packs that my parents gave me. The problem is that all of those socks are either different brands or styles. It's not a huge deal, but it is mildly irritating matching up socks when I'm doing my laundry. While I'm folding my laundry, I think I have a matching pair of socks only to find that one sock as a red line and the other one doesn't. Next round, I'm getting all the same socks (other than my dress socks anyhow).
  2. Operating systems. My wife uses Mac OS X. I unfortunately use Mac OS X, Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux, and whatever operating systems and variants my work requires. It's good to be familiar with them all, but heterogeneous computing environments not so great when the rest of the family isn't as technically inclined as I am. I should probably migrate every computer that's not work-related to Mac for the sake of my tech support sanity.
  3. Filing System. My wife and I aren't fully merged in terms of paperwork. This is ok for things that are work-related, but inconvenient for stuff like referencing our apartment lease, renewing the car registration, or looking up any household related documents. I should probably suck it up and buy a scanner so all our documents are in an electronic archive. The only thing holding me back is that being the one in charge of things tech-related, I'll end up doing all the scanning, and that's just a hell of a lot of paperwork.
  4. Cookware. I would never buy a cookware set since you always get pieces that are useless to you and just take up valuable kitchen storage space. I am however consciously choosing my cookware replacements so that lids are interchangeable. Having a lid that works on only one pot or pan is a nuisance. Then there's the fact that I'm hooked on induction cooktops, which requires ferromagnetic cookware. The days of having cookware that's non-magnetic in my kitchen are numbered. I'm slowly switching everything to ferromagnetic stainless steel.

And of course, there are things over which I have no control that I wish were more standardized:

  1. Screws. One thing that I hate is something that uses multiple screw types, whether it be furniture or a gadget. The engineer who decides that simultaneously using flathead, Phillips, hex head, and tri-wing screws is a good idea deserves to taken out back and beaten.
  2. Mattresses. Shopping for a mattress follows closely behind shopping for a car in things I don't like to do. How hard can it be to buy a bed? Theoretically not very hard. But the thing is you can't easily comparison shop. The product lines are intentionally stratified and obfuscated so you can never make direct comparisons. Each store may carry the same manufacturers, but they all carry different named brands/product lines with the specs just different enough that apples to apples comparisons aren't possible.
  3. Clothing sizes. I know it's worse for women's clothing, but it's still irritating in the men's clothing department. Depending on the manufacturer and the country of origin, a shirt that is small, medium, large, or x-large may be the correct size for me. Even with something that's measurable like waist measurements, things are maddeningly inconsistent. Some pants with a 32" waist fit me just right, and others with a 30" waist fall off me. That just shouldn't happen.