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Washing dishes - a blessing in disguise

I'm pretty much obsessed with productivity. If there's a tool, tip or trick that can help me work smarter or faster, I'm interested. This holds true when it comes to washing dishes. Ironically, not buying a dishwasher turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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Productivity Hacking

A year ago I moved into my first apartment. I got to buy a fridge, a microwave and all the other furniture needed. I had already been living with a minimalist mindset and so I looked for ways I could eliminate unnecessary clutter. One of the ways I did this was by not buying a washing machine, an ironing board, or anything to do with cleaning clothes. Instead I use a laundry service which costs between $60 and $80 per month for washing and ironing.

This is one of the fundamental concepts of increasing your productivity - outsourcing low-skilled time-consuming work. Yes you pay for the work to be done. But the time you free up for yourself is worth 10 times more.

Becoming a dish washer

The most controversial appliance is the dishwasher. I have debated with myself countless times over whether or not to buy a dishwasher. You would think that it's an obvious decision. Here are the pros and cons of buying a dishwasher.

The pros:

  • It saves you time

The cons:

  • It doesn't wash every kind of dish or cutlery. Some dishes are either too big or obtruse, or simply require a more hands-on scrub. And some cutlery have wooden handles that get damaged when soaked for too long. Basically you cannot escape washing dishes. At some point you will have to do it.
  • It requires money upfront.
  • It requires electricity to operate, and hence money over time.
  • It takes up a lot of space. This is actually a big point for me because my kitchen isn't big. There is a space to put a dish washer but it complicates where other items should be moved to.

Ultimately I decided against buying a dishwasher.

My logic was that I could save about $300 of cash upfront aswell as extra on electricity over time. If I wash dishes every day it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.

This sort of decision goes against the entire idea of being productive. How could you waste your time on something so time-consuming, repetitive and meaningless?

I would only answer this question one year later.

Becoming an educated dishwasher

Over the period of a year, while washing dishes I've listened to hundreds of podcast episodes, TED talks and long-form conversations about health, wellness, money, productivity, happiness, business and many other topics. My guess would be that I've spent about 100 hours washing dishes. (Turns out I'm actually a slower washer, sometimes noting I've taken about 45 minutes per day.)

So why does this matter?

I started out hating washing dishes. In a way, I still do. But it's not the act of washing dishes that bothers me, it's the wasted time. That being said, I never made a concious decision that I would always listen to a podcast when washing dishes. It just seemed obvious because I knew I was going to be there for a while, so might as well listen to something interesting.

By doing that, I was introduced to countless world-class performers from shows like Impact Theory, The Model Health Show, Rich Roll Podcast, JRE Experience and many more. I had my eyes opened to live healthier, de-stress more often, work smarter and absorbed profound, wise and timeless advice on business, freelancing and public speaking. The list goes on.

Turns out the decision to not buy a dishwasher was a blessing in disguise.