DRMacIver's Notebook

Making life less irritating

Making life less irritating

Let me start by telling you two recent things that happened to me.

The first is that I was complaining on Twitter about how annoying closing many windows is on Windows: If you click on the X for a window while in the window switcher then the row lays itself out centered so the next window’s X is not under your cursor, wasting an entire second. A second I say!

(This may not seem like much but I like to deal with my windows Triage your inboxes style so this does add up to a moderate amount of time and a significant amount of annoyance)

Various people ignored my injunctions against offering advice in response to complaint but honestly I didn’t mind that much (they were nice about it - more interested than telling me what to do - and I’d have happily taken advice on this front beside), and their advice didn’t quite work but pointed me in the right direction and fairly soon I’d figured out two ways to solve this problem:

  1. If you hold down alt tab to get to the window list, keep alt pressed down to keep it open, switch to the window of interest using tab and shift-tab to navigate, and then press delete while still holding tab down, the window will close close and the window list will remain open so you can close more.
  2. If you go to the other window display (there’s probably names for the different displays, I don’t know them) by pressing windows+tab or triple swiping up, you can navigate it with the arrow keys and delete also closes a window there too.

Knowing this genuinely improves my life.

Also I’ve been low grade irritated by this for years, and I had a solution within about 15 minutes of complaining about it on Twitter.

Here’s another thing I’ve been annoyed about for a while.

The bins for my flat where I have to take rubbish and recycling to are in the basement car park. The only way down to the basement is by a lift. What with there being a pandemic on, I’m not a huge fan of this. It’s mostly fine, but it makes me a little anxious each time.

On top of that, it’s extra stupid because there are stairs, but there’s a door at the top which is one way - it’s just a fire exit, and opens with a bar from the inside. You can’t go in the other way.

Anyway right now our lift is broken - the heavy rain last week flooded the basement, got into the lift pit, and damaged the lift. Which means that I can’t access the bins. Particularly with the current heat, this is a Problem.

So I took another look at the outside of the door and spotted that although there wasn’t a door handle, there was a keyhole. Also it looked like the type of key for the deadbolt on my flat door. Nothing to lose in checking, so I gave it a try, and indeed it worked.

This problem has been irritating me, and indeed fractionally (I doubt it actually matters that much - I was never in the lift with other people, and I always wore a mask) increasing my statistical risk of COVID, for about 10 months now, and it took me about a minute of actually looking at it in a very obvious way to solve it once I actually had to.

I have any number of other examples of this I can think of this over the last year, some of which I’ve now solved, some of which I still haven’t. It appears to be a fairly persistent trend that when there is some persistent annoyance that I could solve in five minutes I don’t solve it, and I don’t know why.

This looks like, but I think is distinct from, another class of problem, which is the thing you keep putting off that takes five minutes. That tends to be some sort of fear based procrastination. This isn’t that. This is instead a persistent irritation that is solvable almost as soon as you think to genuinely try to solve it. It’s not an aversion, it just doesn’t seem to register that it’s a thing I can solve until something finally causes it to shift.

I have a couple of theories, and some possible avenues to try, for why this happens, but for now I’m just going to start with a simple recognition prompt: When I notice that I am annoyed, I’ll try to think whether it’s something I could easily solve. If it’s not, that’s fine, I’m certainly not committing to solve the irritations that are hard and difficult work to solve, but it seems worth trying to learn to be better at making the world less irritating.