In our ongoing journey of simple living, Maša and I have gotten bolder when it comes to discarding. Partly it’s related to our growth and experience for recognising what’s important and what isn’t.
But there’s another contributing factor to reaching simplicity, and that’s multipurpose products.
Having one product that can perform multiple functions can eliminate the need for additional products. These products are typically seen as “all-in-one solutions”.
However, it’s not always the best decision to buy one item because it knocks out the need for three items. I’ll explain why later.
In this post, I’m going to give you a few examples of the multipurpose products we use in our household. Hopefully, this will provide you with some confidence to look for similar opportunities in your life.
Example 1 – A super-sized phone
I remember about three years ago, my sister bought a Samsung Galaxy Note, and I looked at her in astonishment.
My sister is pretty short, so it seemed ridiculous for her to be lugging around this ginormous phone. But she insisted, “Mikey, trust me this is the future. I can do so much on it. I rarely use my tablet or computer anymore.” I still thought it was ridiculous.
Fast forward a few years later, and I’ve jumped on the “phablet” bandwagon, and I’m now a proud owner of an iPhone 6 Plus. Most of the western world regardless of the generation has a growing obsession with technology.
Most of us have desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones and now smartwatches. If you have a big family, you probably have 3–4 iPads lying around the house.
While I love technology, having so many devices starts to become a burden. You use this for this, and this for that. You end up carrying a whole bunch of charging cables with you when you travel. And you have more things to service and store in your house.
The thing I like about my phone is that it essentially knocks out the need for a tablet, for my lifestyle anyway. I can read ebooks on it, browse the internet and play games that I would typically do on my iPad.
So instead of having an iPhone, and an iPad and a MacBook Air, I now only have a phone and a laptop. That’s one less gadget lying around the house and one less gadget to manage.
Example 2 – Dr Bronner’s all in one soap
Thank you, Sarah Wilson, for recommending this magic soap. This unique mixture can perform up to 18 cleaning tasks including things like shampoo, hand wash, body wash, dog wash, washing machine liquid, the list goes on.
It’s made from plants and minerals, and most flavours are certified organic. I was so excited when I heard about this soap. I thought about all of the different cleaning products we could finally get rid of.
And by getting rid off, I mean to use up and never buy 5-10 other products again. It has streamlined our lifestyle. Oh, and for the record, it works!
Example 3 – Pyrex Tupperware
Another opportunity we’ve seen is in the kitchen. We used to have Tupperware that we inherited from friends and family. They served us well, but we found that they were taking up too much storage.
We had special Tupperware for packing lunch, another for freezing leftovers and another for baking. Luckily with Pyrex, it does all of the above.
As we’ve pared down our things, we’ve found that we can save even more space and create less clutter when Maša and I use the same things.
It’s simple and easy to manage. It means we can buy in bulk and it also means fewer decisions to make in the future.
It doesn’t always work
The multipurpose approach can be effective when simplifying, but be careful not to overdo it. You can waste countless hours trying to find all-in-one solutions that work.
Because if I was to play devil’s advocate for my examples, I could turn around and say, “yes I understand that you use your phone to read books, but your tablet will do a better job at it.”
The point is, multipurpose products can compromise the quality of the individual task at hand. We see this happen all the time with phone apps. Instead of focusing on solving one single problem well, the creators try to pack too many features into the software to the point where it doesn’t do anything well.
There’s the jack-of-all-trades versus the specialist thing going on here. So while I encourage you to look for multipurpose products, make sure you’re not compromising jobs that need to be done. This comes down to what’s essential for your lifestyle.
What about you? Do you some multipurpose products you use that you can’t live without? Share your recommendations in the comments below.