5 min read

#8 - Five things I can't live without

#8 - Five things I can't live without
Photo by Mike Tinnion / Unsplash

I love gadgets. Technology is one of the sectors I have followed since I was a kid. It started with gaming (Gameboy Color, Advance, Nintendo 64, Gamecube). After that, I started building my own computers, which meant I had to learn about the world of Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA. I was one of the first people in my high school to own an iPod touch. This love only grew once I went to university, where I studied Business Information Management. This was when platform economies (Facebook, UBER, Airbnb) went from big to enormous. Fast forward ten years. The newest iPhones suck. The latest Apple watches suck. NVIDIA just announced their 4090 graphics card: it costs $1,599. The Playstation 5 sucks. The excitement I felt as a kid is completely absent in me as an adult.

What I have been thinking.

The problem is that we have too many gadgets, and the whole economy runs on consumers buying new products yearly. While I'm far from immune to consumerism, I know I do not need all these products to live a fulfilling life. In fact, all these products and services promise you happiness but fail to deliver anything close. This is quite a complex topic because buying happiness (or the notion that happiness is something we can and should achieve during our life) is one of the cornerstones of capitalism (and thus consumerism). It is as deeply rooted in our way of living as DNA is in our genes.

That is why I will present the top five items I can't live without. I'm not kidding. What did you think? That I would dismember Western capitalism in this newsletter? Maybe I will, but not today. All jokes aside, I did set some rules for myself. The first rule is that I only choose items I have used for more than a year. The second rule is that I can only select five items.

Item #1: Kindle

I read 30 books in 2022, and we are only in September. I still need to read myself; my Kindle doesn't read the books for me. What it did do is that it allowed me to read anywhere. I always take my Kindle with me. It is light, has a backlight, and can store multiple books. It also makes it easy to make notes so I can quickly distill the most important ideas from a book.

Item #2: e-Bike

I bought an e-bike during the covid pandemic. At that time, I regularly took the car to drive to my studio (8km drive). When I got stuck in Rotterdam traffic for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to get a bike. I got an excellent deal on a refurbished Cowboy 1+, which was a horrible bike. After multiple months of problems and repairs, they provided me with a new Cowboy 3.

I (almost) never miss my car. It is so liberating never to worry about traffic jams; I can leave my studio any time and be home 30 minutes later. The bike itself is great, but others probably provide the same level of joy. You might think, "why do you need an electric bike." Simple: because it's fast. When the speed cap is removed (which is at your own risk), you will easily manage to bike around 30 km/h.

Item #3: Water bottle

This one is so simple, yet I use it every day. I bought this water bottle (Hydro Flask 709 ml) when I went on a holiday in 2018. I never thought I would use it so extensively. What is great about having a water bottle with you? So that you can drink water when you want innit? It's that simple.

Item #4: Backpack

My backpack is the place where I store all the things on this list, except the bike. It is like a field hospital; it has everything I could need to save me during the day. I have a bunch of cables, adapters, batteries, deodorant, pens, and Rennies with me (if the world ends and humanity has to live on without Rennies, I would rather die).  

I currently use this Nike backpack. It looks good (in my opinion), has lots of storage, and is quite durable.

Item #5: Notebook

I like to make handwritten notes. This habit formed when I was working at my corporate job. I think making notes on your laptop while you are in a meeting is rude. Meetings are more productive with all laptops closed, so you must make notes by hand. Writing by hand forces you to think about what you write. If you write too much, your hands will literally hurt. It is also a pretty relaxing activity: sit down, moody lighting, a cup of tea, and nice music. I also like reading back old notes.

#6: The outcasts

This is a problematic category: these are items that I use every day (for more than a year). I love them. I also hate them. They are like a portal to the life I want to live but also a portal to a life I despise. These tools give me access to the internet: the place I love and where I earn my money. They also constantly distract me from the thing that matter. Tangible things. Something that you can smell, feel, and see. I will discuss the three most important items. I will start with the most harmless one and end with the one that combines a portal to heaven and hell in one device.

The first item is my Apple Watch. This thing helped me track all kinds of health information. It helped me form a routine in which I go for a walk or bike ride every day. It helps me track my sleep and workouts. So why is it not on the list? Because I don't think I need it anymore. My routines are formed and ingrained in my daily life. My Apple watch is still helpful but not important enough to make the top five.

The second item is my Macbook Air M1. This machine probably should make the list. For starters, this thing was really innovative. It still is. With a price under a thousand euros, it was pretty affordable. It is light, fast, and silent. There is another advantage that laptops have over other devices: you don't get bombarded with all kinds of notifications. The most damaging apps don't work that well on laptops. I can work for extended periods on my laptop, while I find that difficult on my phone or iPad. Is it too late to add this one to the list?

The last item is my iPhone. I use it every day; it makes excellent pictures; I need it to call people, listen to podcasts, find my way, and unlock my bike (an entirely useless feature). It is also a constant source of distraction. While I am improving at mitigating these distractions (see this blog), it feels like an uphill battle. I think a life without a smartphone is a good life, but I don't know if it is possible.

That's it. The five (maybe six) items I use every day. Which item do you use every day? Let me know in the comments.

What I have been doing.


This newsletter was a little different than the other weeks, hope you still enjoyed it, though. Thanks for reading. See you next week.