Tiny Barriers

Tiny barriers can be surprisingly powerful.

The bucket that I use for a compost bin in my kitchen requires me to use one hand to open it. It would be vastly easier if it had a foot-pedal. Every single time I have to open the bucket to put food scraps in, I feel an ever-so-tiny twinge of stress and annoyance.

Micro-stress adds up. It can be enough to discourage a person from using the compost bucket. And just toss her scraps in the trash can instead. The trash can doesn’t need a lid because there are no food scraps in there to create smells or attract bugs. But if I were to get sufficiently annoyed with my compost bucket lid as to dump food scraps into the trash bucket instead, the trash bucket would attract noise and bugs … and need a lid.

Another tiny barrier I’ve noticed: Screen doors that require me to have a hand free in order to open them. When I’ve got both hands full (with a pot of collected sink-water to dump outside or whatever), having to bend down to put the pot on the floor so I can open the screen door, and then bend back down to pick up the pot while holding the screen door open with my hip … is such a tiny micro annoyance, yet surprisingly energy-sapping!

Tiny barriers of this kind deepen my appreciation for thoughtful design. My idea of a good screen door would be one you could open from the inside by pushing with your hip, thus not needing a hand free. And the screen door would spring back tightly shut so as not to let in mosquitoes.

And it would swing both ways, so you could do the same thing when you were coming back indoors with two armfuls of groceries or whatever.

Sounds kind of like an old-school screen door that’d be at the back door of a restaurant or something.

Tiny barriers can be surprisingly powerful. And addressing them can often provide immense relief, seemingly way out of proportion to the size of the annoyance.

But maybe it’s not so out of proportion. After all, minor annoyances from tiny barriers can chew up a person’s day and clog the brain, blocking out creative and useful thoughts. Unless we use the barriers to incite our creativity to develop a solution!

What tiny barriers and micro-annoyances do you notice around you? How might you fix them?

I haven’t figured out a solution to the compost bucket. I definitely need to do something though!