I wrote a little about life hacking in this post some months ago and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. I love the idea of a simple change adding to your overall enjoyment of life. The life hack that resonated with me back then was doing the dishes with Mr Good, it was both a way to knock over a tiresome daily chore and a way to reconnect and talk with my husband – something we easily neglect. We’ve done this ever since with few exceptions and it continues to work, the kitchen is cleaned quickly and we talk about stuff. It’s nice.
Since then I’ve discovered another life hack that I had initially dismissed, the audio book. When I first read about life hacks this was a prime example, listening to audio books in the car while driving. I don’t drive that much, mostly short local trips and almost always with kids – not really a great time to be listening to most adult fiction books. Then I was talking to a friend who had discovered audio books. She was like me, at home mostly, with two kids, but she still managed to listen to lots of audio books. How, I wondered. The answer was to listen, not so much while driving, but while doing dull, monotonous but necessary chores. She was whipping through books while cooking, hanging up washing, tidying or whatever. I thought this was genius and so I have since found my rhythm with the audio book. I spend an hour or more in a block each morning doing washing, vaccuuming, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, tidying kitchen benches or whatever the case may be. I plug my earphones into my iphone and start listening. I even managed to give my neglected laundry a good clean out this way. And I think the best thing is that the kids know I won’t necessarily stop what I’m doing to address their minor concerns while I have my earphones in and I don’t have to listen to the bickering that happens on and off between them. Obviously, if they really need something I do stop and deal with it, but not for every little thing. This has been good for them and me.
There is much debate (at least between people in my circle) about whether listening to a book actually ‘counts’. My theory is this, listening to a book takes longer than it would take most people to read it – in general reading aloud is a slower process than reading in your head. It also means that you listen to every single word, skimming is not the easy thing it is when reading. I also know that I’m perfectly capable of reading the books I listen to, but can’t spend all day sitting and reading – how nice would that be!! – so it’s not like I’ve cheated and watched the movie or something. To me listening counts, you can make up your own mind.
So far I have listened to A Fortunate Life, by A. B. Facey and have started Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks. The first – a fairly short book – took about 13 hours to listen to, the second is much longer than that. Another thing to keep in mind when delving into the world of audio books is the reader. If the voice of the reader is grating or annoying or just the wrong voice for that story you’re probably not going to enjoy the book as much. A Fortunate Life was read by an older man with a voice you would imagine A. B. Facey having, it had a really authentic ring to it and it made me enjoy listening. I felt like I was listening to my grandfather telling stories. Nine Parts of Desire is actually read by the author, Geraldine Brooks. She is one of my favourite authors and so I was quite pleased that she was reading it herself, but her voice is not what I expected and at first I found it really annoying. I have gotten used to it but it’s still a bit off-putting.
The audio books I get are borrowed from BorrowBox which most public libraries have access to. It has an app you can download and then the whole borrowing process takes a few swipes and click and then a couple of minutes to download the files. It’s very easy – if I were buying ebooks or audio books this way my bank account would not be thanking me!! The collection of audio books on borrowbox seems more extensive than the ebook collections I explored earlier this year, though there is a wait time for most new or popular books. The borrowing period is also a bit shorter than books I check out at the library and you can’t renew them if someone is waiting for it, so you do need to make sure you have the time to get through it. Of course you can stick to borrowing things that are immediately available and which you can easily renew – which is what I have been doing while waiting for some others to become available.
So there you have it, my latest life hack. What have you done lately to hack you’re life? Even if you didn’t know what you were doing was hacking? I’d love to incorporate more simple ways to add enjoyment to my life, so let me (and others) know in the comments.
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