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It recently occurred to me that through the course of my life I have devoted way too much time to socks.  Yes, socks.

No, I don’t have some weird sock fetish or a creepy sock collection, but rather I have spent countless minutes here and there sifting through laundry baskets, rummaging through drawers, and searching aimlessly for matches to my various socks.  Brown socks, blue socks, black socks, running socks, tube socks, argyle socks, each requiring organization in my dresser and each requiring a match to be useful.  Every different type of pair added to the mix adds an exponential level of complexity to the process of sorting, matching, and putting away.

Upon some reflection, I have realized that I don’t care enough about socks to waste time on things like:

  • thinking about which is the right pair to wear.
  • wondering if the pair of socks I grab in the dimly lit morning actually matches.
  • sorting through laundry baskets to find my socks and match them up with one another.
  • maintaining a drawer of orphan socks waiting for their match to return from the abyss of the dryer.
  • identifying matches to damaged socks that need to be disposed.

Having a choice of socks is not something that matters to me.  When it comes to socks, I want simplicity, speed, and utility, not choice – hence I recently reduced my choices – black dress and white running socks.   Anything that deviated from the specs was delivered to the rag pile in the garage.

I started by retiring all existing socks to the rag pile.  It had been a while since I had gotten rid of any socks, so they were due to be replaced anyway.  By starting fresh, I made it easy to implement my new system of simplicity.   I then went to Target and bought a 10 pack of Hanes black dress socks and 2 six packs of Hanes low cut running socks.  Inventory in place, I then moved forward with my simple system.

This may sound silly, but it makes a difference.  Rather than multiple types of white socks, black socks, and all sorts of other varieties, I standardized to work socks and exercise socks.  That easy.  No more choices.  Much less matching.  A little stress removed and a life regained.

Now, I never have more than one orphan sock, because if two go missing I am simply down to 9 pair.  That easy.  At the end of the year, I will convert them all to rags and start over.

This is also helpful when getting dressed in a dimly lit room early in the morning, while others are sleeping.  No guessing if the socks match or if they are black, brown, or blue.  Grab a pair and go.  I actually went as far as to organize my drawers by activity to further simplify things.  I have a work drawer with boxers, undershirts, and black socks, and I have an exercise drawer with running shorts, briefs, running shirts, and my white socks – further simplifying the putting away and putting back on of my laundry.

Sometimes life is made better by eliminating choices.  I guess the saying would be “sometimes less is more.”   If you love socks, than this system is a horrible idea for you.   Socks is not really the point.  The idea is just to figure out what matters and simplify the rest.  This will not add seven years to my life, but does add a few minutes here and there.  More importantly it simplifies something that is unimportant to me, saving time and attention for the things that are.

What silly lifehacks do you use to simplify your life?