How A Coffee Pot Jarred My Thinking About Productivity

How A Coffee Pot Jarred My Thinking About Productivity
This post was previously published. It has been updated.

It is never a happy time when my coffee pot stops working. This last time I stood in front of my feature-laden and expensive Krups, and thought about feature bloat.

This last time it refused to recognize that there was water in the chamber, and would not turn on. Half asleep, I brewed my coffee using my standby – a single cup cone filter. This coffee machine in question was a rather expensive Krups, just beyond the warranty expiration. I had bought the machine because my cheap coffee pot gave up after five years, and better name machines are supposed to last, right?

Grumpy from the lack of caffeine, I vowed, “I will never buy another expensive coffee pot. Why waste the money!”

Paying For Features

It wasn’t until later that I realized that my initial purchase had wasted a lot of money because the I paid for features I never used. It’s called feature bloat in IT terms.

All I really need in a coffee pot is the ability to brew coffee. The only other features I used on the Krups was the timed brew and the auto-off. Basically the features that made it possible for me to not have to push a button to start it, nor remember to turn it off; both functions of the electricity. And both features I could accomplish with an appliance timer.

So now I own a Mr. Coffee, and it’s plugged into an internet-enabled outlet switch. Total cost for the setup was 1/4 the Krups cost, and provides me with everything I want.

Targets of Marketing

We are often targeted to think we need more than we actually do. After all, isn’t that the whole point of marketing? But when we step back, how many of those features will we use?

I remember when I was buying my car, the salesman was trying hard to get me to buy the one with the heated seats. Which, had I still lived on the frozen tundra, would have been nice. But not needed here, where the temps rarely go below 40 (F).

Same goes for just about any purchase we make today, from electronics to clothing to “do you want to super size that?”

How This Applies to Productivity

This is one of the reasons I love my bullet journal. I don’t get distracted by the bells and whistles…because there are none. My bullet journal is just text. I’m not artistic, and there are no pretty pictures or doodles or spreads.

But much of the software out there has the same problems.

Example: many productivity systems use the concept of “context”, or tasks that can be done where you are. The thought behind that is you are out running errands, and you have your whole list. This might be great for some people, but not for me. I am pretty much at home, at work, or running errands. I always have a phone at my disposal, and a notebook to write. So pretty much all my contexts are everywhere. Many software packages advertise this as a major feature, but it’s not one I would use. So why pay for it with dealing with the interface? Why have to put in a context if I will never use it?

The thing is that so many parts of our productivity strategies have gotten feature bloat, and we just accept that we need to use all the features, because someone declared them innovative. Think about it.