(Before we start, here's a pop punk playlist to listen to while you read. I recommend shuffling.)
"Goblin's law: anything that can be made whimsical should be made whimsical"
Have you noticed that nice websites are all kinda starting to look the same? I call it the "bootstrapification of the web". Bootstrap makes it easy for developers to make websites look clean and visually pleasing, but it also ends up making lots of websites look the same because they're using the same presets.
I think in general a lot of things could be more interesting and whimsical--corporate trainings, emails, video calls, mailings, pretty much anything.
Is this "extra"? Yes. Does that mean it is not useful? No!
Case in point: Henry the Vacuum
Recently, our vacuum stopped working and my spouse went down a rabbit hole of researching vacuums. We have bought/inherited ~5 vacuums in our relationship and they always end up being overly complicated (looking at you Dyson), losing suction, or completely breaking. We didn't like the environmental impact of the poorly constructed vacuums and were looking for a better solution.
My spouse found Henry! Henry is a commercial vacuum that can be repaired! It cost less than a Dyson (~$400) and it works incredibly well. The company says that Henry has a face because it causes maintenance workers to treat "him" better and it helps Henry last longer.
Henry is a bundle of unexpected joy and whimsy. We now love vacuuming (especially because it works so well). The personification of a vacuum seems absurd, but it sparks so much random happiness and actually helps improve our productivity on a dreaded task.
New Wave of "Feel Good" Startups
The whimsification of startups is my favorite trend of all time (wow, I'm making up a lot of phrases in this email © Goblin Tech).
For me, the whimsy trend all began with Flow Club. Their tagline is "Feel good getting work done" – that is so against modern hustle culture and American workplace vibes that it's almost jolting.
I was in a Flow Club yesterday when I got some extremely exciting news and shared it in my Flow Club session. The call erupted with claps and smiles. The best part of Flow Club is the emotional support and good vibes you get from the other community members.
They really do make it so much more fun for me to be working from home in my bedroom.
Some other favorites
Spark’n "Unique, live & energizing 15 minute online experiences. Spark creativity, connection & engagement across your team's virtual workday."
750words.com "This little website is about helping you practice one of the most important habits in life: private journaling."
Generalist.world Generalist World is a community and hiring platform that continues to surprise and delight me. Milly has taken a big group of individuals that have traditionally felt devalued by society and given them a home. Together, we're realizing that our "jack of all trades" approach to society is a superpower.
Making things interesting and fresh is a key component in the Goblin app.
Every month, I change the header and footer (kinda like a bullet journal). When you refresh the page, your Hype Goblin has a new message for you. When you complete a sidequest, the emojis that spray out of the page are different every time. When you finish a mission, there's a mad-libs-style retelling of your story with you as the hero. If you reset your password, you get to see a cute little animal gif.
Why do I do this, you ask?
The best productivity app or hack is the one that you continue doing consistently over time. Making things fresh and new helps keep you interested in your to do list and make it less dreadful.
Your to do list shouldn't be 20 things that you're dreading, it should include things like "read a book", "doodle for 20 minutes", "play video games", "take M to the zoo", and "do a face mask". It should include personal growth, reflecting on your life, cultivating joy, and creating deep and rich connections with loved ones.
Call to Action for Creators
Next time you create (whether it's a vacuum, a newsletter, or an email to a friend), try adding a tiny bit of fun or whimsy. Put a joke in the email. Add a fun emoji. Smile at everyone on Zoom. See what happens!
Thank you so much for reading! -Molly