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The Littlest Lifehack
January 2, 2013 2:34 PM   Subscribe

What are those tiny, tiny changes ("life hacks," in the parlance of our times) that make a minute long task take thirty seconds, or a ten second task take five? Examples inside.

Any field is fine, but I'm mostly concerned with stuff that falls under "productivity" (e.g. work tasks, housework) The best examples I can name off the top of my head are:

- Keep stamps in an envelope taped to the box of envelopes.
- Tilt the ice cube tray and pour water on it from the top instead of moving it around horizontally under the spout.
- Rename files in Windows using "F2" instead of clicking on it and waiting.
posted by griphus to Grab Bag (115 answers total) 292 users marked this as a favorite
 
Japanese T-shirt folding
posted by theodolite at 2:36 PM on January 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Devil horns" style earbud wrapping takes slightly longer than just cramming them into your pocket (but less time than the schmo in the video) but it saves you a good 10-20 seconds the next time you want to use them.
posted by theodolite at 2:40 PM on January 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


How to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich:

1) Get bread and put some peanut butter on it.
2) Open the banana from the bottom (removes nearly all the gross banana strings).
3) Break banana in half.
4) Gently press thumb into the blunt ends of the banana until it cleaves into three parts.
5) Arrange your six banana strips onto your bread.

Assuming standard bread and banana sizes, this works out perfectly, and takes less time (and holds together better) than a pb&b sandwich made with banana slices.
posted by phunniemee at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


ALT+TAB for switching windows.
CTL+TAB for switching tabs.
Keyboard shortcuts in general.
posted by carsonb at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Open bananas from the other end.

Eat a kiwi fruit with a spoon: don't peel it, just cut it in half and use the two halves like little bowls.
posted by Andrhia at 2:44 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


(ALT/CTL+SHIFT+TAB to switch in reverse order.)
posted by carsonb at 2:45 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Learning basic regex can help with all kinds of boring work tasks, even if you're not a computer programmer. I use Notepad++ for regex and vertical selection which probably saves me 20-30 minutes a day.
posted by theodolite at 2:49 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, this is one that maybe most people know but I just showed it to someone for the first time last week and they were stunned...

On the iPhone/etc, you can press and hold on a key and it will pop up a ton of special character options.
posted by phunniemee at 2:50 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Peel your ginger with a teaspoon. Shockingly fast.
posted by smoke at 2:51 PM on January 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


On the iPhone/etc, you can press and hold on a key and it will pop up a ton of special character options.

And if you hold down the ".com" in the browser address field keyboard it pops up .net, .edu, .org, and also .us for some reason.
posted by theodolite at 2:52 PM on January 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Oh, and shower hacks. My parents both prefer baths to showers, and we didn't even have a shower in our house until I was 13, so I was basically flying blind. It wasn't until fairly recently that I figured out how to pwn shower time.

Wash your hair first (it'll rinse while you're washing the rest of your body, or if you use conditioner, you actually make use of the time you wait for it to sit).

Brush your teeth in the shower.

If you use a washcloth, face FIRST, butt LAST.
posted by phunniemee at 2:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just use a fork and some salt to mash garlic instead of a garlic press.
posted by empath at 2:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peel a clove of garlic quickly and easily by smashing it with the flat of a knife.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:57 PM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


You don't need to power down your laptop at the end of the day. Standby/hibernate is fine, and much faster at both ends.
posted by Hogshead at 2:57 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is kind of time-delayed, but before I go out to a party where I know I'll be drinking and/or dancing and/or [?], I lay out pajamas on my bed, put out a glass of water, painkillers (for the morning, if I need 'em), and a dish for my earrings, necklace, watch, keys. In the bathroom, I lay out a face towel and make-up remover, toothbrush and toothpaste. Then I go out, forget all about preventative care for future me and when I come home I am pleased at how slick I am. Cheap thrills.

Also, if you don't already know about RSS and feed-readers like Google Reader, then you are in for a big time-saver!

Keeping your silverware in a cylinder is sooo much easier than those ugly drawer racks where you have to play the dumbest match game ever.

Also, salt in a bowl on the counter. Just pinch it as needed instead of finding the shaker or whatever.

Store plastic bags at the bottom of your small wastebasket, under the current bag liner. Then you can take the trash out and the next one is like, right there.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:01 PM on January 2, 2013 [28 favorites]


Keyboard shortcuts in general.

Command-space on a mac brings up Spotlight (with focus) on a Mac. Start typing to find e-mail, apps, etc. Fantastic time saver for me.
posted by jquinby at 3:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every location in my house where I might take off my glasses has a dedicated glasses spot (usually a suction cup holder on the wall) so when I am wobbling around half-blind and helpless I never have to fumble for my glasses because they are always in the same spot.
posted by elizardbits at 3:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Put pills you take together all together in one bottle; it's much faster to tap out a few pills and scoop the extras back into the bottle than to open multiple bottles and tap out one pill from each.
posted by nicwolff at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


When heating water in a kettle, measure the amount you need, and only boil that much. It will boil much faster, saving you time and energy.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:12 PM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dryer sheets can be used more than once. Keep your used sheets in a basket on top of the dryer so you can throw them in with another load.

Use a potato masher to smash up your hard-boiled eggs for egg salad instead of chopping them.

Get one of these and never struggle to loosen a jar lid again.

I love my lemon squeezer... makes it easy to get all the juice out, and strains out the seeds so they don't end up in your food.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bought a $3.00 brass bowl that I keep next to my front door. That is the home of my keys. When my keys are in the house, they are nowhere but that little brass bowl. I've probably spent days-worth of my life searching for my keys in my house - having the little bowl has been an incredible timesaver.

I shave my legs with hair conditioner in the shower. It works great and it's one less thing to remember to bring into the shower with me.
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Maybe everyone already knows this, but learning how to quickly and easily dice an onion with minimal tears changed my life.
posted by young sister beacon at 3:16 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I use a pillbox for my vitamins and supplements. Easier to dig them out every 7 days, then daily.

Use a plastic container for items in the top shelf of your cupboards. When you need something you can grab the entire container instead of needing a step stool to pull out individual items.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:18 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I park in the same spot at my usual stores so I don't need to spend time searching for my car when I leave.

Two products I've gotten recently that have saved lots of time--wireless printer and immersion blender.
posted by girlmightlive at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Use a water bottle to separate egg yolks from egg whites.
posted by samsara at 3:27 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you like cold beverages to be really cold, put glasses in the freezer so you can pour your cold drink of water or milk or whatever into a freezing cold cup. (I do that with a tea mug, too, so the first cup I pour out of the teapot is cool enough to drink sooner.)
posted by rmd1023 at 3:27 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Working some place where I have to show my ID all the time (and being prone to losing things), a clip-on retractable ID holder has been invaluable to me. YMMV.

Also, nthing keyboard shortcuts. Command (or ctrl) + shift + T to reopen closed tabs is my favorite.
posted by pitrified at 3:30 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sort of old-fashioned but I keep pens, post-its, and hair ties in literally every bag big enough to fit them. There are Sharpies in most rooms of my apartment.

We have one small bin for small kitchen gadgets like extra beaters, lemon zester, etc. Anything small goes in there. They are not allowed to live anywhere else. Rubber bands and twist ties live in one ziploc bag in one kitchen drawer. They are not allowed to live anywhere else.

Have a dedicated non-ice-cube tray. Use for freezing tablespoons of extra coconut milk, extra lemon juice, tomato paste, etc. (Okay don't do this for pesto though, the garlic will taint everything involved.) Use the dedicated kitchen Sharpie to mark the date and contents on a sandwich Ziploc bag so that you don't waste twenty billion lemon halves a year (just me?).
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:30 PM on January 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you're opening a can, squeezing lemons, or doing anything that might result in a messy clean-up situation, perform these tasks in the kitchen sink. This goes for using small cutting boards as well. The more kitchen work you accomplish in the sink, the less hassles you'll have after the meal.

Dishwashers? Don't use 'em, unless it's for a small group or party. If you're living alone, get accustomed to using minimal plates and cutlery--a single dish, a single bowl, a single knife, a single fork, and so on--and wash these by hand, and "store" them on the drying rack rather than in a drawer.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:38 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tie your shoes super fast!
posted by amf at 3:39 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I put a list of bookmarks that I open in the morning all in one folder and hit the Open All Bookmarks option. It makes sure that I do the daily things.

This includes:
weather
email
other email
woot
basic news
metafilter
and a couple of other daily things
posted by sciencegeek at 3:50 PM on January 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Win+D = minimizes all windows and reveals the desktop
Win+L = locks the screen (saves key presses from CTRL+ALT+DEL)
Learn the gestures in iOS/OSX.
posted by arcticseal at 3:53 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


You don't need to chop leafy greens, just tear them up by hand. I also just discovered that you can snap broccoli florets off the stalk, no knife. I'm sure there are other vegetables you can prep similarly. Get a little chopper for onions and bell peppers. I have one like this: http://www.kitchenaid.com/content.jsp?pageName=Handblender/ It's small and easier to clean than a full-size food processor. Hacks like these are key for me because I dread cooking when there's too much prep involved.

Keep cleaning supplies where you use them. I recently started keeping a roll of paper towels and a bottle of surface cleaner in the bathroom. I'm more motivated to clean now, whereas before I would stall because I had to get that stuff out from under the kitchen sink and put it back when done (seriously, a 10 foot walk, but still a psychological hurdle.) I also bought a second dustpan just for the litter box.

I recently reorganized my kitchen cabinets so that frequently used items are on the eye-level shelves and less-frequently used items are up high or under the counter. I corralled all the spice bottles into a plastic container so I can find and grab them more quickly. This may not apply to you if you have a dishwasher, but I put away all the flatware except 6 of each (spoon, fork, knife) and all the mugs except 5 (why do I have so many mugs?) I don't know if I spend less time washing dishes because of this, but it feels a lot faster.
posted by fozzie_bear at 3:57 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kitchen hacks:

Peeling lots of garlic quickly: tear the cloves off the bulb and put the unpeeled cloves in a bowl (I use just my standard dining set stoneware). Cover with a bowl of the same size so now you have a bowl-ball with garlic cloves in it. Shake the shit out of the ball for about a minute. Poof, the garlic is now mostly, if not entirely, peeled.

Quick-dicing onions: cut onion in half, tear off outer layer and cut off the end, make several vertical cuts in your onion-half but make sure the cuts to not quite reach the top of the onion (so that the sliced will remain together at the end you haven't cut off yet). Then make horizontal cuts so your onion falls into a neat dice; when you reach the end you haven't cut off yet, it's magically cut off and you have a diced onion!

Use scissors to cut lettuce, parsley, etc.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:05 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and put the weird username/password with two special characters you had to invent for that one website in the bookmark title for the website. I also put my 14 digit long library card number in the bookmark for my library system's website so I don't have to go get my card to sign in. I copy and paste anything too long and tedious to retype from Firefox's bookmark library.
posted by fozzie_bear at 4:13 PM on January 2, 2013 [31 favorites]


When hanging sheets to dry on a line, find two parallel corners, join them and peg to the line. Do the same at the other end and also peg in the middle. When it comes time to remove them, unpeg one end, fold over to the other end, unpeg the middle and fold that edge toward the other. Then fold in half the other way and half again. Voila! Perfectly folded sheet for the cupboard in seconds straight from the line.
posted by Kerasia at 4:16 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Use a water bottle to separate egg yolks from egg whites

Just use yer hands!
posted by SampleSize at 4:23 PM on January 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Peel a bunch of garlic cloves by putting them into a sturdy container and shaking it violently.
posted by SillyShepherd at 4:24 PM on January 2, 2013


When peeling potatoes, use a peeler where the blade is perpendicular to the handle. Yields 50 peeled potatoes in less than half an hour. Parallel blades are just useless, but seem to outnumber the superior model at most stores.

Bonus: there's almost always a hole in the handle, put your index finger through that and push with your thumb.
posted by ifandonlyif at 4:26 PM on January 2, 2013


Buy c-shaped toilet paper rings instead of the fiddly ones with springs. Same thing with paper towel holders.

Don't sort silverware. Knives can go pointy side down and everything can stick up and it's just as easy to find things when you need them and you can unload the dishwasher faster.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:38 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just use yer hands!

True, but now you have to spend 20-30 seconds washing them!

(although having a an empty water bottle around does take preparation)
posted by samsara at 4:46 PM on January 2, 2013


Oh, and put the weird username/password with two special characters you had to invent for that one website in the bookmark title for the website. I also put my 14 digit long library card number in the bookmark for my library system's website so I don't have to go get my card to sign in. I copy and paste anything too long and tedious to retype from Firefox's bookmark library.

Then you'll be screwed that one time you need to renew an overdue book from work/your sisters house. Go tech and use LastPass (or KeePass if you object to the third party storage, or a few other options) to store all your passwords and usernames. Bonus: you can now safely create passwords more secure than 'sarah1' and never forget them.
posted by jacalata at 4:48 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mash spuds ahead of time, it'll last a day or two in the fridge. Microwave (and then stir through a little more butter) just before serving.
posted by pompomtom at 4:48 PM on January 2, 2013


- Kitchen scissors for cutting veggies or even pizza.
- Any day I have to wake up painfully early, I lay out my clothes the night before.
- Buy a few extra chargers and have permanent charging stations anyplace you are likely to want your laptop or smart phone. You can get cheapie ones via ebay, even for Apple stuff.
- Toss all paperwork you need to file into a drawer and file it all once every few months while you're listening to some music you like. It's not that tough to find something in the pile if you need to.
- keep a clip by your door where you hang mail or whatever needs to go out that door
posted by jessamyn at 4:50 PM on January 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Use your camera phone (if you have one) as short term memory. Take a picture of your parking area at the airport, a recipe when you go grocery shopping, trail markers and maps if you're out hiking, phone numbers and hours posted on businesses, prices and features when you are comparison shopping. Basically never write something down if you can quickly snap a picture instead. Not only is it quicker but you record the context instead of just the content.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:09 PM on January 2, 2013 [46 favorites]


Flag it and move on.
posted by alms at 5:33 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Then you'll be screwed that one time you need to renew an overdue book from work/your sisters house.

On the off chance this happens I still have the card in my wallet. This is just to streamline my regular home computing chores.
posted by fozzie_bear at 5:36 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a argument for "editing" your possessions and eliminating duplicates, and in general I see how owning less stuff means you spend less time taking care of your stuff; but like jetlagaddict, I like to have multiples of small, frequently-used items. I have three liquid measuring cups, two sets of dry measuring cups, and two sets of measuring spoons in my kitchen. They don't take up that much additional space, and I love never having to stop cooking in the middle of a recipe to wash and dry my measuring implements for re-use. This is great especially if you often make multiple recipes in one go.

In Cook's Illustrated a while ago I read a good hack for getting the seeds out of a jalapeño: cut the stem end off, then use one of those otherwise useless peelers with the blade sticking straight out from the handle to scrape/dig out all the seeds and ribs at once.

There's a certain style of threaded plastic milk bottle cap that you can put back on the bottle neck threads by smacking straight down on it with the heel of your hand instead of twisting it on. Only saves a couple seconds, but it's fun. I was amazed the first time a friend demonstrated this technique.
posted by Orinda at 5:45 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I use Excel a lot. My two favorite shortcuts are SHIFT+CTL+"+" to add a row above the selected row or add a column to the left of the selected column, and F2 to edit the selected cell.
posted by fozzie_bear at 6:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


If you have a laptop, get an extra charger (or two). It was invaluable for me when I was in school - I kept one permanently plugged in at my desk, and one in my backpack. That way I never had to fiddle with the one at my desk, and I always had one on the go. Now we have something similar since my fiance and I both have MacBooks - one in the living room and one in the bedroom.

I would actually not recommend the shoelace-tying method mentioned by amf - they don't stay tied very long (although it's a neat party trick).

I took pictures of all the products that my fiance and I use on a regular basis but that I can't always identify exactly by sight - makeup (what was my color again? buff? nude?), body wash, etc., - and have them in an "album" on my phone, so that I know what to get when I'm at the store.

Nthing keyboard shortcuts. My mom actually hated switching from DOS to Windows back in the day because she thought using the mouse was less efficient! Also if you're not a good typist, learning to touch-type quickly and accurately is a great skill.

I have a measuring spoon "set" with all the different measurements (who needs half a teaspoon?) but it's a pain to flip through and find the right one, and then you have to take it off. And honestly, most recipes call for teaspoon or tablespoon. I got this little double-ended measurer (it was free, but I would have paid for it) that has tsp on one end and tbsp on the other and I use that most of the time because it's super easy to grab.

I was at a Pampered Chef "party" (sales presentation and cooking demo) and the lady recommended freezing meat in a marinade so that you can just put it in the fridge the night before and it will defrost and marinate and be ready to cook the next evening.

Oh and if you don't have a crock pot, you are missing out on a serious life hack.

This took some time to train myself and my fiance, but when we open a container of something that's going to go in the fridge (tomato sauce, etc), we write the date on it with a sharpie. That way when you find it at the back of the fridge you know how old it is!
posted by radioamy at 6:06 PM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Repack your gym bag after each use. Gym swipe card lives in the side pocket of said bag, and a fresh change of clothes/water bottle/towel/shoes goes back in after each use, so it's ready to grab and go.
posted by Salamander at 6:13 PM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Trick learned from my bartender husband: when opening a bottle of wine, don't waste time fussing around with the fiddly little pull strip on the foil capsule, just grasp the entire capsule firmly and pull it directly off.

Storing clean sheets: fold the top sheet, bottom sheet, and all but one of the pillowcases, then slip them into the remaining pillowcase for storage. When you need a new set of sheets, you just grab a full pillowcase and are good to go.

Using a Microplane grater for garlic is much faster than mincing and yields more even results than smashing.

Make use of your smartphone's autocomplete feature to save bits of info that are tedious to enter repeatedly (library card numbers is the big one I use this for — I could remember one 14-digit number, but now that I have cards with four of the local library systems it's hopeless).

If you use bamboo cooking utensils or chopsticks, it's easy to tell when the oil is hot enough — put the tip of the utensil/chopstick in the oil and if tiny bubbles start to emerge it's hot. (Saves time, if you're like me, by not having to hover over the pan trying to tell if the oil is "shimmering" yet.)

Boring but true: laying out my work clothes the night before takes much less time than trying to figure out what to wear in the morning when I'm groggy and moving slowly.
posted by Lexica at 6:47 PM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can't open a jar, new pickles or whatever? Set the jar down, smack it all 'round the lid with a table knife blade, now it comes off in your hand, almost falls off. Alternately, turn the jar upside down and smack the lid square on the floor -- THUNK -- and now it opens easy.

Hot can of coke or beer? Fill bowl half cold water, then lots of ice, double fistful of salt, stir it all up then stir around some, two minutes you've got a cold soda in your hand.

Scissors scattered everywhere, they cost a buck now at the dollar store, no need to stagger around "Where *are* those scissors?" cuz they're everywhere.

If you use them, reading glasses everywhere -- they cost a buck now at the dollar store, who cares if you lose them or break them, I keep a fistful in my pickup, next to the bed, wherever else.

Wash your face first, leave soap on to soften your beard, finish your shower by shaving -- a good, close shave -- then rinse your face and on your way.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:12 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah a lot of people don't know about the custom autocomplete feature on their smartphone. Apple added it a while back but it's hidden in Settings-->General-->Keyboard-->Shortcuts. I have a shortcut for my mailing address (people are always texting me to get my address to send something to, or if they're coming over I just text the address, etc), my email address (for logins), and a couple words I use regularly (tmrw=tomorrow, msg=message, ur=your).
posted by radioamy at 9:15 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


1. Put your keys on a boingy wrist key coil.
2. Hang keys on door knob.
3. Never again waste time looking for your keys.
posted by invisible ink at 10:15 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Use a password organizer (my favorite is LastPass).
posted by Dansaman at 10:25 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Use a business card holder instead of a wallet if you never carry around cash.

This saves space, which is like time.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:23 PM on January 2, 2013


You don't have to stir the polenta if you cook it in the rice cooker.
posted by aniola at 12:34 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And you don't actually need to peel your kiwis at all.
posted by aniola at 12:35 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can usually skip to about a third of the way through Youtube instructional videos before they start having any useful content. Obviously it's easy enough to skip back if you go too far.

Reddit dubbed this bout of impatience The Wadsworth Constant. It's clearly not always true, but it really does help to cut to the chase sometimes.
posted by Magnakai at 2:17 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


In MS Outlook you can drag-drop an email to the calendar pane on the right thus creating an appt. with attached docs. You can now delete the email. The same applies to making an email a task.

I have sync between outlook and my gcal. Gcal is hooked into iCal so all is coordinated and pretty.
posted by jadepearl at 2:59 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bottles of soft drink/soda stay bubbly longer if you store them stood vertically rather than laid down horizontally.

Buy a decent set of headphones/earplugs to replace the crappy ones that came with your phone/music player. Your ears will thank you.

Sharpen your knives with a coffee cup!
posted by Diag at 3:48 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stick dirty dishes straight in the dishwasher. Do not leave them lying around.

If you walk into the kitchen and find the dishwasher's finished its cycle, empty it immediately. It will take about 4 minutes.

(otherwise why in the frilly heck have a dishwasher? why???)
posted by tel3path at 4:39 AM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


+1 for Lastpass for a password manager. There's a cross platform add-on that will auto populate usernames, passwords, order forms, etc. there's an Android extension for "dolphin browser" that is excellent, and a bookmarklet for iOS that you can use in safari or chrome.

yubNub gives you a way to search basically any website from the URL bar. In chrome you can make yubnub the default search engine (google how to add a new default search engine) and then, by evoking yubnub from the URL bar, you can do the following, and way more:

- g downton abbey (google search)
- gi birds (google image search)
- gm asheville, nc to San Francisco, ca (google maps search)

Other fav keyword searches include netflix, imdb (Internet movie database), wiki (Wikipedia), bing, y, gstock AAPL (google finance search), yt (YouTube), ... The list is endless!

Sometimes you want to share a page with someone, either by chat or email. I made this bookmarklet that will pop up a little window with the page title and URL:

the text is in here

Copy and paste that in to a new bookmark and put it on your bookmark bar for easy use (or better yet, assign the bookmark a keyboard shortcut. I like the letter S). In chrome you can give a bookmarklet a keyboard shortcut by making it a custom search engine (right click on the URL bar and edit search engines. In Firefox, I think you can just right-click on the bookmark). Then just type that shortcut in to the URL bar and press enter.

Check out extensions like Vimium that will add keyboard shortcuts to any web page.
posted by dep at 4:49 AM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Put your cooking/frying oil in a spray bottle. It's faster, easier to get as little as you want just where you want it, and if it falls over it won't make a mess.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:10 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Use Spotify for digital music. Say goodbye to MP3s, managing meta data, organizing directories, etc. Your music is always with you, always in sync. The library is huge and getting bigger all the time. If you have the premium subscription, you can make playlists offline and access them even without a data connection.

Premium is $9.99 a month. Consider that most single albums on iTunes are around $9.99. But for the same price you get unlimited access to hear anything you want.

Definitely my favorite web service.
posted by dep at 5:10 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Use Dropbox to easily sync files between computers. It's essential for me and there are a million and one "power user" tricks for Dropbox (dropbox-enabled notes for always-in-sync notes, etc). I've recently moved my 'downloads' folder to Dropbox and then pointed my browser on each machine to it so that files I download are accessible from any of my machines. The iOS/Android apps are really nice too for auto-uploading your images to the Camera Uploads folder. No more awkward emailing yourself photos or trying to move photos off your mobile device. Here's a power tip: After dropbox grabs the photos off of your iOS device, you can delete the photos from your mobile device, saving you tons of space. Especially handy if you have a 8 or 16GB model.

Dropbox also lets you restore deleted files and keeps 'versions' of changed files for later restoring. Has saved me a million times since I keep my creative assets on dropbox. I know I'll never lose them.
posted by dep at 5:14 AM on January 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


sign up for Google Voice and never worry about changing your phone number again. You can then have Google Voice forward incoming calls to multiple phones, set rules based on who's calling, have multiple voicemail greetings, receive and forward texts, etc. You will save on your data plan, too, since SMS you receive at Google Voice don't count toward your monthly SMS allowance. You can check your messages either through the website or through the Google Voice app (or have them forwarded to your gmail account -- that's what I do. If you reply to a txt in gmail, Google knows what you're doing and the person who receives the reply sees that it's from your google voice number. Very smart). There are also lots of ways to use Voice Over IP to make calls from your google voice number. So long, data plan!

Really cool because then once you change your phone number or add a new one, you can just update or add it to google voice.

Power tip: Get a Skype number (a phone # assigned to your skype account) and unlimited calling plan (I think it's $2.99 a month) and then you can have calls made to your google voice # forward to your Skype account. I can then use Skype to make receive calls on iOS/mac/windows, etc. A real money saver.
posted by dep at 5:18 AM on January 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just keep your damn keys in your coat pocket at all times. It's awesome, unless it's too warm to wear a coat. Then keep them on a hook by the door, or in your shoe.
posted by windykites at 5:42 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is one that my friends think is awesome, but I think is completely obvious.

Put your cream/sugar in the cup THEN pour the coffee in. You don't need to stir it up because the pouring does that for you. (Works even better if you're filling from an urn.) No stick to stir, no spoon to wash.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 AM on January 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


These are mostly little hacks in that they only take a moment to do:

If you have a built-in ceramic soap holders in your tub / by your bathroom sink, you can cut a small piece from one of those sponge wipe cleaning cloths to put in there to set the soap on, so you don't need to spend time cleaning stubborn gooey soap mess from the soap holder, and it also keeps the wet soap from sliding around and slipping off.

Wrap a wet cloth tea towel around your room temperature wine bottle and stick it in the freezer to chill your wine in ~15 minutes.

If you don't have cabinet space for your spices, keep them in a kitchen drawer near the stove instead of a wall-mounted spice rack or counter-top carousel, it holds more, and you won't have spend time cleaning accumulated kitchen grease and dust from all those fiddly little jars, tins and bottles. You might need to mark the lids with what they are, but this is fast and easy after the first time – especially if you keep the marker in the drawer, too. (You can also have a white marker for dark tops.)

I love bottle pourers. Saves many, many seconds of capping and uncapping bottles! We use one on a nice old bottle for our olive oil, and it's the simplest, non-drippy, holds-a-lot, easy-to-clean, easy-to-drizzle way we've found to decant our oil, after years of fancy olive oil containers that were all awful for one reason or another. (Use an amber or green colored bottle if you don't use a lot of olive oil.) But I also use these for tons of other things. I usually stick one on an open bottle of wine instead of messing around re-inserting the cork, use them on bottles of vinegar, soy sauce, large bottles of hot sauce, or any other bottled item that you find yourself frequently uncapping and recapping. You can even use them for their intended purpose on liquor bottles!
posted by taz at 7:29 AM on January 3, 2013


I keep spices in a box and label the tops with periodic table-esque shorthand (i.e. Cn for cinnamon, Sg for sage). Much faster than reading the label on each bottle.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:03 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Especially if you move at all frequently, maintain a list of all your previous addresses, phone numbers (if you've got land lines), and previous drivers license numbers. The need for such info comes up every so often, and just keeping a list on my computer has saved me the time it would take to go scrounging through old documents (and my Amazon account, for the old addresses).
posted by DingoMutt at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, something else: I tie a longish ribbon to my house keys which means that a) there's a trailing textural element that helps me locate them by touch in my bag, and there's a larger visual cue for locating them elsewhere. If they are hidden under some papers, scarf, etc., it's more likely the ribbon will be exposed somewhere.

If they are in a pile with other keys, they are easy to pick out (and you can also use this to color code and easily grab other key clusters you want: parents' house keys have the blue ribbon, work keys have the green ribbon, etc.; the thing that makes it better than one of those colored tab things is that it's attached to the whole key ring for that set, and also, just grabbing any part of the long ribbon will get you the keys.)

And if you drop them in dim light, they are much easier to spot immediately! I'm very fond of my beribboned key ring.
posted by taz at 8:31 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you coupon?

Save an empty envelope from junk mail and stick it on the fridge.

Write the grocery items you need to buy on the envelope throughout the week.

Stick your coupons in the envelope as you get them.

When you go to the grocery store, grab the envelope, and you have your list and your coupons all in one place.
posted by bq at 8:32 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the cleaning front, I'm a huge fan of the Clean As You Go approach to cooking. Have to wait a few minutes while your meat is searing? Take that time to clean off the cutting board and knife you'd prepped it with. Trying to resist the urge to stir your veggies before they're browned? Put all those trimmings into your stock bag and rinse out the sink while you're waiting. When you're cooking something you can't leave alone for too long it's a great way of putting that idle time to good use - and it feels great to finish a relatively involved dish and have a nice, clean kitchen smiling back at you!

(of course, it's possible to go too far and start washing/putting away things you still need - I occasionally do this to my partner and it drives her a little bit nuts, so some plan-ahead does help ...)
posted by DingoMutt at 8:37 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ugh. I cannot put all my tips into just one comment apparently... and I can never remember all my timesavers all at once. I need a timesaver for sharing timesavers.

This one is my husband's idea: if you can't manage to keep a sewing kit stocked full of proper needles and all colors of thread handy (we apparently can't, for whatever reason), or it's just too much freaking trouble to locate and drag out that whole thing to make a quick repair, put a spool of good quality silvery gray thread and a standard needle somewhere handy and constant so you always know where to find it.

He thinks it's sort of the "chameleon" of thread colors that will work with just about any color fabric, dark or light (and definitely with mixed shades/patterns), without being obnoxiously obvious. And I think this is pretty true from what I've seen. We've used it on all-white and all-black clothes, for example, and it doesn't seem to jump out like contrasting thread would.

Many seconds saved by doing a quick stitch-up with the always at-hand needle and thread without seeking out the sewing kit, and many minutes of time saved by quickly stitching a tiny split or rip.
posted by taz at 9:00 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


A service I have provided to a few workplaces: if you have a spare minute or two, go through all the pens and throw out the ones that don't work. When you're done, make sure that there are functioning pens in locations where they're needed (near phones, photocopier, etc). Then you won't be scribbling to get pens to work all the time. In a similar vein: if you can darn them, go ahead, but for those of us who are lazy/unskilled: throw out socks with holes in them.

Setting out clothing the night before is totally worth it - you're not in a rush and you're not half asleep; and when you discover that the pants you were planning on wearing have tomato sauce on them, you can deal with that and let them dry overnight. If you bring lunch in, setting this up the night before is also a great idea.

Own at least a weeks worth of undies so you don't have to do the laundry as often.

Those digital oven thermometers which beep when you reach your goal temperature mean that you can watch a movie while the roast cooks.

If your shoes keep coming untied and you're not already double knotting them, double knot them. If you're already double knotting them, you should look into getting laces that don't always come untied.

NYC-specific:

Buy your metrocard when you get off the subway, not when you're getting on, then you won't miss your train. (Oh, and if you are getting off the subway and see someone with half their party on the platform and they're waiting at the turnstile to get in and you have an unlimited, swipe them in, they're waiting for the 18 minute limit on using the same unlimited twice. This doesn't save you time, but it gives you bonus points in the grand scheme of things).

Prewalking is often worthwhile. You can also optimise for lowest passenger density.

If you have a car, you can add the alternate side parking holiday schedule to your calendar.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:58 AM on January 3, 2013


theodolite: "Devil horns" style earbud wrapping takes slightly longer than just cramming them into your pocket (but less time than the schmo in the video) but it saves you a good 10-20 seconds the next time you want to use them.
BTW, this works well with extension cords and rope as well, although you have to use bigger "posts" to wrap around. I teach my students in a basic knot class to do this to prevent tangles. For sufficiently long lengths, you can figure-8 wrap hand-to-elbow, pull the figure-8 bundle off your arm, and then wrap the middle portion to secure it. The rope will come undone without tangles, every time.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


fozzie_bear: I use Excel a lot. My two favorite shortcuts are SHIFT+CTL+"+" to add a row above the selected row or add a column to the left of the selected column, and F2 to edit the selected cell.
Bless you. Twice.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:05 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Setting out clothing the night before is totally worth it - you're not in a rush and you're not half asleep; and when you discover that the pants you were planning on wearing have tomato sauce on them, you can deal with that and let them dry overnight.

This goes double for hotel stays, especially if you do any business travel:

- Keep all your small things in the same place in every room you stay (keys, wallet, current book, etc on the nightstand)
- Shaving kit at sink
- Lay out tomorrow's clothes, iron if necessary
- Repack today's dirty clothes into the overnight bag immediately

I can be up, showered, dressed, and out of the room in about 25 minutes, max. The key (for me) was establishing a routine and sticking with it. No flailing around in the AM looking for stuff. It seems a little anal-retentive at first, but I've never left anything behind or gone flying out late for an appointment.
posted by jquinby at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Replace your shoelaces with these, that never get untied. Not only will it wave you time getting dressed, you'll never have to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and re-tie your shoes.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:53 AM on January 3, 2013


I use Excel a lot. My two favorite shortcuts are SHIFT+CTL+"+" to add a row above the selected row or add a column to the left of the selected column, and F2 to edit the selected cell.

In a similar vein, learning I could use F4 to lock cell reference(s) in an excel formula changed my life.
posted by dersins at 12:49 PM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


fozzie_bear: I use Excel a lot. My two favorite shortcuts are SHIFT+CTL+"+" to add a row above the selected row or add a column to the left of the selected column, and F2 to edit the selected cell.

The next level move is to use SHIFT+CTRL to select a row or SHIFT+space to select a column and then do SHIFT+CTRL+plus to add the row/column. I use these shortcuts so frequently that I don't even remember what keys I'm hitting--I have to watch myself do it in slow motion to recall the keystrokes.
posted by mullacc at 1:21 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The next level move is to use SHIFT+CTRL to select a row or SHIFT+space to select a column and then do SHIFT+CTRL+plus to add the row/column. I use these shortcuts so frequently that I don't even remember what keys I'm hitting--I have to watch myself do it in slow motion to recall the keystrokes.

Ooh, thanks! I just did this and it was SHIFT+space to select a row and CTRL+space to select a column. I'm running Microsoft Office 2007; maybe it's different on other versions?
posted by fozzie_bear at 2:01 PM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


fozzie_bear: LOL. You're right. I just got it wrong when I tried to translate my keystrokes to words. Damn muscle memory.
posted by mullacc at 2:22 PM on January 3, 2013


Following up on jquinby's tip, for travel I have a hanging toiletry roll full of transparent zippered pockets. Because I have a lot of issues with my skin and scalp, I have a lot of specific products that I must use every day. I always keep the roll fully stocked and ready to go, and it also contains a checklist in a plastic envelope of the items that should go in it. Some of them are medicinal shampoos that I use weekly and which go off, so they have to be added at the last minute.

I also keep a general packing list of items to take on a trip, including a reminder to pack my glasses, prescription meds, and travel documents.

Here's a tip for women on business travel: to save luggage space, ironing, and mental overhead, pack two black silk dresses with sleeves. Not only can they get you from day to evening, but at the end of the day, you can wash one dress with shampoo in the sink, hang it up in the shower (pro tip: pack two of your own hangers because hotel hangers are held prisoner in the closet) and in the morning, it will be dry and perfectly smooth. Alternate the dresses each day and chuck a few accessories in your suitcase to change your look at will.
posted by tel3path at 4:09 PM on January 3, 2013


If your laces come undone, you don't need a double knot, you need to tie your laces properly. I spent years double-knotting, and a quick change to my knotting technique has rendered it redundant. Bonus: my laces look a lot neater now, though I doubt anyone apart from me ever notices!

Here's a chap on TED talking about it.

My own personal brain reconfiguration was quite simple - when I make the very first loop, before I start tying the bow, I put the left lace over, round, then under the right lace. Somehow that makes it all work.

You can tell you've done it right because: It's the little things.
posted by Magnakai at 4:10 PM on January 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


. Keep pen/pencil & notepad in the car.
. If the person next to you is parked badly, take a picture of both cars (including lic. plate) with your mobile. Nabbed the person who dinged my car because I do this routinely; the spaces at work are too small.
. Rename files in Windows using "F2" instead of clicking on it and waiting. Rename lots of files by highlighting the list (shift + page down or shift + end) and renaming the 1st file. Windows will name the files newname.ext, newname(1).ext, newname(2).ext, etc. Esp. useful for pictures - Thanksgiving2012(1) is better than DSC0001.jpg.
. Put your name and email address on your phone. If somebody finds it, they might return it, if you make it easy.
. Black mobile, black remote control = too easy to misplace. Neon label tape.
. Keep some postage in your wallet.
. I recently realized that the lids to pill bottles can be turned upside down and screwed on to be non-childproof. D'oh! though your pharmacy may use a different version.
posted by theora55 at 5:54 PM on January 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you need to use an extension cord for electric hand tools, or even a vaccum, tie the two cords in a loose knot where they meet before you connect them. That way they won't pull apart under their own weight while you're up on the ladder or two rooms away, making you go back to reconnect them.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:20 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Use your local library a lot and got a Mac/iPhone/iPad? Drop $3 on the Library Books app and never got caught unawares about an overdue book again. Currently, I have 89 kids books checked out for my school and all of their various due dates are just a click away via my menu bar.
posted by blueberry at 9:43 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Put Velcro zip ties on all cables and cords.
posted by evoque at 11:23 PM on January 3, 2013


Get a bigger broom. Sweeping is faster with zero extra effort (unless you have lots of small crevices to clean). Also, if you use a Swiffer, consider one of these instead...the head doesn't have to be swapped out every 30 seconds.
posted by psoas at 7:12 AM on January 4, 2013


Microwave your bacon - put a paper towel on a plate, place bacon strips on the paper towel, put another on top and throw it in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes (depending on your cripsy preferences). Bacon made quickly, no pot or pan to wash, just toss out the paper towels and eat it right off the plate.

You can also microwave eggs to make scrambled eggs. Super easy breakfast.
posted by floweredfish at 7:44 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Microwave use is faster if you hit the same number; use 55 instead of 1:00, use 3:33, 4:44 etc.

I think all newer microwaves have an instant-action keypad, meaning if you hit the 1 button, it turns on at full for 1 minute, the 3 button turns it on for 3 minutes etc.--as well as having the "add 30 seconds" button. This saves a lot of time, so if you have an older microwave and were previously unaware of this, it may make you want to upgrade sooner.
posted by Anwan at 11:47 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


For Macs: Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop. Saves. SO. Much. Time.
posted by teststrip at 1:29 PM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


teststrip: "For Macs: Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop. Saves. SO. Much. Time."

Meta-timesaver: Cmd-Shift-4 then spacebar will let you just click to capture an entire window instead of having to select a rectangle manually.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:02 PM on January 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


As an alternative to microwaving your bacon, I love the oven-baked method: lay it out on a cookie sheet, stick it in a cold oven, set the oven to 400 degrees and the timer to 20 minutes, then go about your morning. 20 minutes later, it's bacon!
posted by DingoMutt at 6:58 PM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Do you frequently fly out of state to visit parents, in-laws, etc. for short trips? Create an Amazon shipment of your favorite toiletries and have it shipped there. Now, you can fly with just a simple carry-on, and you'll have the luxury of using full-size versions of all your favorite brands while you're away from home. Before you leave, put all your products in a large plastic ziplock and ask your relatives to stow it away in a cabinet until your next trip.
posted by invisible ink at 11:26 PM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking about it, and I'd like to change my answer to be more generally applicable: One input device.

Basically the same as my earlier suggestion (keyboard shortcuts) but these days touch interface is conceivable as a solo input device too. Drag-and-drop is really the only think I can think of that I need a mouse for in my everyday computing experience. (Your experience may vary.) I like it most if I can do my work without taking my hands off the keyboard.

Also, at home I have one of these mini wireless keyboards with touchpad. That model works fine, but is sort of crappy in that early-tech-could-be-awesome-in-its-next-iteration-(which-might-already-be-available) way. I still use it constantly.
posted by carsonb at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2013


I have 3 laundry hampers for whites, colors and Other (jeans or towels or items for handwashing). As soon as I take off clothing I place them in the appropriate hamper. That way I don't have to sort through stinky laundry at the end of the week. I just dump the contents of entire basket into the washing machine.
posted by pimli at 8:52 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


teststrip: "For Macs: Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop. Saves. SO. Much. Time."

Meta-timesaver: Cmd-Shift-4 then spacebar will let you just click to capture an entire window instead of having to select a rectangle manually.


Add the control key to either one of those, and the captured area goes to your clipboard rather than a file on the desktop. Use Command+V to paste the picture anywhere you like. Great for quickly pasting into an email message.
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:14 AM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


After reading this question, I had this type of thing on my mind, and I discovered one by accident and had to post it. My local transit system has bus tickets for sale at most convenience stores, and I usually buy five at a time. Five makes up a full strip, but you can also buy them individually. Well, I got six tickets for some reason the other day, and he of course handed me one full strip, plus one single ticket. I then realized that this way I didn't have to set down my wallet down on the counter, rip off the ticket I would be using at my bus stop, pocket it and put the rest in my wallet. Instead, I pocketed the single ticket, shoved the others in my wallet and was very happy with not having to fumble around. Making a ten second task take five is especially useful when one is on their way to the bus stop!
posted by to recite so charmingly at 2:39 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have been thinking about this question a lot for some reason! I have also been doing some admin work for a woman who has *horrible* handwriting - partly I think because she is kinda messy in general but partly because she moves at the speed of lightning and I think she doesn't slow down enough to write legibly. Well I can't even tell you how much time we waste trying to read her handwriting! I have to either flag a bunch of stuff and have her go through it with me later, or have her sit with me and read stuff to me (checkbook entries, etc). It would save a lot of time if she would just write neatly in the first place!
posted by radioamy at 5:16 PM on January 5, 2013


If you like to have a plunger pot of coffee on your desk at work at all times, like me, and you take cream/milk/sugar, just dump all that shit directly into the plunger pot when nobody's looking. Delish.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 8:41 PM on January 6, 2013


If I'm using bacon for anything other than eating strips of it (mixed into casseroles, salads, pasta sauces, etc), I find it's easier to cut the entire pre-sliced block of bacon into bits BEFORE cooking it. Just cut the block with cuts perpendicular to the cuts of the slices, then throw them into the pan. Faster than crumbling up slices of bacon afterward, and more fits in the pan.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2013


If your laces come undone, you don't need a double knot, you need to tie your laces properly

I don't think a proper lifehack is to stop making a simple mistake; all that TED talk does is show you how to tie a bow, which you should have learned as a child. Since a bow will occasionally come untied even if tied correctly, a nice lifehack is to pass the loop through the hole twice, forming a Surgeon's Knot that really won't come undone until you pull the ends.
posted by nicwolff at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pre-sort your utensils in the dishwasher. We put all like utensils together in the spots of the silverware holder. This way you just grab the clump of forks and throw them in the drawer, repeating for each type of silverware.

Nthing keyboard shortcuts. Get used to them and they will change your nerdy life. SO MUCH FASTER than the mouse.
posted by dozo at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2013


Keep your closet tidier and better organized by not hanging the empty hangers back with the clothes--keep them in a separate space.

Any clothes that are hung should be hung and dried directly from the washer; don't put them in a basket to hang them up later. Even if you are going to iron them, just hang them up and put them away until needed.

Eat the same thing for lunch every day, something simple and nutritious. This will save a lot of time, money (likely) and mental energy. Vary your evening (experiment, eat out, etc) and you will enjoy it more.

Get a hand held vac and use it every day for 5 minutes.

Keep a decorative trash can near the front door for junk mail.

Ban texting from your life. This will encourage actual conversations and save you a lot of seconds here and there that really add up.
posted by waving at 12:58 PM on January 9, 2013


Oooh oooh oooh! I just learned one today at the eye doc:

If you put in your contact lenses and they feel dirty or gritty, slide them over to your lateral scleral conjunctiva (the white part of the eyeball on the ear-side of the eye) and rub them in a circular motion, then slide them back onto the cornea. It works!!

I also discovered how to make a frying pan splatter shield work, after getting grease all over my cookbooks: put a damp paper towel on top of it.
posted by robstercraw at 1:53 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


robstercraw: I also discovered how to make a frying pan splatter shield work, after getting grease all over my cookbooks: put a damp paper towel on top of it.
Also useful for keeping the inside of your microwave clean.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:47 AM on January 11, 2013


If I'm heading to a doctor's appointment and I know that the doctor's office tends to run late, I will call before I leave to find out how far behind they are. I try make it clear that I'm not upset that they run late, but that I want to be there when they're ready for me.

I do worry that calling them takes up time for the person who answers the phone, so I don't do this all the time.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:29 PM on January 29, 2013


Whenever you put N wet things on your kitchen drying rack, take 2N dry things off and put them away. This costs very little effort each time while still allowing for the fact that you are the only person in the house who cares whether the drying rack is actually useful, as opposed to a mutant Jenga tower of dry dishes and cutlery.

If your kitchen has a problem with left-around used pots and plates you can use the same method. Every time you rinse and rack N of yours, do the same to the newest-looking N of other people's as well. Once again, this is a small and acceptable amount of extra effort and it prevents the burning resentment caused by walking into an out-of-control filthy kitchen day after day after day after day. It's quite astonishing that so few people understand that a just-used item takes a fifth of the time to clean compared to one that's been left lying around for a day.

Spatulas, cooking spoons and whatnot left lying around in pools of decomposing ooze on the kitchen benches can be washed, dried and hidden. This leverages your housemates' laziness in support of kitchen cleanliness: they will eventually work out that cleaning up after themselves is less effort than constantly needing to replace their implements.
posted by flabdablet at 7:00 PM on December 26, 2013


Hand-cranked coffee grinder with a drawer, for pepper. Check that it can do your desired degree of fineness. I have two, one for black, one for white pepper. The drawer can be set on the table like a salt cellar. Pepper's most lovely flavors (aromas actually) noticeably fade within about 90 seconds of grinding.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:18 PM on December 26, 2013


A stone mortar and pestle works brilliantly for that as well, and you can control the fineness of the grind simply by how long you keep working the pestle after the pepper seeds are all broken.

You're absolutely right about the superiority of fresh-ground pepper, and the same applies to pretty much all the spices. You can also get a lot of fabulous flavours by grinding a mixture of spice seeds together; I'm fond of a fine-ground 1:4:12 mix of clove seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns.
posted by flabdablet at 5:16 AM on December 27, 2013


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