How can I get boring daily activities out of the way more efficiently?
November 28, 2011 10:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to spend less time and effort on "maintenance" activities. What are some good not-widely-known methods, or (cheap/small) products, to get this stuff done more quickly and get back to the more interesting parts of your day? (Examples in the extended explanation...)

To give an idea of what I'm looking for:

1. An example method: This method of hanging shirts. Saves enough time that I'm amazed I did it any other way.

2. An example product: This motorized scrubber thingy for the bathtub. (Fair warning, I haven't bought it, and so for all I know it sucks. Looks handy though.)

Also - if you think something *might* be too obvious to write, but aren't sure, just assume I'm a caveman who has only been in civilization for a few months. I'm often surprised at the "obvious" things I've never heard of.
posted by SpiralT to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 151 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a quick way of folding shirts.
posted by illenion at 11:24 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, I just recently discovered The Container Store, which is rather dangerous to my wallet. These are some of the things I've bought and am currently finding rather helpful.

Quarter Dock - especially if you need quarters for laundry, vending machines, or can simply never find any change.

Cord Wraps - gah so damn helpful

Cable IDs - I use these to help me remember which black cord is which when they're all plugged into one or two power strips.

If you're a woman, make sure to wash your bras with strap hooked and in a small mesh bag separately from your other delicates. Can probably find the mesh bag on that site as well.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:27 PM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: Laundry:

Do you know the right way to fold a fitted sheet? (Not sure that it speeds up the process *that* much, but it certainly makes it easier.)

Some delicate items of clothing that would normally be drycleaned can be refreshed by tubmling around in a dryer with a fabric softener sheet for 10-15 mins on low-heat setting. (Obviously this only works for some things.) This can put off a trip to the dry cleaner's for a while.

Also, buttoning up dress shirts, zipping up pants and jeans, etc. can help prevent the dryer tangle that results in wrinkly clothes. (Not over-filling the dryer seems to help too.)


Spatter-guard for the microwave - way easier to wash a plastic cover than the insides of the oven. I also use aluminum stove burner liners, much easier to clean up (i.e., toss) when my sauce/soup/whatever boils over.

Because I hate washing baking sheets/pans, I bake/roast on aluminum foil or parchment paper whenever possible. Basically any time I don't need a great crust on the bottom surface of the food, or to deglaze the pan afterwards.

A friend swears by her dish scrubber doohickey -- it's got a handle that dispenses dish soap onto the sponge/scrubby pad head. Like this one. Relatedly, I can't even do dishes anymore without using a Scotch Brite kind of pad-sponge combo.

If you have a dishwasher, I recommend the gel packs of detergent, like these. They cost more, but get dishes really clean. Plus the convenience of not having to deal with pouring in granules, or finding undisovled soap on your glasses after the cycle.

If you have tall cupboards, get some plate shelves. It makes putting away dishes faster because you're not constantly having to re-arrange stacks of things.


Not sure if you put on lotion after showers, but I find using a really creamy shower gel (current favourite is the Dove Visible Care Softening Creme Body Wash) lets me get away with skipping moisturizer when I don't feel like it.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:42 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'll probably comment again with some other random things, but this one should stand on its own: For people like me who are not naturally tidy (I overlook, I procrastinate, I forget, I can't stay on a cleaning schedule, I hate to clean)... Do something productive every time you stand up to do anything else. Time spent: 15 seconds - 5 minutes per task.

Getting up to get a glass of water? Wash the dish that's in the sink; getting up to go to the bathroom? Spritz and wipe down the bathroom sink. Getting up to put on a sweater? Pick up the discarded clothes you see on the way and hang, fold, or put them in the hamper/washing machine. Getting up to answer the phone? Pick up those books and magazines while you are answering and put them where they belong. Grabbing a book from bookcase? Dust the bookcase while you're at it. Whipping up some supper? You can sweep the kitchen floor before the pasta water even comes to a boil. Walking out the door to work? Drop the garbage off on the way – plus pick up one extra thing that could go to the trash. You don't really need last year's Ikea catalog, right?

When I remember to do this, my house is a thousand times neater, with seemingly very, very little extra effort. It doesn't help me with the deep cleaning stuff, which I still procrastinate about/forget, but it makes everything much nicer, and I haven't wasted hours catching up on chores I hate... plus I don't really need to remember to do something specific – I just have to remember to do something, anything. It all helps.
posted by taz at 12:51 AM on November 29, 2011 [35 favorites]

Roomba vacuuming robot won't completely eliminate the need to vacuum the floors, but you'll need to do it far less often.

Eliminate ironing on most clothes by using a dryer after washing, and hanging them as soon as they come out of the dryer.

If you drive, try to replace the daily commute. Either change your schedule so someone else is driving (ie use a bus or train) so you can read or do other useful things instead of wasting your time driving, or perhaps cycle commute or similar so you're getting some exercise instead of wasting your time driving, and no-longer need to waste your time at a gym any more. Perhaps save even more time by getting to work quicker: you might be surprised at how much quicker it can be to get to work by bike, even from the suburbs, especially in rush hour!

You can eliminate grocery shopping trips using Amazon Prime. I haven't tried this yet, but know someone who can't speak highly enough of it.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:00 AM on November 29, 2011

I made this comment in this thread, which has some great ideas.
posted by b33j at 1:29 AM on November 29, 2011

Maintaining you:

Substitute brisk walking and taking the stairs for trips to the gym. Why pay and devote extra time/gas/wear and tear on car for exercise (unless you lift weights)? Park as far away from door as possible. Commit to taking stairs under 4 flights, increase that to 5, 6, etc. Do leg raises while waiting. Use cans to stabilize your SITS (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis) muscles in your rotator cuffs. Just hold the can out in front of you and out to your side for __ seconds, and keep a straight face. (This might helpprobably won't improve your poker game.) Balance on one leg for increasing lengths of time, this improves your core muscle strength.

Kegels. For men. For women. Both of those links go to Mayo Clinic sites. Description of pelvic floor exercises, may not be safe for all workplaces.

The CDC says wear sunscreen on your face, neck and hands before you go outside. I use a sunscreen stick from Coppertone. Do not skip your yearly doctor visits. Having a ten year history of blood tests- cholesterol etc gives the doctors knowledge of YOUR normal. If they only have one current test when you have a problem, there is no pattern to compare to, so you get compared to the aggregate. Which is ok, unless you're me, hanging out every year at the extreme low end of the cholesterol range. (so if mine goes up into mid-normal I will be Capital W Worried, but wouldn't know that if we hadn't been checking over time. It would just look, well, normal.) Yes, ignoring sun screen and blood tests saves time now. But later! Hoo boy, you'll save time later when you're trying to get that string of headaches/dizzy spells/ whatever diagnosed. Take medication as prescribed and ask questions if the directions don't make sense. Mention if your symptoms are not improving, or are getting worse. This last thing is something that happened all the time at the offices where I worked! Patients would take the pills, or not, they'd stop the diuretics or anti-convulsents or anti-depressants when they felt better. This has a lot to do with the way doctors and patients communicate, so neither side gets all the blame on this one. But it drives doctors crazy to hear, "Oh, that? I stopped taking that six months ago because I didn't feel like it was helping!"

Your brain: If you carry a bag, have reading material or a crossword puzzle with you. You can keep a diary in spare moments also - a sentence in line at the grocery store, etc. Play word games with kids or your partner. Speaking of groceries, try one new vegetable a week. Or one new veggie recipe.

Unplug your television. ***

This goes right into Your Stuff: Sock away the cable money into a _____ fund. New carpet? Car emergency? And find another outlet for your time. A hobby, a craft, get your GED, tutor someone for their GED, take a neighborhood nightly stroll, a language course from Rosetta stone, audit a college course, take workshops at home depot to practice maintenance. These will all maintain and better yet, improve, aspects of your life. Maintenance that seems complicated or expensive is more manageable with practice and a plan. The best time to be changing out a first faucet is not then your kitchen is flooding. Ditto for marking your fuses in the box so you can know how to quickly turn off the electricity to ____thing/area_____, without having to flip every switch and shout, "Is THAT ONE it??!?!?" Learn where and how to turn off water at your main, and replacing a door knob.

Ditch the grass yard if your town permits that. Plant forgiving veggies, like maybe carrots. Visit the seed bombs website to see if they have information about native ground cover in your area. No more mowing. No more lawn mower, or no more lawn bill. Far less water used to keep things green. Possibly delicious bonus.

Relationships. Say please, thank you, I was thinking about you when I saw this....thing/sign/tree/bird/etc. Get in touch with your neighbors before they throw an obnoxious party (and long before you want to!) so that the person making the request (you!) is a human being and not some kind of obstacle to their fun or comfort.

Your House and stuff: Roomba and/or Scooba, the power of a super deep clean on a regular basis - do not be ashamed to hire a professional for this if you can afford it. (if you find a cleaning person who works for a chain company feel free to poach by offering him/her the same rate you pay the agency. The agency usually pays min wage. Beware, the agency has insurance if they're legit. Proceed with caution.) If you own your home, call the dryer duct guy for a cleaning, have your windows cleaned, and have the window and door seals checked now before it gets super cold, and again in springtime. Smaller repairs are faster and cheaper than bigger repairs, and it's just twice a year. Schedule it for something easyfor you to remember, like you always call the week before Halloween and the week after Easter. Damage grows if left unattended. Since you've made friends with your neighbors, suggest your guy to them. Or ask if they have a guy they like, for window repairs, dryer duct cleaning (the lint builds up, keeps air trapped. I'm told that newer machines have pressure detection, so if the exhaust is not moving fast enough, the dryer becomes less efficient, in hopes of preventing a fire by blowing hot air super hard into the pillows of lint! This means the clothes take longer to dry, and costs you more money.)

In the shower, once it's clean, you just need to wipe it out/dry it after each shower so that the soap scum and/or water minerals won't build up and leave a filmy persistent problem. This will make a weekly "cleaning" require much less elbow grease and not so much chemical assistance. Same with the sinks, dry them out after each use and the bacteria that create biofilms will be less likely to flourish...unless you have a drippy faucet or shower head. Of course, you can use the wash cloth from your shower for this, just wring it out very well as you go along. In the kitchen this might be done with a paper towel you throw into the compost, or with a dish towel that then goes into the laundry. For the toilet, swish it out every other day or so.

Check to see that your shoes and clothes are all in good repair at least twice a year. Take everything that needs new soles, buttons, hems, etc in all at once and then dedicate a spot for future repairs to help prevent getting behind. This advice from miss kitty fantastico:
Also, buttoning up dress shirts, zipping up pants and jeans, etc. can help prevent the dryer tangle that results in wrinkly clothes. (Not over-filling the dryer seems to help too.)
will help your clothes last longer because the zipper teeth will not be tearing into your shirts, and your buttons will not be getting hung up on twisted shirt arms and tugged six ways to Sunday. Give each item a good straightening shake as you take it from the washer and toss it into the dryer. Helps with wrinkles, but also gives that rogue tube of chapstick/crayon/ one more chance to be found before it melts all over your favorite tee shirt. Bonus points for only washing towels with towels. The abrasive fabric is not nice to clothes and will make other fabrics fade and/or pill a little sooner than they would otherwise. I am a big fan of fluffy white towels and bathmats, which can then all be washed together on hot with bleach. Hang in the sun to dry, because hot dryer + cotton towels usually causes weird shrinkage. In fact, line dry everything you can, because less exposure to the dryer heat and friction will also...(you can hear me already, right?) help your clothes look sharp longer. Wash and dry your pants inside out, that helps reduce the friction they take from other garments, and drying things inside out protects them from sun damage if you leave them outside "too long." (dry colored and delicate clothes in the shade, because the sun will fade dyes and too much sun will degrade fabric over time. Try to only leave your clothes on the line until they are just dry! Or, just use a rack inside the house.)

*** If you really can't bear to go cold turkey on the TV, cut out one day a week. Do some kind of exercise or clean/sort/cook something while you watch the show(s) you hang onto. And then check out
McGrane, Bernard
1993 Zen Sociology: The Un-TV Experiment. Teaching Sociology 21(1):85-89. I have it, and I won't suggest anything here that would imply a willingness to infringe on anything, so me-mail me if you're curious and want to discuss the article.)
posted by bilabial at 3:32 AM on November 29, 2011 [15 favorites]

How to quickly tie your shoes.

I subscribe to a CSA-type delivery service; produce magically appears at my door once a week. I only go grocery shopping once a month or so now to stock up on sauces, staples, and shelf-stable sundries. It's nice. (It's also more expensive, but with the time savings and improved diet I feel I come out ahead.)
posted by kprincehouse at 3:47 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Grocery delivery service. I don't know where you live, but in New York we have a few options for having groceries delivered (FreshDirect and Peapod are the two I use most frequently). I add things to my grocery list here and there and get a delivery once every two weeks. It saves me the time of wandering around the grocery store, and you can even reserve a regular delivery spot and have certain staples always on your list. Similarly, you can have toiletries and other things delivered through a service such as, and if you get the same things on a regular basis, you can set up auto-deliveries so you always have what you need on hand.
posted by Fuego at 4:41 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My version of taz's "Do something productive every time you stand up to do anything else." is:

When you leave a room, take something with you. There's almost always something that needs to be somewhere else. Trash, cups, laundry, books, recycling, etc. Same goes for leaving the house: take out the trash, take out the recycling, bring your shoes out to the porch, bring the tools back to the garage, bring the borrowed thing back to a family member (or at least put it in the car so it's there next time you see them), etc.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:11 AM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

Buy good doormats to cut down on the dirt you track into the house. Good doesn't mean expensive. The AstroTurf type is great for trapping dirt, sand, and water. Put one at every entry.

Use shower gel instead of soap. It cuts down on soap scum tremendously.

Scrub the shower while you're taking a shower.

Use a once a day shower spray. Tilex Fresh Shower. It works.

Put medium to tall plastic trashcans everywhere. It's obvious to keep ones in bathrooms, office, and kitchen. I also keep one in my bedroom -- for clothing tags, bags, papers, etc. I keep one next to the washing machine for lint and old socks and damaged clothes I know I won't wear or donate. I line mine with cheap white liner bags but of course you don't have to do this.

Don't have too much Tupperware or plastic containers. You can put plastic wrap on most containers to store food. Even a glass can hold leftover soup or whatever.

If you have a shower curtain: buy the liners that are mildew resistant. I buy them and they last a long time. After their effectiveness has worn off I wash my white shower curtain with the liner and plastic rings still attached and wash everything (including the rings) in the washer on hot water, bulky setting, with a little bleach and Tide. Since my fabric shower curtain is a polyester blend, I just slide it back onto the rod and everything dries quickly. The plastic shower curtain rings aren't the most attractive but they slide easier and you can wash them.

If your paper organization is lacking, purchase an accordion file or plastic file box. It's easy to label and you can put receipts, bills, important documents, etc. as they enter your house.
posted by Fairchild at 5:11 AM on November 29, 2011

1. An example method: This method of hanging shirts. Saves enough time that I'm amazed I did it any other way

I think you need to be careful that methods you use to cut down on time spent are actually doing that. Although I haven't used it, having read the description of that hanging method, it seems like it would take much longer to hang shirts with it. Sure, putting them on the hangers takes less time (10 seconds for 10 shirts), but there is A LOT of prep time before you get to those ten seconds. If you count all that time I would be very surprised if this is a faster method, although it may well be more fun.
posted by OmieWise at 6:11 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Paper items used to pile up on me and they are a drag on your life. I had to learn to be brutal with them.

Keep a mail station near your entry door with a drawer, a paper recycling bin with a paper bag liner, and a shredder. Open envelopes and shred the envelope immediately. Put action items in the drawer; keep paid bills until the next bill comes in, then shred them. Shred all junk mail offers with your address on them.

Remove address pages from catalogs (don't forget the personalized mailer inside), shred them, and put the catalogs in the recycling bin. Periodical literature goes on top of the mail station. Read it, return it to the mail station, and carry it out with you to donate to others when you leave the house. I give subscription magazines to other passengers on my daily bus ride.

ATM/credit card receipts get checked online and go into the shredder. Recycled items go straight into the paper recycling bin at the curb in the paper bag. Newspapers go to the recycling bin as soon as I finish reading them. Small paper bags get folded and stacked inside another paper bag which goes to the bin when it's full.

I have another drawer near the door that gets keys, billfold, cell phone, cash, sunglasses and action items when I walk in the house. No more wasted time looking for any of them, they're always in the same place.
I fed the cell phone charger cord through the back of the unit so the phone can charge in the drawer.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:30 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's dangerous to ask an industrial engineer how they do things.

Process is everything. Learn to think about things as processes. This may sound ridiculous, but read up on Lean Manufacturing and apply whatever makes sense.

Shopping sucks. Make sure you digitize your shopping list. Separate the list by the store you'll need to visit and by the best path through the store. Avoid small trips. I use simplenote because it lets me sync it between phone/ipad/desktops and share it with my wife.

Better yet, don't go shopping. Amazon Prime is the single greatest thing in the history of man. Having a 40lb KitchenAid mixer or load of diapers delivered overnight for $4 is wonderful. They've got lots of fancy canned goods and kitchen supplies if you have room to stock up a bit (I am seriously violating Lean principles here, but oh well).

We get a weekly delivery from the local dairy. Eggs, milk, butter, cream, buttermilk every week, for less than organic stuff costs in the store. In the summer, we get a farm share, which also turns a long trip to the grocery store into a 30 second pickup at the farmer's market.

Any time you're doing one of your routine chores, think about the steps you're going through. Hell, write down the steps and draw a map of where you're walking just to shove your face in how much time you're wasting. Put a trashcan near the front door so you can toss out junkmail as it enters the house. Shave and brush your teeth in the shower. Hell, if it were possible, I'd put the washer and dryer in my bedroom just to eliminate all that schlepping of dirty/clean laundry. My bedroom closets don't have doors. You could make a habit of periodically stuffing everything in a particular room in (dated, labeled) boxes and then taking it out as you used it. Anything left in the box after 6 months could be moved into storage or thrown away. Excess stuff wastes time, because it's always being moved around to get at what's behind it or needing dusting or keeping you from storing useful stuff where it should be.

The kitchen is a factory for making food. 5S that shit. DO NOT sacrifice functionality to aesthetics if you cook a lot. Rearrange the kitchen so unloading the dishwasher requires less walking around. If you're constantly opening and closing a cabinet door, consider completely removing the door. Organize things to minimize the amount of time you spend hunting. Put your trashcan where the trash accumulates. If you compost, put the compost bin near where you chop veggies. Store your knives somewhere between the sink and cutting surface. Store your dry goods and spices close to where you bake. Eliminate as many place settings as you can from your inventory because that's a huge temptation to let dishes pile up. Store cooking utensils near where you use them (spatulas, spoons, etc all live in wire racks hanging next to my stove).

You can cut WAY down on cooking time without sacrificing anything. Get a chest freezer and cook larger batches of food. Learn to use the power of a crockpot to do some hands-free cooking. The moment you get home from work, preheat the oven or start boiling water if you'll need it. Make a pot of dried beans or grains at the beginning of the week and learn to use them flexibly. Get a scale and any time you make a new recipe, weigh the ingredients and pencil in the weight so you don't need to get measuring cups dirty next time.

Ideally, start storing recipes in something like Simplenote/Evernote/Springpad so you can look them up faster and cook straight from a tablet/phone/laptop. Cookbooks take up a lot of space, wear out, get messy, etc. I still like to browse them, but if I see a recipe I like I take a photo of it with my phone and email it to myself. I've not yet figured out how to automatically get 'em OCR'd and into Simplenote, but I'm working on it. :)

And while all this sounds incredibly anal and hyperactive, remember that it's really all in the interest of sloth and hedonism. Once you've got a process in place, all you need to do is remember to tweak it periodically. The house almost runs itself. There's nothing I love more than getting something done efficiently so I can spend an extra hour eating a big slice of pie in bed while watching bad TV.
posted by pjaust at 6:35 AM on November 29, 2011 [32 favorites]

Keep all of your cleaning supplies, a screwdriver, magic erasers, old toothbrush, soft paintbrush and duster thingy in one tote with a handle on it, and carry the whole shebang with you from room to room as you clean.

Break your house up into zones, and clean one zone a day each week. Bathroom zone gets hit twice or three times each week. Kitchen is continuous.

Set a kitchen timer for x minutes, and stop when it goes off. Prevents obsessing on one thing when you're trying to do several. Enjoy the pleasure of beating the timer.

Clean from top to bottom, and vacuum or sweep last.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:19 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nthing the idea of doing one additional task. Never go anywhere in your house with empty hands; stand in the middle of a given room and make a 360-degree survey, and you'll see how many things need to go somewhere else. Next time you pass through, grab one of those misplaced objects and move it toward its destination.

I love barrett caulk's advice here on restoring things to a state of maximum utility. If you empty the trash and reline it (the bags being kept within arm's reach, of course) then *you don't have to fight with the trash can later, when your hands are full.*

Take the time to create shorter paths. When each object has a home, it's easier to grab it and put it away, instead of, sat, grabbing the object, wondering where the hell you're going to put it, staring at the overcrowded shelf you were hoping to put the object on, deciding that it's all too much work and putting the object back down right where it was annoying you.

All tools within reach of their use. Dishwasher soap next to dishwasher, mesh bags next to washer, etc.

Label the cords. Do not rely on your memory.

Wind strands of Christmas lights around empty tubes of wrapping paper, and make cuts at the end of the tube to secure the ends of the strand.

When you put things in storage, label clearly.

I sort mail on the way back from the mailbox. Junk mail goes to the trash toter, unwanted catalogs go into the trunk for recycling, and by the time I hit the front door, I only have the mail that I want to come into the house.

I didn't think about any of this until I restored an old Hoosier, and read up on the concept of "saving steps."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two thought tricks that I use for some things (when I can. sometimes I just get stuck.)

1. Front load your responsibility. this is related to "why put off till tomorrow what you can do today," but it really is more like, "the more responsibly you behave up front, the more likely people are to help you out/cut you some slack/find an alternative when the shit hits the fan. Also, the easier it is to recover (or appear to recover) from a missed ____. The example I use this with most often is lectures. If the professor sees your smiling, contributing face in the chair every single class for the first six weeks, and then you go missing for a lecture, the professor is concerned. If you skip two lectures in the first six weeks of class, you have used all of your good will for the semester.

2. Make life easier for future me. Having to scrub an entire pile of crusty dishes is awful, and hard and gross. Swishing the fresh pasta sauce out of one bowl and scrubbing one drinking glass and spoon is downright delightful in comparison. Same for keeping the trash bags in the bottom of the can instead of across the room, and actually replacing the bag when you take the full one out. Ditto for filling the car with gas before you get to E, because being close to empty is stressful and will seem more likely if you are already running late for something. Breakfast makes 11am me a much happier person. Lunch has the same effect on 3pm me, and so on throughout the day. Funny thing. Let people know if I won't attend something as soon as I've decided. This maintains friendships because you don't look flakey, and it also prevents the stress of a)dragging out the decision and b)waiting for the "right time" to tell someone.

Bonus for something I'm really not skilled at yet. Ask for help while it's still within the realm of reasonable. If you doubt your ability or are feeling overwhelmed, sure, it might go away, but if it doesn't, you will find yourself in a snowball situation of behindness.
posted by bilabial at 7:38 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

I highly recommend the Rooma - especially if you have a pet who sheds. You do need to clean it out, but it's so much less time-intensive than actually vacuuming and it does a really good job.

I also second the idea of roasting vegetables on aluminum foil - it makes cleanup so easy!
posted by insectosaurus at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2011

Buy in bulk. Never buy one stick/can of deodorant, one toothbrush, three razors, a small container of laundry or dish detergent, 30 trash bags, 30 plastic bags, 6 rolls of toilet paper, or a small roll of aluminum foil. Anything you use regularly should be purchased in large quantities. Buy a *lot* of these things when you buy them, and this drastically cuts down on thirty minute trips to the drug store for one stupid thing. You'll also save money.
posted by cnc at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Stop spending time keeping up with the joneses.

Clean enough that the dirt doesn't become permanent. Be okay with things normally being a touch dirty (but not untidy, as it's time efficient to keep things tidy at all times).

If you're regularly doing something that's not pleasant, figure out what it would take to no longer have to do it.
posted by talldean at 3:31 PM on November 29, 2011

I am a person who rarely flosses. I wish I flossed every day, but I don't. My teeth are tight, my gums bleed, I hate shoving my hands in my mouth. About six months ago I bought one of these Oral B battery powered toothbrushes and I actually think it gives me some flossing benefits without flossing. My proof of this is that when I do floss now, I don't bleed, and I don't have as much gunky buildup as I used to, but it doesn't take any longer than brushing with a manual toothbrush. I also had the dental hygenist assume on my last visit that I floss 3-4 times a week. Haha, fooled her!!!
posted by jabes at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Some good tips on here, especially for people with more complicated lives/homes than mine. I have a studio apartment, which makes for less overall cleaning but also makes clutter more intrusive, so I like the idea of moving/cleaning one thing every time I'm up. Other ideas like a Roomba, a maid, or shopping in bulk sound great for people with more spare cash and storage space than I have, but aren't really a good option for me right now. (Though I did see a robotic vacuum on Woot the other day, and it was damn tempting...)

Thanks for the input, everyone!
posted by SpiralT at 10:55 PM on November 29, 2011

One thing that I've done which has made my life so much simpler is to never buy anything that does not have a use (with the exception of pictures for the walls...). There's nothing in my place that cannot be *used* for something, no knick-knacks or purely decorative objects. Cuts way back on cleaning if things are being used all of the time.

Of course, this means most of the stuff I have is both functional and decorative... which is great for small spaces like studio apartments (or a room, which is what I live in at the moment).
posted by patheral at 2:32 PM on November 30, 2011

Ifttt is good at automating web chores.
posted by tenaciousd at 8:35 PM on November 30, 2011

Best answer: I also live in a tiny studio, I also HATE boring daily crap, additionally I am can be crazy messy if not kept in check. Here are my suggestions:

Around the house clutter:
Take a hard look around and ditch what you don't use.

Look at both vertical and horizontal space when thinking about storage. I moved from a 3,000 sq ft house to a sub 600sqft attic. There is more space there than you think. The plate stacker things mentioned above are great, as well as lid holders, and other things that are all going to be in the same aisle at walmart, target or wherever.

Do you have any space you can reclaim, a dark corner? Create storage there, I built a little mini closet.

I had a shallow and small nook, maybe 7 inches deep and three feet wide, which was created by the weird placement of the fridge. I hung a coat rack there, now when I walk in the door, I put my coat and purse on the rack and my shoes underneath them and BAM done.

Ok, this may sound like a bad idea for you, and its not for people super into hanging everything, but wash and fold is amazing and not very expensive. The time it takes to babysit laundry if you don't have a washer and dryer is insane. So I often take my laundry to the wash and fold place, I pick up the next day and it's folded so much more neatly than I could have done it. It's like 35 dollars every two weeks. I may just have light clothing, but I love it.

IKEA's expedit or a similar shelf system is great because it looks ok and its really not very deep, so I put one in a sorta hall (where the chiminey intrudes) which would have otherwise been unused space. The holes of the expedit pretty much perfectly fit neatly folded clothes and also, oddly enough, vinyl and some hanging file stuff. So, my clothes, and albums, and important papers are in mine. I row is also the "pantry" for baking stuff, one hole is for my biking gear, one hole has pens and paper, whatever. If everything has a place, it's much easier to put it up when you do find it laying around.

I mention this below (this is not a very organized response!) but seriously, hang everything. I pick up little coat hooks, closet things whatever, from places like ReStore or Target and then use them everywhere, I use them to hang canvas shopping bags to seperate and collect my recycling, I hang my broom (with dust pan that clips on!), mop and little bucket of cleaning supplies. etc.

Automate everything, don't even think about who gets paid when, set it up and forget about it. If you want to get fancy, also set-up an automatic transfer of a percentage of what is left after your automatic payments into a savings account.

The only thing I couldn't automate well is my rent check, so I sent my landlord 12 checks. (This of course only works if you really trust them)

I made sure to get a studio that had utilities included so that I wouldn't have any extra bills to consider or any variables.

Food: Buy dry beans, make soup, it'll last you a week.

Keep easy to prepare food around.

Get a cheap vegetable chopper thing. and learn to stir fry, dinner in 10 minutes!

You don't need kitchen appliances and in a studio you don't have space for them. Only keep what you really use.

I have EVERYTHING in my kitchen hanging up now using the IKEA rail things. It is awesome. I never have to look for the appropriate utensil, trivet, whatever the fuck I need.

There is so much more, I love being efficient, its part of my job and I hate feeling like I am bound to do something I don't feel like doing. I recommend paying attention to what is really taking your time and focus your energy on trimming it down.
posted by stormygrey at 11:01 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

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