Winning At Life!
November 1, 2012 4:42 PM   Subscribe

What are some simple changes you made to your day to day life that had big results?

I'm looking for your best tips and tricks to make your practical life a little less hectic and a little more efficient. Did you rearrange your morning routine and fix a big time suck? Did you find a way to make a daunting task less annoying and integrate it into your life easier? Tell me your secrets to making your day a little less needlessly fill with inefficient junk. I don't have a specific area in mind - I'd rather hear brilliant ideas from across the spectrum!
posted by amycup to Home & Garden (75 answers total) 358 users marked this as a favorite
I am looking forward to other people's answers. These 3 things have helped me:

1. Grocery shopping and cooking for the week on Sunday, and preparing my weekday take to work lunch the night before.

2. Planning my errands in advance and on as efficient a route as I can devise.

3. Always having an audiobook with me on my Ipod, including in the car (via a dock connector.) It really lowers stress to be "reading."
posted by bearwife at 4:46 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I filled out the various online forms to stop junk mail and credit card offers. You can't stop it 100% (or at least I haven't been able to), but I did significantly decrease the volume. There's a good overview at AARP.

And of course, I am also on the Do Not Call list.
posted by pie ninja at 4:50 PM on November 1, 2012 [13 favorites]

Tidying on the go instead of letting everything go to shit and bust my ass and waste a Saturday cleaning.

Signed up for online bill pay for all my bills and put the due dates in my calendar a week ahead of time. As in, if the bill is due on the 31st, I have a recurring event on the 24th. In that vein, I also keep my checkbook and stamps inside the box of envelopes (the only thing I write checks for is my coop's maintenance because they're a pain in the ass.)

Keeping a running to-do list at work on post-its, adding stuff as it comes in and crossing it off as I do it. I keep it on post-its because I don't have to do any extra work to, say, get up and cross it off a board or look for a notebook. Also because it is a lot harder to lose a post-it on a clean desk than it is to lose a text file.

Clean my hard drive and meticulously organizing my files just like I would with physical possessions.

Learning all the keyboard shortcuts for anything I do regularly. Did you know F2 renames files in Windows? That little shortcut has cut off hours off my workloads.
posted by griphus at 4:51 PM on November 1, 2012 [22 favorites]

-Grocery shopping for 2 weeks at a time.
-Stopped watching the news.
-Pay all bills through my bank's online billpay service.
- Turned off the landline.
posted by COD at 4:52 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Meal-planning and list-making for my weekly grocery trip. I no longer spend most evenings staring in the fridge or at the cupboards wondering desperately what to make for dinner, as I now have a regular supply of proteins/vegs/staples on rotation to choose from any night of the week.
posted by scody at 4:52 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Getting up earlier, to have some quiet time to get ready for the day. Taking up even minimal daily exercise, like a short brisk walk. Both of these have greatly helped me stave off mild depression.
posted by thelonius at 4:54 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

1. Mail efficiency: On my way back from the mailbox, I put unwanted magazines/catalogs into the back of my car for recycling, and trash mail directly into the garbage. Only the mail I really want ever comes into the house.

2. Soaking laundry in the washer until I'm actually ready to run a load of wash. Clothing gets extra soak time, and it's not in the way.

3. Always carrying a flashlight and a multitool has let me fix a bunch of things on the spot, rather than having to dig up tools and light.

4. Regular purse and car cleanouts. The car gets a de-cluttering after every trip out. Small purse is cleaned out and re-organized every few days.

5. Established spot (the back of my car) for items that need to be donated. That way, I can get them to their destination while running other errands.

6. Turning around clothing hangers at the start of a season (spring/fall) and purging the items still hanging on backwards-facing hangers at the end of the season.

7. A standard repository for keys, hat, work gloves, phone charger, pocket gear. It always goes to the same place, night after night.

8. Sticking to the list when shopping.

9. "Landing pads" or established, contained places for things to go a) upstairs; b) downstairs; c) outside.

10. Cleaning up at least one thing--even a small one--as I pass through a room.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:59 PM on November 1, 2012 [18 favorites]

Oh, yeah, I've recently started getting up at 6:30 instead of 8:30 and my day is a lot more pleasant. It starts with quality time with my girlfriend and dog, having breakfast and getting some light chores done (sometimes) instead of quickly stumbling into my clothes and trying to make it to the bus stop in ten minutes.
posted by griphus at 5:00 PM on November 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

Stop hitting "snooze" on the alarm. Wake up one time only.
Be ready for tomorrow, tonight.
Exercise is the secret to perpetual old age.
Forgive yourself.
posted by bebrave! at 5:05 PM on November 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Reworking my wardrobe to be almost entirely gray, cream, red, and black, and getting rid of everything else. Now I spend less on clothes, laundry takes less time, and getting dressed is much easier. And I look way better than I ever did before, because I'm a lot more disciplined about what I'm going to buy. It's just so much better this way.
posted by HotToddy at 5:08 PM on November 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

Getting an online to do list, while I have 1000+ todos now, I rarely miss things that need to be done. I have short term, medium term and "some day" todos and it really makes me efficient. Every todo gets written down, no matter how quick I may be able to do it. No more missing things due to getting interrupted by a phone call and then going blank about what I needed to do.

Making a area where my wallet and keys go EVERY time I put them down. I haven't misplaced my keys in years

Bill pay for all bills, auto pay where I can

Bike to work, keeps me in shape and really lets me burn away stress

If something takes less than 2 minutes to do I do it right then instead of pushing it out. It has really made the clutter go away in my life (and no missed bills, etc...)

Decluttering every day. For a while I was on a kick to get rid of 1 item a day (donate or trash) -even a piece of paper counted - and I really was able to make my house noticeably lighter in terms of crap.

Got rid of a lot of "fake hobbies" or projects I never was going to complete. This freed up so much mental energy and I was able to devote real time to things I could do.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:09 PM on November 1, 2012 [11 favorites]

I started programming the coffee maker before I go to bed.
posted by something something at 5:11 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cut your wardrobe down by 75% and keep the remaining 25% in regular rotation and excellent repair. Less to wash, less to maintain, easier choices when you're getting dressed.
posted by mochapickle at 5:20 PM on November 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

I feel kind of dumb for not having tried them for years and years but I was overjoyed to find out how well mesh bath puffs work in the shower. I had tried using loofahs and back brushes and stuff and they're just kind of clumsy to use in comparison.

You can usually cut some string or cord that ties the puff together and it unravels into a sheet or tube of the plastic mesh, which you can use like a wash cloth. You can wrap it around your finger and scrub in and behind your ears really well, in particular. It also works well to wrap a bar of soap in the mesh. (There's wash cloths too of course but I usually find that they're too soft to scrub well.)

There are also the plastic mesh bags which fruits and vegetables come in, though they're considerably rougher and more suited to scouring dishes.
posted by XMLicious at 5:23 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

  • I stick a 3x5 post-it note on the weekly Target circular I get with my Sunday coupons. Then when I'm shopping at Target, I have my shopping list, plus everything that's on sale and I'm less prone to impulse buys.
  • I keep my egg carton in the fridge with the date-stamped side facing outwards, with the expiration date always visible
  • I lay out my next day's outfit and get my lunch ready the night before
  • I keep a 10-sheet capacity shredder by the door to prevent junk mail getting scattered about all over

  • posted by invisible ink at 5:32 PM on November 1, 2012

    Waking up at (about) the same time every day, going to bed at (about) the same time every night. I now naturally wake up around 9 or 9:30am, which gives me a few hours to relax/finish up homework/cook/do whatever I want before I have to go to class. Same goes for weekends, except it just means Me Time before boyfriend wakes up. :) So nice to wake up because your brain knows its time vs. hearing AAGNT AAGNT AAGNT in the morning and getting more or less scared into being awake.
    posted by jorlyfish at 5:42 PM on November 1, 2012

    Key hook by the door.
    Pick out Monday-Friday's outfits on Sunday and put them all (including undies & socks) on hangers.
    Plan dinners for the week on Saturday, & then shop for the week on Saturday.
    Make lunches the night before.
    Get up 15 minutes earlier than I really have to.
    posted by Cuke at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Getting up earlier, getting into work earlier, leaving earlier. So much better.

    Cooking most of the week's meals on Sundays.

    Listening to taped lectures to put myself to sleep at night.
    posted by smoke at 5:51 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: 1. Stop watching television.
    2. If there are small chores you can do that you'll need tomorrow, do them the night before (i.e. make lunch, get your fare money, get your next-day wardrobe sorted on hangars or lying out where you can just get into them quickly post-shower
    3. write every day in a journal and train yourself to recognize minor moments you want to keep capturing in it.
    4. allow yourself an hour to an hour and a half in the morning before you have to start your routine to just let the day settle on you.
    5. Pet every dog you meet that is cool with this.
    6. take a walk around your town in the early evening if possible. The best light seems to be around 6:30pm in my opinion.
    7. Collect flotsam from the passing seasons if you can - shells, autumn leaves, vials of rain or snow and keep them all somewhere where you can see them throughout the year. Won't necessarily make you a more practical person, but it grounds you in the world and keeps everything else in a perfect perspective.
    8. Always carry a book with you. Or a device where you can read books during down time.
    9. Don't shop when you're hungry. Or when other people seem to be.
    10. If you can't sleep at night, create an imaginary town in your mind where you can meet people who live there, walk it's streets and learn to enjoy it's many pleasures until you fall asleep and dream yourself there.
    posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2012 [44 favorites]

    I order my groceries from my grocery store's website, then just have to swing by and pick them up later (they don't deliver groceries in my area). You just ring a buzzer and they bring them out, load them into your car, run your debit card and you're done, without even getting out of the car. It costs about $5.00 per shop, but I find I save more than that because it's easier to not get distracted when you are sitting at home on the computer with your list, you can sort items by what is on sale making it easier to take advantage of those savings, and I make fewer impulse buys.
    posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

    - a keyring that clips to my [bag strap/beltloop/buttonhole].

    - prepping produce (as suitable) when I first bring it home. I'm much more likely to promptly use (for example) kale if it's been washed and blanched, which also vastly reduces how much fridge space it requires. Beets I almost always eat roasted, either cold or gently warmed, so I roast them right away and pop 'em in the fridge. I'll eagerly chomp down carrot sticks if there's a container of 'em in the fridge, but if there isn't, the carrots will quietly go soft in the drawer. These habits might not be yours; figure out what yours are and you'll eat better, more easily.

    - Since we live in a small apartment with no dedicated work space to keep tools and craft materials, every time we needed a roll of tape or a bottle of glue, we had to look through every drawer to find it. I finally put together a box just for adhesives. Every bottle or tube of glue, every roll of Scotch tape, double-sided tape, packing tape, or poster-hanging tape, every bit of blue-tack putty, every adhesive in the house goes in there.

    - And an opposite measure: I have scissors in several different rooms: kitchen scissors, nail scissors and hair scissors in the bathroom, craft scissors with my paper goods, fabric scissors with my sewing kit. It saves me steps every day, and I'm never temped to use the wrong scissors for a task and possibly damage them. (Why this didn't work for glue and tapes, I can't explain. But it didn't.)

    - keeping reuseable grocery sacks in the car. I also keep one or two compact lightweight nylon bags in the bottom of my messenger bag, and usually one in my jacket pocket for quick trips to the corner store or library.

    - keeping a small sheet of forever stamps in my wallet. When I need to mail something, I know where my stamps are and that they are the current first-class rate.
    posted by Elsa at 6:18 PM on November 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

    A few years ago, I realized that my pattern of not eating a substantial meal in the morning was totally tanking my day. My reasoning was, I like sleeping in the morning, so if I defer getting out of bed as long as possible, I will maximize happiness. Turns out that didn't work. What happened was, I would grab a shitty granola bar and run out the door, exhausted and hungry. My days are much, much happier if I just spend an extra 20-30 minutes every morning reading and eating a substantial breakfast.

    I probably sound like your dad or something, saying "eat your breakfast." But seriously. Eat your breakfast.
    posted by deathpanels at 6:21 PM on November 1, 2012 [12 favorites]

    Washing dishes as I cook rather than a whole bunch after eating.
    posted by Under the Sea at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

    Stopped getting the daily newspaper, stopped getting the New Yorker. (And I mean I stopped reading those things, not just that I stopped getting the physical publications.)
    posted by escabeche at 6:27 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Shave at night, before bed. One less thing.
    posted by jbickers at 6:27 PM on November 1, 2012

    These are a bit more frivolous, but they are efficient ways of creating and spreading frivolity.

    - a dear friend and I always talked about getting together, but we only managed it once or twice a year. Finally, we decided to have a standing monthly date of dinner and a movie at my place. We no longer dither about how we should get together; we just figure out the best day for both of us this month.

    - I keep inexpensive sparkling wine on hand mostly because I like to drink it, but also because it's fun to bring a bottle of bubbly as a host/hostess/housewarming gift. It's also good for picnics because you don't need a bottle opener.

    And back to practical efficiency:

    - I have a table that requires a particular wrench to tighten/loosen its legs. Because I never use this small wrench for anything else, I attached the wrench with a piece of wire twisted around an eyehook set deep in the table's apron where it will never bang anyone's knee. When I need the wrench, it's right where I'll use it.

    I use this principle a lot, as you can see from my previous comment. Some more examples:
    - When I take apart a piece of furniture to move, I put the screws and small parts in a labelled plastic bag or envelope and tape it securely to the underside of the furniture, or find some other way to secure them together if possible.
    - If a piece of furniture came with a free hex wrench (as, for example, my futon did), I tape the wrench to the underside of the furniture so I can tighten it or take it apart without digging out my tool box.
    -I keep the corkscrew in the living room where I open most wine, not in the kitchen drawer or in our bar.
    - I keep my winter socks in a drawer in the living room, since that's where I sit to put on my boots. I know it's kinda weird, but it works for me (and no one but my husband knows, except you and the entire rest of the internet).
    posted by Elsa at 6:51 PM on November 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

    - landing pad where keys/wallet/other stuff goes
    - have a bag which has three pockets for wallet/phone/camera (and outside pocket for keys), check all pockets
    - do anything that takes less than five minutes as I think of it and don't save it for later [feed birds, wash a dish, clean the sink]
    - have a "take a time out" piece of software for my computer that kicks me off for five minutes every hour and do those five minute things
    - treat exercise like medicine for my brain and my insomnia and do it often
    - the only TV time I have is also social time [i.e. go over to someone's house to watch a debate or a game, or make plan to watch a specific show] otherwise no TV
    - buy double chargers of everything and have a "to go" bag of chargers and cables for travel and a home collection, maintain a charging station for anything in the house that needs a charge
    - no microwave, hot food requires cooking
    - brush teeth while coffee is making. No clean teeth = no coffee
    - eat breakfast

    My entire life is focused around never waking up to an alarm clock and it works pretty well for me, keeping my stress level down.

    Mantra: if you don't know what you want, it's probably sleep. Get some sleep.
    posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on November 1, 2012 [23 favorites]

    Don't peel vegetables or fruits if you can help it- usually you don't need to. I just keep a produce-only scrub brush near the sink and only cut out really gross looking spots. If nothing else, I now eat more carrots.
    posted by Secretariat at 7:03 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Audiobooks. I have a bunch of books on my iPod and I get a ton of reading done now while I drive, do chores, walk, etc. And I don't feel quite as stressed out over not having time to relax with a book.

    We put enough money in our FSA to cover as much of our medical expenses for the year as we can. It's really been nice to not have to be continually rearranging the budget to cover these irregular expenses.

    I hate grocery shopping and meal planning, but our constant eating out was killing our budget and not doing our health any favors either. The last time I went shopping I stocked way up on meat, fish and frozen veggies for our freezer. Now all I have to do is put some sort of meat in the oven to roast and throw a vegetable on to steam. If I need something quick I do fish or sausage in the microwave. It's reasonably healthy and takes minimal effort so I'm not tempted to eat out as much.
    posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:22 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I used to listen to NPR as I got ready for work, but as I noticed that their increasing political coverage just made me agitated before I walked out the door, I started a quiet-work-prep routine.

    My partner buys whole coffee beans. My mornings are much better if the coffee is ground and I don't have to a) expend effort or b) listen to a coffee grinder. There is no discernible difference in taste, to me.

    I ride the bus to work. The bus that's a block from me is overcrowded (with undergrads) and I almost always end up angry by the time I disembark. This puts me in a shitty mood all day. There's another bus ~3/4 miles away that is much less crowded. I walk there. It gets me in a few minutes earlier, the walk is pleasant, and I don't feel like committing murder on the ride in.

    Programmable thermostat -- makes the house warm when it's finally time to get out of bed.

    Blinds: Open them slightly at night so morning sunlight helps the waking-up process.


    I don't have a dishwasher. When I wash dishes by hand, I stack them in a certain order and put them into the soapy water that way. (Big plates, little plates, littler plates, bowls.) I wash them in that order, and then rinse/rack them in the reverse order. This means that my dishrack is organized from left to right, biggest to smallest, and it makes it really easy to put dishes away.

    My parents, who do have a dishwasher, organize their silverware. Forks in one cubby, spoons in another, etc. It requires a little more attention when filling the dishwasher, but it makes emptying it a snap.

    Use the stay-put tabs on boxes of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper.

    I order things from Amazon Prime wherever possible, which prevents many shopping trips and saves money overall.

    If you juice a lemon, place the juiced halves in a ziploc freezer bag. (They nest inside one another!) When you need lemon zest, remove one and grate.

    Use the Unfuck Your Habitat method of spending 20 minutes on cleaning, and 10 minutes on resting.
    posted by mudpuppie at 7:22 PM on November 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

    I started showering in the evening before bed. Saves a lot of time and stress in the morning.
    posted by Autumn at 7:25 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

    Automatic savings deduction!
    posted by jgirl at 7:25 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

    -Sign up for Amazon Prime, and then put every dumb household thing like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper on subscription
    -Get rid of your TV and microwave
    -Clean as you go
    -Always carry a notebook and pen
    -Move closer to your work, then walk or bike there. Can't describe how much better this has made my life.
    -Pick something you really like and always make it from scratch (pickles, jam, beer, roast chicken, whatever)
    posted by bradbane at 7:26 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I keep a "getaway" backpack in my car trunk with a change of basic clothes, a passably nice outfit, a couple toiletries, a towel, and a bathing suit. I've had there it since college (when I often went home for a day or two unexpectedly) and it has proven its worth time and again.
    posted by susanvance at 8:10 PM on November 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

    I am not a morning person, so I've been trying to make mornings less painful.

    One thing that really helped is making a protein shake for breakfast. It's super fast and it keeps me full for a long time (before I was often just eating a banana as I ran out the door). I often add my shot of espresso right into the shake (works best with chocolate flavour). I dedicated an eye-level shelf in my kitchen cupboard for this breakfast setup. The protein powder, shaker cup, and unopened boxes of almond milk go in there.

    Also got one of those sunrise alarm clocks. The light slowly gets brighter and brighter, and eventually it starts playing quiet sounds. So much more relaxing and pleasant than waking up to a beeping in the pitch black in winter.

    I'm trying to get in the habit of setting out my clothes the night before. When I do it makes mornings much smoother and less stressful.

    On work nights I pack my bag for the next day, make sure keys, work pass, wallet, reusable shopping bag, and anything I need to bring is all set out together.

    I've been experimenting with an app called "home routines" that lets you set up various cleaning and other daily and weekly routines. I've set up a work night routine - my phone beeps at me at 9pm to remind me to brew some chamomile tea, pack my lunch and bag, set out my clothes, floss my teeth, and get ready for bed.
    posted by snailparade at 8:27 PM on November 1, 2012 [8 favorites]

    Oh yes, also, I second the person who said "automatic savings deduction."

    I used to put stuff on my line of credit (pretty good interest rate) and pay it off over the next few months. It's so satisfying and so much less stressful to save up in advance for stuff.

    We have joint savings accounts for a number of sporadic household expenses - vet bills, vacation, house stuff, car stuff, etc. Every paycheque a certain amount automatically goes in each. When the dog eats a sock or something we already have money set aside to pay the bill.

    I have accounts for my own expenses too with the same setup. Tuition, health care, emergency fund, and electronics (cost and expected life of computer and phone factored into biweekly savings rate so that when it's time to replace them I will have the funds ready).

    We use those ING savings accounts that you can give names to. No urge to raid the accounts for anything other than their labelled purpose when they have a name instead of "83402983403".
    posted by snailparade at 8:41 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

    Ordering 3-4 weeks of groceries online and having them delivered. Well worth it if you are a car-less urbanite.
    posted by fings at 10:18 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Never walk into the kitchen with empty hands. There is always a coffee cup or something that needs to go there.
    posted by bink at 12:17 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

    I'm a bit confounded by the people who are suggesting getting rid of the microwave. That seems like the complete opposite of rearrange your morning routine and fix a big time suck. In a microwave I can make scrambled eggs in literally less than three minutes, on the plate I'm going to eat them off of so there's no skillet to wash, with no "did I leave the stove on?" worries after I rush out the door.

    And basically any vegetable you would steam you can do in a microwave. A favorite of mine is microwaving corn in the husk: it's like God designed corn to be microwaved. (Though it's not as convincing a case as Kirk Cameron's banana theory.)

    Another handy thing is that if I'm making soup on the stove or something else that requires carrots and I forget to add the carrots earlier than the other vegetables because they take longer to cook, a few minutes in the microwave for the carrots first will synchronize everything.

    There are also many dishes that require baking in an oven or cooking under a broiler to acquire the right texture and browning but come out just as well in less time and consuming less electricity if you raise their internal temperature in the microwave before moving them to the oven rack.

    It's easy to overcook things in a microwave and have them come out like crap but the same goes with, say, deep frying.
    posted by XMLicious at 12:31 AM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

    While we're on the topic of cooking... I bake. I lay out all of my ingredients and --and this is important-- put them away as I use them. Not only does this simplify cleanup, but it's also an instant check on whether I've added a particular ingredient or not. I get interrupted a lot, so this simple technique has saved my sanity, and my baked goods, a number of times.
    posted by MonkeyToes at 4:01 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Unplug your router and switch off your mobile telephone one day a week and savour a day without the internet and distraction.
    posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 4:05 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

    I used to have a dresser drawer crammed with an unholy tentacled mess of knotted tights, knickers, bras, socks, stockings, and camisole tops. Getting dressed involved up to FIVE MINUTES of rumaging, swearing, untangling and emptying everything everywhere. (Those bra hooks attach themselves to lacy things - think your headphone cables, but *worse*).

    One day I bought a set of these at Ikea.


    My bras have a box, my knickers have a box, my socks have a box! No more sweary grumpy untangling at 7am for me, no siree!
    posted by NoiselessPenguin at 5:50 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

    Recognize that other people's tips might not work for you and be okay with giving up on them as you realize they're not working. I can't tell you how many things I used to do because someone told me it was the 'easiest' or 'fastest' way - but it wasn't for me.

    Pay attention to your days and see where you feel uncomfortable or stressed out or some other unpleasant feeling. There's almost always a way to make it better once you recognize it - and cutting out even one stressful situation improves the rest of the day exponentially. It's amazing how many things people 'put up with' that they could change if they just recognized the stress!

    For any and every task, do as much in advance as possible. I call this "Making Future Violet Happy" because I am fond of procrastination and have spent a lot of time cursing Past Violet for not doing something she could have done to make things easier. In other words, don't put off tasks or chores.

    Figure out when places like the grocery store are least busy so you can schedule your shopping for a time when you're not going to have to spend forever standing in line. (And I'm adding my vote for advance menu planning and grocery-list-writing.) For me, this is Friday mornings whenever I'm able to flex my work day.

    Finding apps that sync across all of your devices (bonus points for a web interface, too). Thanks to a variety of apps, I always have my to-do list handy, my current ebook ready to read (and at the right place in the story), my grocery list available, and a list of things like my library card #, the colour of hair dye that I last used, and the measurements for curtains I want to buy. No need to look for a post-it or a notebook - - it's on my personal phone, work phone, laptop, tablet, work computer (etc) already!

    Clean up as you go along. Whether it's while cooking or just walking out of a room, I keep looking for something to rearrange or put away or clean. It's amazing how much you can accomplish with literally one or two minutes of time.

    Have multiples of things that you use often, and in different locations. Scissors and pens, definitely, but also things like multiple sets of measuring cups/spoons (so you don't have to stop and wash them while doing prep-work) or a toothbrush and hairbrush in each bathroom. The flip side is to get rid of excess clutter and things you don't use - so you have more space and less stuff to clean, tidy and put away.

    Get other people involved - in my case, my kids have chores and tasks to do that are useful and helpful and clear up my time. Kids love to help and kids need to develop skills and this is win-win all around. I'm always shocked when I hear people say that their kids don't have chores!

    I'm not in a place, financially, where I can often do this, but consider the "time vs money" equation. A friend of mine pays people to do a lot of the tasks that she hates doing or that take up a lot of time (like paying a neighbour kid to mow her lawn, hiring a cleaning service). My version of this is to get rid of anything that sucks away time AND that I don't like doing - ripping out plants that require too much care (because I hate gardening, as much as I like the way flowers look), tossing out knicknacks that have too many nooks and crannies to dust, donating things that don't work for me in some way.
    posted by VioletU at 6:05 AM on November 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

    I bought this key/letter holder which is in my hallway and I make sure my keys go on it as soon as I walk in, my work pass/travel card get tucked in the letter holder part, and any tickets for travel or events are also put there.

    Before I go to bed I make sure my bag is packed for work next day and my clothes are laid out ready.

    If I need to take something out with me, I put it in a plastic bag and hang it on the door handle. If I need to remember to do something before I leave, I put a post-it over the keypad on my burglar alarm so I can't set the alarm without seeing the note.

    If I have something in my phone calendar, I'll also write it on the wall calendar. (I forgot to do this a few weeks ago, and then missed an appointment after I'd left my phone in the office.)

    I have someone tidy my front garden for me.

    I bought a dishwasher about 18 months ago. I feel as if it's transformed my life. I've always loved to cook but enjoy it much more without the sinkful of dishes at the end of it. If you can find any space at all in your kitchen for a dishwasher, get one.

    I also bought a cheap coffee maker with a timer. I just don't have time on my days in the office to brew an Aeropress coffee before I leave the house, so to have the coffee all ready is just great. I also bought a non-spill coffee mug (Contigo - or sold under the Avex brand in Costco) which really Does Not Leak and is worth its weight in gold - so much so that I've had to buy several others for people at work who've seen mine and aren't Costco members.

    Every few months I'll have a big de-clutter. I used to have a two-drawer cabinet full of paperwork, but a cull meant I got this down to a single concertina file.

    I organised my storage closet a while ago, with everything in labelled boxes. Now I know exactly where to find batteries, or Christmas decorations, or sewing thread.

    For me the key is Do It Now. If I remember something when I'm at work that I need to do at home, I'll immediately send myself an email to my home address. Then when I get home and see the email, I do that thing right then.

    I never used to be organised, and it took me some discipline to become so - but now it's become a habit and I find that those 10 minutes spent getting things ready the night before make life so much easier in the long run.
    posted by essexjan at 6:39 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

    There's no way I could buy groceries every other week or every third week; at least half of my grocery bill is fresh food. I do however find it helpful to order non-perishable things like cereal and cat food online, and have them delivered. This cuts the volume to buy at the store. That my apartment building accepts packages is a great help with this; if I were a typical suburbanite I would probably just load all this stuff into a car every few weeks.

    Dispose of excess food packaging, like cereal boxes, right away and all at once. I order a dozen boxes of the stuff and I immediately remove the boxes. Reduces daily trash disposal.

    Generally, try to buy things that have less packaging. Who cares about the environment? I just hate taking trash out. When I see packaging, I see something that has to be removed from my house. I switched orange juice because the new plastic carafes are an enormous pain to dispose of because they do not flatten.
    posted by massysett at 6:40 AM on November 2, 2012

    Learn to build useful habits - I got a lot out of BJ Fogg's 3 Tiny Habits experiment. Take a week and learn how to create habits for yourself, and then incrementally add tiny habits to your routine that make your life easier.

    Avoid the endless morning beeping - I live and die by my sunrise alarm clock. Put it across the room and set it to a 15 minute sunrise cycle. You can train yourself to wake up from the light halfway through its sunrise, at which point you are very motivated to get out of bed immediately to turn it off before the back-up beeping can start. No morning beeping makes me way more cheerful all day!

    Lightbox with a timer - Once I'm showered and downstairs, I turn my lightbox on and stick it shining in my face as I check my email &c. The morning light helps cheer and wake me up, plus the button sets a 15 minute timer each time it's pushed (with lights showing you how many 15min increments you've set). That timer is great for hooking on habits (ie: take meds right after turning on lightbox, put on socks when lightbox goes off, &c) that help move you out the door and on with your day.

    Calendar everything - Whenever you think of something you have to do, stick it on google calendar immediately. Make an appointment for a specific time for it, even if it doesn't need to happen at any particular time. That will remind you to make it happen. Recurring events on gcal are a godsend, too - I have a weekly reminder set to upgrade Wordpress to avoid getting hacked, that sort of thing.


    Breakfast soups - make a batch, then freeze individual portions in small ziplock bags. Every morning you get a nutritious, high-protein, high-fiber happy meal just by sticking a portion in the microwave directly from the freezer.

    Weekday lunches - Cook something on Sunday that will reheat well, and portion it out into lunch-sized containers to last you for the rest of the week. Grab one every morning to bring into work.

    Shopping list - Get a notepad to stick on your fridge to use as a shopping list. Everything goes on the list. Then you don't forget that you needed to buy salt for a month and end up stuck eating the sad bland food of the easily distracted.
    posted by 168 at 8:22 AM on November 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

    I'm pretty sure this question has been asked on AskMe before. Anyhow:

    1. For my work, getting a copyholder resulted in a huge productivity improvement for $10. I'm a translator, and I had previously propped up my source documents wherever. It was harder to read, slower, dumb. These days I also reformat most of my source documents to follow the same template, which I've optimized for legibility and paper-saving.

    2. I've replaced paper grocery lists with an app that syncs between my phone and my wife's. When we run out of something, it goes on the list immediately, and we never forget our list.

    3. All paperless bills, all sent to a special e-mail alias. When a bill comes in, it gets routed to a specific mailbox, and it's impossible to overlook. I generally pay them within a day or so—I don't practice inbox-zero except on that one box, and it bugs me to see anything in there undealt-with.
    posted by adamrice at 8:24 AM on November 2, 2012

    I keep a power strip in my luggage at all times now so when at hotels I'm not struggling to find enough outlets for all my gadgets. Also, I use one of those structured see-through packages bedsheets come in to keep my travel toiletries packed at all times--my stuff doesn't get smashed in my suitcase making goopy messes anymore, bc it's seethrough I don't have to rummage for things much, it's just the right dimensions for one side of a little roller carryon suitcase, and when it's time to pack it's as simple as grabbing the cube and tossing it in, don't have to agonize over whether I'm forgetting anything each time.

    Agree with the above about weekly meal-and-errand-planning-while-grocery-listing as well as keeping stamps/envelopes/addresses/means-of-corresponding readily handy, preloading social time and exercise time (assuming it happens every X unless otherwise noted, I mean, which assumes its priority so you don't think about it or question it; this works for anything you wish to prioritize but find you never have time for, including artistic pursuits or sex), and designated convenient landing spots for important things. Also, sniffing coffee beans when you need to reboot your sense of smell (wine and scotch tastings, judging cooking), cleaning the house with vinegar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and lemons--so much more effective/fast and easy odor removal.
    posted by ifjuly at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2012

    I use many of the above tips, so I'll include the ones that aren't listed above.

    1. The door to our townhouse is metal. We have a couple magnets on it, so if there's a bill that needs to go out, or a note from one household member to another that the second person HAS to see for some reason, it gets tacked onto the door.

    2. We use the glass Pyrex bowls and boxes with lids instead of plastic for leftovers. If for some reason, I've left food in the bowl for too long, it will pop right out and mold doesn't stick. They clean up a lot easier, are more durable, and don't stain. They're more expensive, but I've found that if you put them on gift lists and explain why you want them, people are generally happy to give them to you.

    3. I'm known as one of those difficult-to-buy-for people, so I try to put things I'd like more of in the kitchen (pyrex boxes and bowls, above, or nice mixing bowls) or that will help me make my life easier (sunrise alarm clock, key rack) on my gift lists on Amazon. It sounds boring, but I've let my family know that I really do think of them whenever I use my practical gifts (in fact, I thought of my sister in law this morning while packing our lunches - she gave me a set of pyrex containers last year for Christmas that I used in lunch prep today).

    4. I'm short. I found a great tailor to hem my pants. Can I hem my own pants? Yes. Is it worth $7 to have someone else hem my pants? Yes. :)

    5. Get rid of stuff you don't need. It sounds dumb, but the more you get out of your home, the more you don't have to maintain. It's made cleaning the house so much easier and faster.
    posted by RogueTech at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I'm a bit confounded by the people who are suggesting getting rid of the microwave.

    I try to always remember that faster and easier isn't necessarily better.
    posted by bradbane at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    nthing biking to work. It's a weirdly simple change that has had such a profound effect on my life. I don't need a gym membership, the stress of commuting by car (in traffic) is gone, stress in general is gone, I'm in great shape, I meet friendly people, I spend way less on gas and car maintenance, I feel less shitty about my impact to the planet, I can eat donuts whenever I want.

    Imagine that you could go back in time and tell the 10(ish) year old version of you that when you grow up you could ride your bike wherever you wanted whenever you wanted and no one could say shit about it. Imagine how happy that kid would be. Even in the lousiest cold and rainy weather that's commuting by bike, in a nutshell.
    posted by togdon at 9:48 AM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

    On workdays, I lay out the next morning's outfit the night before.

    I buy and wear dark gray work pants/skirts more often than black ones. Gray doesn't fade as easily as black (or at least it doesn't show it), so they look new for longer.

    I also own a couple of what I call "fuck-it dresses," as in "fuck it, I'm just gonna wear this dress." A good fuck-it dress is comfortable, wrinkle-free, and machine washable; it doesn't require any weird undergarments or layers, and looks good with few or no accessories. Once you have a dress like this, you can just throw it on whenever you don't feel like putting together an outfit, and you look polished even though you're being lazy. (This might not work as well for men.)

    My office uses Outlook for email, and I keep my inbox arranged by "Conversation." For every conversation that involves an open task/thing to do, I keep only the last message in my inbox. Everything else gets filed away immediately. I've never been an inbox organizer, but I have to admit this makes things so much easier.

    If I'm done using a dish or utensil and it only requires a quick rinse to get clean again, I (sometimes, if I'm thinking ahead) do it right away.

    Having a dinner schedule is awesome. You don't always have to stick to it, but it saves tons of time.

    I love bagged broccoli slaw as a vegetable: all you have to do is dump some salad dressing on it, plus it stays fresh for a few days longer than leafy salads.

    Always have some non-perishable, reasonably healthy foods around for when you need to eat something now and don't really care what. Nuts, peanut butter, canned tuna and beans all work.

    Finally, it really helps me to notice patterns in the way I feel, and to be aware of what causes them and what helps them. Things like "I'm getting irritated because I haven't been outside all day and I'm feeling restless" or "I'm upset because of a thing that happened at work, but when this happens I always feel better the next day." Knowing the cause of a bad feeling helps me treat or work through them more efficiently.
    posted by Metroid Baby at 9:52 AM on November 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

    I have one kind of black socks and one kind of white (sports) socks. I got rid of all my other types of socks. This saves me time when doing laundry as I don't have to spend time matching socks. I just throw it all into a small drawer and when its time to dress I just pull out two black socks or two white socks. When I bought the socks I bought extras that are still in the bag so when I start to run low (as I seem to lose socks over the year), I replenish my stash. I have three kids and have adopted the same strategy with them. The girls have one type of socks, the boy has another. Getting the wife on board has been a little tougher, but since we only have 4 types of socks between the 4 of us, the wife's socks are pretty much everything else, so sorting it is not terrible. The only other hurdle I've had to this system is during Christmas or on birthdays when grandparents buy the kids socks, which can mess up the system, but we've been able to delay that issue for now by returning them or placing them with the backup stash.
    posted by tedunni at 9:54 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Yep, get a uniform for work. For me it's khakis and one of a set of short- or long-sleeved shirts, Monday through Friday. On the weekend I can wear other stuff, but my "business casual" stuff is just my office uniform. (Gee, thanks, Catholic military school!)

    After you finish a week's menu, save it in a binder clip. When you're too fried on a Sunday to crank out another week's menu, flip through menus at least three weeks old and swipe some ideas. Do yourself a favor!
    posted by wenestvedt at 10:04 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

    Cut out the television. When you do, you can also cut out blogs about television, news about television and so on. Streamlined my on-line life immesely.

    Go digital. I love ebooks. LOVE them! I can have as many books as I want and they take up no space in my house.

    Make your lunch the night before. Saves a ton of time in the morning! Sometimes, I also pre-prep part of tomorrow's dinner e.g. boil rice or pasta.

    'Uniform' for work. I divided all my tops into five types (jacket/blazer, sweater, long-sleeve shirt, black, goes with jeans [which we can only wear on Fridays). Now, I only buy those kinds of tops. I have a few of each and it makes it easy to go a whole month without repeating. When I get a new one, I just replace the yuckiest looking old one.
    posted by JoannaC at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2012

    Air travel may not be a day-to-day thing for you, but when it's weekly or monthly it helps to have habits. Chargers, keys, toiletries, etc. all go to the same pockets in luggage. Always the same rollaboard carry-on bag. Separate set of toiletries that never leave the bag, so you never leave them behind. Same with a separate set of laptop/phone/etc. chargers. Park in the same lot, plan on the same amount of lead-time, etc.

    Getting married to a woman who either leaves me leftovers from dinner or occasionally makes my lunch has made mornings way better, but it is not an option available to everyone.

    When my boss asks me to do something that I don't really have time to do, I'll make that known, rather than just accepting the project and grumbling about it. Sometimes the response is "make time," but other times Boss realizes that the deadline is arbitrary, and we make things work. Again, it may not work for everyone.
    posted by craven_morhead at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2012

    I keep a small bag of change in my car, and another one at work - five of each coin denomination. It works out to just under $20, and is useful for paying for parking and small unforeseen expenses.
    posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Buy non-perishable staples in bulk. To me, the magic of Costco isn't the savings. It's eliminating trips to the grocery store for things like garbage can liners, rice, paper towels, contact lens solution and so on, because I already have purchased a ginormous supply that is going to last me months.
    posted by Wordwoman at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I have trouble remembering or bothering to floss. But flossing is important. So I buy in bulk and put floss in multiple locations. There's floss by the tv, by the bed, in the kitchen. My mother keeps floss in her car. (I don't drive enough for that.) I'm much better at remembering now that there is floss at my fingertips wherever I happen to run across it.
    posted by rdnnyc at 2:19 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

    Before I start cooking, I fill the (empty) sink with steaming hot water and a squirt of washing up liquid. As I finish with knives, chopping boards, pans, etc, I dump them in the hot water.

    By the time I've finished cooking, the water is medium-warm - ideal to wash up with - and most of the dirty utensils only need a quick scrub or wipe to be clean.

    So much easier than dealing with dried-on muck, and a smoother transition from cooking to clearing up.
    posted by NoiselessPenguin at 2:43 PM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

    I use a timer app that lets me label my reminders. So now the dryer timer is ticking away and I have a separate one for the washer. I'm also a fan of using a calendar program to send reminders to pay bills, water the plants weekly and gather stuff to return to the library. When I was younger, I tried to rely on my memory. Since integrating the timers & calendar reminders, I haven't had an overdue book or paid my bills late and my husband's amazed that his favorite plant is still alive years later.
    posted by dragonplayer at 3:00 PM on November 2, 2012

    Improving my life with little "sanity upgrades" is one of my favorite parts of living, no joke. It keeps me tuned into where my energy is going and frees up a lot of mental space.

    I HATE laundry. A few months ago we pared down all of our bedding to one duvet cover, 2 blankets, and four sets of sheets. We got rid of the incomplete sets of solo pillowcases, fitted sheets, and top sheets. It's alleviated many laundry-related headaches related to trying to store stuff, keep sets together, etc. We also got rid of all of my fiance's everyday socks, which were various brands/shades of black and white ankle socks that made me want to burn the laundry basket. He now has one brand of black socks and that's it.

    We also don't have a dishwasher and while I cook I fill the sink up with hot, soapy water. Dirty dishes go into the sink as they are used. By the time I get around to doing the dishes it's as simple as draining the sink and giving everything a quick swipe with the sponge.

    I completely streamlined my morning coffee routine. We have a keurig and it's set up to turn on 5 minutes before I wake up. I buy good ground coffee every week to keep in the freezer and each night I pack each eko-brew (one for me, one for my fiance) with ground coffee and put them in the freezer. When I wake up all I have to do is pop the eko-brew into the keurig and press Brew.

    Whenever I fill up my car with gas I try to completely tidy my car by the time the pump turns off. Really I'm just taking advantage of the trash can that's two feet away, but it's amazing how much you can tidy in 3 minutes.

    We have a landing pad by the front door with a recycling bin. All junk mail goes immediately into the recycling bin. All mail for my fiance goes onto his desk. All of my mail gets opened and things to be addressed get tacked onto a bulletin board above my desk. That way I can keep track of bills, etc without them cluttering the entryway or kitchen table.

    Before I go grocery shopping I quickly clean out the fridge and cupboards. Keeps me aware of our inventory and prevents me from getting frustrated when putting stuff away.

    I HATE yardwork/gardening. Our house has no grass, no "yard", no flowers, no landscaping. We do nothing to our property besides plow the driveway and shovel a path to the basement in the winter and burn tree stumps / other trash in the summer. We also live in the woods at the end of a dirt road, off another dirt road, off another dirt road. I couldn't care less what the outside of our house looks like because hardly anyone sees it.

    Finally, we don't make much money but we hired someone to clean our house once a week. I will never, ever go back.
    posted by pintapicasso at 7:54 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

    1. For a long time I cleaned my glasses in the morning by washing them in the bathroom sink, then drying them with 3 squares of toilet paper which I then threw out. After a while, I realized that I could use the semi-damp squares to clean up dust etc. on random surfaces. I started off with the top of the toilet, then moved to the top of decorative siding around the bathroom and the rest of my apartment, then my dresser top and desk. Then I repeated.

    2. I got a Roomba a while back and I haven't felt the need to vacuum/sweep since. I run it once every week or two. It sometimes is flaky and dies in the middle of a room, but most of the time I just spend a few minutes cleaning it out, which saves a lot of time and effort.

    3. I use Google Calendar reminders for stuff I need to remember but will probably forget, like birthdays of people I care about and street cleaning days when I maybe need to move my car.
    posted by A dead Quaker at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2012

    > I'm a bit confounded by the people who are suggesting getting rid of the microwave.

    I try to always remember that faster and easier isn't necessarily better.

    Except when the actual question is about how to make things faster and easier and more efficient; at the very least it's a better answer to the question.

    But even besides that, most of the uses I described above for a microwave are when it's better in a culinary sense because it's faster and easier. If the attitude is that a microwave can never be better because it's some sort of crass or pedestrian method of heating food—pearl-clutching because Dear God, a microwave is what they use at convenience stores to heat up burritos!—you're not actually discussing what's better, you're just being snooty.

    You can grind your peppercorns with a mortar and pestle out of disdain for those new-fangled invented-in-the-last-200-years pepper grinder contraptions or to gain insight into how people lived centuries ago but it doesn't actually make the pepper taste any better.

    Which reminds me of another cooking-related answer to the OP's question: if you end up buying one of those disposable pepper grinders supermarkets sell, when it's empty you can often refill it by drilling a hole in it and using a funnel. I don't use them just for pepper, though, I put other whole spices like coriander or fenugreek seeds in them. And BTW spices are frequently much less expensive at Indian or East Asian markets.

    And thumbs up to bagged broccoli slaw, which you can also make yourself with a grater and left-over broccoli stems. Not only great on salads but very good in stir-fries because it provides lots of surface area for sauce and other seasoning to stick to.
    posted by XMLicious at 11:24 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

    I'm taking a class that requires me to do assignments and tutorials on the computer using intructions out of a large, heavy paperback textbook. My wire book holder was not sturdy enough to hold the book in the correct position so I could actually see it, and attempting to turn the page or even bumping the table would often cause the whole setup to fall over. This was incredibly frustrating. I purchase this extremely sturdy textbook stand and it has been wonderful. The book now sits at a great angle, I can turn the pages without a struggle... just an amazingly better experience overall.

    Also, if you do any kind of work or schoolwork that requires you to go back and forth between programs as you work, a dual monitor setup is really a time saver as you can have one program on each screen, and even cut and paste from one to the other. My husband actually has three monitors set up at work, which allows him to be super-productive when he needs to be.
    posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:45 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Consistently getting 8 hours of sleep every night and practicing mindfulness meditation when I can give me an enormous boost to my sense of contentment and well being.
    posted by mermily at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

    Realize when it's better to just pay someone to do a task for you. I have the fluff & fold lady do my laundry and it's SO MUCH BETTER than having to sit in the laundromat for hours.
    I actually decided not to have a washer/dryer in my new house, partly because I had trouble finding one small enough to fit, but mainly because I hate doing laundry!

    Also, premade mirepoix is totally worth it for making soups or whatever, instead of having to chop up onion, carrot, celery and then think of something to do with all the rest of the celery.
    posted by exceptinsects at 4:38 PM on November 4, 2012

    Which reminds me of another cooking-related answer to the OP's question: if you end up buying one of those disposable pepper grinders supermarkets sell, when it's empty you can often refill it by drilling a hole in it and using a funnel. I don't use them just for pepper, though, I put other whole spices like coriander or fenugreek seeds in them. And BTW spices are frequently much less expensive at Indian or East Asian markets.

    If you buy the spices in grinders from Trader Joe's, the tops simply twist off for refilling with bulk-purchased spices.
    posted by QuakerMel at 5:41 PM on November 4, 2012

    Sometimes it's hard for me to believe I made it 30 years without learning this, but I was watching someone else just scrape off the big chunks of food and throwing dishes in the dishwasher rather than hand-washing each one so it looked relatively clean before going in. I had always watched my parents "rinse" (which involved a fair bit of scrubbing, TBH) plates and utensils before loading the dishwasher, and so I dutifully did the same for years and years and years. At 5-10 minutes per night, that adds up to a lot of time--and the first time I held my breath and just dumped the dishes right in the dishwasher without so much as a rinse, they came out perfectly clean. My nightimes are SO MUCH MORE PLEASANT now that I don't have to sit and rinse dishes after dinner.
    posted by iminurmefi at 10:44 AM on November 6, 2012

    YMMV depending on how often your gym updates their fitness class schedules, but I made a separate calendar layer in google calendar with the entire class schedule for my YMCA. I color coded the classes (green for easyish stuff like relaxation yoga, yellow for medium intensity, red for hardcore classes, and blue for stuff in the pool). Now I can turn on the YMCA calendar on Sundays and easily see where something fun or interesting at the Y will fit into my schedule for the week.

    We also put a whiteboard on the side of our fridge, with two lists on it: "Groceries" and "Target". Any time we realize we're low on something that we like to keep around (oatmeal, eggs, paper towels, etc.) or random things that we want (goldfish crackers, new carrot peeler, etc.), it's easy to add to the list because we're probably standing within 10 feet of it. If one of us goes shopping without the other person, we still know what's needed. And we don't have to keep track of old envelopes and paper scraps with lists on them, the way we each used to do individually.
    posted by vytae at 11:29 PM on November 6, 2012

    seconding nighttime shower, a practice picked up living n Asia where by and large, you are (rightly) considered disgusting if you do not shower or bathe before bed.
    I cannot imagine my life any other way now.
    posted by dougiedd at 7:51 PM on November 7, 2012

    I embarked on a 7-day mental diet to abstain from negative ponderances. Man, it's tough! But very, very rewarding... and requires no expense or props or cooperation from others. I wrote about it briefly here, in case anyone's interested:

    Huh, looks like the link doesn't show up. Well, it's called "Emotional Detox with a Fox" so you can Google it if you like.
    posted by Debbianne at 12:30 PM on November 8, 2012

    If you spend your day in front of a computer, then Workflowy is a simple to-do list website that is really nicely designed. It can be as simple as a shopping or task list but each task or item can have sub lists that show and hide nicely. You can also sort tasks by tags and such. I think it's great.
    posted by Cantdosleepy at 1:32 AM on November 9, 2012

    For your closet: As you take clothing off of hangers, put the empty hangers in a basket, on a hook, or otherwise someplace off by themselves. Saves time searching for hangers when you put away your laundry. (Especially good when it comes to little kids' clothing.)
    posted by MonkeyToes at 9:14 AM on November 9, 2012

    If you use an electric hair appliance or two such as a hair dryer, straightening iron or curling iron, make sure you have a backup of each one. As soon as one breaks and the backup becomes the regular one, buy a new backup!

    Keep a broom and dustpan on each floor of the house.

    Always ask your hair what it wants to do, before attempting to do anything with it.

    Cat? Use non-clumping litter and those jumbo litter liners in the blue boxes, I forget what they're called. They don't slip and are easy to tie up.

    It's OK to have more than one wastebasket per room, if they are in useful locations.

    Location, location, location. Live near your favorite stores, etc.

    Ceiling fans in every room. Tie a thin, bright, colorful ribbon from the fan to wherever you like to sit, and put a bracelet on the end of it and tuck it in the chair/couch cushion so you don't have to get up every time you could use a breath of fresh air.
    posted by serena15221 at 12:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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