I should have done this years ago!
June 19, 2019 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for suggestions for changes in your life or home or work or whatever that seemed like small things but ended up being really impactful. Some examples within.

A small example: I've worn basic men's underwear my whole life, and then my wife bought me a kinda pricey pair of nice underwear just to let me try it. This seemed like a pretty minor thing, but it turns out yeah, this is actually a noticeable improvement in my life. I should have done this years ago!

A bigger example: I tore out the fairly crappy set of wire hanging racks in a closet I've used for 7 years and put in an organization system that actually has shelves and better hanging access and a place for shoes and stuff, and wow, yeah, I should have done this years ago!

What I'm hoping to hear about are things that you thought would have been minor changes but really ended up being worthwhile. This could include home improvement, or changes to clothes, or changes to how you're organizing your day, or whatever else. It could involve spending money, or just spending some time, or spending nothing but just ... changing something.

I don't want to anchor too badly the specific suggestions, so other than saying I'm a married near-40 year old man who owns a home and has a fair number of hobbies, I'll leave it pretty open.
posted by tocts to Grab Bag (122 answers total) 201 users marked this as a favorite
Keeping the Shout stain remover in the area where I take off my clothes, rather than in the laundry closet, has resulted in actually using the Shout and actually removing the stains. Miraculous!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:51 PM on June 19, 2019 [25 favorites]

Years ago, I decided that I was done sorting socks into pairs, so I bought a big mess of three types of socks: Black dress, brown dress, and white athletic. I keep them all in bins in my drawer, and now I never have to painstakingly find the match to any of my socks, because sorting is just by very obvious color.
posted by xingcat at 12:52 PM on June 19, 2019 [31 favorites]

I crack my eggs on their sides on a flat surface which has a much lower incidence of eggshell in the mix.
posted by turkeybrain at 12:56 PM on June 19, 2019 [25 favorites]

There was a vertical space in my kitchen that had no discernible purpose - it was just a useless space. My mom saw it and insisted that I hire a carpenter to put in some shelving there, arguing that all my shelving for glasses and coffee mugs requires arching over the kitchen island in an uncomfortable way. I put up some resistance but eventually went along with it. It has completely changed my experience of using my kitchen - all my daily used items - like mugs and glasses and bowls are easily reachable. So if you have a random alcove or nook somewhere - consider putting in some shelving - it can make a big difference!
posted by peacheater at 12:56 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Somewhere I ran across the concept that there's no such thing as "consistently leaving things in the wrong place" - if you find you're doing that, your actual problem is that your STORAGE is in the wrong place.

I was always leaving jackets and coats hanging on the back of the dining room chairs, since the kitchen/dining area is the space right by the front door. There is a closet with coat hangers right next to the dining table, but I'm lazy and very "out of sight, out of mind," and I rarely remembered to use it.

After I read that advice, I immediately went out and got a closet-back coat hanger for the dining room closet. Problem immediately solved, with no more beating myself up for failing to use the closet that was RIGHT THERE DAMN IT.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:58 PM on June 19, 2019 [36 favorites]

I store my Tupperware WITH the lids on instead of stacking the components. You'll have a whole new relationship with your food storage containers, I promise.
posted by anderjen at 1:00 PM on June 19, 2019 [19 favorites]

Per showbiz_liz we bought a cheap coat tree on Amazon and why did we not do that earlier?

It's a big bougie but when we fixed up our kitchen I installed in-ceiling speakers above where you'd stand in front of the sink. Now when I dishwash I can have music or podcasts or whatever and at a volume that doesn't blast throughout the rest of the house.
posted by GuyZero at 1:01 PM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

Keeping flossers in my car. I floss in traffic. Makes my teeth feel clean. I never do it over 5 mph.
posted by Pacrand at 1:04 PM on June 19, 2019 [10 favorites]

Instead of hauling cleaning supplies around, I keep paper towels and cleaning stuff in every bathroom and both upstairs and downstairs. I don't use up any more that way, and when I need to clean the bathroom, everything is right there.
posted by FencingGal at 1:04 PM on June 19, 2019 [34 favorites]

Pots and pans live in a cabinet, and their lids live in a separate drawer. This immediately expanded the storage space in the pot cabinet by a huge margin because we can nest stuff, and eliminated the common situation of hunting through a big pile of pots for a single small lid to match a specific pot. (If I had more space I would store them lids-on.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:08 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I buy ground hamburger in bulk when it's cheap (about three dollars or less per pound for 80/20 or better) and freeze it by the pound, pressed flat in quart-size ziplocks, which are coincidentally such the perfect size that a food scale is hardly even needed. This is revolutionary, I'm telling you. They stack or stand on their side once frozen, thaw very quickly*, and now I never run out or feel rushed into cooking it before it goes bad. I wash out the used bags and put them back in the freezer empty awaiting the next batch.

*I use hot water for when I need crumbles, which takes about ten minutes; the reason you usually shouldn't use hot water to thaw is that the outside ends up in the "danger zone" of temperatures while you're still waiting for the middle to melt, but since these are so thin it's only a few minutes and then you're cooking them the rest of the way. This doesn't really work for making burgers, which would need a cold bath so the fat isn't all melty, but for tacos or whatever it's handy.
posted by teremala at 1:11 PM on June 19, 2019 [12 favorites]

  • Buying a shit ton of nesting Rubbermaid containers instead of a bunch of mismatched Tupperware.
  • Switching to a safety razor and saying goodbye forever to $30.00 five-packs of Gillette razors.
  • Buying all matching socks
  • Buying more plastic shirt hangars than seemed reasonable and never running out as a result.
  • Buying a whole bunch of scissors, mini-flashlights and utility knives and putting one in just about every room in the house.
  • Shipping tape gun
  • Doing a bit of homework and finding the absolute best spatulas, tongs, ice cream scoops, sink strainers, and other utensils and tossing all the crap stuff I've had since forever.
  • Ditto a bread knife.
  • Getting a Brother Label Maker and labeling everything in my shop so can always find stuff.
  • Coffee table that has drawers in it, one of which is dedicated to all the crap I use while I'm watching TV at night. Nail clippers, flossers, hand lotion, Melatonin, finger crack cream, etc.
  • Remote plugs for all the Christmas lights so that when I go to bed instead of running around the house unplugging shit I just press a button on a remote and everything shuts off like I'm some sort of wizard or something.
  • Harmony universal remote for the A/V equipment and taking the time to set it up so everything comes on with one button.
  • Dumping toxic people from my life and generally not tolerating people's bullshit.

posted by bondcliff at 1:12 PM on June 19, 2019 [37 favorites]

Had a couple of (dangerous) oaks taken down and now I have a sunny vegetable garden.
posted by Botanizer at 1:16 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Buying a bedside touch lamp. Such a simple thing, but now I'm not pawing around in the dark for the light-switch. Or rather, I still am, but I just have to randomly touch part of the lamp and it turns on.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 1:16 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Years back, I got small trash cans for my kitchen and bathroom and labeled them "dirty dish towels" and "dirty washcloths." All used hand towels go in those bins for later washing.

I honestly don't even remember what I did with those things before. Tossed them in the general "towels and sheets and stuff" laundry basket? Which lives in my bedroom, nowhere near the kitchen or bathroom? Even though they're usually wet and gross after use? I must have done, but I'll never go back to that now!
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2019 [16 favorites]

I have literally taped phone chargers into wall sockets in several rooms with a clear strip of packing tape so my kids won't just make off with the chargers that used to disappear into backpacks and random kid piles. The kids are welcome to charge their phones at the site point where the chargers stay put. On the scorecard of my own sanity, it's a win.
posted by nantucket at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2019 [27 favorites]

Separate twin-size duvets for you and your partner instead of one big shared one.
posted by Arctic Circle at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2019 [46 favorites]

Seconding keeping multiple sets of cleaning supplies where you need them.

Buying identical multiples of my favorite items of clothing, and lots of the underwear and socks I like. This might be a little too Steve Jobs black turtleneck for some women, but it makes me breeze through getting dressed in the morning when I'm grumpy and half asleep.

Automatically scheduling home maintenance and cleaning services. I have reminders set in my phone for servicing appliances, changing air filters, changing batteries in smoke detectors, etc.
posted by zdravo at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Switching from white undershirts to light-fabric colored t-shirts. That way I can easily strip down if it gets suddenly very hot (NYC in the Spring/Summer can be a temperature roller-coaster) without looking like someone walking around in an undershirt. Plus, I can coordinate them with other layers so a bit of color peeks through the collar.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

I bought 20 pairs of the exact same black boy short and threw away the rest. No more sorting through old ratty undies trying to find a pair I like. Y(Style of Undie)MMV.

Relatedly, if I put something on in the morning (shirt, pants, etc.) and it's not comfortable/it doesn't go with things/I can't figure out what to wear with it, it goes *immediately* into the Goodwill tote I keep under the bed, which I donate every two months or so.

Bought 10 foot charging cords for all our devices and leave them plugged in near the couch, dining table, bed, etc.

Bought a squatty potty and my life improved x10000!

And on preview, oh god yes to the two separate duvets!! SO worth it.
posted by stellaluna at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2019 [12 favorites]

Robot vacuum. Holly crap, buying a robot vacuum changed everything. I was always pretty lazy about vacuuming, but I'd get pretty congested from dust and whatnot. Now I don't have to do anything; my little buddy has a built in scheduler and beep-boops its way around my apartment once a week.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 1:26 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Intermittent fasting. I only eat between 9 am and 7 pm. I thought it would make me miserable but instead it has reduced my kitchen mess, grocery bill, waistline, and number of things I’m trying to cram into a busy morning before work. I’m never going back. I love it.

Method grapefruit-scented wipes in the bathroom. They smell good enough that I’m eager to use them every day, which keeps my bathroom almost perfectly clean all the time.

Wearing a machine-washable dress + Rothys to work every day. I’m comfortable, look professional, have no dry cleaning bills, and get dressed in seconds.

Always having on hand a big bag of frozen mixed vegetables, the kind with corn, carrots, peas, lima beans, and green beans. This is a perfectly acceptable, satisfying, healthful meal for nights when I would otherwise just have a bourbon and collapse. A little butter and a Penzey’s seasoning mix and it’s even kind of delicious.
posted by HotToddy at 1:32 PM on June 19, 2019 [28 favorites]

Bought a small second hand chest freezer and it has made everything better! I can freeze leftovers, stock up on my favorite frozen Trader Joe's stuff, and still have room to make homemade ice-pops or freeze a cake.
posted by tangosnail at 1:32 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Two life-changing purchases:

Weighted blanket. I bought one that weighs 20 pounds from an Etsy seller. I can't even tell you how much I love it. The only problem is that it's a drag to sleep without it when I'm traveling.

Instant Pot. Cooking dried beans went from insanely time consuming and not always even possible (I once cooked some beans for literally days in a crockpot and they didn't get soft enough) to quick and easy. And they taste much better than canned beans.
posted by FencingGal at 1:33 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

On the other end of the "buy the same socks/underwear/etc" recommendations, I bought a bunch of fun underwear and pretty bralettes and I'm working on socks. I've got to wear underwear every day (no really, commando does not work for me, I get sweaty in places), so I decided I might as well feel pretty doing it - why save the lacey underwear for special occasions? :)
posted by joycehealy at 1:34 PM on June 19, 2019 [17 favorites]

Saying no to medical people (examples specific to my shitty veins).
You've failed to get a vein six times and you want to try again? Nope. I'm going home. You're not the vein specialist I made three phone calls to request, but you want to try anyway? No. I need the specialist.
(Do not use in emergency situations.)
posted by FencingGal at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2019 [23 favorites]

A miner's headband flashlight. I bought it to walk the dogs at night with a handsfree flashlight and now I use it daily because I'm 50 and everything is getting harder to see in my house without a bright light shining on it.
posted by archimago at 1:42 PM on June 19, 2019 [16 favorites]

Got dogs back into my daily life after over 20 years without.

Made a budget and stuck to it.

Admitted I had enough age related degradation of my vision that I need glasses.

Found a food storage set that uses a common lid and only has three different sizes that work for me and ditched the madness of years of different form factors that looked like they'd fit but didn't.

Starting scheduling events in a phone synced calendar has greatly reduced the chances of me dickering around and either forgetting the event or being late to it
posted by Candleman at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Getting my shoes fitted by a professional. I used to buy shoes off the rack and fit them myself. It wasn't until I went someplace that offered a fitting service that I realized I'd been wearing shoes two sizes too small for years; and I wondered by my knees hurt all the time...

Also, the place I go to resoles old shoes, which is also fantastic. For half the price of a new pair of shoes I get them back polished and with brand new soles.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 1:49 PM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I bought several dozen kitchen towels that are used to clean up, wipe hands, dry dishes, and also function as napkins. I use them with abandon and have found that I use far fewer paper towels and it feels like the ultimate luxury to grab a fresh and clean one out of the kitchen cupboard for any little reason.
posted by quince at 1:55 PM on June 19, 2019 [12 favorites]

I should have put money away and saved to buy a dishwasher years ago. I always convinced myself it was a bit of an extravagance for just one person, plus I’m a renter and always will be, so I thought, “Eh, if the next apartment I rent has one, great...” But it never did.

I just bought a portable, apartment-sized dishwasher a few months ago, and it brings me such joy. I swear, if my building ever catches fire, I will roll that thing out the door with me or hold it up in the window and demand the firefighters save it first.
posted by LynnDee at 1:55 PM on June 19, 2019 [36 favorites]

You know those soup containers you get from restaurants when you order takeout? The round ones? You can buy them in bulk in multiple sizes from Amazon or a kitchen supply store. They're cheap enough so that you won't freak out if you melt one or lose one, but they can handle the freezer and hot food and THEY ALL USE THE SAME LID. Goodbye stupid tupperware drawer full of lids. And if you happen to like Noosa yogurt, every time you eat yogurt you get another addition to your your food storage collection.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:00 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

These three practices drastically reduced food waste and chaos in our kitchen:

* Bought glass storage containers for leftovers—no more reused yogurt containers.
* Use blue painters tape to label and date all leftovers.
* Adopt a strict Mason jar standard for glass jars.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:02 PM on June 19, 2019 [12 favorites]

Trust me. Buy a nice toilet seat.

My butt has never felt better. One we got has a soft close lid. No more lid slamming. It looks nice. It's easier to clean. I'm so upset I put up with crappy (heh) cheap toilet seats in our apartment for nearly 7 years.

Buy. A. Nice. Toilet. Seat.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:17 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

A lot of people do this - buy several pairs of reading glasses and put one in every room in the house. Cheap ones, my favorite Peepers on sale, I always have a pair on hand wherever I am in the house.
posted by 41swans at 2:24 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

+1 squatty potty.

I threw away all the underwear I didn't really like and started fresh with several pairs of the exact ones I knew I liked in the size that fit correctly. How many years did I spend hunting around for the "good" ones? So stupid. Then I did the same thing with socks. Then bras.

Did a serious organization of all the million+ bottles of bath/medicine/body upkeep stuff into shallow, labeled bins in a dedicated space. While this system does take up half of a closet, it fills me with joy every time I pass by it, and ultimately it's a money saver too, because when all that sh*t was in random drawers and boxes I could never find what I needed, and wound up buying duplicates. Now I can always find anything I need immediately. Cut way way down on the purchasing of that entire category.

One that shocked me: recently our very old garage door bit the dust and I had to replace it. I did not enjoy shelling out for the new door, but -- damn! I have so much more light in the garage now! And instead of the terrible grinding noise which I didn't even know was bothering me, it's so quiet! Who'd have thought?

I'm going to go find and buy some of those grapefruit bathroom surface wipes!
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

Buying identical multiples of my favorite items of clothing

This times a million for all my basics. Undershirts, underwear, and socks (in three different colors) are all identical. Laundry goes much faster.

This past weekend I decided to try the Marie Kondo method of folding clothing, and I'm honestly shocked at how much better my wardrobe is.

I've just started getting my groceries delivered via Amazon / Whole Foods. I may never go back to a grocery store again.

I've come to the realization that I'm willing to work out, but not to go to a gym. I just bought a Concept 2 rower for the house and am using it every day. Regularly doing yoga from a program I subscribe to, too.

We make our dog food from scratch, and just started doing very large batches and freezing it. So much faster, and less likely to run out and have to scramble.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:39 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I put a laundry hamper in my living room and now no longer leave a pile of bras and socks in my living room. I also hung some coat hooks in my bedroom to hang clothes I'd like to rewear on it and now no longer leave them piled over a chair.

I also started smashing garlic with a can instead of painstakingly peeling it.

I also started wearing men's boxer briefs on a daily basis even though I'm assigned female and I no longer get wedgies. Along the same lines, I got rid of all bras and bought a bunch of $3 sports bras on Amazon and my level of physical comfort on a daily basis has skyrocketed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:39 PM on June 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Put a hook inside the bathroom vanity, and store microfiber towels on the hook. (Now I swab down the sink after each use, and it stays sightly between cleanings). Microfiber cloths are handy in general, but do need to be washed in their own dedicated laundry load.

When putting the plate in the doggy door, always move the dog's entry mat to the front door. (Now I remember to remove that plate when I return home, instead of when pup is doing a sad, frantic dance.)

Take clothes to the local drycleaner's seamstress for alterations, and engage a stand-alone shop for more complicated jobs if necessary. (Our bodies are fine, it's the clothes that are wrong.)

A wall calendar and a pack of dollar-store stickers helped me establish (and now, maintain) a much-desired daily practice.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:46 PM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

A bidet.

Even something small like a portable travel bidet makes my butt feel all clean and awesome.

I've also been showering with this Tree Tea Oil Body Wash in the evenings, and I find it especially invigorating after a hot day.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:49 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Getting my clothes tailored. Being short and lumpy, nothing off the rack fits me or has ever fit me, so I got used to it. It's only in the last couple of years that it occurred to me I didn't HAVE to walk around with badly-fitting clothes on top of feeling vaguely guilty because I never got around to hemming pant legs and long sleeves. I went through my closet and pulled out everything that could stand to be hemmed, taken in at the waist, or shortened to fit me and I've been slowly taking them to the alterations place I found and enjoying my wardrobe that fits.

I also have been buying my underwear, non-jeans pants, and some shirts from http://ureshii.org, which makes them to fit my measurements and has worked with me to adjust the fit of their pieces so they work for me.

And a couple of months ago we redid our master closet. Nothing too fancy, but I moved my clothes to the closet rod at the end of the closet that was lower--the people we bought the house from were, I swear, at least 8 foot tall and built various pieces to suit themselves--so I can actually reach my hanging clothes without standing on my (arthritic) toes. Only took me 8 years in this house to realize I could do that. We also measured the space where the taller rods were and purchased IKEA wardrobes that fit into the space, increasing the amount of drawer and shelf space in our closet.

All that ended up with us having enough space to leave one section of upper and lower hanging space free for hanging wet clothes to dry, and once we get around to getting a piece of plywood cut to fit, we'll have a surface to fold clothes on. (The laundry room is too small to do any of that in, especially since the cats' litterboxes also reside there.)
posted by telophase at 2:52 PM on June 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Switch to fabric napkins instead of paper, and keep a basket near the table for collecting dirty napkins until it's time to wash a load of towels. (Mine are fun and tie-dyed!)

Place a small bowl on each of the various surfaces where I spend a lot of time (work desk, home desk, night stand) and stock with chapstick, cuticle cream, nail clippers, and hand lotion.

Upgrade to a cordless vacuum. (Probably specific to living in a 3-story house with carpeted stairs.)

Always tidy! e.g. when roaming from one room to another room, take something that belongs in the other room and put it away.

Drink while cleaning if you have an hour or more to do. A couple of beers makes scrubbing more fun, or rather less un-fun.
posted by esoterrica at 2:54 PM on June 19, 2019 [10 favorites]

I have a 10+ small / medium plastic dishwasher-able cutting boards that are in constant rotation between cabinet / in use / dishwasher.

At the risk of sounding like a shill: the Philips Norelco OneBlade is the only electric shaver I’ve ever owned that actually does the job.

I’ve seen debates about how it’s an ecological nightmare and stuff, but my Keurig coffeemaker is a permanent and significant part of my life.
posted by doctor tough love at 2:59 PM on June 19, 2019

I forgot! Two more things we did that eliminated vast amounts of daily stress were (1) rearrange our budget to allow us to afford a cleaning service once a month and (2) quit wearing shoes in the house.

The cleaning service forces us to declutter at least once a month, which only takes 30-45 minutes for the whole house now instead of the hours it used to take, and there's something about a clean (comparatively) house that keeps us from getting cranky at each other.

Both of our cultural backgrounds don't see anything wrong with wearing shoes in the house, so it took a long time to occur to us that if we just took our shoes off when we came into the house, we wouldn't track dirt and mud all over. We both hate cleaning floors--our chores are pretty much divided up so that whoever doesn't mind doing the thing does the thing (the Mr does dishes, I take care of the litterbox, etc.)--and the floor would be filthy by the time the cleaning service showed up. Then we went to Japan for three weeks, and somehow the habit of taking our shoes off stuck, and the floors are no longer filthy.

Bonus: our younger cat used to get sick with some sort of nausea-type illness a few times a year and would stop eating until we got an anti-nausea pill down him. He hasn't been sick with that once in the 5 years we've kept our shoes off. Possibly correlation instead of causation, but it's also possible he was eating some sort of crud off the floor that we were tracking in.
posted by telophase at 3:07 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Storing tupperware (or whatever food storage containers) with their lids on. No point having a draw full of containers and lids when you can't find the lid which goes with the container you need to use.

Not buying any clothes which require dry cleaning or ironing, or which require too much sorting before machine washing (For example: I do not own any white clothing, because I don't want to risk colour transfer onto them and wouldn't be able to own enough white clothing to justify washing it separately).
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:14 PM on June 19, 2019

When I moved I optimized my kitchen by use frequency. Anything that gets done every day, or close to it, gets storage at or near where it is used. So the blender sits on the counter all the time, because I use it daily. The bulk ingredients that go in my smoothie are in the cupboard right above the blender's spot. The measuring cup and spoon that I use for the smoothie sit on the counter next to the blender.

Open kitchen storage was big. I use a wood-topped wire rack for most pots and pans, again organized so the more commonly used stuff is easiest to reach. This is very different to what the usual system of optimizing for minimum space looks like. I also store everything I can in a transparent container, so I can spot what's about to run out easily without opening anything.

I try to apply the same philosophy to the rest of the place, which is a bit of a work in progress. Anything done every day in the same way should be as easy as possible- ideally no opening a cupboard, no reaching behind anything else, nothing out of sight that could be forgotten. Then go down the list - what isn't done every day, but would ideally be? Make those things easier. What's done once a week, so doesn't need (or want) to be right out in the open, should still be fairly easy to get started. So my ironing board and iron live right next to each other, near to the place where I do ironing. No cognitive barriers, however small, to getting the whole lot out and doing the ironing.
posted by Jobst at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have a lot of travel-related anxiety, much of it about packing and worrying I'll forget something or not have the perfect whatever when I need it. I'd put off starting packing because of the stress of making decisions and then it would be even more stressful because I didn't have any time left. Then I really would forget something and it would stick in the back of my mind and bother me all the time, even if it wasn't important. It kind of made me hate leaving home, even for overnight trips.

A few years ago I made a generalized packing list (there are a lot of suggestions out there, you can google one and then tailor it for yourself, or write down everything after a successful trip) and now I copy, adapt, and follow it for every trip. My life is so much better now. I still have travel anxiety but it's greatly reduced, because I know I'll at least have most of what I need. Next, I plan on stocking my travel bag with travel/duplicate versions of everything I can, which can live inside the bag, but I haven't quite gotten there yet. I also mean to do the same with my work bag.
posted by spelunkingplato at 3:18 PM on June 19, 2019 [11 favorites]

Omg I forgot the biggest one. This may be the biggest improvement to my life in my entire life. One word: BIDET.
posted by HotToddy at 3:21 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

Carabiners. I carry a backpack-style purse, and hanging a carabiner from a strap = easy place to put keys (and thus keys always with purse).

My favorite tweezers live with the magnifying mirror. ALWAYS.

Keeping a little Thermos with a straw at my desk reminds me to drink water, and keeps me from dirtying more glasses than I need to. It can also be attached to my purse with a carabiner!
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:25 PM on June 19, 2019

You know those soup containers you get from restaurants when you order takeout?

A local Chinese restaurant gives us three sizes of round containers (short: sauce; medium: soup; tall: more soup), plus "long boxes" for entrees. We use these for almost all of our food (and toy :)) storage. Downside: it's plastic. Upside: we have plenty, so if they break or warp, or kids grab some out to sort toys (or drop them on the floor), no big deal. Also lighter and pack more densely than other containers. Some day, we might get classier (and less plastic), but with young kids, we don't worry about (more) broken dishware.

Dinner planning: a little magnetic whiteboard, stuck to the side of the fridge. Plan for meals for the week, then figure out your shopping list for the week. Also, track when you had meals, when trying to track the age of left-overs.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:26 PM on June 19, 2019

You don't need to store tupperware with the lids on if you just donate the mis-matched mess and buy a bunch of identical ones. I have two stacks of glass containers, lids propped neatly between them and the wall, they take up very little space and I never spend time matching lids. I also have a plastic tub in the pots and pans cupboard that contains all the lids, sitting vertically in a row.

Using a nice handmade mug really improved my tea experience somehow. It just makes it feel more special, like I'm treating myself. Most chores are also improved by drinking a cup of tea at the same time (especially dishes)

I have no drier or outdoor space for a line, so drying sheets was a huge pain - until I put up a curtain pole near the ceiling, above the door to the laundry cupboard. Now sheets just drape over the pole and dry nicely!

On a whim, we bought a small brass letter rack and hung it on the wall. It's actually great to have a dedicated place to put post to get to later, or for someone else. Very satisfying.

(Don't get microfibre towels or clothes, they release microplastics into the water with every wash. Get white cotton, then you can bleach it too if needs be)
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:27 PM on June 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Keeping a separate travel kit with dupes of my regular toiletry needs. (I could and should expand this a bit, in fact.)

Just giving in a wearing pretty much the same uniform to work every day.

This one is small but finally getting a small plastic funnel for my kitchen provides me great pleasure whenever I need it.

Getting a 24-pack of white washcloths for house cleaning use. It doesn't really matter if they get stained but I can bleach them if I want. (love the idea of the small bin to keep the dirty ones in.)

Investing in a good mattress.

Getting fitted for a bra.
posted by vunder at 3:28 PM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

My cat was always a barfer, and we'd clean with paper towels, and it was ok; then as she got sicker and messier, I started a rag bucket handy in the bathroom. Cleanup was easy, floor seems cleaner (less lint and smears), less guilt about how fast we went through a roll of paper towels, got rid of some t-shirts that were too ratty for Goodwill, easy to just fling into laundry hamper and drop from clean basket into the rag bucket again. It's just all-around better. Current storage is not optimal aesthetics, if I can't stand it I'll upgrade from a lidded kitty-litter bucket to a nice-looking basket of some sort. Cat has now passed away and I still keep the rag bucket in the bathroom - handy for cleaning the bathroom, as single-use washcloths, etc.
posted by aimedwander at 3:35 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I downloaded an app that helps me keep track of all the cleaning in my house. You just schedule how often it should be done, which day of the week etc. and then on the morning it's due you get a reminder to do it. If you don't do it, you get the reminder the next day, which continues until you go into the app and record that it has been done.

My house is so much cleaner, and I don't have to wonder about the last time the extractor fan filters got cleaned, because my app tells me. It's also taken the work out of my mind and outsourced it to my phone, which means one less source of stress for me.
posted by BeeJiddy at 3:39 PM on June 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

posted by ringu0 at 3:54 PM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

This isn’t a small thing, but my life has improved immeasurably now that I’ve moved to a house with an attached garage. Suddenly, I have a place to keep the giant bag of dog food that isn’t in my kitchen! I don’t have to go outside to dump my small recycling bin into the big one! I come home with a bunch of groceries and the kitchen is right there! So, if you ever have a choice where you can live with an attached garage or not, choose the attached garage.
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:02 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

- Buying floss sticks
- Taking the time to go sit at my local coffee place and have a cappuccino and read once a week instead of always getting coffee to go.
- No cable news
posted by sallybrown at 4:10 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Put all of my bills on automatic payment.
posted by Candleman at 4:25 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Purchasing one of those makeup mirrors on an accordion-type arm, and attaching it to the wall in my bathroom. I am VERY nearsighted, and putting on makeup is a nightmare if I can't get up close to my mirror. Now I have no issues at all with makeup or tweezing, and the mirror folds back against the wall so it doesn't interfere with the main mirror.

Feeding my cats their wet food on appetizer sized paper plates. They get a clean plate every morning; I don't have to rinse out the remnants of their once-a-day wet food. They get dry in ceramic bowls, though.
posted by annieb at 4:47 PM on June 19, 2019

Getting a slow cooker. I can cook hearty healthy meals in bulk without much effort. Just toss a bunch of things in there, turn it on, leave it alone. SO GOOD, especially for days when I'm too sick/tired to function but need food.

A long time ago I started putting everything in my Google Calendar and honestly I wouldn't remember I have things to do without it. I've started scheduling to dos in there too and it's kinda up and down but when it works it works.
posted by divabat at 4:55 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Pouring fluids from rectangular cans with offset mouths [solvents, olive oil] is done correctly by tipping the can over with the spout up - that is, farther from the ground.
Apparently this works with Tetra style cartons, too.
Spill-free pouring by design, but poorly communicated.
posted by Glomar response at 5:14 PM on June 19, 2019 [17 favorites]

Command hooks and picture hanging strips, just fucking everywhere. Everywhere! (Except be careful on painted drywall, we've had a couple incidents specifically with hooks. But the picture hanging strips are fabulous for all kinds of things. I mounted undercabinet light bars with them.)

Undercabinet lighting. There's a million kinds, get what suits you, but it makes SUCH a difference.

Air fryer, a big 'un, even though it takes up scads of counter space. I demoted my toaster oven for it. We are pretty enthusiastic vegetable-eaters but I think the air fryer has doubled our average daily consumption.

Like others, I standardized our food storage. Except I went with meal prep containers in regular and XL (they use the same lids), 16 and 32oz deli containers (same lids), plus just a few professional-grade 1-gallon Cambro containers.

Moved all our coffee and tea shit into the living room on a nice baker's rack so it wasn't eating kitchen counter space or causing traffic jams, and just around the corner from it in the dining room is a 9-cube bookshelf (which stands about counter height) with all the booze and mixers and Sodastream and supplies and the glasses I hate but my husband likes for his G&Ts.

A labelmaker. And it lives in the part of the house where we tend to open packages or set down shopping bags, so that every new gadget and whoosit that has a remote control or power supply gets labeled.

Tile trackers, E6000 glue. Put 'em on the remotes, and on the damn Airbud charger, and maybe also the labelmaker.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:26 PM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have reading glasses everywhere -- more than one pair in some rooms, even. I never, ever have to look for a pair.

My cat, who is now deceased, was wonderful in every way except one: she was a horrible screamer in the morning until she got her morning meal. I bought an automatic feeder, and set it up to dispense her kibble at 4:00 am and 4:00 pm. It solved not only the morning screamies, but if I got held up at or after work, I didn't have to worry about feeding her. It really changed my (and her) life.
posted by Dolley at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Two for us:
- electronic calendar for everything going on in the family. Admittedly this is more relevant with kids but it’s nice to know what’s going on with a few taps.
- replaced the outlet in the kitchen (you know, the corner of the kitchen that acts as a landing area for everything) with one that has one plug and 4 usb ports. No more wall warts, no more missing wall warts, charging for everyone.
posted by neilbert at 5:45 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

When we remodelled the bathroom, we ditched the tub and installed a double-wide walk-in shower instead. DAMN that thing is fine, it's so nice not to climb in and out of a tub. My kids were all, like, wow that's gonna hurt the resale value of your house if you don't have a bathtub in it, and my reply was: which one of you plans to bathe me when I can't step into that tub by myself anymore? and that was the end of that conversation. Statistically, we've got a couple decades left, so we do all the house things now with an eye toward accessibility and ageing-in-place.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:47 PM on June 19, 2019 [28 favorites]

A pressure cooker. I have a traditional, on-the-stove kind and I absolutely love it. but people swear by their electric ones.

+ for squatty potty
posted by Neekee at 5:59 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

A planogram for the spices. I keep all the jars (pretty much all from Penzey's) in cheap cutlery trays which keeps them from shifting around each other, and then the planogram shows me where I can find whatever it is I'm looking for.

Not using a top sheet on the bed. Over the mattress pad goes a fitted sheet, then the quilt goes on the very top. It is so much easier to make and change the bed, to say nothing of sleeping in it. (I am well aware that there is a heated debate about whether top sheets are unnecessary or essential, but this is my answer and I come down on the side of "top sheets are unnecessary".)
posted by DrGail at 6:08 PM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Toto washlet (bidet)
Replaced all my socks with Darn Tough (no show, ankle, light, mid, and heavy cushion crew)
Lithium ion Dyson cordless hand vac
Decent espresso machine and grinder (Rancilio Silvia and Rocky) at home
posted by supercres at 6:11 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

--Nespresso coffee maker (you can recycle the pods!) has totally improved my mornings

--Meditating (even just a little) helps in many areas
posted by n. moon at 6:15 PM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you have glasses or wear sunglasses regularly, buy a like 20-pack of little microfiber cleaning cloths (maybe $10), take them all out, and hide them in the pockets of all your jeans and jackets. You don't even have to take them out when you wash.

Now whenever my glasses are smeared, I don't have to think, now where is that thing... I just reach into my right pocket or coin pocket and it's magically there. Every time. I've started giving them away to people amazed by my preparedness!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:29 PM on June 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

As a twist on the microfiber tip, I bought a 12-pack of the car-washing microfiber towels and have them stashed everywhere.

You can use them for:

1. Cleaning your eyeglasses
2. Cleaning fingerprints off your devices
3. Dusting your TV and monitor and anything else that needs dusting
4. Going in your Swiffer to swiff your floor
5. Detailing your car, of course

And they’re machine-washable, so you throw them in the wash with the rest of your towels and then you’re good to go. I have one in my room, one on the main floor in a central location, one in my work bag, and one in my car, and I can just throw them in the towel basket (see below) and grab a clean one when needed.

Laundry management: I have a row of 4 laundry baskets. When it’s time to take my clothes off, I stand in front of the closet, strip down, and throw each item into a basket. Lights, darks, then one for towels and one for sheets. When the basket is full, do a load of laundry. No sorting required because you already sorted it.

Charging station at my desk at work, with a cord each for my phone, tablet, Fitbit and at least one other thing. I never have to worry about running out of juice, and I can neatly organize all my electronics instead of having them clutter my desk.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:38 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

As much as I love print books, my aging, near-sighted eyes can no longer take the erratic quality of typography in them. Too many publishers use fonts that are too small or too light, or just plain irritating for the genre of book I'm reading. After much investigation, I bought a Kobo Aura One e-reader, and it has changed my life, for the following reasons:

-I can change the font size, type, weight (i.e. darkness) to my heart's content
-It has built-in Overdrive, so I can check out books directly from my library
-My hands no longer get tired from holding a book too long at a defined angle
-It has a Comfort Light feature which filters out blue light (but not brightness), so I can read late into the night & never have to worry about having a reading lamp
-Last but not least, I was able to downsize my collection of printed books to a level more suitable for someone like me (a renter) who has to move every 2-3 years.
posted by invisible ink at 6:46 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

i stopped listening to commercial pop radio in the car. (and, later, npr).
pop on the post-grunge downslope constantly expressed anger & depression;
i reasoned maybe in aggregate the exposure reinforced my own susceptibility to same.
maybe i wasn't wrong. i was, then, almost immediately more mellow, i believe i recall noting, and
i think i'm somewhat better company for all the other motorists out there, now
though it is possible i merely grew old(er).

in the intervening years public radio and particularly jazz have expanded my ear and mind immensely.
it was the jazz-for-pop substitution that i then credited for the promptly noticed mellower mood;
over time i'm happy to skip what djs (or their sponsors/management) think is worth saying and ads.

i do like scanning the dial for the fire-&-brimstone preachers during road trips tho.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:31 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

1. Stopped wearing socks.

2. Started wearing "zero drop" (perfectly flat) shoes with wide toe boxes. My feet have gone from weak, jumbles of toes, to strong, proper support systems.

3. Bought an instant pot so I no longer have excuses not to cook. Now I can make a full plate of vegetables and a protein in 30 seconds of prep and zero standing around stirring time. Takes 8 minutes to be ready, but I just busy myself for that.

4. Got remote control lightbulbs (from Ikea) so now I can control all the lights in the house from my bed -- or anywhere I have my phone.

5. Got an amazing portable keyboard (a Textblade) so when I travel, I don't have to bring my laptop.

6. Got great carry-on luggage (Freitag Voyager) so I no longer wait for luggage.

7. Got bluetooth earbuds, so I no longer have to deal with cords.

8. Got a purse / shoulder bag (Freitag Masikura and Freitag Ottendorfer) which I load with a set of keys, keycard, keyboad, notebook, and other every day carry stuff. No longer have to hunt for keys and other crap when I head out the door. I just grab one of my bags (each has the same stuff in it except for pricey things like keyboard and headphones).

9. Embraced Ice Tea instead of sugary drinks. I make my own with loose leaf tea and a vessel from Muji. Every night, put in the leaves, pour in water, put in in the fridge. Makes 3 cups for the next day and takes 15 seconds.

10. Stopped giving a shit what anyone thinks of me (did this when I was 13) and later in life embraced being non-competitive in the workplace.

11. Make a point of reading 50 pages every day. Makes getting through books possible.

12. Signed up for GetQuip.com. Tired of remembering my model of electric toothbrush. Now it's just shipped to me every 3 months. Also, much better for travel as it's battery operated instead of plug.

13. Make a conscious effort of how I spend my time. Use a Skrekkogle Durr to do it.

14. Became zen with my dog: I trust her to be a dog and find me in the wooded offleash park, rather than chasing after her calling her name.

15. Bought linen towels (I use Outlier brand). Feel better than cotton once worked in, wash super fast, hang dry super fast, and travel light. No more waiting 45 mins for cotton towels to dry in the dryer.

16. Switched from liquid detergent to pods -- much easier to carry to the laundromat.

17. Bought storage container set where all the lids are the same size.

18. Wear linen shirts, pants, and shorts whenever possible.

19. Spent good money on cedar hangers (Muji) so I never have to worry about moths.

20. Good, light underwear. I use Me Undies.

21. Learned how to make a good martini and other mixed drinks. Great for home/company, but terrific to be in a bar and specify exactly what you want.

22. Got high quality crystal cocktail and rocks glasses and a crystal cocktail shaker. Drinks taste so much better when they stay cold longer.

23. Ditched the television so the living space isn't organized around an ugly appliance. (I only ever watch stuff alone -- and when I do, I use my Samsung Gear VR, which is also great for travel).

24. Taught my dog to spoon on command for when I'm lonely.
posted by dobbs at 8:07 PM on June 19, 2019 [25 favorites]

oh I remembered another one. This was suggested to me here on the green when I was at the end of my rope with the noise produced by terrible people playing their devices in public with the sound up. I bought this giant bag of super high quality disposable earplug pairs. I have a pair in every jacket pocket, every purse, etc. They have been life savers SO MANY TIMES. Just earlier this week some asshole was watching something with the sound up on a flight I was on; as soon as I realized what was going on, I popped in a pair of earplugs, and just like that it stopped being my problem.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:25 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

I stopped drinking well liquor sometime in my late 20s and it changed my life enormously for the better.

Now of course I barely have a drink every couple of months, but having decent booze when I want it is still satisfying.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:47 PM on June 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

This one is a little specific but someone gave me an Ikea child’s bath before my daughter was born. There was a mixup around the bathtub we registered for and in the end, we basically used the sink until we used this one and in water thirsty CA, we’re still using it 3.5 years later.

I figure we’ll use it more or less until she can shower and then we’ll find other uses for a biggish tub. I wouldn’t have expected this.
posted by vunder at 9:01 PM on June 19, 2019

Strong lifts 5x5.

I can’t believe I waited until I was 50 to start that.
posted by notyou at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

1. Bought a great water filter. I live in an area that's supposed to have good quality tap water, but then I saw how much mineral deposits and gunk accumulated in a water kettle and now it's so much better

2. Dyson air filter. Indoor air is so much worse than outdoor. It's nearly silent, has a convenient timer feature, and has the surprising benefit of completely nullifying smells in the kitchen when I fry foods. I turn it on as soon as I start cooking, and it works like magic.

3. Scheduling routine home maintenance on my calendar. I use recurring events and email notification with Google calendar and it's so great to have that on autopilot.

4. Poo pourri.
posted by hampanda at 9:06 PM on June 19, 2019

I bake and cook a lot and buying precut, flat parchment sheets that fit a quarter sheet pan has saved me time and money (and has kept a lot of cardboard boxes with a serrated metal edges out of landfill). I buy a stack of them from a local restaurant supply store.
posted by Miss Matheson at 9:13 PM on June 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Putting everything into Google Calendar. I live and die by it.
Using Google Keep. No more hunting for a pad to make my list. And I can uncheck items that I get every week. And I'm able to keep a list for each place I want to go, ideas for teaching etc.
Eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. No need to think about it
Putting my pills in a weekly container. No more dealing with pill bottles every day.
Going to Meet Ups. Now I have a small social life and I'm dealing with my social anxiety.
Meds for depression and anxiety. I've accepted they're a life long thing.
Bariatric surgery. I lost 270 pounds and my life and health have changed.
posted by kathrynm at 9:16 PM on June 19, 2019 [9 favorites]

Got an upstairs and a downstairs? Get a vacuum for upstairs, and a vacuum for downstairs. We have a Shark for the carpeted upstairs, and a Dyson V7 for the tiled downstairs. Makes vacuuming so much less taxing. Also, bins, even small ones, everywhere.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:41 PM on June 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

4. Poo pourri

Unless you're using this product specifically for travel purposes, try stocking the bathroom with the giant store-brand Lemon Pledge knockoff for the same citrus-oil-based, aerosol-spray effect at a steep discount.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:49 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Decent quality Bluetooth speaker (I have an Anker Soundcore 2). I just carry it to various rooms while doing chores and podcasts distract me at a volume that doesn't make my neighbours stabby. So much better than trying to juggle conventional or even Bluetooth headphones.

Arranging my balcony into a green space that I can actually spend time in, and making room in my schedule to eat breakfast there every morning. 20-30 minutes of Zen, including watering time, does wonders for my mood.

And good makeup that works for me. Urban Decay or Benefit or Fenty are more expensive than drugstore brands, but my smoky eyes stay smoky and my highlighter still blinds people 12 hours later, and the boost in confidence is worth it.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:24 PM on June 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

LITTLE THING: Sharpie pen in the kitchen so I can write the date I opened a container of food right on the container itself.

BIG THING: Paid for a few sessions with a swim coach to learn proper stroke mechanics. That (plus getting in the habit of stretching as soon as I get out of the pool) has tremendously cut my post-swim soreness and made it possible to swim three times a week. I would assume a similar principle can be generalized to non-swimming exercise.
posted by yankeefog at 12:52 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've started keeping hot peppers and peeled garlic cloves in the freezer. I've never run out since and I've also not had to throw out any dried out or mouldy peppers or garlic.

If you use these things but not enough to use them up fast enough, freeze them. Frozen peppers and garlic can be chopped just like fresh ones.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:11 AM on June 20, 2019 [9 favorites]

Throwing out our crappy non-stick pots and pans and buying a set of triple clad. We got Tramontina, which is a fraction of the price of All Clad. I can cook using any utensil I want, and they clean up beautifully, no food sticking, and my kitchen is full of shiny pots and pans. I keep them on a baker's rack that came with hooks, with shelves underneath for bigger pots and pans. I store them lid-on, keeps dust out of the pans themselves.

A smaller microwave stand, with side hooks -- the cast iron pan and griddle hang there, my toaster is on top, with room for setting other things down next to it.

Wooden toaster tongs. No more burnt fingers.

Buying a 2-pack of fish turning spatulas. How did I live without these things? They're great at turning fish, and picking up fried eggs, and a lot of other things.

A magnetic knife strip. I keep a paring knife, a small pair of scissors, a small chopping knife, 2 larger knifes, a giant chef knife (good for cutting pizza in one go), and my small daily-use chef knife. I never have to hunt for scissors again to cut open packages, chop chives, etc. My favorite paring knife is always at hand. No risking cutting my hands searching for a knife in a drawer.

Got some soft-sided drawer organizers and organized my sock and underwear drawers. Now I always know how many days of underwear I have left until laundry day. My husband keeps his clothes on shelves, got him some organizers and no more socks and underwear falling on the floor.

Organizing rack for my bakeware. This was a game changer for me.

We have a sturdy wall-mounted coat rack next to the front door, with 5 double hooks. One hook is for all of my miscellaneous bags and purses, one for things like rain jackets, one for hoodies, etc. I purged this recently and re-organized everything. No closets here, so we also use over-the-door hooks in the bedroom and bathroom.

Free standing double towel rack in the bathroom, next to the shower. No more worries about stupid towel racks falling out of the wall. The bottom rack is handy for hanging wet wash cloths.

My husband has a grabber device, and I think I possibly have used it more than he has, to reach things that have fallen in hard-to-reach places (like the corner behind the TV). Great for retrieving cat toys from behind the end table.

One of those thirsty water catching door mats, for just inside the front door, followed by a cheap non-skid runner rug. My old runner was a woven cotton rug, which I had to straighten several times a day, due to cats and people kicking up the corners. The new runner catches any extra sand/dirt, is easily vacuumed, and gives my husband extra space to take off his shoes. I can take the runner outside and power wash it with the hose and hang it up to dry.

Stick vacuum with a cord. Converts to a dust buster, has a floor attachment, and the filter is washable. Great for sucking up sand and dust bunnies and I don't have to haul out my canister vacuum as much. Found rechargeable dust busters would lose battery power too quickly, so I like the one with the cord.

Set of cheap plastic nesting mixing bowls from a dollar store. Got them when I was moving, as my heavier bowls were in a box somewhere. I keep them on top of the microwave, and they are super handy for mixing and food storage. I've got a fresh batch of hummus in one right now. Sometimes I don't feel like lifting my heavier Pyrex bowls for things like that.

Cheap acrylic organizing trays for the fridge (from the dollar aisle at Rite Aid, $3 each). One holds all of my dairy: cups of yogurt and pudding, sour cream, yogurt smoothies, etc. and the other is for veggies, box of lettuce, mushrooms, lemons and limes, things I don't want to lose sight of so they won't spoil before I use them up.

Rolling cart that fits between my counter and fridge (found by hunting for narrow rolling cart -- some are plastic, designed for the laundry, lots of options out there). It's a cheap wire rack cart, but holds things like large jugs of vinegar and emergency jugs of water on the bottom, all my boxes of wraps, kitchen trash bags, boxes of sandwich baggies, and spices on the top two shelves. I don't even have to pull it out to reach most things. It has a towel rack bar, so I can keep one kitchen towel there, and one on the stove handle. You can get hard plastic liners so small items won't topple over.

Dish drying mat. I don't have enough room for a dish rack. I use a dish drying mat, and put silverware on one side, bowls and plates on the other, drying as I go along. All the dishes get washed, dried, and put away once a day, including pots and pans. Then I just hang it to dry, on a knob in front of the sink. No more cleaning crud out of a dish rack, having to store it and haul it out, no more water leaking onto my counter top (as it was always escaping somehow, despite the tray underneath), and I can throw the mat into the wash once in a while.

A set of plastic squeeze bottles, the kind used for condiments. I use them for olive oil, and another for flavored olive oil that I made by poaching lemon slices (confit lemon), and since I use those frequently, can see how much I have left, and store my bulk olive oil in a cupboard. Have also used them to decorate dessert plates, with things like raspberry puree, under chocolate torte, which makes me feel fancy.

Long narrow rectangular jute basket, with handles on either end, for storing rolled up kitchen towels. Saves drawer space, and I can see how many I have left.

Hand soap: I buy A La Maison liquid hand soap, purchased online, one for the kitchen and one for the bath. It's pricey, but lasts forever, made from organic ingredients. Not as thick as regular hand soaps, which means I am not pumping big globs that I don't need, but it does the job and smells nice.

Small plastic pot scraper, rounded on one corner. I use them for so many things, not just scrubbing pots. They are great at cleaning off the ceramic cat food dishes, into the garbage and then under hot water at the sink. No getting cat food onto my dish sponge or scrubber.

Stainless steel bench scraper, great at picking up a pile of chopped onions to throw into a pan, cutting things like gnocchi, and of course, scraping dough.

Speaking of gnocchi, a potato ricer. Good for making gnocchi, and mashed potatoes come out smoother.

Heavy duty garlic press. I got sick of chopping garlic, especially for things where I don't want to bite down on pieces of garlic, or want to add it at the last minute to avoid burning it, or to blend into vinaigrettes, marinades, etc.

Baby whisk that I use for tons of things -- much better than a fork, because it gets into the rounded corners of my 2-cup glass measuring cup, or for whisking eggs in small bowls, no more yolk stuck in the bottom, it catches it all, and is easily rinsed and put back in its place. I probably use it more than any other utensil, except for my silicone spoon spatulas.

Lemon-scented wipes for the bathroom. I can clean up the seat, and anything on the floor in seconds.

Broom with a dustpan that has a long handle. No more bending over to use a dustpan. Saves my back.

Having a phone charger in each room. Did this recently, now I can look stuff up on IMDB when watching a TV show (what is that actor's name? Let me find out!).

Reading the rest of the answers with great interest.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:18 AM on June 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

One more: I bought my husband a boar bristle hair brush, and he said it's the best hair brush he's ever owned.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:54 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Frozen peppers and garlic can be chopped just like fresh ones.

Better yet, chop them BEFORE freezing. ....Take an ice cube tray, chop up the pepper or garlic, stuff the chopped whatever into the wells of the ice cube tray (filling each one full, you may only use four or five) and then drizzle just enough water into each filled well to take up the extra space. Freeze, pop the cubes out and store them in a baggie. Each standard cube holds like a tablespoon's worth and it's easy to just pull one out and throw it into a pan or a soup or whatever.

And as you may realize it's also easy to combine peppers and garlic into the same cube if you use those two ingredients together a lot. Same too with garlic and ginger, which also freezes well.

This works for fresh herbs too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:01 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Bought a pair of Snug-brand noise-blocking ear muffs/ear defenders so that I don't get headaches/migraines when there is [invariably] a crying/screaming baby on the train or in the shopping centre. Also works well for protecting against shops blasting loud music.
posted by Murderbot at 3:34 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Stopped wearing a bra, ever. Dramatically reduced my neck and shoulder pain issues.
posted by Murderbot at 3:37 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

After buying all kinds of bins and risers for my deep pantry shelves, I bought a $7 turntable mechanism and a $10 round wood tabletop from Menards, sized to fit my pantry shelf and now I have a custom lazy susan and can find everything in the pantry with a spin.
posted by sarajane at 4:37 AM on June 20, 2019

Wash your clothes properly. Don't just wash & tumble dry everything on the same cycle. My $60 bras last ten times longer on a gentle wash and hung to dry. My tshirts don't shrink or stretch if I gentle wash & hang (or lay flat) to dry. My good workshirts don't need ironing if I hang them straight from the dryer. I can keep tshirts years instead of months if I don't wash them in with jeans if I take a few extra minutes with every load of washing & wash like with like.

Also don't overload your machine, just because modern ones don't have agitators doesn't mean you can jam them full, they need the space for clothes to move for them to wash as there is no agitator.

Oh and change as soon as you get home & keep your good clothes for good.
posted by wwax at 4:52 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Seriously, dropping alcohol from my life. More time, better sleep, better skin, weight loss.
posted by Miko at 4:54 AM on June 20, 2019 [9 favorites]

Eliminating sugar has transformed the way I eat, definitely should have done it years ago.

Replacing stone with an artificial grass lawn was the best thing we did to the house - walking barefoot to put freshly washed bed linen out on the line first thing in the morning is one of life's joys. Our elderly old english sheepdog loves to lie for hours in a shady corner too. Worth every penny just for that.
posted by humph at 5:38 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got given a hand blender. It helps me eat so much more healthily! I use it to make smoothies, soup and homemade pesto.
posted by Nilehorse at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Puck lights and remote near bottom of the closet in the bottom of all closets to find stray shoes and other lost articles of clothing.
posted by Elsie at 6:11 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I stopped giving advice unless explicitly asked for it and everyone seems to like me much better for it.

Don't get me wrong - I *love* giving advice but it took me a while to learn that it should not be the default response.
posted by Twicketface at 6:19 AM on June 20, 2019 [18 favorites]

11 years ago Mrs. Proust and I bought two sets of nesting glass storage contains.

Fast forward to the present day. They have been in constant use for 11 years. That means each class container and lid has been used thousands of times. To reheat food, pop them in the microwave. To clean them, pop them in the dishwasher. They work as well now as the day we got them and they still look great. We still have all six containers and all six lids, and they still nest neatly in our kitchen drawer.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

--taking control of my finances and learning about investing/retirement planning so that I don't have to worry so much about the present and future, my anxiety levels are so much less now and I am able to use my free time for volunteer work and other personal pursuits without those constant nagging thoughts I had before.
--inexpensive battery-operated, motion-activated lights on the stairs up to the house, did it for elderly guests coming overing during the dark winter months, turns out I needed them too
--decent lounging patio chairs, with an umbrella for the backyard, seemed like an indulgence, but it is my favorite place in the whole house and I essentially live out there in the summer
--getting educated about what good posture is through books and seeing professionals, which I had known about that years ago
posted by nanook at 7:38 AM on June 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I put motion activated light switches in the walk-in closet and the laundry room. I don't have to worry about turning lights on and off when I am carrying clothes.
posted by Quonab at 7:52 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is gonna sound weird, but: I stopped using shampoo and conditioner.

Several years ago I noticed a male friend who never really seemed to care about his hair suddenly had really really great looking hair. Having struggled with finding good hair cream for ages, I asked him what he was using. He sheepishly admitted that his "secret" was that he stopped using shampoo and conditioner. The way he described it was that shampoo is designed to remove the oils your scalp produces from your hair. But your hair needs oils to keep from becoming brittle and damaged, so conditioner puts in synthetic oils. I was skeptical, but my barber had also been bugging me to stop washing my hair every day. Continuing to wash my hair (because...ew) but just using water and nothing else seemed like a good compromise, so I figured I'd try it for a week and see. That was four years ago. Never going back.

That said, this might only work if you have short hair. I'm male and have a traditionally male haircut, as does my friend. I've talked to friends with much longer hair who are skeptical about this working for them.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 7:53 AM on June 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

BlackLeotardFront I highly suggest that you do take your little microfiber cleansing cloths out of your pockets when you wash. We had an expensive bill from an appliance repair place because one of those things got stuck in a pipe and prevented the machine from draining.

As far as tips to make your life easier: we now have a small lingerie bag hanging off of the cabinet where we put dirty clothes and towels, and we put the little cleansing cloths into it once they're too dirty to use without smearing stuff on your lenses, so none of them end up in pockets anymore.
posted by telophase at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I now subscribe on Amazon to almost everything I ever need to buy more than once. It's a tremendous weight off my mental load. And if you subscribe to a lot of things, you get discounts. My life is so much better now that I never have to remember to buy: paper towels, ziploc bags, diapers, wipes, diaper genie refills, dish soap, dishwasher detergent, hand soap, larabars, laundry detergent.... and so forth.

This is ultra-specific to people with blondish eyebrows who don't like having blondish eyebrows, but once I started tinting my eyebrows, my mornings became faster because I didn't have to put brown eyebrow goo on them anymore.
posted by millipede at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

My husband used to put his midday pills in a sandwich sized ziplock and fold it up with a rubber band.

I bought him a package of 500 2"x2" baggies and we can use our ziplocks for actual food and these are less bulky in his pocket. He reuses them so it's gonna take a long time before we run out.
posted by vespabelle at 8:08 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I freeze tablespoon-size dollops of tomato paste. It's way cheaper than buying it in the tubes, and I can just drop as much as I need into recipes.
posted by FencingGal at 8:13 AM on June 20, 2019 [8 favorites]

Thought of this this morning: rented a locker and towel at my gym. My gym is dead cheap (I use the campus rec at the college I teach at), and I resisted for awhile, but locker/towel rental still doesn't make it that much more expensive. No more forgetting a towel, no more mouldering towels in the back of my car, no more having to haul everything in every day. I normally go first thing in the morning, but if it's a day I didn't and my schedule opens up, I already have sneakers and workout clothes and my swimsuit already over there and I can sneak over and get a workout in.
posted by joycehealy at 8:43 AM on June 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I started not filling in the address field on an email until I'd finished everything else on the email eg text, attachments etc.

No more accidentally pressing send too soon!
posted by Murderbot at 9:59 AM on June 20, 2019 [29 favorites]

Taking medication for my anxiety and depression. I did therapy and exercised and took vitamins and would sort of get better for a while, but it was this constant *battle.* I was scared to take it (thanks anxiety) and I cannot believe how different my interactions and ability to deal with stuff is. Truly, should have done it decades ago.
posted by purple_bird at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2019 [22 favorites]

As an oil painter, I learned you can use vegetable oil to clean up tools, pallettes, skin, instead of turpentine. So much easier and cleaner. Also, using thin gloves while painting. Both are total game changers.
posted by j810c at 3:09 PM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

I “fold” a fitted sheet by stuffing it in one of its associated pillowcases, then folding the pillowcase in half. It fits way better in the linen closet now.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:18 PM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

In my every day commuter backpack, I have a small fanny pack that I call my Escape the Zombies! pack. It's filled with the following:

External Battery Pack.
A couple of to Android USB cords.
A usb plug.
A small container of Tylenol.
A couple pairs of wired headphones.
My Epi-Pen.
Some Purell.
A small pocket knife.
N95 Face Mask.
Band aids.
Ear plugs.
An old iPod because music is nice, and it has an FM radio in it.
A registered Tile, so I can track it if it gets lost.

I figure that those are the absolute basics that I'd need if some sort of emergency hits, and I'm away from home. It doesn't help that I live in Earthquake, Volcano, and Smoke Country, so having calamity strike swiftly is a distinct possibility. And when there's no emergency? It's just helpful to have the basics in one small bag. If I have to ditch the bag, I can just strap the fanny pack around my waist.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:47 PM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

Like Marie Mon Dieu, Mrs. Gotanda bought me a really nice boar bristle hair brush and it is the best thing she has ever given me. And along with UltraMorgnus I went no shampoo but one better--also no soap years ago. Better hair, less itchy bod. But, then kind of counterintuitively I got a manicure for the first time in my life earlier this year and let me tell you! It was relaxing, felt good, I was kind of amazed / revulsed at how much they snipped off me, and it got me to take care of my nails better myself which seems to have largely cured me of sometimes biting them. Not something most middle-aged guys do, but try it!
posted by Gotanda at 4:20 AM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Press-on fake nails. I keep my nails short for work and one has a tendency to break. But sometimes I want to dress up and nails are just the thing. Press-on one are quick and easy. And since I only want to wear them for a day or two and my nails seem to be between the two sizes equally, a pack can last a long time. No more futzing with glue.
posted by kathrynm at 9:10 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oo, just thought of one while showering: my vacuum suction soap dish!

I love this thing. Being short, showers and bathtubs that even HAVE a soap dish often have them inset too high or someplace I have to leave the stream of warm water to get to. THIS bad boy can just be suctioned on anywhere there's a smooth tiled or glass surface. It's come with me to two apartments and has stayed firmly in pl;ace 100% of the time. I love this thing.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 9:26 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hair claw clips for cable management like this 12 pack Amazon sells for $5. Only I found similar for only $2 at Big Lots.
posted by Gino on the Meta at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

A few years back I decided to stop wearing makeup and am so glad I did. I always hated wearing it and only did the bare minimum because I felt it was part of the "woman tax" I owed the world for existing in professional spaces in a female-coded body, but then I just decided to stop and it's been great. Even last week when I was getting ready for my graduation ceremony, a relative asked if I had "my makeup" with me and I said I didn't wear makeup and that felt WONDERFUL. Nobody has made a big deal about it (and at this point I'm willing to deal with anybody who did), and I feel much truer to myself.

So I guess my bigger takeaway is to stop doing things I hate and am only doing because I feel somehow obligated to do.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:18 AM on June 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's okay to quit something based on how it starts.

Applies to everything in life: books, TV shows, long lists of advice, relationships, etc.

Maybe it gets better later. Maybe it's just "not for you". Maybe the timing isn't right now.

That's fine. It's okay to assume it doesn't get better. Life is short. Sample often. Chase your enthusiasms.

Do that by default, and it'll mean something when you want to stay with something through a rough start.
posted by shrimpetouffee at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you have a cat that tends to go in the same non-litter-box spot, disposable puppy pads are a lifesaver. (ask me how I know). To put this within the specific scope of the question: the change was from using regular, washable bathmats since we knew he was likely to go in that spot to using the disposable puppy pads.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 1:45 PM on June 23, 2019

Years of not regularly flossing, feeling guilty about not flossing, trying and failing to establish a flossing habit, etc, were ended with the purchase of a water flosser.
posted by Cozybee at 3:56 PM on June 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Got rid of my streaming and TV.

I did it by accident, and honestly can believe I did. I LOVE tv and movies. It was only supposed to be temporary, but it ended up being about 3 weeks and by then i'd realized how much better life is without. Never going back. I still do consume tv and movies occasionally, it's just now I only do it on purpose.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 9:32 PM on June 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Got rid of my streaming and TV.

oh yeah, so fundamental it completely skipped my mind. I haven't had a so-called Television in my principal residence since 2002. The only thing I really miss out on is live sports events. Which has opened me up to archived live sports events. Most recently, the 2016 Spa 24 Hr Endurance Race. Longer than many a TV season, and far less predictable.
posted by philip-random at 11:01 PM on June 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

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