Hacking life
October 15, 2023 9:44 AM   Subscribe

A few years after I began working full-time, I realized that laying out my clothes every evening and prepping the coffee pot made my mornings so much less aggravating. What small steps have you done to make your life run easier or more smoothly?

This is a simplistic example and I'm hoping for some real insight in every area of life.
posted by Rumi'sLeftSock to Society & Culture (66 answers total) 118 users marked this as a favorite
I narrowed down my wardrobe.

- I own 5 pair of khaki pants, all identical. I own 3 pair of green pants, in the identical style as the khaki pants, just, you know...green. These are a generic Amazon Basics brand.

- I own 15-ish black t-shirts, all identical, all Amazon Basics.

- All my socks are identical, all my underwear is mostly identical, all my shoes are black, all my belts are black.

If you see me, I will have on a black t-shirt and a pair of khaki or green pants. Always. This is all I ever wear.

I realize that I can get away with this, at least somewhat, because I'm a late middle aged white guy. No one notices me, no one sees me, no one pays attention to me or what I'm wearing. I could walk right past you on the street or in the hallway and you wouldn't even know I was there.

It helps that there are no expectations at work about how I dress, no one is judging me based on my wardrobe. I dressed this way when we were in the office, and it took the people sitting next to me almost 2 years to realize that my outfits never varied.

For work, I spend the last 15 or so minutes of the day making sure my to do list is ready for the next day, that I've got reminders for things I need to do on my calendar, and that I've made a note in whatever I'm working on about where I need to start.

I work from home, but I make sure at the end of the day to put my work laptop in my laptop backpack, and all my work related folders and whatnot also go in my backpack. That helps to enforce my work life balance, and also makes sure that I don't have to spend any time the next morning wondering where things are.
posted by ralan at 9:58 AM on October 15, 2023 [19 favorites]

Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in the shower. Brush your teeth while your conditioner is marinating.
posted by phunniemee at 10:10 AM on October 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

I use over-the-door hooks to hang certain clothes:
* Bathrobe
* Pajamas
* Exercise clothes
* T-shirts and certain things that I've worn but aren't dirty enough to need washing
* The bottoms I wear regularly (two or three pairs of sweatpants, a couple of pairs of shorts, and one or two pairs of "everyday" pants that I wear out of the house)

Tops that I've worn once, I turn the opposite way on the hangar and put at the back of the section of tops in my closet.

I have a fairly simple wardrobe for most days, although not as simple as ralan's wardrobe. I take a top (usually a polo shirt) from the front of the closet and a pair of pants. The next day, I take the next shirt, and so on. I seldom need to think about what to wear.
posted by NotLost at 10:12 AM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Resetting the house every evening before bed. It literally takes 20 minutes if you keep up with it, and it makes you feel so elegant and capable when you wake up every morning that strangers pick up on the vibe and instantly assume you know something they don't.
posted by mochapickle at 10:20 AM on October 15, 2023 [45 favorites]

I make sure that anything I need to take with me out of the house is either hanging on the front door handle or propped up against the door. If it's something I need to remember to take out of the fridge, as soon as I've prepped it and put it in the fridge, I put a post-it note on the front door handle that says, simply, 'Fridge'.
posted by essexjan at 10:23 AM on October 15, 2023 [15 favorites]

Also, I like shoes that don't need to be tied. They save a little time every time you put them on or take them off, and you don't need to worry about buying shoelaces.
posted by NotLost at 10:27 AM on October 15, 2023 [5 favorites]

I got one of those split laundry bins (the ones with three separate slots for whites, blacks and colours). The pre-sorting means I notice immediately when I have enough of a specific type of laundry to run a load, and I'm not having to go through days-old dirty laundry to separate it (which I personally find gross).

I also got one of those small hanging dryers with pegs (example) and I use it for drying socks - the key being I pair them up as I hang them to dry. Then when I'm taking socks off to fold them together and put them away, it's really easy to grab them pair by pair, because they're already sorted.

If you need a shoehorn to put on shoes, get a long-handled one. So much faster to get out the door if you don't have to sit down or balance precariously on one foot to put on shoes.
posted by sailoreagle at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Separate bank accounts for monthly bills and spending money made my life so much easier.

Every payday I put the money for the bills into the bill account. Whatever is left in my other bank account is my own. It removes both stress and mental arithmetic, which for me are the same thing.

On the same note I've automated every possible payment so I never have to remember to pay anything manually.

To extrapolate out from that: Humans have only got so much working memory to use, so anything which frees up that memory makes your life run smoother.

If you can reliably automate a mundane but necessary task, do so.
If you can't automate it, put a recurring reminder on your phone so at least you never forget it.
posted by underclocked at 10:29 AM on October 15, 2023 [17 favorites]

I keep the meds right next to the toilet, where I can see them when I go in the morning, with a bottle of water. That way when I get up it is easier to take them than to not take them.
posted by corb at 10:36 AM on October 15, 2023 [6 favorites]

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

So, find the natural spot for things (keys, purse, jacket, scissors…) that fit with the flow of how you move through the house and naturally put them back there when done. So you’re never searching for things.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:39 AM on October 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

Having two or three meals I enjoy that I can make out of pantry ingredients or frozen foods. This is a bit different from a frozen meal (though I do love french bread pizzas and Indian curries, especially the Deep Indian Kitchen brand). Tuna olive pasta is my default pantry meal. Dduk mandu soup (rice cakes and dumplings) is my default freezer meal.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

I made a post management station next to my front door. It has a box cutter and the paper recycling and an "in tray", so that envelopes and junk mail and broken down Amazon boxes don't get any further into my house.

I arranged my kitchen for optimum ergonomics so everything is just where I need it. For example, the knives are on a magnetic strip above the counter where I chop things, which is right next to the fridge.

I hung a clothes dryer under my back porch roof which is only a couple of meters' walk from the washing machine.

I use a neobank that lets me auto sort my income into pots, and I use this to make monthly allocations for bills, car expenses, home expenses, holiday savings, etc.

I get a doorstep milk delivery with bonus OJ at the weekend.

I use the supermarket online "basket" as my shopping list. I keep a spare unopened one of anything important, and then add it to the shopping list as soon as I have to open that spare one.

I buy a lot of that pre chopped frozen veg, and I freeze bulk bought meat in single portions, so that I can easily make proper food even when I haven't been organised enough to do a sensible food shop for fresh stuff. I also bake and then freeze healthy bread buns so there's always something to make a sandwich with.
posted by quacks like a duck at 10:41 AM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Having a small pouch for "just in case" items that can be transferred between backpacks/satchels/tote bags. By just in case items I mean a few different sized bandaids, a few alcohol wipes, ear plugs, menstrual pad, and a few different kinds of painkillers and allergy meds. When I commuted to campus, I also had a pouch for necessary dongles and chargers and a dry erase pen / regular pen.

Using Amazon wishlists as a place to keep track of random (non book) things I might want to buy (even though I almost never actually buy these from Amazon).
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

Keys go in the key bowl.
posted by lokta at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

To make it easier to clear your shower:

If you have shower doors, keep a squeegee in the shower and squeegee the doors after every shower.

Keep a washcloth nearby and wipe down the faucet after every shower.
posted by FencingGal at 11:05 AM on October 15, 2023 [5 favorites]

Oh, I have a travel pouch thing for going away, with a full set of toiletries, hairbrush, a phone charger/adapter. When I'm going away, I just chuck the pouch in the suitcase whenever I'm packing. Then I don't have to think about packing my deodorant and whatever else after I use it on the morning I'm leaving.
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:09 AM on October 15, 2023 [7 favorites]

Previously and also previously. Also this.

I advise hanging up everything you can -- from a wall, a door, a piece of furniture, the ceiling, where have you. That's been a huge improvement for me in the last year. I love my hooks, magnets, and magnetic hooks!
posted by jgirl at 11:12 AM on October 15, 2023 [6 favorites]

Kitchen sink is empty every night. Also, stop wasting time rinsing dishes when putting them in the dishwasher if this is a thing that is preventing you from doing this. Dirty but scraped dishes come out perfectly clean 99% of the time, even from my terrible 90s era dishwasher.
posted by MagnificentVacuum at 11:13 AM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

To clean the inside of a disgusting microwave, first microwave a small bowl or dish of water until it boils or almost-boils, then just let it sit in there for 5 minutes. It will steam up the crud and make it easy to wipe off with a wet rag or sponge.

Hydrogen peroxide, which you can cheaply buy at the drug store for wound care, is great for smelly dishwashers.

50/50 rubbing alcohol + water is great for cleaning eyeglasses. You don't need the proprietary blue liquid they give you at opticians'.

Lemon is good for eliminating garlic/onion odor/flavor from cutting boards, especially efficient if you can just rub the cutting board with a discarded piece of squeezed up lemon during the cooking/prep process.
posted by splitpeasoup at 11:16 AM on October 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

I floss in the AM so it’s part of a solid routine when I have the most energy.

I spend 3-5 minutes each morning reviewing my day and the next couple coming up. It lets me be intentional with what is most important to do in the day, what days I might want to make a big batch of smoothies for so I eat okay, and to identify when I’m going to work out so it doesn’t take a backseat. I try to stick to my morning plan as best I can.

I keep a notebook near me where I dump all ideas for things that need doing, ideas I want to look more into, and generally somewhere I can dump out my thoughts. This helps with rumination and time spent googling when I should be doing something else.

This sounded stupid to me until I started doing it but I stop a few times a day to breathe really deeply and take stock of how I feel. I tend to spiral emotionally and not really know it and I’ve found myself a lot more in control by having specific times where I let tension go or acknowledge how I’m actually feeling.
posted by openhearted at 11:18 AM on October 15, 2023 [19 favorites]

I buy duplicates of things I use in more than one place. So there's a set of keys that always lives in my most-usual bag for going out, but there's another key by the door to take down to the gym or when I walk the dog. (Really that should be two separate keys, but I need the building key fob for both, and that's $75.) That way I'm not constantly worrying about whether I remembered to grab the keys.

I also have the little pouch of essentials I can transfer from bag to bag mentioned above.

Dog stuff is corralled into a few different plastic trays/containers near where they are used. So food/treats/meds are on the counter where I measure out his food, but the wipes/bags/cleaning spray are in another tray over by his pee pad. There's also a separate small bag in the closet with the gear and meds required for ear cleaning. I restock it after every cleaning, so I can set up as quickly as possible (it stresses him out).
posted by praemunire at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

And still more.
posted by jgirl at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

Put the things you need to use soon in the center part of the fridge. Put the things that can stay good for a long time at the back and in the drawers. You will go looking for mustard, you won't go looking for the vegetables. The crisper doesn't do anything anyway.

Look at your keys before you close the door. Don't feel them in your pocket. Pull them out and look at them every single time. Especially in hotel rooms where it's a key card that feels like a credit card. Also, yes, duplicate your keys and just always have them.

Duplicate your phone chargers enough that you don't have to know where they are because you have one in every place you spend time (bed, couch, kitchen, work, car, suitcase, day bag.) Don't move them, just unplug them and leave the cord in the spot.

If you live in a place where it doesn't get light much in the winter, set up lamps on a timer for the time you want to get up and go to sleep. Using the sunrise/sunset cue is really important for many people to self-regulate. In nature, we would probably just sleep a lot in the winter but that's not how we live now. When the lights come on, it's time to get up. When the lights go off, it's time to go to sleep.

Stop watching or listening to the news. If something is a big enough deal, someone else will bring it up in conversation. If it's a big deal specifically to you, seek out that information, but don't allow a daily feed of miscellaneous information (that someone else chose based on their agenda, and which you usually can't do anything about) into your life. Same principle: ditch as much social media as possible. If something is important, your friends and family will contact you.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:54 AM on October 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

I keep handfuls of tampons in every single bag I own. I've ended up grabbing a tampon intead of a pen or spilling tampons while grabbing my keys often enough, but it's still so, so worth it.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:55 AM on October 15, 2023 [6 favorites]

Keep stain removers where you take off your clothes, not in the laundry room.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2023 [11 favorites]

Bought a 5-pack of reading glasses. Now every room I need them in has pair, with a spare set than lives in my suitcase.

A 20-pack of my favorite gel pen (Zebra Sarasa fans, represent!) plus a distribution of index cards and post-it notes ensures that there's always something nearby to write with.
posted by dws at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2023 [4 favorites]

I buy extras of consumables that I use regularly -- such as paper towels, toothpaste, soup, etc. The idea is that I never run out. For example, when I finish using a tube of toothpaste, I start on the next one that I already have, and then I put it on the shopping list.

The leaves that fall from my trees, I leave in the yard. As they decompose, they add nutrients to the soil.

I have a drawer organizer for the "junk drawer" / "secretary area" of my kitchen. It organizes pens and other writing utensils, pads of paper, scissors, batteries, etc.
posted by NotLost at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

When I get home from work and stop to get the mail, I immediately look through it and put all the junk mail, catalogs etc directly into my outdoor recycling bin before going into the house. It's great not having to sort through piles of mail each week for recycling pickup.
posted by ojocaliente at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

I keep a large waste basket for recycling next to the kitchen trash can.
posted by NotLost at 12:26 PM on October 15, 2023

Limited things on my smartphone to camera, podcasts, music, maps, Libby, texting, calendar and notes app. I did this via iPhone with a passcode I gave to my partner. My life is much smoother by eliminating a lot of internet chaos and the compulsive checking of email and websites. Every once in a while it is not as smooth to accomplish something like an online ticket sent to my email (I have to think about in advance and plan), but on the whole my brain is much better and I have better all around focus.
posted by lizard music at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

It is always always always better to fill up your car on the way home than the next morning……..because you are inevitably running late the next morning even before getting fuel…..always.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2023 [15 favorites]

I buy flashlights that take AAA batteries and really avoid things with odd battery sizes. I keep batteries in a tupperware container. We lose power from time to time, and cheap small flaslights in each bathroom and on hooks in closets are a big help. I call it RAIF, Redundant Array of Inexpensive Flashlights. Also, it doesn't have to be a flashlight, battery operated string lights give off good light and cheer.

I buy several pairs of socks and I don't care if I wear a blue one and a gray one, wool socks are spendy, and if one blue one wears out, the other will get used up.

Food storage. I try to have 2 sizes of food storage containers and lids. They multiply and mutate at an alarming rate and need constant culling, but it's a worthy effort.

I had tiles, now I have air tags, and I often use the Find function for Android and Apple devices. I would like the Find function to be able to turn on the flashlight. I often ask Siri to turn on flashlight so I can find the phone in my large bag. Or, turnoff lights, ask Siri to light up.

I don't need tampons any more (yay!) but have cheap reading glasses in my bag, bathrooms, desk. RAIS Redundant Array of Inexpensive Spectacles

When I leave the house, I recite the list of important things wallet, keys, phone, did I take my meds?

I keep bottles of water in the freezer. A full fridge/ freezer is more efficient. Sometimes the poser goes out and a full freezer stays colder. If I need to keep lunch cold, grab some water.

If a yogurt tub is full of yogurt, it has its original lid. if it's full of leftovers, it has a miscellaneous not-yogurt lid.
posted by theora55 at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

You don't need to fold underwear.
posted by NotLost at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2023 [7 favorites]

fill up gas no later than at the half tank point.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

* BUY A HEADLAMP. They're so much better than flashlights. Get the black diamond 300 (and not some cheap one off Amazon; they break within a month). I prefer the one that uses AAA batteries instead of rechargable, because it's easier to swap out batteries than wait for it to recharge.

* Get three or four USB cables that are 20' long and leave them plugged in in your common rooms.

* Religiously use alerts on your phone instead of your calendar. Label the alerts. Set them for half an hour or an hour before the thing so you have time in case you forget.

* Have two kinds of storage: frequent stuff should always be on the front of shelf and rarer stuff in the back or on higher shelves. Ideally you should never have to move something out of the way to get something.

* Use your phone camera to take pictures of things instead of writing down notes (cafe wi-fi passwords, store hours, cookbook recipes, etc). I told my nephew to do this with his completed homework in case he forgets it, he can quickly recopy it out.

* When carving a pumpkin, cut the hole in the bottom instead of the top. Use red dry erase marker instead of black permanent marker so you can wipe it away. Clear out the bulk of the stringy guts with a hand held cake mixer first, Put vaseline on the exposed edges to make them last longer.

* When you list expenses in your budget, simplify and just round to the nearest dollar.

* Print a short list of people's phone numbers and keep it in your wallet in case your phone dies and you need to call people. No one remembers numbers any more.

* Label your emergency contacts as ICE / In Case of Emergency. First person to contact can be ICE 1, second is ICE 2. Emergency personnel use this. On your phone's lock screen, put contact information in case someone finds your phone.

* If you split dish washing with roommates, the priority chore should be emptying the dishwasher. You can then keep dirty dishes in the dish washer instead of in the sink. You can't do this until the clean dishes have been taken out though.

* Keys go in the key bowl. I use an upside down frisbee. Something plastic or wooden so the keys don't scratch and clatter.

* I've reduced the number of plates, bowls, cups, and silverware I own to reduce how high the dishes stack up. They're still in the cupboard, but just in a box. They come out for dinner parties.

* I get those cheap fabric boxes to put on shelves so they look neater instead of having things piled on the shelf. I put the label of their contents on the inside of the box instead of the outside to keep it neat.

* Roll up your right pant leg when bicycling in long pants so you don't get chain grease on it. Get a helmet that is a bright neon high-visibility color.

* A lasko box fan in a room on the low setting is a quiet way to keep air circulating.

* When I clean a room, I put things that go into other rooms by the door and take it all out at once so I'm not constantly coming and going.

* Pill sorter container for the cat's medication.

* Dollar store 4-pack of toothbrushes for guests who need to crash. Same with tampons/pads, even though I'm a guy.

* Plastic take out container labeled "Dead Batteries". When I finally figure out what to do with them (ChatGPT is surprisingly good at answering this.) I'll take them all at once.

* Conservation of t-shirt rules: for each new t-shirt I get, one must leave.

* Keep a full sized fire extinguisher in your kitchen, garage, and car. Keep it somewhere visible/easy to reach and not hidden in a cupboard.

* Old coffee mugs are great pencil/pen/marker/whatever holders to have on desks and side tables and counters.

* Buy a car escape tool. Something that can break windows and slice off seatbelts. Keep it in the side pocket. You might need it for yourself or a car wreck you drive by. (Same with the fire extinguisher.)

* Also keep a foldable paper map in the car of your city, in case your phone dies.

* Baking soda can be used to put out grease fires. Keep an open box in the fridge.

* Keep a plunger in EACH bathroom.

* Get a bidet. Just the spray hose kind. The under-the-seat built-in kind are a pain to clean and aim, and more moving parts means more likely something will break.

* I keep the broom and dust pan in an out of the way corner rather than in a closet or pantry so it's always easy to reach. It encourages me to do quick sweeps.

* If you have the money, a portable car charger and portable electric air pump for your car.

* I have an electric kettle. I use it to boil water and then pour it into a pot on the stove. It's faster and uses electricity instead of gas, and doesn't heat up the kitchen as much.

* Get one of those foldable wagons. They make picnics and outdoors stuff so much easier.

* Get pepto tablets instead of the pepto bismal liquids.

* if you have pets and a flea problem, don't bother with those glue traps. Instead, get a flat long shallow baking pan from a dollar store and fill it with water and some Dawn liquid dish soap, and leave it under your bed or wherever. Fleas jump in and drown due the soap. This is also a good way to detect if you have a flea problem. Daily vacuuming is a good way to mitigate a flea problem without pesticides. Also, dollar store disposable baking pans are great temporary litter boxes if you foster cats, especially kittens you keep in a bathroom.
posted by AlSweigart at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2023 [10 favorites]

My EDC items (wallet, keys, knife, pen etc.) never leave my pants. At the end of the day when I remove my pants they get hung on a hook and then the next morning I either put the pants back on or put a clean pair on and only then transfer things from dirty pants to clean. Never setting those things down.

A minor thing but cash gets sorted in my wallet.
posted by Mitheral at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

Read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen and applying his methods. The biggest take-away is the two minute rule, if it takes two minutes or less, do it right away.
posted by saturdaymornings at 2:00 PM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

* If there's a problem that someone can't fix in five minutes, don't mention it. Something on their face or their shirt is inside out? Mention it. Lose weight or quit smoking? Don't mention it.

* Get door mats. They can go outside if you don't have room inside of the door, or inside if the ones outside get rained on. Or you can get both. Get a long "runner" rug to put in the high-traffic hallways. Taking off your shoes when you come inside really makes a difference.

* Instead of throwing away tooth brushes, mark them with multiple X's with a sharpie. Use these for cleaning. Keep them in an coffee mug with a broken handle that isn't used for drinking anymore. (The weight of the coffee mug keeps it from falling over.) Use tooth brushes and Dawn dish soap to clean the undersides of shoes from time to time to get the really gross stuff off.

* Buy the king sized magnum sharpie instead of trying to fill in a large area with a normal sharpie.

* Buy the kind of dish washing scrub brush that have handles. Buy long and non-cheap dish washing gloves. I leave the gloves lying over the side of the sink (finger side in the sink) so they're always easy to put on.

* I toss bath towels over the tops of open doors to dry.

* Keep band aids in the car. If you own a tarp, keep it in the car trunk instead of the garage. You can put it in a large IKEA bag or fold it up and have a bungee cable keep it folded.

* Keep dollar store bungee cables in the car trunk.

* A plastic bag in the car for trash makes it easier to clean out the car.

* Always have extra printer cartridges on hand so you have them immediately.

* For my living room/computer desk where I have a ton of things plugged in, I write a small ID tag on some paper and wrap it around the power cable near the plug so it's obvious what is what. I have "TV" or "X-Box" or "Printer". Do the same if you have USB cables on your desk that you plug your laptop into.

* I bought a 6 inch HDMI extender that I leave plugged into the monitor so I don't have to reach to the back on the monitor to plug my laptop in. I also have a 20' HDMI cable that I leave for the TV to plug my laptop in when I'm on the couch.

* Post it notes are great book marks. Go through all your books and add one to the inside cover if you haven't read it yet. If you don't want the post it note sticking out the top of your books when they're on the shelf, put the post it not on the side of the book so it's hidden.

* Keep rubber bands in the fridge so they last longer.

* Buy a bag of assorted sized binder clips and keep them in the kitchen for chip and bread bags.

* Thrift stores and dollar stores are great for buying cheap picture frames, even if you buy a picture for the frame and throw out the frame.

* Buy clocks and set up your house so that there's a sight line to a clock no matter where in your house you are. Don't get super cheap clocks, and get clocks that move in steps rather than constantly scroll around (a tick-tock song is better than a constant whirling buzzing.)

* It's often easy to mule kick open a door (and if you have to force open a door, do a mule kick or even butt bump instead of shoulder slam or front kick.) For security, replace the most-likely-short screws that keep your doors hinges connected with long 2 or 3 inch screws. Replace the latch screws with long screws as well. Get a door lock reinforcer (it's a plate that goes behind the deadbolt lock or knob that distributes the force of a blow across a wider area, making it harder to kick in). Don't bother with chain locks, get a bar lock instead instead. Get a wide-angle peep hole. I've printed a small, neat note that I've taped under the peephole on the inside that says "Don't open the door for unexpected strangers." You can always talk to them through the door. Get a light weight metal baseball bat to keep next to the front door. If that looks awkward to guests, get an umbrella stand and keep it amongst/behind long umbrellas.

* If you rarely open and close your garage door, get a bolt on the inside of the garage so that you have to be inside the house to undo it.

* Get a separate plastic tub or plastic 5 gallon bucket with a lid for paint thinners, charcoal lighter, and other flammable liquids to be stored in, instead of leaving them on a shelf in the garage where they can be knocked over.

* After shopping, put all the reuseable bags by the door for the next time to go to the car (or just put them in the car immediately.) Reusable bags should be stored in the car and not in your home.

* Place the pet food bowl in a tray of water to keep out ants.

* You can use dry erase markers on a bathroom mirror if you want to make notes or reminders or thoughtful messages.

* Keep a paper recycling bin next to where you pick up mail so you can filter before taking the mail inside/to your desk/table.

* If you have closet space, hanging up clothes is easier than folding them.

* Don't carry your social security card in your wallet. You can only lose it. Don't carry stuff in your wallet that you don't want to lose.

* Plastic filing boxes are great ways to store important paperwork. You can keep it by the door in case you need to grab it in the event of a fire.

* If you're kind of a techie and know how Python and the command line work, use yt-dlp to download videos from YouTube and most video sites. (There still isn't a decent GUI for this tool, in my opinon. Maybe I should make one.)

* When I take notes on paper, I fold the paper in half length wise so I get two columns. The notes are easier to take and muc more readable later.

* This website has decent printable calendar PDFs you can print out. https://www.waterproofpaper.com/calendar/

* When buying hand tools, get the cheapest ones available. If you break them, that's a sign you actually use them enough to buy good hand tools. Harbor Freight and dollar stores sell cheap tools. You might not want to get Harbor Freight power tools though.

* For teenagers with acne, get a set of 7 cheap hand towels for them to put on their pillows to absorb face crud. It's easier than changing/cleaning the pillow case every night.
posted by AlSweigart at 2:15 PM on October 15, 2023 [5 favorites]

Most clothes don't need to be washed, they need to be aired. Having clothes for work is great but having clothes for home is crucial to not strain, stain, or wear out your clothing, especially socks and shoes.

Don't buy new clothes, if you can. Most garment stains can come out with white vinegar or carbolic soap and a soft brush. If you must wash clothes, use the shortest cycle and air your clothes as often as you can, which will help you keep the clothes you want and not overburden yourself with materialism in pursuit of simplicity.

Don't be afraid of learning how to use a sewing machine even if you don't plan to buy one. I found it great to know how to do and it continuously challenges me to try new things.
posted by parmanparman at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2023

* I keep ear plugs in the key pocket of most of my pants. It doesn't matter if they get sent through the laundry. It helps to have ear plugs wherever I am. I replace them when they get dirty.

* Instead of tossing out old pandemic masks, you can keep them near the litter box when you have to clean it and want something to block some of the smell.
posted by AlSweigart at 2:44 PM on October 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

I have a recycling bin next to every bin (trash can) in my apartment.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:43 PM on October 15, 2023

Keep numbers that you need to refer to frequently in your phone contacts. So my Known Traveler number, employee ID number, attorney registration number, etc. are all in my phone, with the number where the last name would normally go.
posted by holborne at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2023 [8 favorites]

Clear food storage containers so you can actually see your leftovers and ingredients.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:00 PM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

not so much life hack as contingency planning.

car content:
  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • 1gal water
  • ibuprofen
  • zyrtec
  • ball cap
  • towel (damn right)
  • goodwill blanket to give to unhoused dude on corner - ditto, protein bars

posted by j_curiouser at 4:11 PM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

I bought a MagSafe wallet (this one), not to use with my iPhone, but so that I can keep my wallet on my front door, which is steel, so I always know where it is on my way out the door. If you don't have a steel door, you could keep it on your fridge.

I bought a Bluetooth lock for my front door so I never have to take out my keys.

I switched to smart lights so I can control all of the house's lights from anywhere.

I made Shortcuts for my iPhone and Watch Ultra which allow me to press a single button and immediately capture my thoughts via voice record, convert them to text, and save them to the cloud using the Drafts app. It's an absolute godsend and the most friction-free way of saving ideas I've ever found.

I bought a GPS for my bicycle -- something called Beeline Velo 2. Never get lost and never have to pull out my phone midride.

I switched all my charging cables to Rolling Square Incharge XL cables, which will charge just about anything (USB C, Lightning, MicroUSB). Now, every device I own, with the exception of my toothbrush, can be charged with the same cable.

I cancelled Audible (after more than a decade) and switched to Libby.

I bought the best convection oven I could afford and mastered it.

I replaced my non-stick pans with wrought iron skillets, including ones that can fit in my convection oven. Game changer.

I switched to a pen that doesn't use proprietary refills.

I switched to completely flat shoes with wide toe boxes which eliminated the Plantar Fasciitis that had plagued me for years.

I resolved to only ever fly carryon, regardless of the length of my trip (longest so far has been 5 months with one bag).

Download city maps for places I frequent or visit so that my phone can access them regardless of whether or not I have a signal. This is especially great when travelling to a new city. Download pre-flight and you won't need a signal when you land which makes it easier to get to where you need to be at a time when you're normally flustered.

I switched to mostly Merino Wool clothes which suit my local climate (Toronto) year round, but also work in the tropical climates I prefer.
posted by dobbs at 4:43 PM on October 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

On the same note I've automated every possible payment so I never have to remember to pay anything manually.

Seconding this - and adding that this also works for savings. Auto-transfer that stuff.

Also - auto-transfer your payments and your savings transfers on a WEEKLY basis wherever possible. Especially if it's some kind of debt - if you do a weekly transfer towards your payment, it spreads out the impact, and it also psychological looks easier to manage. You go from thinking "ack, $80 every month, that's a lot" to "only $20 a week? Pfft, that's nothing, lemme bump that up to $25 a week". Which tricks you into paying down your debt a little faster.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 PM on October 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

Belt into the belt loops before you put your pants on.
posted by mmascolino at 8:15 PM on October 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

This may be niche, but I adore tea. I also have ADHD. I take Dexedrine for my ADHD, and my Psych has also given me permission to bolster it with weak green tea throughout the day.

As a result? I put my green teas on the top of my tea cart, where they are the most accessible, and I am most likely to grab from when I am making tea.

The other thing I do is make green tea ahead of time, and put it in the refrigerator. If I want iced tea, it's already made. I'll often keep a small thermos right by my bed, to drink first thing in the morning, to get the brain going. It helps break the never ending ADHD cycle that I fall into where I won't remember to take my ADHD meds....because I have ADHD....so I won't take my ADHD meds, etc.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:22 PM on October 15, 2023

My 1892 vintage grandmother used to get ahead of her home-working day by peeling the potatoes [which were eaten pretty much daily] the day before and leaving them ready to go in cold water in the saucepan. This was obvs bonkers worked for her.
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:26 PM on October 15, 2023 [2 favorites]

Mod note: One removed. Sorry, please just stick to the parameters of the question rather than expanding into political commentary.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:46 AM on October 16, 2023

If you’re the anxious type, and find it hard to leave home on holiday/vacation without wondering if you inexplicably left the oven on/iron on/door unlocked etc., take photos of the switches in the off position, the windows closed, and even video yourself locking the front door. It feels utterly ridiculous that it’s necessary, but it’s made so much difference to me.

I don’t even need to look back at the pics generally, just knowing they’re in my phone for reassurance short-circuits the anxiety thought loop.

You can obviously delete them again once you’re home or even once you’ve survived that anxiety period right after departure.

I know you’re not supposed to indulge in reassurance-seeking behaviour for anxiety, but this one really works (for me, at least).
posted by penguin pie at 3:12 AM on October 16, 2023 [12 favorites]

Lots of good info here. I'll add a folded $20 in my phone case and another $20 hidden in my car has saved me a hassle more than once.

Plus, the phone case money is perfect if I'm out for a walk without my wallet and pass a lemonade stand.
posted by Twicketface at 7:58 AM on October 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

For work, I have to go into the office two days a week and I *hate* it but two things make it infinitely easier:

1. I pick out my outfit for the next time I go into the office as I am changing out of what I wore to the office that day and I hang that up with a bra and underwear and any accessories I would wear with it. That way, I just have to grab that and put it in the bathroom to change after I get out of the shower. No thinking involved.

2. My partner and I make big batches of something and freeze at least eight portions in re-used takeout containers for office lunches so we never have to think about what we want to eat for lunch; it's always just ready for us.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:02 AM on October 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

Get geo-tags (AirTags, Tiles, whatever works with your phone) and little keychain holders for them. Put them on EVERYTHING. I have 8 tags, enough to have a tag on: all my sets of keys (Multiple sets of keys as described above), tucked deep in my wallet, in my car so I can find where I parked in large parking garages, in my child's backpack so I can tell when kiddo is en route home or has been dropped off, I'd put one on the dog's collar if I had a dog, and I keep a couple standing by ready to be tossed into travel bags. This saves me easily 15 minutes a week of looking for my keys and has prevented my forgotten wallet from being stolen because I was able to find it so quickly.

Hide paper cash in your phone case, wallet, car, and in a jar near the front door. So helpful for forgetful moments, random Facebook Marketplace purchases, paying the babysitter, etc.

I pay for everything with a credit card and get paper statements. The paper statement sits on my desk to remind me to pay the balance down to zero every month. When I do that, I put a giant checkmark across the front of the bill and a little note saying "Paid to zero, Date, Confirmation Number", then chuck it into my receipts box. This lets me keep an eye on my spending, any returns that didn't go through, etc.

Even though I almost always pay my credit card to zero, I also have an auto-transfer of double the minimum monthly payment amount ($10-100 depending on the balance I put on the card) that lands on each of my credit cards once a month, so if I get busy I never accidentally miss a payment, but I also keep cash flow liquid if needed.

Get cameras looking at all the doors of your house so you can retrieve packages immediately and ignore solicitors. If you have kids, cameras where they sleep and play so you can peek in a few times a day and feel good that all is going well at home. Also tell your insurance provider than you have cameras, as they often offer a discount - mine is $20 off per month.

Never put mail back into the envelope! Rip the envelope in half immediately so you know it's empty, and get it out of your life. And don't re-fold mail in thirds - makes it too bulky in your taxes folder and hard to see what's on it. Either keep it flat or fold the mail in half with the interesting side facing OUT, so you can see at a glance what it is without re-un-folding it. Much quicker at tax time.

Get like 8 phone chargers with 6 foot long cords. Place them by the couch, bed, stove, home desk, work desk, purse, backpack, and car. Leave them plugged in at all times so you never look for a charger again.

If you have plants, get 2 pretty watering cans (Ikea makes nice ones). Keep one in the bathroom, one by the kitchen sink. Makes it quicker and easier to water plants if the watering can lives beside the water source.

Don't buy "home decor" - it just turns into clutter. Buy useful things that are beautiful - splurge on a very pretty lamp, a gorgeous cutting board, a pretty plant pot, a gorgeous kettle. Those useful items make for less clutter and a more serene and high-end look than having "decorative items".

Have a large sturdy shelf at waist height beside the front door and near your office door (like a Kallax on its side). Keep the top clear. That's your staging area - things that need to go out get placed on that shelf and because the top is always clear, you'll see the item and not go clutterblind looking for it among tchotchkes.

Get 4 laundry hampers (4 Ikea Skubbs in the bottom of a Pax wardrobe is sublime). LABEL them. Mine are - whites - colours & jeans - silky items - sheets and towels. That way you never have to sort laundry, just lug whichever Skubb is full down to the wash.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:39 AM on October 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

Get all your storage items in WHITE. You want lightness and visual cohesion. Too many colours and patterns in your storage make it look visually overwhelming and messy. But an all-white storage area looks clean and simple. Add small white labels to keep things organized. Put ugly stuff in clear bins, hidden behind white doors.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:54 AM on October 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

This is a weird one that I just started.

Working full time in a stressful job means I have decision fatigue, like my executive function is SHOT, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything. So I’ve been using D&D dice to make decisions.

I have two main lists going - (1) big jobs that take 1+ hours, and (2) small jobs that take ~15 minutes. Each list has 20 items. Make these when you’re feeling higher energy! Then, when you have the allotted amount of time, roll a d20 to choose your job. Poof! No more decision fatigue! Seriously I’m loving it.

From there you could replace the item on the list if it’s a one-off, or leave it on if it has to happen periodically. I have mostly cleaning/organizing/admin things, but I mix in some nice things (like draw for an hour, or play ukulele for 15 minutes). I can do one small job a day, and one big job on a day off. But there are no rules.

This is working so well I added a couple of new lists, like for short “reset” activities if I’ve had a meltdown (bath, face in ice water, deep breathing) and to decide what to do in the morning hour before work (yoga, walk, journal, read at a cafe). These are both d8 lists.

Also, my partner and I have used it to determine our evening activities (movie, crossword & wine, play a game, etc.) - helps us diversify without arguing! 😊 for that it’s a d4.

We call it DICE LIFE but it’s still in beta. 🎲
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 11:05 AM on October 16, 2023 [16 favorites]

We call it DICE LIFE but it’s still in beta.

In case you're unaware of The Dice Man...
posted by dobbs at 2:16 PM on October 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

In case you're unaware of The Dice Man...

Oh wow I was! I wasn’t planning to circumvent morality myself… might need to rebrand.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 3:18 PM on October 16, 2023

You don't need to fold underwear

But you will know exactly how much you have at a glance if you do fold it and then put it in the drawer vertically.
posted by jgirl at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2023

Keep a washcloth on the bathroom counter and swipe up any drips immediately. Chuck in the wash weekly.
Do one load of laundry a day, no matter how small.
Don't wait until the kitchen garbage is overflowing, just choose a schedule, and do it then - daily, 3x per week, whatever.
Take a day off and do nothing at least once a month.
posted by Enid Lareg at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

Since I got a valet tray to keep things near the front door, I've stopped misplacing all the stuff I take with me when I go out.
posted by tovarisch at 9:49 AM on October 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also I've washed all my laundry together regardless of color for years, and that has never ruined anything in the wash. A+, highly recommend
posted by tovarisch at 9:53 AM on October 18, 2023 [6 favorites]

Laser eye surgery to fix my vision, laser hair removal to not have to deal with razors and waxing, hormonal iud to not have to deal with periods (or birth control).
posted by Salamandrous at 2:51 AM on October 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

I hate ironing but I wear a lot of collared shirts. When you take them out of the wash, take 30 seconds per shirt, flap it out hard to loosen the wrinkles, and hang it carefully on a hanger, smoothing it out (especially the button placket) and setting the shoulders, collar, pocket, and cuffs nicely so they hang smooth and flat.

Then, the night before you wear the shirt, hang it in the bathroom, spritz it generously with water from a spray bottle to relax the fabric, and smooth it out again with your hands. Any wrinkly parts, get it quite wet (like the shirttail) so gravity will help it pull flat.

These two steps take way less time and effort than ironing but get the shirt to look about 80% ironed - enough that many fabrics will look fine without any ironing, and even if you still need to iron, having done this will get you most of the way there to shorten your duration if you do decide to iron it to a crisp smoothiness.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

If you've got a vehicle, keep a laundry basket or two in the trunk for groceries instead of remembering to bring the reusable bags into the store.
posted by peppermind at 8:14 AM on October 21, 2023

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