A while ago I wrote this post describing my favorite personal “life hack”, which basically amounts to using a bit of foresight to buy presents for various holidays and events all year through, thus never getting overwhelmed by the need to get a ton of shopping done asap. But that’s not the only little bit of advice I have to offer. Most of these “hacks” have been gathered through other sources, but they are things that I do on a regular basis to great success, so I thought it would be nice of me to share them. You’re welcome! 😀
Household Hack: Pour vinegar in with your clothes in the washer.
It sounds like the stupidest idea ever. I mean, you don’t want all your clothes to smell like vinegar, and what is even the point? Well, the point is two-fold: one, it keeps your washer from building up soap-gunk (which keeps it from working as well), and two, it helps keep fluffy blankets and towels fluffy. Don’t ask me for the science, just take my word for it that it works. Most sources suggest using half a cup, poured into the fabric softener dispenser, but I only use about a quarter of a cup and it still seems to work quite well. I’ve read a couple of websites that insist that vinegar is bad for the gaskets and hoses, but I’ve never had an issue and have read many testimonials of people who have been doing this for many years without issues, so make your own call.
Awesome Parent Hack: Make homemade Play Doh.
Play Doh itself isn’t terribly expensive, but it does mostly come in very small amounts and therefore makes you want to cry when it dries out and has to be tossed in the trash. That’s why homemade Play Doh is so awesome! The recipe is simple: combine 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 small envelope of Kool Aid (the flavor you choose determines the color), 2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tbsp oil, and 1 cup of hot water. Stir it up until all the dry ingredients have gotten wet, and let it sit for a while to cool. Once it’s cool enough to work with your hands, kneed it until it becomes dough. Ta-da! It makes a huge amount and will last for several months if kept in the fridge, and it’s so cheaply made that if some of it dries out, gets full of dirt, or is discolored by an overzealous kid smooshing together several different colors, it won’t murder your pocketbook to just toss it and make a new batch.
Re-purpose Hack: Use old bath items for other purposes.
I have a giant basket in my linen closet that is packed to overflowing with soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, you name it. The reason is that there was a stage of probably two or three years during which people kept buying me bath products as presents, but I wasn’t really using them. I’ve come to a point now where I am actually using these products at an accelerated rate, but I could still never get rid of all the stuff that has built up, especially since a lot of it has kinda-sorta expired. I know there are tons of you out there who find yourself in the same predicament, so I’m here to tell you that some of this stuff has great secondary purposes. Over-burdened with shower gel/hand soap/body wash/shampoo? It makes great bubble bath, especially the flowery-smelling stuff. Have a ton of conditioner that you doubt you’ll ever use in a hundred years? The slippery substance makes a wonderful substitute for shaving gel (and leaves your skin moisturized!). Shelves full of lotions that you could never possibly work your way through? In small amounts it can be used to tame the frizzies in your hair, and in larger amounts it can be used to keep static out of your pet’s fur during the winter months (just make sure not to use too much, because remember that cats, dogs, and other furry mammals regularly groom themselves by licking their fur). Take to the internet, my friends. There are tons of uses for those bottles that have been cluttering up your bathroom for years.
Organization Hack: Put things inside other things that belong together.
It sounds obvious, but is probably something that tons of people would never think of on their own (I know I didn’t). The big example is to fold up sheets and shove them inside one of the pillow cases that they match, thus when you go searching for the sheets and pillowcases, all the bits will be together in one place. Another example might be to mix and store the dry ingredients of a recipe you regularly use together so that you don’t have to go searching for them and everything is already together when you’re ready to bake. Take a look around your house and try to think of things that you regularly misplace, then combine them with the things that they are used in conjunction with.
Writer Hack: Set timers/alarms.
This isn’t a method I regularly use myself, but is something that I’ve taken advantage of during NaNoWriMo time, and is something that I suggest to a friend who has trouble with time management. It could also be used with a variety of other activities besides writing, of course. Do you find that you spend all your time writing (or <insert alternative activity>) and don’t get anything else (housework, for example) done? Or do you spend all of your time on the other stuff and never get any writing (or <insert alternative activity>) done? Timers. It’s all about timers. If, for example, you find yourself spending too much time on your chosen activity, set a timer for an hour (or whatever time period you deem fit) and resolve to stop the second the timer goes off. Then spend an equal amount of time doing the other things you need to do. Sometimes we just need a little reminder of the time that is passing to keep us chronologically organized.
I could probably list a few more, but I’ll save those for another day. For now, I’ll ask for suggestions from the audience. Do you have any awesome life hacks? Did you come up with them yourself or find them some other way? Have they helped you a lot? Please share!