Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Best of My Random Life Hacks






Ahhh, lifehacks. We all have 'em. Little things we do or habits we adopt to make things easier. Personally, I always like learning about other people's little tips and tricks, efficiency habits and whatnot, so here is a short selection of mine.

Note: none of this is sponsored. I just like and use this stuff. 

Home Life

Wake up with a smile. Mornings set the tone for the whole day, and for the longest time one of my least favorite things was getting my 5-year-old up and around in the morning without any major meltdowns. After quite a few hits and misses, especially since he started kindergarten, we turn his light on 10-15 minutes before he has to get up, and then I massage his back and head with a battery-powered massager to bring him fully around. The kid wakes up smiling and giggling, and it's a lot smoother transition into picking clothes for the day (another harrowing activity with a young 'un) than what we did before.

Rotate your products. I have a lot of makeup. This was not the case for most of my life, but now that I've immersed myself in this particular hobby and creative endeavor, I have way more products than I actually need. I keep a large'ish makeup bag of products...a weekly makeup basket if you will...which is a mix of items I use daily and some items that I rotate out weekly. I always rotate my eyeshadow palettes by week to get use out of all of them, and I also rotate other color products like blushes and lippies. Everything gets used, and I don't get bored. The downside (kinda): it's quickly apparent what I don't like and what I should've skipped buying completely.

Multitask your food. This is not a new concept in the slightest, but it's something I have to be really mindful of. This past week I wanted to streamline our cooking as much as possible. I wanted to cook at home, have "real" food, but also cut down on the work because my husband was out of town. I had a pound of venison sausage in the freezer, so I made pizza with a small portion of the sausage, and we threw the rest into a pot of chili when he got home. Real food made at home, lots of iron for me, leftovers for work, and nothing went to waste. Same deal with a crock pot of chicken thighs or some taco meat that can be re-purposed throughout the week.

Digital Life

Tag, tag, tag. And cross-tag. Whether I'm using email, a project management software at work, or Evernote for organizing my everyday, I find myself completely dependent upon tags. If something is taggable, I'm tagging it. I'm one of those people who wants to put things into multiple categories if multiple categories apply, and tags make that easy. They also make for easy searching when I can't quite remember where I've filed something. This sounds super simple, but it's really easy to overlook the tag function...especially in a new-to-me software or app.

One-stop savings. I love savings. If I'm shopping in person or online, you can bet I've looked for a coupon somewhere. However, I've also been on a mission to curate my digital life, so I'm not really down with receiving a gazillion digital coupons. With that in mind, I often use a universal coupon app like Shopular to see if there are any applicable deals to my online shopping or my in-person purchases. It's easy to search by store and get a quick look at the available offers in the area.

Earn money back. Kind of in the same vein, when I do shop online, I hate paying shipping. HATE! In fact, I often won't buy anything online if I can't avoid the shipping cost or earn it back in savings. Finding Ebates.com helps with some of this. It wrangles a site's active coupons and promotions into one place and by using their affiliate link to go to the site you're shopping from, you earn a percentage of your money back. It's completely legit with checks or PayPal payments sent to you quarterly. This negates *some* of the shipping costs, and since we always do a lot of our holiday shopping online, I can earn at least a little bit back during that time of year.

Now this is where it gets really juicy. What are some of your favorite lifehacks? I need to know!



25 comments:

  1. I have so many NYX lip products I need to get in on your rotation system! I don't have any really clever life hacks but I'm sure others will and I am waiting to steal them :)

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    1. Awwwwww, I love a NYX lip product. Their little skinny lipsticks and the butter glosses. Heaven!

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  2. OMG... I hate to make lunches for the kids. Mine are old enough to do it themselves but when they do, it's like... three cupcakes and a banana. I also hate all the prepackaged food and how expensive it is so I buy ginormous boxes of things, sit at the counter and portion them all out into snack bags for the week. I do this with crackers, chips if they have them, and cookies. I throw all of the baggies into a large container and each morning when I make their sandwiches I reach for the preportioned bags. This saves me loads of time in the AM and a lot of money.

    When I make my own lunches for the week, I grill four fish filets or chicken breasts, put them into containers with different seasonings, add veggies and brown rice and it's all ready for me to grab for each day. I've lost 20 lbs just doing it this way.

    I take leftover coffee from the pot and put it in a mason jar I keep in the fridge. When I feel like an iced coffee, I just pull it out, pour some into another glass and add what I want. I use a high quality coffee so this works. I have tried it with cheaper brands and it's sludge but this saves me from getting Starbucks. My husband is trained to never dump the old coffee, he knows to add it to my jar.


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    1. All AMAZING hacks! The coffee thing is seriously another level.

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  3. I'm in need of some life hacks so thanks for this post. My son will start kindergarten this fall and I love your idea about using the back massager to wake up your boy. What a great idea! -Laila @ Big Reading Life

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    1. I hope it works for you! Those first 8 weeks of kindergarten were beastly for us transition-wise. Just wanted to throw that out there in case no one has mentioned it to you yet. No one mentioned it to us! lol

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  4. Okay, so I really need to figure out Evernote. My husband and I bought a new (to us, it's really old - ha!) home last year and our realtor, a running friend of mine, set up an Evernote thingy for us to store all of our electronic documents. It is great! Now that I have this account, I feel like I should use it for other things; thank you for the recommendation. I'll try to spend some time figuring it out, instead of continuing my collection of 3 million website bookmarks, computer folders, etc. ;) I am all about multitasking my food, though!! I have to plan our meals ahead of time, otherwise it would be frozen pizza at our house...every night.

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    1. Ooooh yes! I forget you can actually store docs and stuff in there. That would take my system to the next level. I really love it. It's one of those apps that does so much it can be hard to wrap the head around, but start small and you'll be fine. There are even templates online for ways to use it.

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  5. I love your way of waking up G. I had one child who was an early riser and always woke up cheerful. The other child is still, to this day, a night-owl and mornings were rough. If I had trouble waking him up, I always went silly. I'd gently shake the mattress and say, "Earthquake!" or sing a wake-up song to him or make thunder noises and tell him that if he didn't wake up soon, rain was coming (yes, I'd sprinkle him with a little water). He usually woke up laughing but it was never easy.

    I'm not the cook but I'm often the planner so I'll usually give my husband some ideas for foods that we can dip into all week and we'll work at putting together those meals on Sunday. I particularly love to have options like a meat, several vegetables, maybe soup or chili or spaghetti-- batches of things that can be warmed up all week long and mixed up so we're not eating the same leftovers every day. If he's going to be out-of-town longer than usual (sometimes he's gone over the weekends if he travels far), I suggest something akin to Thanksgiving. Thinking about how you cook on a holiday that leaves you with lots of leftovers makes putting together a variety of meals easy. We've done turkey or ham pizza with leftovers. Smoked salmon is great as the meat in chili or on spaghetti.

    Also, best thing for planning the future -- automatic withdrawal. Even if you can only afford to save $20 or $25 per paycheck, having it put directly into an investment really adds up. Also, when you buy a house, try to pay extra toward principal, every month. That will shorten the term of your loan and save interest money. I did that on our old house and managed to pay off a 30-year loan in 19 years.

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    1. LOL, I love the idea of yelling EARTHQUAKE! That might be next because now he's started to intercept the massage as it's coming at him and turn it off. lol

      Love your ideas for making meats go further and into many dishes. I'd never considered smoked salmon! Something different!

      I remember back in the day it boggled my mind that you paid off your car early. I believe you told me the same thing here...paying extra on the principal. We're planning to buy the house we're in now and continually invest in new real estate (build up a stock of rent houses so we can retire early), and this is the way to go.

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    2. Have fun quaking the earth. Careful, though, if he's in a bad mood it might make him madder. LOL Kiddo was really great about it. He knew he wasn't a morning person and that sometimes he just needed help. I loved the fact that he was cheery *most* of the time. :)

      Smoked salmon is so great. We came up with the chili and spaghetti ideas when we bought some in Alaska and were staying in a cabin with a kitchen. We wanted to make what little food we bought stretch and we've carried those wing-it recipes home. I'm going to make some smoked salmon chili, this week. Mmm, now I'm drooling.

      Oh, did I tell you about paying on principal, before? It has worked so well for us. Yeah, I paid off my CR-V in 13 or 14 months -- just threw everything I had at it. Next time around, we're going to try to pay cash when we buy a car (fingers crossed). Good luck with the real estate concept. I hated being a landlord so that's not for me but I know lots of people who've done very, very well buying up and renting houses.

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  6. I am smiling and drooling all over this post! I love life hacks or anything that makes life a little more manageable. I once used ebates but haven't done that in a while. I think I just got out of the habit, but I need to get back into that habit. Rotating your products is a great idea! I have so many boxes from when I once subscribed to Birch Box; I had to cancel because the boxes were coming faster than I could use the products. Their hidden away and forgotten about until now. I think I need to bring them out and try your idea.

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    1. It definitely is a habit. I kick myself when I forget to use ebates! I cancelled my Ipsy and BoxyCharm for the same reasons. The products were getting ahead of me!

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  7. Love your suggestions!!! One tip I've got is when you have a huge grocery order to place, use an online service like Peapod. I can sit at home with my cookbooks and recipes and plan out meals for a month and order what I need through Peapod all at the same time. I always wait until I have a free shipping code and I found that I actually save money because I don't impulse buy anything in the store.

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  8. Most of my life hacks revolve around our meals. We plan around whatever is on sale, and we pre-cook on the weekends. I pre-pack whatever is meant for the lunch boxes, so that I only need to pull out the containers in the mornings. I also bake and freeze breakfast muffins that I can simply throw into the toaster oven when we're running late in the morning. Also, the kids pick out 5 outfits on Sunday to wear during the week. After I check that they are ok to wear, they can decide each morning which outfit to wear. They feel like they have a choice, and I don't have to be there when they get dressed. Finally, we charge food, gas, and childcare all onto the same credit card, and when it's time for vacation, we use the cash back as extra fun money. Other than that, it's coffee and chocolate!

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  9. I am one of those who loves tagging the hell out of everything.

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  10. I used to spend my weekends running errands and doing chores. By Sunday afternoon, I was frustrated that I hadn't done anything fun or had any time to relax. Now, when I get home from work, I pick one chore and tackle it before I start fixing dinner. It may be as simple as doing a couple of loads of laundry or vacuuming. Not big time investments, but enough to make a difference by Saturday morning. I've also unsubscribed to a bunch of random sites that kept me updated when I really don't care about the message (Groupon, Facebook notifications, etc.)and I try to read and respond to all emails before the end of the day.

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  11. OMG - your digital life section just made me feel so old! I have no idea what any of those things are! Although have heard of Evernote.

    I like your point about multi-tasking your food...usually that takes the form of making a big portion of something for husband and me and then setting aside some to feed the kids the next night (they eat earlier than we do).

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  12. I love this post (and the comments) for all of the ideas around simplifying meal time. We are terrible at planning meals, optimizing leftovers, etc. etc. etc.--so much so that I've come to dread the inevitable 5:00 "Any thought for dinner?" question.

    Hacks I do use, though, with great success: I unload the dishwasher and do the dishes every morning while the coffee brews. I make it a point to spray down the kitchen counters every night after dinner (you can't wipe the counters if they are full of stuff, and since the kitchen is the center of our house, it's the natural magnet for mess and it being messy makes the whole house feel messy); by doing it every night, it only takes a few minutes and prevents a massive panic-clean when it gets overwhelming.

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  13. One load of laundry a day. Seriously, it doesn't take long, and you never have that immense pile waiting for you at the end of the week.

    Going through mail once a day - this one is deceptive. Everyone glances at the mail, but how many set it aside to deal with another time? It is easy to do because you don't think those envelopes will take a long time to review. However, once you get a sizable stack, it can be overwhelming to sit down and work through the accumulated paperwork. Not to mention the fact that said stack may be causing major clutter issues. If you open all mail once a day and have a filing system so that all mail gets touched and filed in its appropriate spot, you can ensure your desk/work area remains clean, you won't get caught by surprise on an unopened bill or other piece of mail, and you have like documents filed together so it is a grab-and-go when you need them.

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  14. My lifehack: underplan weekends. No plan is a great plan. ;)

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  15. Great hacks! I like your tagging approach!

    One of my best hacks has been to deal with every email right away and then reply to it, or archive it, or delete it. Or star it if it's for future. I have (mostly) managed to stay Inbox Zero thanks to that.

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  16. These are great. I also love using shopular and ebates. I can't think of any to suggest but I'm jotting some of the great ideas mentioned :)

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  17. I don't do nearly enough tagging; in fact, I don't know that anyone's ever explained to me a good reason to use them other than to make blog searches easier. But now I see where they would be very helpful. Need to be mindful of doing this.

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