Let’s face it: being a grown-up isn’t always easy, and our existence doesn't come with a handy instruction manual for every eventuality. The demands of running a home and juggling work, leisure, and family responsibilities can seem overwhelming. You might find yourself wondering if there's an easier way to navigate your daily tasks.
Luckily, countless tried and tested life hacks can save you time, money, and energy so that you can focus on the things you really want to achieve.
If you’re feeling lost trying to juggle all your chores, try dividing up your life into different areas like home, work, family, and wellbeing. Create a list of tasks for each one, and aim to tick off as many items as you can, in order of urgency. Any tasks left undone at the end of the day go back into the same category for the following day. If a task stays on the list for more than a couple of days, consider whether you're procrastinating, have too much on your plate, or it's really not as important as you thought.
Books say so much about who we are as people, it’s no wonder interviewees tend to choose them as a backdrop to video calls. To display them at their best, organize your collection by color rather than category. Your eye will naturally be drawn to the hue of the book you’re looking for, making it much easier to pick out. This method also gives your shelves a cool rainbow effect, turning them into practical artwork for your living space.
If you’d love to start gardening but you never seem to have the time, allocate five or ten minutes each day to simply be in your outdoor space. While you’re there, you’ll naturally start to notice what grows well and what needs your attention. Before long, this may evolve into a regular gardening routine. If you think about it, it’s only by observing our indoor space that we notice the regular jobs that need doing, so it makes sense the same is true of a balcony or yard. On the other hand, these precious moments might make you realize you really just want to be relaxing in your outside space.
Ditch expensive and toxic cleaning products and use white vinegar around the home instead. It’s particularly useful if you live in a hard water area, or if you have kids who leave the kitchen sticky after baking. To get rid of limescale, or for heavy-duty cleaning, you can use it neat — that is, full strength — on most non-porous surfaces, but be sure to rinse well afterward. Dilute it with water and a little dishwashing liquid for most other household cleaning tasks. If you’re cleaning glass, make sure you buff it with a soft cloth after, to remove any streaks.
Tension rods can be really useful and are a cheap alternative to traditional rails and poles. When drilling into walls isn’t an option, try using them to hang curtains to deliver instant privacy. You can also squeeze them inside wardrobes to create extra space to hang clothing, or put them in your under-sink cupboard to tidy away spray bottles — just hook the triggers over the bar — and free up space underneath.
Over the weekend, group all your clothes for the next seven days into outfits, according to the plans you have for each day. Hang them in order in your closet for the week ahead. This will save you lots of thinking time, especially if you’re not a morning person. If you want to be even more prepared, check the weather forecast to try and ensure every outfit is suitable.
If you’re spending a few days decorating using similar paint colors, have some plastic bags handy to store your brushes, rollers, and trays at the end of each day. If you tie them up to make them airtight, they won’t dry out overnight, meaning that you can avoid cleaning them until the end of your DIY project. This is especially helpful since some thick brushes and rollers take more than 24 hours to dry.
Have you ever wondered how to look a little more awake and capable in video calls and online meetings? Like it or not, we all draw conclusions based on appearance, so why not tweak your setup to give you an edge? Digital cameras distort our features when they’re less than five feet away, so if you can increase your distance from the screen, you’ll start to look more human again. Should the camera give you a half dozen extra chins, try elevating your laptop a little. Finally, the most flattering lighting is achieved when it comes from several angles evenly, so choose a room with plenty of natural light or add extra lamps around your space.
Once you’ve gotten into a gardening routine, you might be pondering the best way to get neat lines between your lawn and vegetable or flower beds. The easiest method is to get a plank of wood a few feet long, lay it exactly where you’d like the edge to go, then dig along one side with a sharp spade. You might have to move it and line it up again a couple of times, depending on the size of your garden project. Keep the area neat with regular trimming.
Keep your life goals where you can see them. We all have dreams that end up being mothballed for years or decades at a time, or worse, abandoned altogether. It doesn't have to be that way. Whether it’s that country you’ve always wanted to visit, the relationship you want, or that career change you’ve been longing to make, find a way to represent it visually somewhere you’ll see it every day. A fridge door is a good option. The theory goes that over time your subconscious can lead you to the life you really want.