“Life Hacks” are, in theory, little tips and tricks to make your life easier. They’re constantly appearing in infographics on websites such as Pinterest and Tumblr, and they tend to consist of “useful” tips for repurposing household objects to simplify and save money. You read them and decide that you’re going to totally DIY your house, but let’s be serious, you never actually end up fitting that towel rack on to the inside of your cupboard and how often do you need to fill a container that won’t fit in the sink? An actually helpful “Life Hack” is a rare gem, so here are ten of my personal favorites that I use on a regular basis and have actually made my life easier!
1. Take pictures of everything.
Take pictures of bus timetables and maps so you always have a reference, take pictures of the inside of your fridge/cupboards before you go to the supermarket so you can check what you already have, take pictures of your friends holding things you’ve lent them so you won’t forget. Take pictures of appointment cards or business cards so you’ll still have the info even when you inevitably lose them. Everything you could possibly forget, take a picture so you can just check your photos on your smartphone for future reference. Neat.
2. Solid shampoo.
This one doesn’t sound too genius, but trust me, they are so handy. A solid shampoo bar is much smaller and lighter than a bottle of shampoo, but it will last just as many washes, they’re ideal for traveling, and they are much more environmentally friendly because they don’t come in a plastic bottle. You can buy a variety of solid shampoo online and at places like LUSH, they’re inexpensive and you can keep them in a little tub or tin so they don’t dissolve in the shower and they won’t leak in your bag. They’re also multipurpose and a lot of them are a soap, shampoo, and conditioner all in one.
3. Don’t offend people when you forget their name.
If you’ve forgotten someone’s name but you’ve vaguely known them or you’ve been talking to them for too long for it to be acceptable to ask, you can ask for their full name and act like you’ve maybe got a mutual friend of someone with their name, or you want their last name so you can add them on Facebook or something. You’ll finally know their name without upsetting them! Everybody wins.
4. Never fly low again.
Thread a keyring through your zip on your trousers and hook it around your button before you do it up. It will hold the zip up pretty reliably, it’s basically invisible when your trousers are done up, and it’s really easy to slip on and off. Say goodbye to the awkward crotch-fiddling in public because you got caught out with your fly open.
5. Never forget your birth control.
Not applicable for everyone, but if you’re always forgetting to take your pill and long-term contraception isn’t an option for you, set yourself an alarm for every morning and change the sound to a crying baby. It will remind you how much you need to go take your pill. Like right now.
6. Avoid glitches in new software.
Don’t upgrade to a new operating system when it’s first released, instead wait until the first update. A lot of flaws are not detected until an operating system is released to the public (it is like having millions of beta testers), and are fixed in the first update. It’s also handy to wait a couple of days when a big new product comes out and read the reviews before you decide you want to buy it. You might be glad you didn’t spend hundreds on that new iPhone 6 the day it came out.
7. Avoid that painful moment when you realize you’ve clicked the wrong thing.
If you click the wrong thing by accident, don’t let go of the mouse button! Assuming you have realized you clicked the wrong thing mid click. Hold the mouse button down and drag the link (or anything that requires one click to open/run) until you see a circle with a line through it over your mouse. You can now release the mouse button and nothing will happen.
8. Save money when online shopping.
Before you buy something online, google “promo codes for [shop name].” There will usually be offers on the popular sites, and you can get codes that will give you anything from free shipping to 20% off. It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to have a look!
9. Google chrome extensions are a godsend.
Hola Unblocker will allow you to access websites blocked in your country, so you’ll be able to access both the US and UK versions of Netflix, unlocking a whole load of new shows and movies at no extra cost. Hover Zoom will enlarge thumbnails on mouse over (might not sound like much but it’s so useful). Adblock will block all ads in your browser and allow you to watch YouTube videos with no pre-roll ads. There are loads more handy little gadgets, but these are my favorites!
10. Have stealth poos.
Before you have a poo in a public toilet, fold up a wad of toilet paper big enough to touch the sides of the toilet and drop it in there. Your poo will fall with a gentle plod onto the tissue instead of a plop in the water, nobody will hear you doing your business, and you won’t get any nasty backsplash — bonus!