Since Schulte and Coon Dog recently had posts encouraging lots of commentary, I figured I’d do that too. One subject I try to excel at is minimizing the amount of stupid crap you have to do on a regular basis. Life is apparently made up largely of a bunch of hassles and chores. What are some strategies for minimizing them? I’ve found a few (more ideas welcome)…
- Buy all the same socks – I own approximately 40 pair of the same sock. They’re simple white socks that can be worn with normal clothes. I know the make and style so when I lose socks I can keep buying the same pair. Why? No more pairing up socks. One bag of socks which all match each other. You’ll still need random black socks for events and such, but this strategy solves 90% of sock hassles, and virtually ends the chore of finding socks that match.
- Toilet cleaners – those little tabs that you throw in the tank to keep your toilet clean? Say goodbye to one of the nastiest parts of toilet cleaning – the inside of the bowl itself. They work well, but you’ll still need to clean the top and outside of the toilet.
- Shower curtain liners – cheap, plastic things that hang inside your shower curtain. They cost like 2 bucks. I have never cleaned any aspect of the shower curtain. When the liner gets dirty, you just throw it away and buy a new one. The rest of the regular shower cleaning (around the tub and such) can be accomplished relatively easily with those “scrubbing bubbles” like products every now and again.
- The Roomba – I don’t own another vaccum. As I type this, it’s vaccuming my apartment. Every few days I turn it on before I leave for work. I empty it out when I come home, and the place is clean.
- Online Bill Payment – Not through the bank, but through the people demanding the bills themselves. Many of them allow credit card payments. So, I point them at my reward points credit card and let them go to town. I don’t have to remember anything. If a payment doesn’t go through, it’s there fault for not withdrawing it, as opposed to my fault for not paying it. The only bill I have to remember to pay is my rent (and even they’re movng to direct withdrawl), which brings me to the next strategy…
- Renting. Sure it’s more expensive and you don’t own anything. But in terms of hassle-free it’s tough to beat. I don’t have to: shovel, plow, rake, cut the grass, take out the trash, or fix anything that breaks. An apartment does come with some added hassles though. I can’t wash my car any place convenient, for example. The rent can also be an issue if they jack it up every year. By and large though, it eliminates more hassles than it adds. I walk into my buliding and it’s already warm (and it’s heat I don’t pay for). The water pressure is excellent, and if it isn’t, I call someone else and make it their problem.
- Candles – if your apartment doesn’t smell right, probably because you waited too long before doing the dishes, candles solve everything. Girls buy these big smelly candles like crazy, so they’re always easy to find.
- Hang crap up – I didn’t own an iron until my girlfriend made me buy one for when she visits. When stuff comes out of the dryer, fold it and/or hang it up. There’s also an ingenious product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser which can save you from having to iron if the clothes still don’t look quite right. It’s also helpful to have a job where you can dress casually, or else ironing might be inevitable.
- Live by yourself. After 4 years of roommates in college, and 19 years of living at home, the number of hassles you eliminate by living alone are virtually countless. First and foremost – everything is yours. No one eats, destroys, uses, dirties, or wears out anything you own. No one but you leaves messes, which no one but you can clean up, however no one but you tells you when to do that. Nothing takes up space unless you want it to. No one fights over bills, the television, the computer, the car, the chores, when you go out, when you come home, when you go to bed, when you wake up, what’s for dinner.
- E-Zpass and SpeedPass. As a frequent traveller of both the Mass Pike and occasionally bridges and roads in New York, you cannot live without the E-Z Pass. No more fishing for toll money, and no more waiting in long toll lines. As for SpeedPass, it’s just convenient because it’s a little quicker and you don’t have to dig out your wallet on cold days. It only works at Exxon/Mobil, but they’re pretty much everywhere anyhow.
- Plastic cups, and paper plates/bowls. Sure there are many times you’ll want to use actual dinnerware, but if you’re just making chicken nuggets or having a bowl of cereal, no sense creating something you’ll have to wash. Use it. Chuck it.
- Moving. Moving is a huge hassle. Whenever I buy something of any size, I think about how well I could move it. I can carry most of what I own. There are a few things that would take two average-sized people to carry (more for their size than their weight) but that’s probably limited to my boxspring, TV, computer desk, and futon frame. Possibly a table or two also.
If anyone else has strategies for minimizing the usual crap you have to go through in life, I’d be interested to hear them (and adopt them). In particluar it would be cool if there was some device that could keep dust out of the air so I wouldn’t have to worry about that (not that I dust anyhow, but it would be nice if my tabletops were not dusty).
I was also going to suggest web logs as a great time-saver compared to actually having to talk to your friends, but I figure that’s understood.