Each new year usually brings with it huge, life-altering resolutions, but sometimes, it's the smallest changes that can make the biggest differences. Instead of, or maybe in addition to, committing to a major life overhaul this January, try these simple and totally doable life hacks for 2016 to make this the best year you've ever had. They're the easiest way to simplify and de-stress your everyday life, so you can work towards making this year your most productive, most accomplished, and most fun one yet.
Little changes go a long way, especially when it comes to everyday life hacks. Learning how to get more sleep, keep your home cleaner, or even make your phone battery last longer are easy and worthwhile hacks that can help you feel less stressed and more organized, so you can worry less and have more free time to work on your larger goal, whatever it may be. There are ways to make travel easier so you can enjoy your vacation more, tricks for organizing that transform your closet, kitchen, or office into more productive spaces, and general life hacks that stand the test of time. The best part? They're all a lot easier than you think.
Bring on 2016, because with these 21 life hacks to help make it the best year ever, there's no stopping you now.
1. Repurpose last night's leftovers into tomorrow's lunch.
No one likes eating the same thing every day, but that doesn't mean leftover meals have to go to waste. Instead, try something like turning your leftover mashed potatoes into cheesy pancakes, and have a brand new eating experience from the same old foods. It will not only save you money, but it will also reduce your food waste — and save you from finding a moldy container in your fridge later on.
2. Use your hair straightener to iron clothes quickly.
You're looking in the mirror, admiring your perfected eyebrows, and you notice something that throws off your entire outfit: a wrinkly collar. If you have a shirt with a wrinkled hem or floppy collar, use your hair straightener to give it a pressed look in no time. It saves you from having to wrestle with your ironing board, and chances are, your hair straightener is already on from doing your hair.
3. Live by the 3-7-14 shopping rule.
If your closet looks anything like mine, then you too are guilty of buying things you never, ever wear. Save money and closet space with a simple 3-7-14 shopping rule: if you haven't worn it in the three days since you bought it, you probably won't wear it. If you haven't worn it in seven, you never will, so return it within 14 days, because after that, your chances of bringing it back to the store are slim to none.
4. Put your goals in writing — and on display.
You can make all the resolutions you want, but if you really want to achieve your goals, the best thing to do is to put them in writing. Studies show that writing down your goals make you more likely to succeed in doing them. Recording them is the first step in the planning process, so by writing them down, you're actually starting your journey towards accomplishing them. Having your goals displayed somewhere, whether it's on your vanity mirror or on your fridge white board, helps to remind you of your goal, and encourages you to keep working at it.
5. Make a "no screens at bedtime" rule.
One of the best life hacks you can add to your daily life is shutting down your electronics at bed time. Switch your phone to silent and leave it on the charger, power down your tablets, and yes, shut off your TV. Research has shown that the blue lights from electronics can keep you awake at night because it actually suppresses melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Another reason to leave electronics out of your nightly routine? People with televisions in their bedroom are less likely to have sex, according to some studies.
6. Keep your home from getting dry with a DIY humidifier, for your health's sake.
Winter is settling in, and with it comes that dreaded seasonal virus: the flu. One easy life hack to keep you from getting sick this season is to keep your house humid. The flu virus thrives in cold, dry air, but by making a DIY humidifier for your living or office space, you can help keep the flu at bay.
7. Use a Tic Tac container to store loose bobby pins.
We've all been there: you know you have a million bobby pins, but not one of them can be found. They sail off to the land of lost lip balm and hair ties to live happily ever after, and in the meantime, you're buying them like they're disposable accessories. Keep your bobby pins straight (and easily found) by storing them in an empty Tic Tac container. It's the perfect size for standard bobby pins, and the opening makes it easy to take them out or put them back in. No more searching for loose bobby pins at the bottom of your makeup bag or on your bedroom floor, because with this life hack, they're all (finally) in one place.
8. Use a hot water bottle to relieve period cramps.
From pain killers to yoga, you've probably tried everything when it comes to getting some relief from menstrual cramps, but the most effective hack is also the easiest: a hot water bottle. If you have really bad cramps, rest a hot water bottle (either store bought or a DIY one) on your abdomen. The heat will help get blood flowing to that area, which reduces the cramping. Sometimes, the simplest period hacks are the best answers.
9. Set your phone to airplane mode while charging it.
It's a situation everyone is familiar with: you're supposed to leave in 15 minutes, and you suddenly realize your phone battery is critically low. How are you supposed to Instagram your night out if your phone is dead? If you need to charge your phone quickly, switch it into airplane mode while it's on the charger. This setting, which turns off all radio frequencies, gets your phone to full battery faster than it would on its normal setting.
10. Use your Hulu account to exercise.
A lot of people make it a resolution to exercise, and while personal trainers and gym memberships can cost a fortune, this hack is probably something you are already paying for. In addition to all the shows and movies Hulu has to offer, a basic subscription gives you access to dozens of exercise videos, including yoga and pilates. Skip the gym sign up, and use your faithful TV to not only bring you hours of entertainment, but also hours of exercise classes in the comfort of your own home.
11. Schedule your day the night before.
It's common practice for people to run through their daily appointments and to-dos in the morning when they get up or when they get to work, but doing it the night before can save time and stress. Before bed, sit down and go over all of your meetings, chores, and priority tasks, and create a schedule for the next day. When you wake up the next morning, there won't be any surprises to your day, and you can hit the ground running. It's another simple life hack that can have dramatic and beneficial effects.
12. Clean up your social media accounts.
More of a life tip than a life hack, but either way, it's time to clean up your social media accounts. Untag those old college photos of you doing keg stands (yes, your future employer could find them), delete any accounts you don't regularly use, and make some cuts on your friends or follow list. Once you get rid of any toxic people or accounts that fill your feeds, you will instantly notice how less annoyed, angry, or even jealous you are.
13. Get rid of cable.
Chances are, you or someone you know has one of the dozens of subscriptions that are now available for streaming television and movies. It's time to say goodbye to your cable box, and the expensive bill it comes with, and use the cheaper entertainment options.
14. Put an end to spam texts.
Remember how annoying it was to get telemarketer calls on your phone? Well, that's nothing compared to the obnoxious spam texts that you get on your phone, telling you someone sexy in your area is waiting to talk, or that you've won a 10-day cruise you definitely did not win. Save yourself the frustration of these persistent texts by forwarding them to 7726, which reports them as spammers, as well as replying "STOP" to any spam text messages you receive from a shortcode. Yes, this actually works, and it is one of the best phone hacks ever.
15. Use straws to keep necklaces from tangling during travel.
I'm a traveler who likes to accessorize, but bringing my jewelry on trips usually results in tangled or broken necklaces. That is, until I discovered this easy DIY travel hack that uses straws to keep jewelry from getting tangled. Long gone are the days of cursing my necklace chains after a flight, and in their place are neat, protected, and organized jewelry for every vacation.
16. Chill your wine with frozen grapes.
No one likes warm wine that's meant to be chilled, but no one likes watered down wine, either. Instead of cooling your vino with an ice cube that will melt and compromise the taste of your wine, use frozen grapes to do the job. They won't dilute your wine, and they make delicious snacks as well.
17. Use shoe boxes to organize your drawers.
Shoe boxes make the perfect free storage spaces for plenty of things piled in your closet or stacked on shelves, but they're also a great tool for inside your dresser as well. Use empty shoe boxes as drawer organizers to keep your clothes neat and separated. It will save space, and help you save time when it comes to searching for that one t-shirt mixed into a drawer full of tops.
18. Make an ice cube in your water bottle to keep it cold.
Nothing is more satisfying than a perfectly chilled bottle of water to quench your thirst on the go, but after your water bottle sits in your bag for an hour or two, it's bound to get warm. Keep your water colder for longer — and more enjoyable — by making an ice cube in the bottle. Fill your water bottle a third of the way up, lay it on its side, and let if freeze fully in your freezer. When it's done, remove the bottle and finish filling it with water for a perfectly cooled drink that will stay that way for longer.
19. Save all of your $5 bills.
There are dozens of money saving hacks out there, but one of the simplest takes no planning at all. It's as easy as this: every time you have a $5 bill, put it aside for your savings. If you break a $20, get cash back at dinner, or change from the grocery story, save all of the $5 bills. At the end of the year, you will be surprised how much money you were able to save without even realizing it.
20. Pack food for the airport.
I'm the first to admit I enjoy a cocktail at the airport while I wait for my flight, but the food? It's normally overpriced, and not all that great. If you're taking a trip this year, pack a sandwich, fruit, or some other non-liquid based snacks to eat at the terminal. You can use all the money you save by not buying that $12 bagel sandwich on a bloody Mary instead.
21. Make a date jar.
On date nights, my boyfriend and I usually spend no less than 20 minutes debating what we should do before we settle on the same thing: dinner and drinks. This year, though, it's going to be different with a dating hack that will change the game, and you have to try it too. Anytime you think of a fun activity or hear your significant other mention something they want to do or somewhere they want to go, write it on a piece of paper and toss it in a mason jar. When date night comes around, instead of doing the same old thing, pick an idea from the jar instead. It's a cheap and easy way to spice things up, and it helps avoid the cyclical "I don't know, what do you want to do?" conversation.
There they are, 21 life hacks to help you make 2016 your best year ever. Go forth, and kick ass!
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