Household ideas

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There are always many things you can do - even just the placement of items - which can help make household life easier. Living away from home in a share house I seem a lot of time doing chores - almost an entire day each week - and so often try to think up ways to minimize "work". Below is a lift of a few nifty ideas I've come up with or seen done around the house.


Ideas for Around the House

Bedroom

  • Elastic clips for bedsheets - in a moment of genius I bought elastic ironing board clips to hold the bottom corner of my sheets to my bed - saving me from messing up and re-making my bed every morning
  • Big water bottle on beside - saves me from getting up whenever thirsty
  • Pen and paper on beside - I find ideas, or "things to do" often keep me awake unless I write them down
  • Lamp dimmer - it's surprisingly hard to find bedside lamps with proper variable brightness, so to dim your current lamp I suggest paying ~$15 for a cord dimmer switch. ;-)
  • Shoe rack - keeping shoes on a shoe rack or hanging shoe rack (on your door or in your closet) looks 100% better than them lying on the floor
  • Box of gift paper - birthdays tend to creep up, so I like stockpiling lots of wrapping paper, card and ribbons and keep them all in a storage box with sticky tape and scissors
  • Matching coat hangers - it sound anal, but once your coat hangers are matching and facing the same way you feel more in control of life.  :-)
  • Un-matching socks box - you can never have to many containers to help keep stuff organized... so I have a box for un-matching socks with the hope of finding their partner
  • Laundry bag stand - these things are awesome


Kitchen

  • Detergent spray bottle - buy an big empty spray bottle (like used to water plants) squirt in a bit of dish detergent and fill with water. If you need to wash just a couple of dishes at a time it's much faster to spray this than mix and waste a whole basin full of water!
  • Big bin with liners in bottom - I'm not a fan of small, concealed kitchen bins - if you have space get a huge one, and why not keep the bin liners in the bottom!
  • Foil/wrap/paper dispenser - kitchen roll holders these are a great idea for dispensing of foil, glad wrap and paper towel
  • Utensil hanger - everyone has a knife block, but hanging your spatulas, tongs etc above your stove can also be handy
  • Food clips - rather than waste rubber bands, I highly recommend using food clips to close open packets of food
  • Magna-doodle on fridge - better than wasting paper
  • Plastic bag recycling - I always take green bags to the shop (I keep them in a box near the fridge), but any extra plastic bags you get you should keep in one of those little stretchy thingy's for reuse
  • Label shelves - it may seem nerdy, but when at someones house it's never obvious where stuff is and icons are cool! I also label inside of shelves as it helps me keep stuff organized


Outdoors

  • String for gate - I find it annoying to bend down to unlatch a front gate, so as a kid I tied a string to the latch and the problem was solved.  :-)
  • Rope for wheely bin - I moved our wheely bin under our verandah so I could tie rope from the railing to the lid (with a bow) so we can open it and throw stuff in from the veranda
  • Pouch for clothes pegs - to save extra time hook the pouch onto your shirt as you hang up washing... and of course you should also have a good clothes basket (cheap ones break) and trolley
  • Table cloth clips - if you have a nice outdoor table cloth buy some little clips or weights (although the latter is quiet $) so it doesn't blow off
  • "No junk mail" sign on letterbox - an oldie, but a goodie.. also good for the environment
  • Electrical appliances! - yes, there are hundreds of useless small appliances you can buy for the kitchen (see list), and most of them will end up in the cupboard and never used... but I personally recommend a rice cooker and *possibly an electric wok if you like Chinese!


Bathroom

  • Shower timer - help reduce your shower time by buying a suction stick egg timer
  • Tap markers - save time in the morning by using a permanent marker to mark the position of your hot and cold shower taps for the perfect temperature (I use an up arrow)
  • Toilet material - put a world map, magazine rack or something else interesting to look at on your toilet door. Also, don't forget a bin full of spare toilet paper and air freshener!


Other

  • Bus timetable on door - if you catch the bus a lot, take a digital photo of the times at your nearest bus-stop and put a printed copy inside your front door (I'm quite proud of this idea)... you may also found it useful to print out a list of open-hours for your local shops (k-mart etc) and a pouch for maps
  • Batteries box - rather than going through an ordeal when batteries die, I keep a bunch of assorted new batteries in Tupperware container, and also bought a baby multimeter (~$10) to let me know when a battery is truly dead... rechargeable are also a good option
  • Extra light bulbs - save yourself trips to the shop, force yourself to change to fluorescent bulbs and save the environment by buying a large bunch of them (check what type first) and keep them in your cupboard ready for replacement
  • Smoke alarms and safety switch - these are not suggestions - smoke detectors and a circuit breaker are REQUIREMENTS and the latter one saved my step dad's life once.
  • Pen on a string - wherever you have a phone (ready to take messages using post-it notes) or a calendar, putting a pen on a string ensures it stays put!


Ideas for Your Office

Inside your office / shared office / home office there are lots of ways idea to keep yourself organized... here are just a few:

  • Water bottle - a physiotherapist once told me water bottles are a good idea because you tend to drink more and have more breaks from sitting and staring at the screen because you'll go to the toilet more
  • Spare phone charger - it's very annoying to have your phone go dead at work, so buying a spare charger (~$30) to keep at work is a great idea
  • Change of clothes - in case you feel compelled to exercise!
  • Lots of containers - the more containers and/or labels you have, the more organized you can keep your stuff
  • Headset - for when you want to listen to music or watch movies, but don't want "disturb" others... get a cheap speaker headset (~$20) and you'll also have the option to make Skype calls (for extra procrastination)
  • Inbox trays on desk - I've found and inbox tray is actually the perfect thing to to keep my sticky-tape, stapler, calculator and pencil boxes together, so they're not splayed out all over my desk
  • Wireless mouse / keyboard - for ~$100 I find wireless mouse/keyboard sets are awesome - they reduce clutter, you lean back with the keyboard on your lap, and they are far more battery efficient than they use to be
  • UPS - an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is not only an excellent surge protector (protecting your computer from lightning spikes which might destroy it), but also gives you a few minutes to save stuff during any black outs/brown outs... UPSs are a much cheaper nowadays and for ~$100-200 (see here), plus maybe ~$50 to replace the battery every two years a good investment
  • Ergonomic chair & desk - it's worth spending extra for a really good chair with back support (or lumbar roll), and if you are tall like me you should definitely raise the desk


Ideas for your Car

The car is another place you can keep organized, and I like to keep a lot of extra stuff in there because when you're out and about you never know when you might need it!


Glovebox

  • All insurance docs etc - obvious
  • Pens and paper - very handy - I like to tether my pen so I can't lose it
  • Sunscreen - "trust me on the sunscreen"
  • Spare sunglasses - I'm strange, but I tethered one to my seat so it stays in the car
  • Fuel book - if you like torturing yourself

Car door

  • Maps and street directory - duh
  • Toiletry set - I'm strange, but I like to brush my teeth in my car... hrrm.
  • Multi-tool - I'm strange, but I like to brush my teeth in my car... hrrm.
  • Breathalyzer - for moment when unsure

Back seat

  • Water bottles - I keep one big bottle in the back seat and extra water in the boot
  • Torch - in case of exciting emergency or when you lose stuff in the dark
  • First aid kit - EVERY car should have one.

Car boot

  • Spare belt - a belt is an easy thing to forget, but I also like to keep spare shoes and a nice shirt in case I'm asked to go out (clubs in Brisbane are pretty strict with dress codes)
  • Swimmer, towels and change of clothes - came in handy when I lived in Cairns, although I've never used them in Brisbane I must admit
  • Spare green bags - go the green bags!
  • Roadside kit - jumper cables etc (like this one).
  • Toilet paper roll - may want to keep in a waterproof/hiking cover (try here).


Links

  • Life Hacker - a series of videos with some great ideas for how to fix things around the house.  :)