Tag Archives: lifehack

Lifehack: Give Yourself Time Limits to Complete Tasks


This post seems counter-intuitive at first, especially for somebody who hates being timed as much as I do. But I tried this and it worked, when no other anti-procrastination tactic had. Read on to find out what I did!

The Situation: A Sunday School Lesson Left Undone

I teach Sunday School, and I like to have my lessons thoroughly researched and typed up–I do not strictly read out of the teacher’s guide, but combine elements from the the teacher’s guide, the students’ guide, and NIV translation text notes into a cohesive whole. I also write up my own real-life applications for each Bible passage we study…yeah, it’s a pretty involved process, but my OCD perfectionism demands nothing less. LOL

Unfortunately, once you factor in all the time I spend goofing off in between completing sections of the Sunday School lesson, the whole thing usually takes me about 3 hours. I was tired of that, and was frustrated with myself–but it didn’t come to a head until one Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago, when I had left my Sunday School lesson prep quite literally to the last minute.

Epiphany: Set a Deadline

“It’s 10:00 and I’m STILL not done!” I raged at myself. “I need to be in bed by 11 so I’m not a zombie tomorrow morning!” In that moment of frustration, I grabbed my phone and typed in a reminder for myself: “Get done with Sunday School lesson,” set for 11:00 pm. My goal: to be done with everything regarding the Sunday School lesson (writing, saving, putting it on my Kindle for easy reading the next morning) before the reminder bell rang.

Even as I did this, however, I was worried. I usually hate being timed–I hate feeling like I’m racing against the clock. Would this backfire and send me into a fit of anxiety, or worse, make my brain lock down and refuse to do anything?

I had already gathered my Sunday School lesson materials, and so once I hit the fateful “Set Reminder” button, I was ostensibly ready to go. I tapped the button…

…and go I certainly did–I began to read and type, revise and write, as if I was back in college and preparing a final paper for submission. I felt focused, somehow, energized by the clock, given a singular purpose to drive toward. The reminder bell rang an hour later, as I was copying the PDF of my lesson file over to my Kindle; I had made the deadline! What had usually taken 3 hours and involved a lot of unfocused “time off” had instead taken 1 hour of dedicated work, after which I could rest.

What Made the Difference?

This seems so simple it’s almost obvious. But it was something I had literally never considered doing, since I hated being timed so much. Several important factors made it possible, in hindsight:

  • The time limit (1 hour) was just enough time to complete the lesson without any goof-off time; thus I didn’t freak out but I knew I had to stay on task
  • The time limit was for one task’s completion only, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed
  • The time limit was a challenge and not a hard-and-fast “succeed or fail” mission; if I missed it by a couple of minutes, I wouldn’t be an awful horrible person.

Implementing This for Yourself

  • Set two reminders for really important tasks–one reminder to start and one reminder to end, so that your time limit is well-defined. (For instance, I now have “Start SS lesson” and “Be done with SS lesson” in my phone)
  • This works for just about every kind of task; I have done the same thing with my nightly “tidy-the-house” routine, as well as my “composing-blogs” routine.
  • Treat it as a challenge or game–can you clean this room in an hour? Can you finish cleaning out your inbox in 30 minutes?
  • Change the time limits as you see need–something you thought may take 20 minutes may actually take 40, so be ready to adapt your reminders accordingly.
  • This will take a little getting used to, so if you miss your deadline by a little at first, don’t worry.

Got Any More Time-Limit Ideas?

If you have your own anti-procrastination lifehacks, feel free to leave them in the comments! 🙂

3 Tips for Beating the Procrastination Bug

I admit it, I’m a full-blown procrastinator, even about things I actually want to accomplish (see: my novel). Sometimes, my brain just REFUSES to do anything, choosing instead to wallow in aimless thoughts, non-essential tasks…or more often, crippling worry about not getting things done. Often I rely on the sheer adrenaline rush of “THIS HAS TO BE DONE NOW” to complete the essential tasks.

I call this “getting bitten by the Procrastination Bug,” and my bug has a particularly venomous bite. The following meme I made over at Quickmeme describes it perfectly:


But there IS a way to conquer this bug! Actually, there are 3 ways I deal with the compulsion to procrastinate:

#1: Got Small Tasks? Good. Break Them Up Even Smaller

Nothing hurts my productivity worse than looking at my to-do list and feeling absolutely daunted by the enormity of my tasks. (And by “daunted” I mean “wanting to either cry or vomit.”) One trick that works: breaking up these huge tasks into itty-bitty sections.

Now, you’ve probably heard a variation of this tip before, but I mean taking it to the next level–break the huge task down into the tiniest pieces you can imagine. (Example: my procrastination on my novel got so bad that I finally set myself up a “100-word-a-day” goal. That’s right, ONE HUNDRED words a day. Not 500, not even 300. And it worked–it got me writing again!)

The logic behind this tip: if you break your task down into things you can do in 5-10 minutes, you’ll be exponentially more likely to do them because they “feel” easier to complete. Plus, if you’re having a “brain-doesn’t-want-to-focus” day, you can complete a couple of these teeny-tiny tasks and still feel productive, which may help reduce your anxiety about your to-do list.

#2: Take Frequent Breaks (With Rewards)

If an essential task on your list is really stalling your brain out, here’s another trick I try: taking a “reward break” for every set number of minutes of work/every part of the task completed. For instance, if I write on my novel for 15 minutes, I could allow myself 15 minutes of TV, aimless Internet surfing, or reading. Or, if I complete one blog post, I could allow myself 30 minutes of gaming time or Internet.

Using the standard “work before play” mindset in this way accomplishes two things at once. First, it trains my brain to like doing the essential task; second, it allows my brain to relax and regroup for a little while before settling back down to work. Having to work on one thing for long, unbroken hours drives me nuts, and makes me less likely to complete the task quickly the next time I have to do it. If it’s associated with rewards and breaks, it makes the work easier to bear.

However, the complete “brain rest” and rewards scenario sometimes just isn’t feasible with the amount of work you have to do in a short time. For those moments, I suggest the last tip…

#3: Have a Rotating List of Tasks

Sometimes, I procrastinate because my brain just doesn’t want to settle–I hop from TV to book to Internet to game to TV to book and so on, making it hard to focus on even things that I like, much less things I have to do. I would call it “boredom,” but it’s way beyond bored; I end up too bored to sleep, too bored to eat, etc. Yet the tasks are still piling up on my to-do list, even as I struggle to marshal my brain into adulthood for a few moments.

This is one reason I have a to-do list that includes all sorts of small tasks due within a typical week–I’ve got a few physical-labor tasks (like cleaning and straightening the house) mixed in with some mental-labor tasks (writing my novel and organizing my digital files), and they are all of various difficulty levels and require different amounts of time and effort to complete. Thus, I can hop from one task to another if the first one is getting too boring or time-consuming, and I can return to it at any point to complete it. Switching tasks gives me a form of brain rest, making my brain work in a different (read: non-bored) fashion.

You’d be surprised how well this works to combat procrastination; you’re actively working on new stuff every 5 minutes or so, give or take, and so you feel instantly more productive and less aimlessly energetic. Plus, you’re likely touching on all the tasks you need to do, so you’ll potentially be getting more work done in the long run even though you’re switching around a lot.


Procrastination can be a pain, especially when you’re trying to be an adult and get things done; anxiety and lack of focus can keep you from doing what needs to be done. These 3 tips got me through college and grad school (not to mention earlier grade levels!)–I think they’ll help you, too!

You Might Be Wearing Too MUCH Anti-Perspirant

Shocking title, isn’t it? How can you wear TOO MUCH anti-perspirant?

Well, I thought it was impossible, too, until I investigated a clothing problem and was astounded at what I found.

The Problem: Dark, Stiff “Pit Stains” on Every Shirt I Own

For years, I’ve struggled with it–having what appeared to be dark “pit stains” on all my tops. Not a very ladylike look, I assure you! No matter how much anti-perspirant I put on, no matter how little I sweated, all of my shirts seemed to end up like this:

And this is one of the nicer-looking shirts, too. I’ve got a light green shirt (which I can’t locate at the moment), which has underarms stained a dark brown color. Disgusting!!

However, it occurred to me recently, as I was taking my laundry out of the dryer and bemoaning again the fact that all my shirts were like this, that the stains were not exactly just “stains.” These spots were stiff, almost cakey, and no stain remover seemed to touch them, even before they had hit the dryer one time. “If this was just sweat,” I thought, “why did this stuff not ever wash out?”

I scratched an exploratory fingernail along the seam of one of the more offending-looking shirts, and came away with a nail-ful of semi-solid gunk–gunk with a distinctly shower-fresh scent, which I immediately recognized. It was my anti-perspirant! The gunk on my shirts smelled nothing like sweat at all!

The Test: A Control Group of New Shirts

Since I was due for some new shirts anyway, I decided to try something revolutionary: wearing the least amount of antiperspirant possible while wearing these new shirts. Instead of my usual 8 quick swipes per underarm (I kid you not), I now went for a leisurely, thorough 1 pass per underarm, making sure to cover all the skin I was supposed to with medium pressure. For each new shirt, I used this technique, and made sure to wear all the new shirts as much as possible, laundering in between wearings as usual.

I have done this test over the last two months, and I’ve noticed something. The new shirts, while being made of the same material and being worn in the same weather as the older ones, have NO so-called “pit stains.” None. Whatsoever. At all. And the old shirts had developed stains very quickly, even with routine washing!

The Hypothesis: Some “Pit Stains” Might Actually Be Antiperspirant Stains!

This is my hypothesis, then (which needs a few more tests to prove for certain): all that antiperspirant I used to wear just rubbed off on my clothes and caused a cakey buildup, which discolored and stiffened the fabric over time. When I wore so much of the product, it actually worked against the result I was trying to achieve, which was dry, stain-free pits.

I’ve also noticed that with my new regimen of using less antiperspirant, I seem to sweat a little LESS. It seems that overusing the product makes it less effective (because it’s just caked on and can’t absorb, I suppose).

So, if you’re struggling with pit stains as I was, you might try using the “one thorough swipe” method of putting on antiperspirant/deodorant, and see if that helps the buildup stop. (Also, the folks over at HowToCleanStuff have a few suggestions for removing such buildup from clothing, and a thread on MetaFilter discusses more options.)

I hope this helps someone out there avoid new “pit stains” and get rid of the old ones!

Transform Unwanted Shampoo/Shower Gel into Foamy Hand Soap!

foamysoap Recently, as I purged my bathroom of all sorts of old shower gels and shampoos, I realized I had quite a little collection of almost-but-not-quite-used-up bath products. Most of them were a bit old to continue using for their original purpose, but, being the borderline hoarder that I am, I didn’t like to see wads of money going in the trash can if I could repurpose the leftover products for any other household use.

I was quite at a loss, till I discovered that there was a way to make your own foaming soap using some of these unwanted products. Yes, you read that right–your own foamy soap, without having to go out and buy it! With this process, I’ve been able to both use up leftover products AND save money on hand soap…a definite win-win!

The Process

(There are many blog articles about this out there on the Internet, but the tutorial I followed was this one over at KingdomFirstMom.com. I have added my own tips and advice to this, gained through trial and error.)

  1. First, only use shower gels/shampoos that are see-through for this project. If it’s not a see-through product, it will not foam well at all, AND will gunk up your foamy soap dispenser to boot. (Learn from my fail.)
  2. Make sure your foamy soap dispenser is rinsed out completely.
  3. Measure out 1-2 tablespoons of your chosen product and pour it into your dispenser bottle.
  4. Run a very thin stream of warm water into the dispenser bottle until the bottle is filled up almost all the way to the top, leaving room for the foamy dispenser top to fit in.
  5. Screw the top of the bottle on firmly, and then begin to turn the bottle over and over in your hands slowly to combine the soap and water. (This is important–if you shake the bottle too hard, all the foam will be “stuck” in the bottle and won’t come out the top. Learn from my fail.)
    • I find that turning the bottle over to the rhythm of “thousand-1, thousand-2, thousand-1, thousand-2” works well.
    • Turning the bottle end-over-end ensures that the product distributes throughout all the water in the bottle.
  6. After a few minutes of this slow-churned process, try out your foamy soap by pumping the top a couple of times. (If it doesn’t foam right at first, try a few more pumps, or shake the bottle up a teensy bit faster–some shampoos and shower gels distribute at different rates in water.)
  7. YAY! You have your own foamy soap, made from a repurposed product!

One Final Note: Obtaining a “Foamy Soap” Bottle

The real trick to making anything into “foamy soap” is the bottle, or more accurately, the top of the bottle, which adds air into the soap/water mix as you pump it out of the bottle. There are some fillable foaming soap pumps out there, but most of them have really bad reviews, either for being leaky or for the foamy dispenser part clogging up really easily.

At our house, we had several empty Bath & Body Works foaming soap bottles and pumps lying around; I just rinsed one out and repurposed it for my “homemade” foamy soap. This has worked out really well! So, if you can’t find a foamy soap pump you like, you may want to ask friends if they have any empty storebought soap pumps they’d be willing to let go. One less item of clutter/trash for them, one very cheap way to stretch soap for you!

The “Clear” Winner: Desktop Organizer Becomes Makeup Organizer

A couple of years ago, I finally dug into my massive collection of old hair and beauty products and purged about 80% of them. The collection that had once taken up two countertops, dozens of boxes in my closet, and several feet of floor space now fit nicely under the two bathroom cabinets and in a small five-drawer organizer sitting atop the cabinet.

My makeup collection especially saw a big reduction. So much, in fact, that I only had to use two of the five tiny drawers in that organizer to store my makeup.

But there was a problem. Actually, three problems, which showed up in ensuing months:

  • The drawers often got stuck because of a makeup product’s packaging blocking the way
  • Some of the makeup products, especially lip glosses, slowly leaked when put on their sides (the way they had to be stored in this drawer system)
  • The makeup that got accidentally shoved to the back of the drawer never saw usage, because I couldn’t see it/access it anymore

I had to do something about this. I knew I wanted a more open storage system for my makeup, something that I didn’t have to open and close to get to…but I also wanted to be able to see everything in my collection without having to move other things out of the way. Plus, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on whatever organizing system I got, just in case it didn’t work.

Then, I happened to be at Walmart, when I spotted something in the office supplies aisle:

It was a clear desktop organizer, meant for office supplies and the like. I, however, saw it a little differently. I bought it, brought it home, and within about 30 minutes, I had transformed my makeup organization space.

BAM!! 😀

Yep, these are all the makeup products I own, and they all fit in this little desk organizer that takes up just under a square foot of space. Amazing, huh?

But even with all this awesomeness, there were a few issues I had to address while I was putting each item into place. Here’s some handy hints for storing your own makeup in such an organizer:

1: Big tall compartments, like this one at the back of this organizer, are great for large palettes and tall items (like the eyeliner pencil at left). Don’t put small items (like travel-size lip glosses) in these compartments, because they’ll just fall over and get hidden by bigger items. (Learn from my fail.)

2: Use the very small but still high-walled compartments for items like lipsticks or other stick makeup that are best stored vertically. For me, this was key, because some of my glosses had begun to leak when stored horizontally; the vertical storage solves that issue! Tiny compartments also help keep the tiniest items from falling over, like those five tiny glosses in the middle compartment.

3: Use medium-sized, flatter compartments for smaller palettes or individual items–here, I’ve used them for blush, bronzer, face makeup, and even my sharpener because I feared the little thing would get lost otherwise. Also, be careful that your smaller palettes don’t get jammed down in the flatter compartments–I had to do some serious prying after my blush compact got stuck in the left compartment. That’s why it’s stored propped up the way it is!

Now that I’ve had my makeup stored this way for about a month, I love it and wouldn’t go back. I can see every product and pull it out easily to use it, and more importantly, nothing gets ignored because the organizer is clear. It makes getting ready a LOT easier–and all because I tuned into my repurposing radar. Neat!

Product Information

Available at Walmart

When Your Brain Says “No” to Creativity, Try This Instead

If you’re a creative person, you know that usually the mental “juices” flow well. The ideas slide into your brain as fast as a baseball player sliding into home plate, and it seems as if nothing can stop them.

But, inevitably, there are the times you sit in front of your blank canvas, your blank craft table, or your blank Word document and just have no idea what to do. You want to create SOMETHING, but…it’s almost as if your creativity is constipated, for lack of a better analogy. 😛

What do you do? Before now, I’ve often just sat there and tried to make an idea come forth, wasting minutes (or sometimes hours) trying to be creative and feeling utterly useless. But I discovered a trick, quite by accident, that can help you get unstuck pretty quickly: doing housework.

Whaaaaat? Doing HOUSEWORK Makes You Creative?

Well, no, doing housework won’t make you a master of the arts in ten seconds flat. But it does give your brain critical time away from the arduous effort of trying to be creative. In the minutes while you’re cleaning or just straightening a few things out, your brain can relax as you focus on getting these small tasks done.

An example: the other evening, I was finally tackling the kitchen, which had become a little (read: a lot) messy. Wiping down the counters, sweeping crumbs off onto the floor for later pickup with the broom, bagging up trash, unstacking and restacking the dishwasher…I knew it all by rote, and so I could kind of zone out, not particularly thinking of anything.

I was in the middle of finishing the task, sweeping up all the crumbs and randomness on the floor, when I realized I was humming a little melody. And I didn’t have any music playing, nor was it any melody from an established song that I could recall. It seemed that in the 10 minutes since I had begun my kitchen-tidying, my brain had come up with the beginnings of a new composition, without my actively thinking about it at all.

This could have been considered a fluke, except that something similar happened a few days later while I was finally clearing the front porch of last year’s fallen leaves and other detritus. While I was bagging up the trash from the front porch area, I suddenly had an idea for a new character in my novel…it was totally unrelated to what I was doing, but it popped into my head nonetheless.

The Key Here: Relaxing/Refocusing Your Mind

Often, we say we’re relaxing, but our minds are still doing 140 on the mental autobahn. I know at least for me, trying to relax by being in a still, quiet room doing nothing doesn’t really help my brain turn off (see: my 4am actual falling-asleep-time); I lay there jittery, feeling like I should be doing something instead of laying there useless. But, somehow, when I’m doing little tasks like housework, my brain slows down a little, takes its foot off the mental gas, and actually takes a breath for once.

Try this if you feel absolutely stuck in a creative rut and have no ideas. Instead of forcing yourself to keep plugging away and getting nothing accomplished, try doing a little housework, or something less mentally intense. You might find that you clear some mental clutter away as you clean and straighten your physical environment!

The Funny To-Do List: Motivate Yourself with Laughter

The following little beauty sits on my computer desktop, courtesy of the Sticky Notes desktop gadget; it contains my to-do list, which I update every time I turn the computer on (about twice a day).

Nothing in the following to-do list is faked; this is my real to-do list from this past Monday morning. I had a deadline–I was rushing to finish my creativity post, so that was top priority. How I drew attention to it, however, is the subject of this post.

Yep, this is pretty much how crazy my to-do list is on a daily basis. I note all the stuff I have to do, but I don’t just list it–I use my creativity and jazz it up a little. I type in emoticons and all caps, make inside jokes with myself, and otherwise write stuff that makes me laugh when I next look at the list.

Sometimes I’ll even include a few mild, funny insults to myself, especially if I’ve been procrastinating on a task that really needs doing (see the Saturday entry at the bottom of the list). Why? Because sometimes you need a kick in the rear to get started on a task, and better it comes from you than someone else, right? LOL

Some might see this as overly childish or time-wasting, but I disagree. Before this, I tried writing a “grownup,” plain to-do list, and guess what? Nothing got done; I felt depressed just looking at it. Nowadays, I try to include as much LOL in my to-do as possible. Mary Poppins was right–a spoonful of sugar DOES help the medicine go down. (Or, in this case, a spoonful of LOL helps the to-do list get done.)

So, if you’re finding yourself stuck on your to-do list with little inspiration to get anything done, you might want to try throwing in a few inside-joke funnies, drawing a silly emoticon face, or prodding yourself along with some anti-procrastination jokes. Who knows? You too might start off your Monday morning with a laugh!

12 Personal Favorite Beauty Hacks

I’m no beauty maven, but I’m still a girl and still want to look good…and I’m used to finding my own solutions for problems and issues. We all like to find shortcuts and lifehacks, even for girly stuff!

Over the years, I’ve found that all of the following hacks have been my mainstays in helping me look put-together without too much fuss–just the way I like it! Read on to discover the little beauty tricks I use just about every day.

Makeup/Skincare Tricks

My fix for chapped lips:

  1. Apply a medicated lip balm right before you get in the shower.
  2. At the end of your shower, right before you turn the water off, use either a soft toothbrush (or even a little facial scrub) to exfoliate your lips.
  3. Rinse lips off thoroughly with shower water.
  4. Reapply medicated lip balm as soon as you get out of the shower to lock in moisture.

Caught without blush? A little rosy lipstick (matched as closely as possible to your natural flush) on your fingertip, blended onto the apples of your cheeks, works just fine. (I start with a tiny amount, as seen in the bottom picture, and build up color until I get the blush color where I want it.)
When I don’t have any actual contouring powder for my cheeks, I sub in a little bronzer, swept with a fluffy blush brush under my cheekbones. (Be careful not to apply too much–you’ll end up with a dirty-looking face if you’re too generous with the bronzer! LOL)
I use a facial scrub once a week, but I do it in the shower, right at the end when the water’s a little cooler, my skin is softened, and my pores are more open–and my skin glows even the next day! (Usually, I follow it up with the moisturizer tip below for even better results. 🙂 )
Want to moisturize your face even better? Don’t let all the steam escape from the bathroom right after your shower. You can use all that steam and heat to help moisturizer sink in even better.

I usually dry off my face a little, then apply the moisturizer and let it absorb while I dry the rest of me. (This is best done after you’ve put your hair up and out of the way, so you don’t grease up your hair accidentally. Speaking from experience here.)

When I want to subtly highlight my eyelids, I use a metallic cream eyeshadow, applied with my fingertip directly on my bare eyelid. The cream formula warms up and spreads easier with body heat, and it looks more dimensional and pretty instead of glaringly obvious.

I use the two eyeshadow palettes above to mix my own eyeshadow shades when I want to try a new color, or I just want to match my eyeshadow to my clothing.

Some shades I’ve made:

  • Pale blue (sapphire blue + white)
  • Forest green (lime green + bit of teal + black)
  • Silvery pink (burgundy + white + bit of gray)
  • Copper (orange + burgundy)
  • Lavender (sapphire blue + burgundy + white)

Hair Tricks

If you’re like me and can never get the conditioner distributed through your hair right, a conditioner/water mix in a spray bottle might be just the thing for you. I mixed up about 2 parts conditioner and 1 part water into a spray bottle, seen at left; I spritz the mixture into my palm and rub it onto the ends of my hair for easier/less heavy application. (You can also spray it directly into your hair if you trust your aim–I don’t trust mine. xD)

I find that if I match my shampoo and conditioner to the time of year and weather conditions, I end up with a better-looking head of hair right from the shower. In the summer, or in more humid conditions, I choose lighter-weight shampoos (top left picture) and use conditioner more sparingly, just at the ends. In the winter/drier conditions, I choose creamier shampoos (bottom left picture) and use conditioner from the midlength to the ends of my hair.

To tailor my shampoo to my hair’s daily needs, I become something of a shower chemist. (LOL) If my hair needs more cleaning power (say, after a workout), I’ll mix my regular shampoo with a bit of clarifying shampoo (top left picture). But if my hair needs a bit of TLC due to weather outside or hard styling the day before, I mix in a little conditioner instead (bottom left picture).

This really seems to help–it makes both the drying and styling process much easier, and my hair feels better to the touch throughout the day.

As a girl with very sleek, very flat straight hair, static and flyaways are a huge problem for me, especially in the dry wintertime–I can’t wear anything on my head without my hair clinging to it like a creepy ex. (It always seems to happen most when I’m nowhere near any styling cream or anything, too!)

To calm my needy hair down when there’s no mousse in sight, I use just a tiny, tiny bit of light hand lotion; I rub my hands together briskly to distribute the product, and then lightly glide my hands over my hair.

I’m not vain about much when it comes to beauty, but I am concerned about doing my hair lasting heat damage. One trick I’ve found is to dry my hair mostly using the “low” setting on my hair dryer–I only blast the fastest hot air for 1-2 minutes, and I only use that setting for the spots that take the longest to dry (for me, that’s the sides and back of my head). This seems to help my hair look shinier when dry, as well as less damaged in the long run.

When Creativity Meets Need: Lifehacks

Lifehacks–nifty tricks that just make life a little easier–are now a standard thing on the Internet, showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of ordinary folks with every photo and blog post. I don’t know how these people came up with these tricks, but I benefit from reading about what they’ve come up with!

In honor of this most practical form of creativity, I’ve gathered a list of favorite lifehacks from across the Internet; I’ve already started using some of the tricks I learned about by doing this post, and I hope you’ll find a few hacks you can use, too! (Scroll down to the end of the article to see selected images from the 99 hacks list that’s been making its way around Tumblr 🙂 )

Brain/Body Tricks

From 35 Life Hacks You Should Know:

Get out of the house on time: Make a playlist that runs exactly as long as you have to get ready in the morning. Go from chill songs to more energetic. You will be able to tell how you’re doing on time by the currently-playing song.

See in the dark: when you wake up in the middle of the night to do something, cover one eye with your hand and leave it there until you return to darkness. The eye that was covered will have retained its ability to see well in the dark so you won’t run into the dresser on the way back to bed. This is why pirates wore eye patches–to be able to see below deck as well as on deck!

Techie Lifehacks

Didn’t You Get That Email?
Tricky and a little dishonest…but funny, too.

3 Tips to Make You a Gmail Master

How to Extend the Life of Printer Ink Cartridges in 1 Step

How to Search More Efficiently on Google
Neat little tricks to perform either/or searches, search within a range of dates, look for similar terms to the original search term, and even by filetypes!

The Best Social Media Advice You Never Hear

How to Make Quick Animated GIFs from Videos

Household LifeHacks

Catch a Mouse Without Killing It
Great for pacifists/animal lovers like me, or people who need live mice for …reasons. 🙂

Picture Frame Jewelry Hanger
Hang jewelry in a frame filled with corkboard and studded with pushpins/nails.

10 Brilliantly Simple Hacks that Will Make Your Life Easier
I like the “sharpen your razor’s blade on your jeans” trick!

Lego Key Hanger
Lego key ring + Lego brick hung on the wall = Lego key hanger. 😀

Make a Spray Bottle that Works in Any Direction

Food Hacks

10 Incredibly Easy and Cool Kitchen Hacks
I like the chocolate milk vanilla ice cream trick, as well as the Jiffy cornbread corn dogs and grilled PB&J sandwich.

Cooking a Perfect Round Egg
You have to see the pictures of this hack to believe it. :O

A Few Life Hacks
This article includes the “cookie bowls” food hack: spreading cookie dough on an upside-down muffin tin’s wells to make little holders for ice cream, etc.

Other Random Hacks

Crazy Brilliant Life Hacks

Top 10 Most Creative Gadget Hacks
Some are funny and some are downright ingenious. For instance, the Mac desktop revisioned as a beer server, and a Blu-ray laser fused with a toy gun to make a “phaser.”

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Self-Publishing a Book

Last but Not Least: Honorees from the Infamous “99 Hacks” List





Just Plain Nifty

All the above images from 99 Hacks to Make Your Life Easier, from Tumblr.

Make Yourself a (Font) Map

As webdesigners, we make use of hundreds (and possibly thousands) of different fonts every year, choosing just the right text ook for each of our layouts, small graphics, headers, and other projects. Symbol fonts, especially, have become very popular as a way to design matching social media icons, as well as general site commands (like Refresh).

However, if you’re working with many different symbol fonts, it can be difficult to remember which symbol occurs on which key when you’re using a particular font. Or, you may want a particular symbol and can’t remember which font has it. Fruitless searching follows, usually with a little (or a lot) of frustration included.

That is, unless you create something I like to call a “font map.”

What IS a Font Map?

This is an example of the font maps I’ve created for myself–this one corresponds to the Wingdings font, which is default on most Windows computers. The top group of four rows contains all the symbols that can be created with lowercase keys; the bottom group is all the symbols that are created by hitting Shift and a key.

How Do You Make a Font Map of Your Own?

You will need an image creation program–I use Photoshop, but even Microsoft Paint can do it (as I discovered while writing up this blog post!).

  1. Open a new blank image in your image creation program.
  2. Select the Text tool, and place a text box or text cursor onto your image.
  3. Type out all of the generally available keys on your keyboard, like I’ve demonstrated below:



  4. Select all the text you just typed/copy-pasted, and change the font to the symbol font you want to map out. Make sure the font size is big enough for you to read easily!
  5. Presto! A new font map! (If you want to, you can label the two different groups as I have done, and put the title of the font on the image, too. Just makes using your new font map a little easier.)

Does This Really Help? You Better Believe It!

I’ve been using font maps successfully in web design for several years now–it’s a real time-saver, meaning less minutes wasted typing and backspacing on my image till I find the right symbol. In seconds, I can flip through all my font maps, find the symbol I’m looking for, and be on my way to a finished design.

Try making one for yourself, and see how much easier it is to use the various symbol fonts in your designs. You’ll thank yourself later!