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12 Easy Changes to Make for an Easier, More Productive Household

12 Easy Changes to Make for an Easier, More Productive Household

Running a household–no matter how few or how many people are involved in it–can get complicated fast. We don’t want to spend our free time doing more chores, keeping up with laundry, or catching up on yard work. But when we don’t stay on top of the household tasks, they pile up and become monsters.

There are some simple changes you can make to help you, and the other people in your household, stay on top of the necessary tasks without spending all of your time on them. That way you can all get back to having fun and being productive at what you really want to be doing.

1. Pick up the “one bag a day” decluttering habit.

This simple practice can keep stuff from piling up and overwhelming your space. Simply keep a stash of small plastic bags on hand (the kind you get from the supermarket work well) or any kind of small bag or box. Once a day, spend five to 10 minutes walking through your house or apartment, taking out clutter that you don’t need anymore. Make it your goal to fill up a bag every day. It’s kind of sad how easy it is to do for most of us. We really do have that much excess stuff.

Some of what you pick up might need to be trashed or recycled (dried-out markers, waste paper, and so on) but some of your clutter can be donated. Keep a box by the door, in the hall closet, or in the trunk of your car. Throw all your usable items in there and stop by the donation center once the box is full.

2. Assign people to tasks or areas.

Unless you live alone, there’s no reason you should be doing all of the household work yourself. Many times, however, one person ends up taking on the responsibility and ends up getting worn-out with trying to do it all. End that mess by assigning tasks or specific areas of the house to the other people living in it. So, Bob gets to keep the living room cleaned up, and Jasmine is in charge of taking the trash to the curb, and everybody does his or her own laundry.

There are any number of ways to assign tasks or areas to the members of the household. Play around with some different methods until you find one that works for yours. But don’t keep doing it all alone in frustration. When everybody helps, everybody benefits.

3. Repeat favorite meals and snacks.

The Internet has become a vast repository for all sorts of recipes and food-dedicated blogs and websites. That’s great, because now you can find 27 versions of hash brown casserole when you want that many options.

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All the options, however, can lead to a feeling that you’re supposed to use all these recipes, all of these options, every time you plan a menu. The truth is that most of us are happy to repeat a few favorite meals, and try out something new every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with repeating favorites; it saves time, money and stress.

Make a list of the tried-and-true meals and snacks that work for you, and keep the ingredients on hand. Let those be your go-to meals. When you have the time, energy, and interest, you can dive into all those recipes waiting for you on the Interwebs.

4. Stock up on your favorite meal supplies and do prep work in big batches.

Once you’ve established a list of your favorite meals, take it a step further by shopping and prepping in bulk. If you’re already chopping carrots or cooking chicken, it’s very little work to chop twice as many or cook an extra batch of chicken. You benefit by having ingredients ready to go for a meal you know you love. You can refrigerate or freeze the extra ingredients, depending on how soon you want to use them, and you’ll have a meal practically made whenever you’re ready for it.

Do this with all your favorites and you’ll have a freezer full of meals without much extra effort.

5. Do the dishes before bed.

I’m not a big fan of arbitrary household rules, but this one really helps keep things running efficiently. The last thing I want to do at night, when I’m tired and ready to relax, is tackle that sink full of dishes. But when I don’t, they don’t go away overnight.

If you leave the dishes in the sink, you may not have time to tackle them in the morning. So you grab your breakfast, run out the door, and leave them there for the day. You get home and make dinner, adding a few more dishes to the pile, and now you really don’t want to tackle it.

It’s easy for a small pile of dishes to add up to a large one. Instead, make it a nightly habit to spend 10 minutes washing up or loading dishes in the dishwasher. Staying on top of dishes is a small thing that makes a big impact on your energy and how in control you feel of your household.

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6. Set up an inbox for everyone in your household.

You would think, in our digital age, that handling paper mail, bills, invitations, and so on, would be a thing of the past. But that hasn’t happened; we still have to process a staggering amount of paper in our daily lives.

If you don’t have a designated place to put the mail and other paper items that trickle through your household, they’ll pile up on any available surface, create clutter, get lost or shuffled around or accidentally trashed, and you will end up with a paper mess to clean up and a paper trail to follow. No fun.

Designate an inbox space for everyone who receives papers, no matter how old or young they are. When the mail comes, or the information gets brought home, stash it in the appropriate person’s inbox. It can stay there until it is used or irrelevant. You will know where it is, and you won’t have to shift piles of paper every time you actually want to eat at the table.

7. Divide regular household tasks into a daily chore list and a weekly task list.

Some household tasks, like the dishes, need to be done daily. Others, like emptying the trash or mopping the floor, can be handled weekly without any detriment to the state of your household. (Unless you have multiple young children, like I do, in which case emptying trash and mopping floors really does need to be done daily, as well.)

When you don’t know which is which, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all there is to do. The result is that you don’t want to do anything, and so stuff piles up into bigger messes that become even more overwhelming.

Write down all of your regular household tasks. Then decide which ones really need to be done on a daily basis. Write those down onto something you can put on the refrigerator or some other visible spot: that’s the daily chore list.

The other stuff should get added to a weekly task list, which we’ll talk about next.

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8. Handle your weekly household tasks with a 1:1 approach.

During the week, when everyone is busy with school and work and all the stuff that makes up our lives, focus on simply completing your daily chore list and, every day, one single task from the weekly household task list. That’s just one task per day. You can do it (or you can delegate it).

On the weekend, dedicate one hour of your Saturday to getting through the rest of your weekly task list. If you can finish it all up, you’re done for the week, and you get to enjoy the rest of your weekend! If you’re not quite done yet, then give it one more hour on Sunday, getting through as much as you can. When the hour is up, be done even if you’re not quite through all the tasks. The week will roll around and you’ll get a chance to tackle it all next time.

9. Handle cleaning like a pro.

Most of us do the cleaning chores but don’t really think about what we’re doing. If you take some time to research, however, you can gain a whole slew of tips, techniques, and tricks that will make you more efficient.

Read up on how to clean efficiently and effectively. Stock up on the tools and supplies that will help you get the job done well and fast. Then use your newfound knowledge to zip through your weekly cleaning before the hour is up.

10. Get stuff off the floor.

Instead of stacking a basket on the floor, mount it to the wall. Put books on a shelf instead of piling them up by your desk. Use clips to attach wires to the wall just above the baseboard instead of letting them drag on the floor.

Whatever you can do to get stuff up and off the floor will make your space look less cluttered and make your cleaning go faster. Moving stuff around when you need to clean is what usually takes the most time, not the actual cleaning. So the less stuff you have to move, the faster you can get through your cleaning chores.

11. Clean out your closet when you do your laundry.

This is a wardrobe tip that is along the lines of the bag-a-day decluttering habit. Whenever you do your laundry and are ready to put it away, do a quick scan of the clothes on your shelves, in your drawers, or hanging up in your closet that haven’t been worn in weeks or months.

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Next step: get rid of one or two pieces every time you put laundry away. Grab that pair of shoes you never wear, that sweater that doesn’t look good on you, those pants that don’t fit. Go ahead and add them to your donate box. Your closet will slowly become uncluttered, easier to organize and easier to maintain. You will have a wardrobe filled with pieces you actually love and wear. And putting away that laundry that you actually folded this time will get a whole lot easier.

12. Time yourself.

I used to get overwhelmed by the sight of a messy kitchen after a big cooking session, or a toy-covered floor at the end of the day. They always seemed like such big jobs.

But then I started wondering how long that stuff actually took me, so I started timing myself.

Hugely dirty kitchen clean-up: 30 minutes
Normal kitchen clean-up: 10 minutes
Emptying the dishwasher: 3 minutes
Toy clean-up: 10 minutes

Really? Not that bad. When I realized that, at its worst, a kitchen clean-up usually only took half of an hour, and normal kitchen messes only took 10 minutes, it suddenly got much easier to go ahead and tackle the mess. Hey, in 10 minutes I’d be relaxing AND the kitchen would be clean.

When you know that a task won’t take very long, it becomes easier to talk yourself into doing it.

You can also use the timer in a different way: if you have a task or chore you need to do, but don’t want to, ask yourself for five or 10 minutes. Set a timer, work as hard as you can for that amount of time, and then be done. You can give it another five or 10 minute session the next day, and keep at it, until you get the whole thing done.

What are your favorite tips for simplifying your household?

Featured photo credit: towel pile/prettyinprint via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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