POPSUGAR Smart Living

101 Little Things You Can Fix Right Now

Jun 12 2014 - 3:05am

Stop putting off all those little projects and just get them done already! It's a lot easier than you think. Wise Bread [1] has created a list of 101 little things that you could easily fix right this moment.

We all have annoying little things that we put up with because we don't feel like we've got the time to deal with such penny-ante chores. What's one big thing we put up with even though we don't have the time? Waiting on hold. The average American will spend 43 days [2] of his or her life waiting on hold. So why not use the 13 hours you will spend on hold this year getting stuff done? (See also: 9 Ways to Stop Procrastinating — Now! [3])

Here are 101 things you can fix while you are stuck listening to Muzak (or find yourself with just a little downtime you'd like to fill).

1. Apply Sunscreen

UV rays are damaging your skin even on cloudy days, so it's important to apply a sunscreen [4] with an SPF of 30 or higher every day.

2. Back Up Your Data

For the love of all that is good and beautiful, backup your data! When backing up or a tablet or a phone, make sure you know the difference [5] between backing up to iCloud and backing up to iTunes. (See also: Comparing Online Backup Services [6])

3. Balance the Ceiling Fan

Is that squeaky fan [7] slowly making you crazy? Fix it in a flash.

4. Blow Out the Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Dirty exhaust fans [8] are a fire hazard. Use canned air to blow out dust and debris. Then wash the fan cover in soapy water. Cleaning the exhaust fan can make your bathroom up to 80 percent less stinky.

5. Bring Out Your Dead

Dead bugs in your light fixtures won't kill you, but they sure are disgusting to look at.

6. Cancel Your Junk Mail

Register online [9] with the Direct Marketing Association and opt out of junk mail.

7. Caulk Your Bathtub

I learned how to caulk [10] a bathtub when I was 8. It's so easy, even a kid can do it . . . literally. New caulk makes the bathroom look instantly cleaner and protects your walls from mold and rot.

8. Change the Baking Soda in the Refrigerator

An open box of baking soda in the fridge really does help [11] eliminate odors.

9. Change Your Facebook Settings

Once again, Facebook has made changes to privacy settings. Update your settings to make sure that you have all the privacy you want.

10. Check Your Credit Report For Errors

You can get a free copy [12] of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Check your report for errors that could be hurting your credit score.

11. Check Your Oil

Oil lubricates your car engine. Check your car's oil level once a month and top off as needed. Letting your engine run out of oil is one of the best ways to kill your engine [13]. And by best, I mean worst.

12. Check Your Tire Pressure

Under inflated tires add additional wear to your tires and waste gas. Check your tire pressure [14] regularly to ensure that you are getting the best performance out of your car.

13. Clean the Coils on the Refrigerator

Dirty condenser coils will make your refrigerator work harder and use more energy. Extend the life of your fridge and save on your electric bills by cleaning the coils every three months. (See also: Make Your Fridge Last Forever)

14. Clean Your Computer

Your computer's keyboard is probably dirtier than your toilet [15]. Don't put off cleaning your computer for another day.

15. Clean Your Glasses or Contact Lenses

Get a better outlook on the world, instantly.

16. Clean Your Hairbrush Like a Hairdresser Does

Use a comb to remove hair from your brush. Then wash the brush in the washing machine with your towels. Alternately, add a few drops of Dawn dish-washing detergent to some hot water, dip the brush in the soapy water, and scrub with a toothbrush.

17. Clean Out Your Handbag or Wallet

In college I developed shooting neck pains. After a full battery of tests and X-rays, my doctor still couldn't figure out the origin of my pain. Then he watched me pick up my handbag . . . which contained $40 in spare change.

18. Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

While many over the counter and prescription drugs are perfectly safe and relatively effective to take even if they are expired, this is not true for cosmetics [16], hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol [17].

19. Clean the Pet Hair Off Your Sofa

Use a rubber glove to quickly remove the furry coating from your upholstered furniture.

20. Clean Your Phone

Because most people are disgusting and don't wash their hands after pooping, everything is covered in poop [18]. This includes your cell phone. One in six cell phones are contaminated with fecal matter. Gross. Clean your phone [19].

21. Collect Spare Change

Check under the sofa cushions, in your pockets, and in the laundry room. Put everything into a piggy bank for a rainy day treat.

22. Condition Your Leather Jacket

Leather is a natural fiber that will weaken over time if it's not properly cared for. Extend the life of your leather jacket by using leather conditioner as a moisturizer. There are a number of top leather conditioners you can buy that will clean and help weatherproof even the most creaky leathers. While you are at it, why not condition your bicycle seat, your baseball glove, your vintage handbag, and your leather sofa?

23. Create a Treasure Chest For All Your Play Money

Go through your wallet and home and find all the store credit receipts, all the partially used gift cards, and any other alternate form of currency that stores use to force you to only spend money with them. Put them all in one box for easy reference.

24. Curate Your Netflix Queue

You can add multiple profiles to one Netflix account to create multiple queues for easy reference. Or use a custom queue management script to import Rotten Tomatoes ratings or increase sorting options.

25. Darn a Sock

Small holes are a pretty simple fix [20].

26. Defrost Dinner

Cooking in advance only saves time if you remember to defrost your food in advance. Thawing food on the counter or under hot water can actually make you sick. Use safe defrosting [21] methods to thaw homemade and prepackaged foods — thaw in the fridge; thaw in cold water; thaw in the microwave. (See also: Don't Rinse the Bird [22])

27. De-Fuzz Your Pet

Give your dog or cat a good brushing to help control shedding. What's more fun: Spending time with your pet or vacuuming hair off the floor?

28. De-Ice Your Ice Maker

Is your ice maker not ice-making? Before spending money on replacement parts, check the refill tube for ice build up. You can defrost this part yourself with a hairdryer.

29. De-Lime Your Coffeemaker

Improve the flavor of your coffee by cleaning the mineral deposits out of your coffeemaker.

30. De-Stink the Garbage Disposal

You don't have to use a harsh cleanser to clean a stinky [23] garbage disposal — just toss a couple of ice cubes and some kosher salt in it. Maybe follow up with half a juiced lemon.

31. Ditch Key Clutter

I am 100 percent sure that my husband has keys to his college dorm room, his childhood bike lock, and to the garden shed that collapsed in the 1989 Northridge Earthquake. Don't be my husband.

32. Drink a Glass of Water

If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Staying hydrated helps energize muscles, aids digestion, and maintains the balance of your body's electrolytes.

33. Dump the Science Experiment in the Refrigerator

Those just-gone-by leftovers are not going to get any fresher. Do it now or do it later while holding your breath. Then make a plan to stop wasting so much food.

34. Dust the Ceiling Fan

Don't wait until the cat hair and dust floats down on your house guests like gray snow from your ceiling fan. Use a pillowcase [24] to pull the dust from the blades in seconds and contain while you take the pillow case outside to dump the gunk.

35. Dust the Lampshades

Use a lint roller to remove the dust on fabric shades.

36. Empty the Trash Can in Your Car

Or, if you are like me, empty the trash from all over your car.

37. Empty the Vacuum Cleaner Bag

Most vacuums will lose suction when the bag is more than half full. The fuller the bag, the harder the motor has to work. Vacuuming on a full bag is a good way to kill your vacuum.

38. Examine Yourself For Cancer

Examine yourself for breast [25] and/or testicular [26] cancer. Five minutes spent squeezing yourself could save your life.

39. Exercise

Do 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 100 jumping jacks, or just some simple stretches. You would be surprised how many mini workouts you can squeeze out of your schedule.

40. Empty the Lint Trap and the Dryer Vent

The dryer is the number one source of fire in the home. The majority of these fires are caused by lint buildup [27] in the trap and dryer vent. Empty the lint trap after every dryer cycle and regularly clean the dryer vent [28].

41. Filing the Papers on Your Desk

Ugh, terrible. But if you are being held hostage at your desk while on hold anyway, you might as well just do some filing.

42. Find Unclaimed Money

You might be owed money and not even know it! You can search state by state [29] for unclaimed funds and property owed to you. When I did a search through the California State Controller's Office, I discovered that I had a $1525 [30] sitting in some bank vault, waiting for me to collect it. (See also: You Might Be Owed Money [31])

43. Flip Your Mattress

Flipping a mattress is the bed equivalent of rotating the tires on your car. Flipping extends the life of your mattress by evening out the wear and tear. If you have a double-sided mattress, pin some index cards to the foot of the bed to keep track [32] of which way your mattress needs to be flipped and turned. If you have a single-sided mattress, you'll need to rotate the mattress but not flip it.

44. Floss

Only 49 percent of Americans floss daily and 10 percent never floss. Don't be part of that 51 percent who put their teeth at risk.

45. Hang a Picture

Avoid Swiss cheese walls by using these pro tips [33] from Bob Villa. Also, most people hang their art too high on the wall. For a more intimate viewing experience, even with a huge piece of art, take a cue from art galleries and hang your art at eye level. The standard gallery measurement is 57 inches from the floor.

46. Write a Thank You Note

Who doesn't like feeling appreciated? Write a thank you note to someone who has helped make your life better.

47. Invite Other People to Dropbox

Gain up to 16 GB in free extra online storage space from Dropbox by referring friends [34].

48. Label Cords and Electronic Accessories

I label all my power cords, adapters, and accessories so I can match them up with the proper electronic equipment quickly. It makes troubleshooting so much easier too. Personally I'm a big fan of the P-Touch printer [35], but there are lot of ways to label cables.

49. Make a Complaint

Is your Internet not working . . . again? Is your elected official an idiot? Did Trader Joe's discontinue the best snack ever? Tweet your displeasure. Even better, write a letter. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

50. Make a Grocery List

One of the easiest ways to save money at the grocery store is to make a grocery list. If you are terrible at figuring out how much food you need to buy week to week, use an app like Out of Milk [36] to help you fine tune your shopping list.

51. Make a To-Do List

Take charge of your schedule by making a daily to-do list. It will save you time and stress.

52. No More Wire Hangers!

What is it about wire hangers? How do they accumulate so fast? Do they breed [37] when they are alone in the dark of the closet? I just pulled approximately 467,923 empty wire hangers out of my husband's closet, which freed up about four inches of rod space. The hangers will be returned to the dry cleaners for reuse and recycling.

53. Oil a Squeaky Door

Now you have one less thing that will wake you up in the night.

54. Open the Bills

Ignoring your money problems will only make them worse.

55. Open an Etsy Store

Are you a rabid collector of fabulous things? Are you now bored with these fabulous things? Finance your next eccentric collection by selling your old one on Etsy [38].

56. Organize Your Address Book

Use an app like EasilyDo [39] to manage your contact list or manually enter and correct information in your address book.

57. Organize Your Jewelry

Separate out broken pieces for repair or reuse. (A solitary earring can be turned into a pendant or barrette, for example.) Set aside gold or silver jewelry you don't wear to sell for cash. Once you've sorted your collection, look on Pinterest for a jewelry organizing system that will work best for your space.

58. Organize Your Membership Cards

Go through your membership card collection and ditch all your expired cards. Put the cards you use regularly into your wallet, or onto a separate key chain to carry with you. Store the rest of your cards in an easy to remember place for quick reference. For those who hate carrying around all that plastic, yes, there are phone apps [40] that allow you to digitize all your membership card data.

59. Organize the Art on the Refrigerator Door

Most Americans use their refrigerator door as a bulletin board. UCLA researchers discovered that there is a direct relationship [41] between the clutter on the fridge door and the clutter in the rest of the house. Start clearing clutter by organizing the front of the refrigerator.

60. Pay a Compliment

Compliments are free, and everyone loves to feel appreciated. Don't be creepy about it, however.

61. Play Matchmaker to Your Tupperware

Store your plastic ware with the lids on. Yes, it takes up a little more room when stacked, but it will save time. No more rooting around for a matching lid.

62. Plot a Murder

Of aphids, of course. Mix one tablespoon of dish-washing liquid and one gallon of water. Load your squirt bottle and go on a killing spree in your victory garden.

63. Pluck Your Eyebrows

Well-shaped eyebrows [42] add instant polish to your face, even without make-up.

64. Polish Your Shoes

I'd say, stop dressing like a slob, but slobs already know that polishing your shoes makes you look respectable and extends the life of your shoes.

65. Program the Stations on Your Car Radio

Tuning your car's radio, like texting, can be a deadly distraction [43]. Preprogram your favorite stations while your car is parked, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road while driving.

66. Purge Your Email

As of this moment I have 434 unread emails cluttering my inbox. See how many old emails you can trash before you are interrupted. My record is 2505 emails in two hours.

67. Put Away Your Clothes

Are your clothes hanging over the treadmill in the corner of the bedroom and not in your closet? Put those clothes away!

68. Put Your Consumer Electronics on One Power Strip

In addition to protecting your expensive electronics, putting your consumer electronics on one power strip (make sure your strip doubles as a surge protector) can save you money. This helpful chart [44] shows the average energy wasted by household appliances, even when they are in standby mode. Save money and time by turning off all your appliances at once with the push of one button on the power strip.

69. Put Footie Pads on Your Furniture

Put felt pads [45] on your furniture to protect your wood floors from wear and tear.

70. Put Your Hoard of Tins to Work

I am a sucker for cute packaging. Luckily Altoid tins are the perfect size to organize and store tiny office and craft supplies.

71. Read the Manual

To anything. Reading the manual never makes any gadget harder to use. I promise.

72. Repair Your Cracked Patio

If you can use Play-Doh, you can fix the cracks [46] in cement with quick-drying hydraulic water-stop cement.

73. Replace Your Windshield Wipers

Don't wait until it's pouring down rain to do this chore. Replacing wipers is easy.

74. Restock Your Emergency Kit

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with at least the basics [47]. Replace the batteries in the flashlight. Check the expiration dates on your food and medications. (See also: 5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For [48])

75. Re-Up Your Prescriptions

It's Murphy's Law that you will run out of what you need, in the middle of the night, on a holiday weekend. Don't wait until you are having an emergency to get refills.

76. Revive Your Cutting Board

Season your wood cutting board with mineral oil to extend its lifespan. Rub it on, wait a bit, rub it off.

77. Round Up Old Magazines

Collect all the magazines that are cluttering your house. Donate the ones you are done with to your local veterinarian, emergency room, or battered women's shelter. Create one central to-be-read pile with the remaining magazines.

78. Sanitize Your Makeup

Use a makeup sanitizing spray [49] or wipe to keep your cosmetics bacteria-free.

79. Scrub the Bathtub

If you use non-toxic household products like baking soda, salt, and vinegar to clean the tub, you won't even need to put on gloves.

80. Sell Something Online

List unwanted items on Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, Half.com, or another online market. More money in the bank. Less to dust.

81. Set the Clock on the Microwave

Why not make your appliances with a clock feature that much more useful?

82. Sew on a Button

Save a little money at the dry cleaners by replacing missing buttons yourself.

83. Sharpen a Knife

It's counter-intuitive, but it's more dangerous [50] to use a dull knife than a sharp knife. Save money on professional knife sharpening by learning how to do it yourself [51].

84. Sign a Petition

Don't have the money or the time to spare for your favorite issues? At least sign a petition! Petitions do get results because they show popular demand for a cause. Even the White House [52] pays attention to petitions.

85. Silence a Squeaky Floor

Use talcum powder and a paintbrush to quiet wood floors [53].

86. Snip Your Too-Long Bangs

Scary, right? Not if you look online for all sorts of helpful hair [54] cutting tutorials [55] for guidance.

87. Start Some Seeds

Growing plants from seeds [56] is a relatively inexpensive way to grow a variety of plants. There are far more plants available from seed that there are from started plants. You don't even need special equipment [57].

88. Steady a Wobbly Toilet

Sitting down on a wobbly toilet is always a little disconcerting. Luckily, steadying a toilet [58] is usually an easy fix.

89. Steam Away Microwave Stains

Heat a bowl containing a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar in the microwave for five minutes. The steam will soften stuck-on stains so they can be wiped off with a sponge.

90. Store Your Hairbands on a Carabiner

I love this organizing hack for the bathroom. Although I keep my hairband carabiner in a drawer, I could also hang it on a hook or at the end of a towel rack to save cabinet space.

91. Swap Out Your Toothbrush

Swap out your old toothbrush [59] for a new one every three months, or sooner if the bristles are bent or you've been sick. Toothbrush bristles develop sharp edges over time that can make tiny nicks in your gums, making you more prone to infection. Also, worn bristles are less effective at cleaning your teeth.

92. Sweep Away the Cobwebs

Does your home look like the Haunted Mansionette? Use a feather duster or Swiffer broom to remove cobwebs from your ceiling and crown molding.

93. Test Your Smoke Detector

Prevent a fatal fire in your home. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors TWICE a year. Also, pushing the red button on the smoke detector only tests if the battery and the alarm sound work. A better method of testing if the smoke detector is actually detecting smoke is to hold two freshly blown-out matches under the unit.

94. Throw Away Your Dried-Out Pens

If you are waiting on hold, you will eventually need a pen to write down a confirmation number. Use this time to test out your pen collection to find one that works. Throw away the dead ones.

95. Trim Your Photo Collection

Unless you are a hardened blackmailer, there is no reason to keep terrible photographs of yourself or others, unless, of course, they are hilarious. Dump the bad photos from your albums and hard drives and give yourself more space to store flattering memories.

96. Turn Off the Lights

If you aren't in the habit of turning off the light as you leave a room, save money and energy by turning off all the lights (and fans) in the house except in the room you are using right now.

97. Unsubscribe

Be honest with yourself about how much information you can process in a day. Unsubscribe from email lists, online groups, podcasts, and so on that are piling up in your inbox. You can always re-subscribe when you have more free time.

98. Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Even if you aren't looking for work, there are plenty of companies that headhunt solely via LinkedIn [60]. A better job might fall right into your lap! Also, every time you update your profile, LinkedIn will spam everyone in your network, a passive (and great) way to reconnect with business connections.

99. Untangle Your Cords

Pretend this is a game and not an odious chore. Store your freshly untangled cords inside toilet paper tubes. For extra credit, cute-ify [61] your toilet paper tubes with colored tape.

100. Vacuum Your Hairdryer

Suck the gunk out of the back vents of your hair dryer to keep it from crapping out.

101. Wrap a Present

Pre-wrap [62] holiday and birthday presents and save time and stress later.

Whew! Any other small jobs we should do right now? Please share in comments!

— Max Wong

Check out these smart tips from Wise Bread:

Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever [63]

25 Things to Throw Out Today [64]

This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too [65]


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