Editor’s Note: Though the tips written in this blog are real ways to make your life easier, the illustrations are included solely for the sake of humor. Please don’t try them at home!

If you search online for tips to make life easier, you will find lists ranging from 6 to 1000 “Life Hacks!” Some are specific to the workplace, relationshipsaround the house, health, etc. You can even find Life Hacks from before the internet called them Life Hacks… from before there was an internet. What follows is my personal, unorganized list of things that have helped me keep my **** together over the years. Which might appeal to/characterize your character(s)?

Personal Ease

  • Choose a low-maintenance hair cut/style.
  • Wear only comfortable clothes.
  • Keep personal care products/routines to a minimum—except there is never too much exercise.
  • If a plethora of neckties, jewelry, or whatever, makes daily decisions time-consuming, pare down!

Housekeeping/ Repair and Yard Work 

  • If it isn’t causing structural damage, it can wait. This is especially important for people with children or pets.
  • Plant a Darwinian Garden—i.e., perennials only, nothing delicate, everything low-maintenance, nothing invasive. Consider a yard of clover rather than grass! 
  • Take the same approach to house plants.

Kitchen Wisdom

  • Get thee Peg Bracken’s I Hate To Cook Book (great for general wisdom and laughs) and The Doubleday Cookbook (for a good, basic, encyclopedic cookbook). Especially if your character isn’t into cooking, these two have got you covered.
  • If it’s cheap, like measuring spoons and cups, get multiples to avoid cleanup I’m the midst of cooking. (Actually, I think that was a Peg Bracken tip.)
  • Get the best out of a microwave (beyond reheating), a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, an electric skillet, and/or a toaster oven—whichever fits the needs.

How to Give Feedback 

  • Give a praise-criticism-praise sandwich. This works for employee annual reviews, co-worker project/product feedback, family or friends who want to know “what you think.”
  • Don’t use labels. Stupid, lazy, careless, cruel, etc., raise a person’s dander and can lead to arguments over the accuracy/appropriateness of the label.
  • Be clear and specific regarding behavioral expectations.
  • Set up the discussion as “When you do X, I feel Y” and work together for change as needed.

Child Rearing

  • Give the child autonomy in as many areas as possible. With my children, that included (among other things) hair cuts/styles, what clothes to wear, how often to clean their rooms, and extracurricular activities.
  • Make each child a responsible member of the family. For example, in my case, starting at age 12, each was responsible for making the family dinner one night a week, and cleaning up after. No frozen dinners or ordering in!
  • Don’t argue over food/eating. Put the food in front of the children and they either eat it or not. If not, no dessert and no snacks before the next meal.
  • Give financial education at least by mid-teens: savings accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, and money management.

Work Related

  • Get up early enough!
  • Plan what to wear and have your briefcase or other work materials ready to go the night before.
  • Learn how to customize equipment. For example, for poor eyesight, learn how to manipulate the print size on various devices.

Bottom line, when creating characters, give thought to how your particular people might try to make life easier. And if it eases anything in your own life as well, you’re welcome!

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