G is for… Grilled Cheese

One of the very first life hacks I encountered was how to make grilled cheese in the toaster. My mind was boggled. This was so much easier and less time consuming than making it in a frying pan and it would actually toast your bread unlike making grilled cheese in the microwave.

Needless to say I had to try it and the results turns out pretty good. All you need is two slices of bread, cheese (preferably in slices) and a toaster and voila, grilled cheese. Just make sure you turn the toaster sideways…

Grilled Cheese

 

 

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M is for… Marathon

Marathon Monday comes once a year and is undoubtedly every Bostonian‘s favorite non-denominational holiday. Despite the events of last year’s marathon, the city has rallied and become stronger that ever, which was obvious today as people gathered along the route to cheer on the runners.

Like any major holiday there are traditions; for Marathon Monday it’s getting drunk and cheering on the runners on Boylston Street. I have provided my own tips for enjoying Marathon Monday based on my previous three Boston Marathon experiences. If you are not a New Englander who understands the importance of this hallowed race, then feel free to apply it to a relevant regional event (likely one that involves day-drinking.) I have applied similar rules to the St.Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. 

-Stock up the night before: Any booze (or food) you want to have on hand for the marathon should be purchased the night before. I would not wait until 10pm on Sunday night to do this since most places close early on Sunday nights, particularly liquor stores…and Trader Joes.

-Early to bed, early to rise: If you’re doing it right you will start your festivities early. (Crack of dawn, crack a beer, right?) With most runners starting at 10am, the drinking will be starting early as well. For those of us who prefer 7+ hours of sleep, going to bed early is appreciated if you have to be at Kegs and Eggs at 8am. 

-Wear sunscreen: Typically it seems to be sunny on Marathon Monday – knock on wood. This year was no exception with sunny weather in the mid-60s. Unfortunately for us pale people, that means the possibility of burning is high. Block-up before you go out to avoid red shoulders for the next couple days.

-Conceal your booze: Although open-container laws seem to be ignored slightly on this day of celebration, it is still technically frowned upon, not to mention illegal, to carry your alcoholic beverages around on the street. An easy way to get around this is to simply mix your booze with soda or juice in a bottle or simply use a styrofoam Dunkin’ cup to hide the evidence.

-Post up: In order to get a front row seat to all the action (as seen below) you want to get to the race course early, but not too early because you have to adequate boozing and brunching time before hand. The perfect spot is somewhere close to the race barricade but also in close proximity to restrooms that aren’t Port-a-Potties. 

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***After the 2013 events I cannot stress how important it is to be aware of your surroundings. Although I do condone drinking during this event, it’s important to be in control. Keep your friends close and make smart decisions. 

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C is for…Cal

I honestly could not say when the last time I had a wall calendar was. Maybe middle school? My mom used to give them to my brother and I as part of our Christmas gifts and we probably hung them up and ignored them until it was April in July. I now use a Moleskine planner as a calendar to track homework assignments, meetings and important dates.

In the age of technology though many people turn to iCal, Google Calendar and other digital calendars to keep their lives in check. Although I have attempted to use both iCal and Google Calendar at various points I have never been able to dedicate myself to either for very long. Then I discovered the free app for iOS, Cal, by AnyDO.

This app is not only a calendar but keeps a daily to-do list for you in conjunction with the AnyDO app (this serves an entirely different function that Wunderlist.) You simply make a to-do list in AnyDO and then it automatically imports to Cal. You can also sync other calendars like iCal in order to create one simple calendar you can access from your smartphone or computer. Instead of wandering around with a gazillion post-its with various to-do lists that I will inevitably lose before I check the first item off, I can check and check off items right from my phone.

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The other cool feature Cal has is by syncing with Facebook it can keep track of all your friends birthdays. Now you really don’t have an excuse to forget that friend of a friend from camp’s aunt’s goddaughter’s birthday, right? Or just remember your friend’s and family’s birthday so when you’re reminded to say “Happy Birthday” you can say it’s already taken care of, thanks to Cal.

 

 

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H is for… Humor

Technically humor is not a life hack. It’s something I find extreme value in though since, let’s face it, if you don’t have a sense of humor, life is going to be real tough. 

The blog/blog platform Medium recently posted this an article post titled “5 Ultra-Simple Life Hacks” by W. David Marx. The piece pokes fun at “life-hacks” by basically giving us five obvious things people do everyday, implying that people, like myself, spend far too much time finding life-hacks. It’s heavy in both sarcasm and snark, two aspects of humor I especially appreciate. They are as follows:

“1. Use soap when washing nearly everything.

2. Dry off with a towel after you shower.

3. Plate are ideal for dining.

4. Breathe in a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen. 

5. Read book right-side-up.”

Yes, “life-hacks” do come across pretentious and appear often to be solutions for very minor problems or inconveniences, but the fun in finding the easier, faster, cheaper, more productive route is inherently human; as is humor. So if you can’t have a little humor in your life then it’s time to find a life-hack that will make that possible. 

The full article for your amusement: https://medium.com/amuse-me-you-did/f347eea74a67

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I is for… ipsy

If I was not a college student and had disposable income I would spend far too much money on clothes and make-up. If you have never ventured into Sephora you will not know the ease that you can drop money on just a couple tiny tubes of product. 
 
Unfortunately as a college senior who is attempting to find an entry level job, save for rent and a car all while trying to become financially independent before her parents cut her off, this is a very difficult feat. 
 
There are many similar services to ipsy like Birchbox and Glossybox. As a former Birchbox subscriber I have to admit, ipsy is a better service for the price. Each of these brands cost $10 a month and is delivered to your mailbox is aesthetically pleasing packages. But it’s what’s inside that truly matters. While Birchbox was fun for a while I realized many of the products were useless. Blue eyeliner? Anti-aging serum for my early-20s skin? An anklet? Not only were these products immediately discarded to the depths of my make-up bag but they came in tiny sample sizes that I honestly could have got at Macy’s for free. 
 
Then I heard about ipsy… Everyone in my office was getting a bright pink parcel once a month and because FOMO I wanted one too. After filling out the profile online http://www.ipsy.com I patiently awaited my very first “Glam Bag.” As promised the pink parcel arrived mid-month and I was more than satisfied with five items that were not sample sizes. Not only does my make-up drawer get to expand with fun products, but the low cost (wooo $10) is worth it for the value of the items which can be priced at a retail value of $45-$60 a month. Plus, they come in an adorable travel sized make-up bag each month!
 
Here is this month’s bounty:
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A is for…Apps

In the effort to be a more responsible, adult-person I try my best to be organized. Considering I sometimes have Jason Bourne-esque moments of forgetfulness, I have learned to always write things down. This is exactly why I keep a planner, and write myself post-it notes.

Because we are also in the 21st century there are ways to do this with technology. Both iOS and Android have a host of apps that are designed to make your life one hell of a lot easier by providing organizational structures that are effective and efficient. Here are a couple of my favorites which are all FREE:

Wunderlist: If you are as big a fan of to-do lists as I am, this is the app for you. Wunderlist allows you to make a variety of lists and then check off the items as you complete them. Once checked off, these items are removed from the list but you are still able to view them separately until you delete the list. This app is the perfect  for making your weekly grocery list, keeping track of all the movies you want to see, or my personal favorite…making a Christmas wish list.

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Evernote: This app saves my life in a lot of ways. First of all it is available for both desktops and smartphones and syncs to provide seamless integration between platforms. I take all my class notes on Evernote and then can bring them up on my phone when I want to study on-the-go. Second, since it does work off a cloud-based platform you can access your account on any computer anywhere. Evernote even organizes your notes by creating various “notebooks” based on subject. Plus, with geo-tagging you can even see where your note was created. 

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Cardmunch: If you’re a college kid or young professional and do not have Cardmunch, there is something wrong with your organizational structure. Or you like to have a million business cards floating around your room. Cardmunch is the 21st Century’s version of the rolodex and it’s a product of LinkedIn. You simply snap a picture of a business card and voila, the contact information is saved. It even allows you to write notes in order you to remember these connections. 

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U is for… Unroll.me

Email may or may not be the bane of my existence. Undoubtedly I wake up to 20 emails and probably receive at least that number if not more during the course of the day. In a lot of ways I like email, it’s written correspondence which is as close today as many of us get to mail and it’s especially great in staying close to friends who are traveling abroad. However, the one thing I cannot stand is the numerous subscription emails I receive on the daily- Groupon, LivingSocial, Rue La La, Hautelook, and dare I say it, BU Today. The conundrum is I don’t necessarily want to unsubscribe from these sites. What if there is an awesome deal from Gilt Group on yoga classes at Sweat and Soul? What if I want to know what sales are going on at J.Crew? What if there is another BU robbery I need to know about?!?! 

The solution was simple… Unroll.me. This service is a godsend. After connecting to each of your email accounts you can pick which emails you want to either “Rollup” or unsubscribe from. The items you choose to “Rollup” will then appear in you inbox not as multiple annoying spammy emails but in one succinct email with all the other emails you have chosen to “Rollup.” Each morning (or afternoon) at the time you designate, an email from Unroll.me arrives in your inbox as “Your Daily Rollup.” When you open it you simply see the subject lines from each of the address you’ve chosen to “Rollup.” 

And just like that you can read through and delete these emails in one fell email swoop. 

https://unroll.me/

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S is for… Subscriptions

Raise your hand if you’ve ever signed up for a premium service like Hulu Plus, Spotify Premium, Netflix or Dropbox for their free trial? Keep your hand raised if you totally and completely forgot to cancel the subscription after a month and were annoyed when they charged you the monthly fee? (Because that defeats the purpose of a free trial, am I right?)

Luckily there is a quick fix for that.

Most of the services I previously listed ask for your credit card information when you sign up which is totally annoying but if you really want the service you do it anyways. This is the uber smart way that Hulu Plus, Spotify Premium, and the likes, hook you in and ultimately get your money.

So the quick fix to avoid this? Buy a prepaid Visa card, or just use one lying around from the holidays that you have $.47 on. When they ask for the credit card number enter the number on the Visa gift card. And voila! Now you won’t be charged when your free month runs out. 

***Disclaimer: You will receive an email from aforementioned service of your choice telling you your card has insufficient funds. It’s either that or you’re saying adios to you moola…your choice. 

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M is for… Make My Week

I believe this is an entirely appropriate post for a Sunday evening. Most Sunday’s I wake up far too late, spend the day watching Netflix and then stressing about all the stuff I have to get done during the week. Not quite the picture of productivity or time efficiency. 

Thankfully I discovered Make My Week

This site was designed by Meme Partners, specialists in employee engagement. The goal of this site is to help people maximize their time and creativity during working hours. 

  • The Daily Grind aka how much do you work?
  • The Snooze Button aka how much do you sleep?
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles aka how much time is spent commuting?
  • Working Up A Sweat aka how much do you exercise?
  • The Good Stuff aka how much time is spend hanging with friends or doing what you love?
  • Everything Else aka the daily chores and things you just have to do?

Each of the questions requires you to fill in the amount of time you believe you spend of each area of you life a week. Everything Else is calculated as the time leftover after you accomplish all these other tasks. For instance I spend 32 hours a week running errands, cooking, cleaning etc. 

The site then gives you the percentages of the time spent on each area of your life per week. (Basically I spend 51% of my time working or in class.) 

The best part of this is after you complete these questions the site gives you suggestions on how to maximize your time.

The following are categories where Make My Week offers suggestions. You can select different things you’d like to try and send them to yourself via email. For example:

  • I want to learn more.
  • I want to feel part of a team.
  • I like helping people.
  • I want to be more creative.
  • I like to know things are being done right.
  • I’d like more recognition for what I do.

So for those of us busy-bees who do work over 50% of our weeks this is a great way to maximize our professional potential and ultimately (and hopefully) be a happier employee. 

http://www.meme-partners.com/app/

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L is for… Lazy

Admittedly, half the reason life hacks were invented is because the human race is inherently lazy. Okay I’m exaggerating, but everyone does have their lazy moments. Sometimes I eat mac and cheese straight from the pan to avoid doing more dishes. Sometimes I use dry shampoo to avoid washing my hair. I even forgo washing my face and instead use those nice little make up removing towelettes. So. Much. Easier.  
 
I want to clarify a couple things. You can optimize your time and money through life hacks without being cheap and lazy. The goal of life hacks are so you can be cheaper and lazier without seeming as such. It’s a fine art.
 
Thanks to the folks at Buzzfeed, there is now a ranking of 17 instances where life hacks have gone just a little too far. I am willing to excuse #6 since I have seen it done and it works and #14 since I have actually done it and it works perfectly well…especially if you consume the entire box of cereal in one sitting… I personally would not consider any other these a pro tip, quick fix, or cheap trick worthy of this blog. Let’s face it, these people take lazy to a whole new level.
 
 
 
Thanks Buzzfeed! 
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