“What are some cheap and effective ways to make life easier?” asks a Metafilter user.

I only buy one kind of socks. This means I don’t have to match them up when doing laundry, never stress about where the extra one in a pair went, and getting dressed is easier in the morning.

I also switched to using plastic cups for nearly all beverages. Since most of the time I was running the dishwasher it was just full of glasses, I end up doing the dishes far less often. As a bonus, they stack up nicely so I don’t have a small army of dirty glasses on my desk.

What other things can I do to eliminate annoying/tedious parts of my day? Bonus points for cheap/free ideas.

Here’s a summary of the best suggestions:

  • If you have space, buy in bulk.
  • Downsize everything you have — less stuff in less space means less money and less worry. (See also Cat’s post on a smooth home.)
  • Make sure your “paper life” is in order.
  • Adjust your work hours so you don’t drive during rush hour.
  • Sort your mail before you ever set it down.
  • Try Once a Month Cooking. Make a big batch of food (like soup) in advance, and then freeze it.
  • Use just one set of dishes which you clean immediately after use.
  • Conduct as much business online as possible (bill-paying, shopping, library use, etc.).
  • If you bring something into the house, get rid of something else. For example, if you buy a book, purge a book. If you get a new shirt, get rid of an old one.
  • Use your public library.
  • Unplug. Get rid of any device you don’t need: cell phone (or landline), television, etc.
  • Automate bill payments.
  • Walk or bike.
  • Purge anything in your home that you no longer use.
  • Don’t buy anything high-maintenance.
  • Try to combine tasks when possible: fold you clothes while making phone calls, etc.
  • Have one place for everyday items: empty your pockets into a basket every day when you come home.

My favorite piece of advice is:

Whenever you’re up and walking around the house, ‘defrag’ it. Take an item from the room you’re currently in, and take it to the room in which it belongs to put it away. Then take an item from this room, and take it to the room in which it belongs. See how many times you can repeat this step.

As usual, you can read more detailed answers in the original AskMetafilter thread.

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