You can bring order to your life instantly! We've got brilliantly simple ways to spruce up everything from your closet to your mood.
The next time you're in an emotional slump, stop slumping. Yes, it sounds corny, but walking with a little bounce and swinging arms may make you more likely to remember the positive, according to a recent small study in The Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
You can't manage your finances if you don't keep tabs on every expense, yet that's often easier said than done. But there's a simple solution if you regularly use your credit card for day-to-day purchases, says Lauren Lyons Cole, a certified financial planner and personal finance expert. "Call your credit card company and ask to change the closing date on your account to the first day of the month," she says. "Pay your bill in full on that date so that your balance is zero, and you'll have an organized record of your monthly expenses even without maintaining an overly detailed budget."
First we folded. Then we rolled. Now it's time to bundle. This faster, easier packing technique, beloved by travel experts, is also a handy way to stow out-of-season clothes. Here's how to do it: Lay your most wrinkle-prone items -- jackets, for instance -- on a flat surface. Then layer the rest of your items faceup in alternating directions. Once you have your stack, stick something boxy (like old journals or a case of trinkets) in the center, then fold in each garment's loose ends (e.g., shirt sleeves, or the bottoms of long skirts) until you have a neatly packaged rectangle. Pop it in a storage container and seal; forget about it until next season.
Life isn't enriched by status updates from your tenth-grade lab partner, yet many of us can't bring ourselves to winnow our "friends." Here's a real friend: Facebook offers a tool that automatically identifies the people you haven't contacted for a while, then prompts you to add them to an acquaintances group. This means their notifications will show up in your news feed less often, and you'll avoid the unpleasant business of unfriending them. (Facebook.com/Friends/Organize
If you're suffering from digital overload, these four apps can organize your entire life -- and they're all free!
To Pay The Bills
If you prefer not to use auto pay, Mint Bills
, a sister app of the popular budgeting program Mint, makes it nearly impossible to miss a payment. The app syncs with the accounts you pay each month, from the electric bill to Amex, then sends you pop-up reminders of upcoming due dates. All it takes is a few clicks to pay.
To Keep Track of Appointments
merges your online schedules—from Outlook and Google, for instance—and pulls info from social accounts (like Facebook birthdays and events). Plus, when you input the name of the person you're meeting for a business lunch, the app will connect to her LinkedIn profile, so you can do a quick memory refresh en route.
To Prioritize Your To-Do List
When an app designer's wife couldn't find a list-making tool she liked, he created one for her. The result: Jamie's To Do
(which happens to be a favorite of O
's organizing expert Peter Walsh). It has a simple, no-frills layout that organizes errands by type (like work and home) and color-codes reminders by due date, so you can immediately see what needs to get done first.
To Do Routine Tech Tasks
Using an "if this, then that" model, IFTTT
lets you create formulas that automate certain online chores based on your actions. Example: If I take a photo using Instagram, then IFTTT will back up the image to Dropbox. If I add a new contact to my address book, then IFTTT will save the information to a Google doc. You can invent combinations across tons of apps, saving yourself hours of work.
Why interrupt your work just to check email? Your smartphone can inform you when a high-priority message -- from, say, your boss -- hits your mailbox. Just set up an alert on your iPhone by clicking on a sender's name in a message and choosing "Add to VIP." For most brands of Android devices, you simply forward emails from important contacts in your work account to your Gmail and label them; then use the Gmail app to sync messages with that tag to your phone. You can then select a tone that will sound when a can't-miss missive arrives.
If you find yourself regularly sending the same message to different recipients, you can save time and sanity by storing frequently used text with a software program like FastFox ($40; nch.com.au
) or TextExpander ($35; SmileSoftware.com
). Write the message once, then designate a shortcut key so you can paste it repeatedly without having to retype. Throughout your workday, you'll feel more composed.
If you can't seem to remember anything, maybe it's because your mind is cluttered with useless thoughts (why oh why did I have that second doughnut?). Recent research suggests that the more irrelevant information we hold on to, the harder it is to remember the stuff that matters. But there's a quick fix: yoga. Often touted as a way to quiet a spinning mind, the ancient practice may also help improve memory. A 2014 study found that when older adults practiced yoga three times a week for just eight weeks, they significantly boosted their ability to recall and process new information.
You can start by throwing out your old excuses for hanging on to those stacks of stuff.
If you've never met an exercise class you didn't like -- but don't love juggling multiple memberships -- try ClassPass
, a subscription service that grants you access to thousands of boutique fitness classes, from indoor cycling to yoga to kickboxing. (You can go to the same studio three times per month.)
Mixing up workouts may help you get results faster. (Available in 20 major cities. $99 per month; ClassPass.com
If you want to sweat and
relax, try Barre3, which offers online full-body workouts that merge low-impact cardio with muscle-building moves inspired by yoga, Pilates, and ballet. Videos range from ten minutes to an hour, so you can get a satisfying burn no matter your fitness level, right in your living room.
Membership includes seasonal healthy recipes. ($15 per month; Barre3.com
If you need a jogging buddy, try Precision Running at Equinox, one of a growing number of treadmill workouts around the country. (Barry's Bootcamp and Orangetheory Fitness also offer programs that include instructor-led treadmill exercises.) The indoor runs include interval workouts (e.g., alternating all-out sprints with slower jogs) designed to help build endurance faster.
No one gets left behind. (Equinox.com/Run
You can now caffeinate without a cup, thanks to the CoffeeBar, an energy bar invented by two time-crunched undergrads at Northeastern University. The chewy treat contains a shot of espresso, plus nutritious ingredients -- such as chia seeds, almond butter, and oats -- that will keep you going until lunch. (Originally $36 for 12 bars, now 15 percent off with code OPRAH; NewGroundsFood.com
Behold a stroke of genius: The Plié Wand is a flexible handle that snaps onto the cap of any bottle of Julep nail polish (available in 185 shades and counting), then twists and bends to give you more stability and control. You'll find it's much easier to color inside the lines, especially with your nondominant hand. ($25 for wand, $14 per polish; Julep.com
The gladiator sandal has been around for a few seasons now, but the latest version has thinner straps than its chunkier predecessor, making it a sure fit for every foot. If you've been blessed with long, lean legs, the laces can rise as high as you dare; otherwise, go for a pair that ties around the ankle. "Gladiators add instant oomph to any outfit without being too trendy," says O creative director Adam Glassman. For the most flattering look, opt for shoes (including laces) in a shade that matches your skin tone.
If you grapple with a salon's worth of mousses, gels, and sprays every morning, your life is about to change.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer makes grooming products more effective by smoothing and detangling your hair -- so effective, in fact, that you might be able to toss a few of those other products. Plus, the primer has UV protection to help prevent sun damage. Just apply the lightweight spray to damp or dry hair, and you're set. ($27 for 8.5 ounces; bumbleandbumble.com
Trick Out Your Thermometer
Even if you can't recall the last time you took your temperature, it's still a good idea to have the right tool for the job. The new in-ear, infrared Swaive Thermometer ($100, available for preorder; Swaive.com
) is equipped with Bluetooth technology that automatically sends its readings to a companion app (iOS only). You can track a family member's temperature and email the results to your doctor -- perfect for when you're bleary-eyed and up all night with a sick child, parent or husband.
If you're not drinking enough water, you already know you're at risk for mild dehydration, and during summer, you could wind up in the ER. To help prevent that, try the new at-home remedy DripDrop Hydration Powder (in packets similar in size to on-the-go Crystal Light drink mixers). Created by a Mayo Clinic–trained physician, DripDrop contains two to three times the electrolytes of many sports drinks. The powder is now also available in some hospitals as an alternative to IVs to treat mild dehydration. (DripDrop.com
Toss Old Meds
Pharmacies can safely dispose of expired prescription drugs for you. Enter your zip code at DisposeMyMeds.org
to find a participating pharmacy near you. Some won't take controlled substances (like narcotic painkillers), so the FDA
recommends flushing those down the toilet. According to the FDAs website
, Scientists to date have found no evidence of harmful effects to human health from medicines in the environment. Based on available data, the FDA believes the known risk of harm to humans from accidental exposure to these medicines far outweighs any potential risk to humans or the environment from flushing them."
The next time you argue with your one true love, consider this sobering but freeing thought: Results from a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggest that couples who see themselves as "soul mates" end up being less satisfied with their relationships than those who don't. "When problems inevitably arise, 'soul mates' start to feel they aren't a great fit after all," says Spike Lee, PhD, the study's coauthor and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. What's more, couples who think of love as a journey of ups and downs are ultimately happier even if they continue to argue. Says Lee, "They seem better able to extract deep meaning from negative experiences and learn from them."