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It’s been a while since I did one of these posts. And this one has been sitting in my Drafts for a while. None of these individual time-saving tips seemed like they warranted their own post by themselves, so I lumped them together because they fell under a single common thread:  stuff I wish I’d done sooner.

While no one tip has drastically changed my life (except, perhaps, the last one on the list), here’s a little secret:  the real time-savers are the simple things. The stuff that you don’t notice are wasting the day. When you think about it, things that only “take a minute” to do each day add up to more than six hours of a single year. Which is like, half of an OITNB marathon. By eliminating these things and making small changes, they’ll start turning into lots of time saved.

Buying the Right-Sized Stuff for My Spaces

I snagged this quick picture during part of the pantry work, and it’s something that’s made my life a TON easier since purchasing. And yet, it’s so simple. It’s my dog’s rolling food bin that neatly tucks under the bottom shelf in the pantry.

Prior to plunking down the $13 bucks (or about that amount, I can’t remember anymore, but it was priced somewhere between “too cheap not to snatch up” and “seriously? for a plastic bin?” which for me is right around the $12.99 mark), I had been using a smaller plastic bucket that held about half of the amount that comes in one of those comically large dog food bags (seeing me carrying one on my shoulders through the pet store is probably very entertaining for passers-by). The problem, obviously, is that if it was a new bag, that would mean half of it would still have to sit in the original bag, bundled up until Charlie ate the first half, and then I’d get to empty the bag. Forget about re-filling the bin more often than that, because that’s just crazy talk.

Then I came upon this little guy, which I’d been avoiding buying for the longest time because hey, I had a food bin for Charlie already, and it wasn’t broken, chewed on, or missing its lid. So I had a hard time justifying replacing it. And yet, on some random day (I must have thought “to heck with it, I’ll splurge”), I spotted the wheels and the flip lid and convinced myself it was time to upgrade. And I’M SO GLAD I did. This thing holds a full, buy-in-bulk bag, which means I can dump it in here, throw away the empty bag, and not have to find an extra space to store the leftovers/worry about it attracting bugs. Perfection. Lid flips up, Charlie gets her food bowl filled, and I move on with my day and stop making things harder just to do the simple things. That’s why this is going on my list today. Because even though it’s still such a small thing, it impacts my life every day. I try to use this little lesson as a reminder any time I’m contemplating buying the cheapest thing (that usually doesn’t fit) and spending just a few extra dollars on the thing that is better suited for its use.

Eliminating Junk Mail (both online and snail mail)

Why, oh why, didn’t I start unsubscribing to things sooner? I wasted oodles of time deleting spammy posts from stores in my inbox every week instead of just hitting the Unsubscribe link at the bottom. Especially now that Gmail has divided my inbox into Primary, Social, and Promotion tabs – I get spam in all three groupings, which only adds on a little time. Sure, it seems like the easiest thing is just to select a group of emails once or twice and delete, but if you do that daily, like I do, it’s a lot of time. In the long run, not deleting 20 emails every week is faster (and by the way, stores that make me log in or verify my email to unsubscribe? Way to make me never shop you again – such a hassle!).

I also found an app for my phone that helps to eliminate junk mail through the actual mailbox. It’s called PaperKarma. All I have to do is take a picture of the address label (don’t worry, the app walks you through it), and it sends off my info to request that I be taken off of the distribution list (however they managed to find it – which isn’t always clear of course). It doesn’t work 100% (especially with local mailers that don’t have your actual name on it but instead say “To Neighbor” or whatever), but it has drastically lightened the load of my mail. And since my mail carrier likes to fold important checks in the middle of my junk mail, the frustration factor has gone down a bit.

Shampoo Bottle Pumps

This falls right in line with the dog food bin thing. I have a lot of hair on my head. A lot. I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long just to go ahead and buy the big salon-style pump bottles of shampoo and conditioner instead of the smaller squeeze bottles, but once I did this, it was a no-brainer to never go back. And a pump never accidentally slides off of the edge of the tub because you were inverting the bottle to get the last vestiges of shampoo out of the bottom. Seems to simple to mention, but I swear, it’s little things like this that eat up the day.

Laser Hair Removal

When I was finishing up my last few rounds of treatment, I shared a snapshot on Instagram about the glasses I was required to wear, and people got a little curious. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the results, I’ve written a post about it, which will be appearing on Friday. Yes, it’s a total departure from DIY, but I promised I’d write something about it someday, and almost began writing it here until I couldn’t stop remembering more details to share. So head’s up that this Friday, you’re going to see a post that has no business being on a DIY blog. But laser hair removal is another thing I’m very happy I spent some time (and yes, money) on.

There you have it:  a random collection of time-savers. If you’ve found some of your own “little” changes that saved you heaps of time, I’d love to hear it. I’ll try them out myself :)

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  1. And the shampoo upside down to get the last of it ends up being a week long process! It tips over and you have to start again with the upside down process, it slips of the shelf (why do we expect a bottle we have angled just so to stay upright on a slippery, wet shelf?) and ends up resulting in swear jar comments and trying to put the darn thing back up over and over again!!! So right! And we have both–pumps are great but you won’t get those last pumps of shampoo–FYI. Love the rolling bin. So smart and so glad you got it. I am sure I have some great idea–just not now. One thing that gets me and it’s not really a time saver–well it can be if you just do it and don’t procrastinate. Why does unloading the dishwasher seem like the most grueling job? I think “ugh, I have to unload the dishwasher” when in actuality it takes two minutes.

  2. We have a smaller version of your dog food container for our Cats’ food. It doesn’t have wheels though. It was one of the best purchases. I needed something for the food because my cats can smell that food even through the plasticky type bags. Sometimes I would buy the larger bag of food and have to store the rest in a room with a closed door because they would go after the bag. But now I just stick to the smaller bag that fits in the container and it is great.

    1. I since used one of my smaller airtight containers for my dog’s treats as well. Glad you found something that works!

  3. The dog food bin is great idea and looks great in you pantry. Rather than throwing the empty bag away (or at least cut off the production code info) you might want to keep it in case there’s a recall you’ll know whether you have the food affected by the recall.

      1. We use empty dog food bags for yard debris. They are pretty hard to rip, so they are great at holding random sticks and rocks. Perfect for smaller jobs that don’t require a large yard clean-up. I bet they would be great at DIY clean-up too for any pieces of tile or drywall that need to be discarded.

        1. Oooh, I like your thinking. I’m going to try this next time I have an empty bag! Thanks for the tip!

    1. I picked it up at a store called Garden Ridge. The one near me has since been bought by another company, but I’m sure similar bins can be found at Walmart and Target or online.

  4. Garden Ridge is one of my favorite stores but we no longer have one or anything like it in the KC area. Miss it. I agree laser hair removal was money well spent. Not just because it saves you time but because you aren’t wondering do I need to bleach my mustache before the big meeting at HQ = more confidence.

  5. I also got like thousands of e-mail in my mailbox and I found it’s really difficult to clear those unwanted mail. I wish there’s app to clear my unwanted e-mail too.

  6. Love this – it’s all the little things, right?

    I’ve been on a SERIOUS “unsubscribe” rampage lately! I also found this website, unroll.me, that will roll multiple emails into a daily digest for you in case you want to keep getting the store emails, but don’t want to have a “new” email in your inbox 20x/day…and it will unsubscribe you from emails/senders, as well. Super handy! And now i need to go download the Paper Karma app you found to take care of my paper mail. :)

    I did laser hair removal on my underarms…it seems like it would be a waste, but seriously? SO AWESOME. I’m saving up to do, uh, other areas next.

    1. I’ll check it out! Thanks for the tip. So glad you had good results too! If you go for underarms, definitely go for legs. It is SUCH a timesaver.

  7. I did the same thing with my doggie’s food…after the same amount of trepedation about spending the money for something I technically did not need. So glad I did. He passed away this past spring, so now I use it for bird seed.

    My ideas…a good tool box for small tools (I don’t put these on a peg board); a peg board for yard tools and extension cords; french terrines for coffee, different grains/rice, and pastas; a in drawer knife block; painting the insides of my cabinets in the bathrooms and living room white so I am not looking for something in a dark hole; putting river rock down under my outside big blue city trash carts so I am not tearing up grass or fighting mud; a hose bowl; no kink hoses; drawer dividers in all cabinets (see Martha Stewart’s kitchen drawers…to die for).

  8. I did the same thing this year with my shampoo and conditioner bottles, now if I could only find a body wash that comes in a similar size and a smell I like! I recently just bought a bunch of those vacuum space bags, went through my entire wardrobe to truly come to terms with the downsizing of our apartment closets after the move, out with the tattered and truly never going to wear again, and then all of the seasonal stuff I vacuumed packed so I could shove it at the bottom of the closet, now I have more room everywhere and I am not storing stuff I don’t need. Plus, come October I’ll pull that bag out and flip my seasonal. Stupid no-brainer.

  9. If you use Outlook, right click on the email and choose Junk, Block Sender. Sometimes blocking the sender is so much faster than unsubscribing. Another lesson I learned was to never user the email address that comes with an internet service, e.g., Comcast, Verizon, etc. The company I was with accidentally deleted my email address and upon restoration, my old emails were nowhere to be found. Now I stick with Gmail, so that it doesn’t matter how I receive my internet, my email is always the same. With snail mail, if it doesn’t say to ‘Neighbor’ or ‘Resident’, I write on it ‘Return to Sender’. They seem to take you off more quickly when they have to pay shipping both ways. So much wasted paper, right!?