We’re all familiar with the phrase life hack and there is certainly no shortage of life hacks for even the most minute aspects of your daily grind. From tricks to speed you through your morning makeup routine to cleaning and organizing like MacGyver or even finding unlikely ways to create the perfect sandwich. But what exactly is a life hack?
The term was coined in 2004 by tech journalist and proud geek, Danny O’Brien. He describes life hacks this way: “For most people, geeks or not, modern life is just this incredibly complex problem amenable to no good obvious solution. But we can peck around the edges of it; we can make little shortcuts.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is defined as: “A strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.” That’s right, in 2011 the term life hack earned dictionary status.
The most exciting life hacks are the ones that you didn’t even know you needed but, once you try them, you don’t know how you ever lived without them. We’ve found 20 such gems that will simplify your life and just might transform your existence.
1. Clothespin Nail Holder This life hack is so obvious, yet so surprising! When you need to hammer a nail, use a clothespin to hold it in place. No dropping, slipping or smashed fingers!
2. Trick Candles in the Wind This fantastic hack is just in time for a romantic, candlelit Valentine’s dinner on the veranda. To enjoy the ambiance of candles even when it’s breezy, use trick candles!
3. Airplane Mode Accidental Text Blocker Have you ever hit Send on a text or email only to realize a second too late that you addressed it to the wrong person? Save yourself from awkward apologies and backpedalling by quickly switching your phone to Airplane Mode. The message will fail to send and you can delete or edit it. Whew!
4. Winged Liner with a Spoon Create flawless winged liner by using a spoon as your guide. First, angle the end of the handle along the outside edge of your lower lashes and starting at the outer corner trace a line up towards your temple. Then angle the handle from the center of your top lash line to meet the end of your first line and trace. Voila! The perfect cat eyeliner stencil.
5. Bread Clip Cord Organizer No more searching through a tangle of wires to find out which one is attached to the device you’re trying to unplug. Use bread bag clips to neatly label your cords. If you really want to go for it and hack your life hack, you can make DIY bread clips out of a milk jug.
6. Cassette Case iPhone Stand Even when you swear you’ve gotten rid of every cassette from back in the day, one always turns up at the bottom of a box of junk or under the car seat. Don’t toss it! Open it backwards and use it as an iPhone stand.
7. A Glass of Water in the Microwave This one will really simplify your life. If you’re reheating leftover in the microwave, cover them with a damp paper towel or put a glass of water in with them. The extra bit of steam will help pizza stay crisp and keep rice or pasta from drying out.
8. Coffee Ice Cubes There’s nothing better than a delicious iced coffee in the summer and there’s nothing worse than only making it halfway through that delicious beverage before it becomes a less-than-appetizing coffee water. Freeze coffee in your ice cube tray for an iced coffee that stays coffee to the last drop.
9. Use a can opener to open impenetrable plastic packaging For anyone who’s been tempted to open those frustrating hermetically sealed plastic blister packs that office supplies and electronics come in by running them over with your car, there’s an easier, more practical solution. Use a manual can opener along the edges and it’s a snap.
10. Spaghetti Matches This life hack rules. If you’re out of extra-long matches and you need to light hard-to-reach candle wicks or burners, just light the end of a piece of uncooked spaghetti.
11. TV USB Port Gadget Charger These days most TVs have a USB port which means you can use them to charge your Smartphone, iPad or Tablet. This is especially handy for frequent travelers who forgot their chargers or need to charge more than one device at a time.
12. Dental Floss Cake Knife Avoid sloppy edges, wayward globs of icing and uneven slices by using a piece of untaxed, unflavored dental floss to cut cake layers and slices. It works with cheese too!
13. Up-Cycle Your Crib Before you know it your little baby is upgrading to a big kid’s bed. Don’t get rid of the crib, with a few tweaks it can be transformed into the perfect kiddie desk.
14. Vinegar & Baking Soda Drain Cleaner This eco-friendly life hack is an easy and effective way to unclog drains without harsh chemicals. Just pour a cup of baking soda, a cup of vinegar and 3-4 cups of boiling water down the drain and let it do its magic
15. Staple Remover Key Ring Helper Never break another nail trying to pry open a key ring. Use a staple remover to hold the sections apart while you easily slide keys on or off.
16. Fork & Screw Corkscrew If you’ve misplaced your corkscrew and you desperately need a nice glass of wine at the end of the day, don’t panic! Screw a long wood screw (with thick threads) into the cork, then slip the tines of a fork just under the screw head for leverage.
17. Rubber Band Paint Can Trick Save valuable clean up time on your next painting project. Slide a rubber band across the middle of the can and use it, instead of the edge, to wipe the excess paint off your brush. No more drippy cans!
18. Vinegar & Water Microwave Cleaner An easy nontoxic way to remove caked on goo from inside your microwave. Heat a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water in the microwave for two minutes and the mess wipes right off with no scrubbing.
19. Ketchup Bottle Pancakes Fill an empty plastic ketchup bottle with pancake batter to make perfectly sized pancakes with no messy drips on the counter and stove top.
20. Dishwashing Liquid to Unclog Toilets Here’s another eco-friendly life hack. To unclog a toilet pour a half cup of dishwashing liquid into the bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then slowly pour almost boiling water into the bowl. If it’s still clogged, try plunging a few times.