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7 Life-Changing Ways To Upgrade Your Life This Month

A great recipe, the case for vacuuming daily, and more!

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1. Make yourself this quick pasta and chickpeas.

smittenkitchen.com

Guys, this recipe is SO GOOD. It's incredibly simple and inexpensive, comes together quickly/easily, feels fancy as hell, and is delicious. Several of my coworkers have tried it and agree — it's amazing.

A couple of tips from someone who has made it several times now:

• Cut/prep all your fresh ingredients before you start. (Don't worry, there are like...two.) Once you start making it, it moves very fast, and you won't really have time.

• If you have an electric kettle, use it to pre-boil the water and save a little time.

• Don't skip the finishing oil; that's where all the flavor is!

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2. Vacuum every single day. (Or, like, most days.)

slothilda.com

I tried this in November after it was suggested in Home Comforts. The author writes, "Vacuuming every day is best for your floors. I feel obliged to say this even though most people, myself included, are unable to do this." But I read that and was kind of like, Challenge accepted! I figured, I'd finally bought a vacuum that is easy to get out and put away; my apartment isn't that big; New York is a very dirty city; and I've noticed that clean floors have a major impact on how clean and nice a space feels. Anyway, after a month of doing it, I'm here to report that it's so worth it! It takes less than 10 minutes, and my apartment looks much better, especially my dark rug, which is the first thing I see when I get home. Also, the amount of dog hair I vacuum up every single day is...truly astonishing. Even if you don't have the bandwidth to vacuum your entire space every day, doing high-traffic areas a few times a week is a great start.

3. Delete any social media apps that aren't really serving you from your phone (or at least move them off your main screen) and replace them with a reading app or audiobook app.

youtube.com

Basically, whenever you pick up your phone out of habit, train yourself open the Kindle app instead of Facebook. Also if you need a book to read, I cannot recommend Gabrielle Union's memoir enough.

4. If you have a smart plug, use it for your Christmas tree.

behance.net / Via giphy.com

A smart plug ($29.97 on Amazon) allows you to put your tree on a timer and/or use your phone (or tell Alexa!) to turn the lights off so you don't have to, say, get your lazy butt out of bed to do it. I put my tree on a smart plug this week and I love it. (Also, both doing it and talking about it here makes me feel Dad AF.)

If you aren't on the smart plug train yet, you could put your Christmas tree on an inexpensive timer ($6.77 for a two-pack). Even if you don't have a tree, you could still use a smart plug or timer turn a lamp on at, say, 4:30 each day so you don't come home to total darkness.

5. Take the time to thoroughly dry your hands after you wash them.

cheezburger.com

This is so silly/obvious, but my doctor recommended it after I showed her how dry/scaly my hands were last winter. (Like...they've actually bled several times because they were so dry/cracked. Lotions and potion recommendations are welcome!!!) After she pointed it out, I realized I'd really been doing a half-ass job of drying my hands after I wash them, so I've been making a concerted effort to dry them completely. Also, it turns out that drying your hands is a big part of staving off colds and the flu.

6. Actually set out your outfit for the next day the night before.

Amazon

This one comes from my coworker Terri, who started doing it last month. She said, "When I was growing up, my mom would make me take out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed, and I hated it, because it was one more ~responsibility~ I certainly hadn't asked for. As soon as I left home, I said fuck that, and promptly began spending 20 minutes agonizing over outfits in the morning, making myself late for class and work on a regular basis. Adulthood! Recently, I realized my mom was onto something, and decided to pick out my outfits before going to sleep, and yup, I should've listened to her all along. Having one less decision to make in the morning means I can stay in bed for a little longer, which for me, is the ultimate goal of everything I do."

Another friend of mine recently started setting out her outfits for the entire week in advance. (She actually got a separate little clothing rack, similar to this $40 one from Amazon, where she hangs everything.) She told me, "It's not the cheapest, which I did on purpose. It's very sturdy and pretty and I like that you can hang things off the end. Also, laying out my clothes has changed my morning life, thank you and good day."

7. If you're throwing a party or hosting a holiday gathering for a group, get fancy ice.

Instagram: @thekittythecat

Last month, I interviewed national treasure Amy Sedaris and she gave me this tip: If you're having a party, go to a fish market and buy bags of crushed ice there — it's the Good Stuff.

Also, in my experience, nice ice is a really easy way to absolutely delight people at parties you're hosting. I got so many positive comments from friends when I filled an ice bucket with square cubes instead of standard cubes at a party I was having. (I did a mix of mini square cubes and standard-size square cubes.) IDK, guys...sometimes, it really is the little things that count.

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