Nine Nerdy Tips for Improving Your Life

Roll up your clothes when packing

I dedicate this to my father, who turns 66 today, for he has given me nerdy self-improvement tips much like these ever since I was a kid. (The only one I really retained was "wash your hands after using the bathroom".) I've since come across various little household tips throughout my nearly 34 years, some of which I have found useful enough to incorporate into my own daily routine. For those needing new ideas on how to add efficiency or comfort to their lives, here are nine sure-fire winners. They may make you look like a dork, but thank me later.

  1. Eat salads after the main course. The French came up with this. The idea is that eating leafy green roughage last helps you digest your food more easily. I can attest to this. Also, you don't have to worry about the salad getting cold while it sits there. So if you get a salad with your meal, push it off to the side and nibble on it once you're finished with your entree.
  2. Roll up your clothes when packing, instead of folding. I got this from my mom. It saves tons of space in your suitcase and also - provided you do it right - keeps your clothes from wrinkling as much.
  3. Put tennis balls in the dryer when drying pillows. Down pillows are really expensive to dry clean, and even that doesn't remove the inevitable yellowing that occurs over time (thanks to your sweaty, drooly head). However, you can machine wash feather and down pillows (with bleach if necessary) and tumble dry them with three clean tennis balls, which will "fluff" the pillows (or comforters, or jackets) very nicely and prevent the feathers from clumping.
  4. Put bar soap in your dresser drawers. It's nice to keep an unwrapped bar of fragrant soap with your clothes, to keep them smelling fresh until you need to use the soap for your shower (it is not advisable to put the used soap back in the dresser). Works for closets, too.
  5. Lift Chinese food out of the container, don't dump it out. Chinese food is super greasy. When you get take-out, it's best to use your spoon or your chopsticks to lift the food out, leaving much of the oil behind in the container. If you just dump it out into plates or bowls, you get all the fat as well.
  6. Use ACT instead of PLAX. Dental rinses do a lot to help you fight cavities, though not as much as flossing, which I hope you're all doing anyway. There are two main dental rinses on store shelves: PLAX is basically just mouthwash. It doesn't do your mouth any better than if you gargled with tap water. ACT actually has fluoride and will do its job. (This entry is not sponsored by ACT.)
  7. Rub your nose oil on your chapped lips. In a pinch, this works, if your lips are chapped and you don't have any Chapstick. The oil found naturally on your nose (and on your forehead) will actually help moisturize your lips. I don't think this tip is all that gross, but you still might want to do this away from people.
  8. Grunt loudly while lifting heavy objects. This trick comes from Japan. You may sound a little silly, but it makes it easier to do heavy lifting, or pushing, or whatever else that requires physical exertion. You hear professional weight lifters and even tennis players doing it all the time. It's not just showing off; somehow it truly does give your strength a boost.
  9. Use two toothbrushes. More oral hygiene. I admit, this one's too much even for me, but if you use two toothbrushes - one in the morning and one at night - then each toothbrush will last not twice as long, which would seem obvious, but several times longer than if you just used one brush all the time. The reason behind this is that, given a full day for the bristles to dry out, the brush won't wear out as quickly. Somebody want to be a guinea pig on this and get back to me?