Lockdown: a testing time for all, kind of like being held in our own private open prisons (although if you’re anything like me, the food isn’t as good as prison). But also, lockdown: a chance to take stock of our lives, our homes, how we manage the day-to-day trivialities of life, and how we might make improvements, increase efficiency, tidiness, space, etc. You’ve no doubt seen a gazillion life hacks before, maybe even some of those listed below, but hopefully there will be something of use to you.
Agreed, these suggestions aren’t exactly going to overhaul our lives and turn us into millionaires/movie stars/Nobel Prize winners/Celine Dion (I’m not sure what people’s goals are anymore, my brain seems to be on holiday – but yep, Celine Dion’s my one), but they might just provide some small element of joy or satisfaction, and these days that’s not nothing.
So, here follows, a list of life hacks: partly because they’re useful titbits to help us, partly because “Lockdown Life Hacks” provides a nice alliterative title, and partly because, well, what the hell else are we going to write about, nothing’s happening!!? I mean… err… enjoy!
- Drink wine out of a mug on Zoom chats, to maintain that air of professionalism which you know has long-since gone out the window.
- Don’t panic if there’s a second wave of loo roll shortages, just ensure you’ve got a couple of kitchen rolls in the cupboard and you’ll be dandy. Not only does half a sheet of kitchen roll work as an absorbent alternative to the more traditional loo roll, but it also gives your back garden a swift exfoliation for free.
- Without wishing to actively bring on such a second wave, there are many ways to make use of spent loo rolls (ok, two). Cut one open along its length and use it as a cuff around your wrapping paper to stop it unfurling. Or, an oldie but a goodie, you can use a number of them in a drawer or box to keep wires and cords from tangling: a dozen upright loo rolls means a dozen times you can find your charger without hurling something out the window in a barrage of rage. (Maybe I just need some anger management).
- Butter too hard to spread on your soft warm toast? Well, tough, you should’ve got it out the fridge earlier! What I mean is, if that’s the case, there’s an easy fix: get the grater out and grate some butter across your toast – hey presto, it spreads like a charm.
- In this time of DIY and home improvement, I can’t be the only person finally getting round to hanging up paintings. To make getting that nail in the right place easier, and avoid suffering from DIYer’s Thumb (aka Moronic Hammerer’s Thumb, Big Fat Thumb and Sod the Painting, What’s Wrong with Bare Walls Thumb), hold your nail in place with a clothes-peg until it’s been knocked firmly into the wall.
- In all these life hacks there’s always a good tip to help you avoid losing your luggage at the airport. Well, to trump all of those suggestions, why not be in the midst of a global pandemic that forbids any travel – problem solved, your luggage will remain safely at the back of the cupboard, precisely where you know it is, allowing you to rest easy.
- With all the baking we’re currently doing in lockdown, and flour and egg flying everywhere, keep your recipe book clean, out of the way, and easy to read at eye level by using an old trousers hanger.
- Desperate for an ice-cold beer but forgot to put one in the fridge? Wrap a wet paper towel round one and pop in the freezer to get it to optimum temp in record time.
- Give your old muffin tin a new lease of life, by using it as a dips and condiments tray for a lockdown barbeque. Ketchup, mustard, mayo (I guess you know what condiments are), guacamole, humus, taramasalata, there’s room for them all. It’s a party on a plate (well, gloopy liquids on a tray, but you get the idea).
- Speaking of barbeques – if you’re struggling to get your coals lit, and can’t find any firelighters at the back of your shed, Doritos make an excellent substitute kindling to get things going. And burning them also has the added bonus of meaning you don’t have to eat them, the weird little triangles of synthetic flavour-dust.
- Turn up the volume on your smart phone by putting it in a glass. Particularly useful when using the phone as an alarm if you’re a heavy sleeper/lazy bastard (I speak from experience). Needless to say, don’t use a glass identical to the glass of water you might have by your bed, or you’ll be one poor sitcom joke away from starting the day badly.
- Got a Zoom interview, and can’t be bothered to iron your whole shirt because they’re not going to see it? “Hair straighteners” are essentially “shirt collar ironing tweezers” (they just got rebranded as hair straighteners cos it sounded better).
- Put off from using your blender cos it’s such a ball-ache to wash up? Not anymore. To wash, simply squeeze some washing up liquid in, add some hot water, blend, rinse, done.
- Save dripping meltwater left by icepacks: wet a sponge and put it in a sealed freezer bag, and freeze.
- Don’t worry about staining the carpet when you spill red wine. Forget about pouring white wine or rice on it, they’re old wives’ tales. Simply get the red wine, and drink the rest of it, you’ll soon forget all about the stain.
- Make it harder for scumbags to guess your passwords to accounts, by using an acceñted létter or twŏ.
- Spend lockdown wearing old clothes you don’t normally wear. You’ll either rediscover the reason you bought them and start wearing them again, or decide they’re not for you and you can donate them to someone else. Win-win, you either get a refreshed wardrobe or more space.
- And finally, if like me, you can’t find a face mask anywhere and you can’t sew, here’s an easy way of making one that requires a sock, a pair of scissors and nothing more. Get your sock, cut off half the foot piece, so you’re left with a dog-legged tube, the heel part in the middle. Cut the tube open along the length of the inside bend. Make an incision about 2cm from both ends, cutting from the outside bend about 3cm across the tube. Now, when unfolded, you should have an approximate rectangle which fits over your mouth and nose thanks to the heel, and with a loop at both ends to put behind your ears.
My inelegant description makes that sound far more complicated than it is, so I refer you to the ingenious Belgian woman who posted how to do it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfh9mjrdcVE