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6 Life Hacks for a New Year

Welcome to another brand new year. This season is ripe with reflection and resolutions. Everyone I know is eager to wipe the slate clean and begin again with renewed vigor. Gyms are packed. Calendars and planners are flying off the shelves. It seems like an opportune time to reinvent oneself. 

More often than not, a complete life overhaul is overkill. It may not take much to feel like your quality of life has gone up exponentially. If you’re like me, anything that makes your life easier—no matter how seemingly small or insignificant — is something worth looking into. So without further ado, here are a few little things that have helped me feel like my life is a bit more glam. 

Wake up to a soundtrack

As great as it is to be jolted into consciousness by the melodic sounds of your infant shrieking at 6 a.m., might I offer a better alternative? Pick a song—any song—and set your phone’s alarm to play it. You can’t go wrong here. Your song choice is bound to be better than whatever noxious beeping or ghastly ringtone it’s currently set to wake you up. If you need help, Business Insider published a post on how to pick the ideal wake up song. Its choices aren’t all for me, but I agree with the basic principles. You need music that builds, inspires positivity, and has a strong beat. My go-to’s are Queen & David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” “Downtown” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, or “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees, if I’m feeling particularly idyllic. You do you, boo boo. 

Set the alarm for a few minutes before the time your kid is supposed (ha!) to wake up and start your day off right. 

Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast

We all want the hair we don’t have. My hair is straight, thick, and fine. This means it’s heavy, there’s a ton of it, and it laughs in the face of curling irons. Volume and texture were the mythical unicorns I desperately sought but could never quite attain. Until now.

A friend of mine—whose luscious locks inspire major hair envy in me—told me about Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast. Long name, huge effects. It’s a light hold hair spray that magically injects texture and volume into my hair. It turns an average Tuesday into a red carpet situation, and I will be forever grateful.

Whenever I am able to literally let my hair down and free it from the regulation bun that military uniform standards mandate, this product helps free the femininity that is hiding under the fatigues and lets me feel like a real girl again. You just can’t put a price tag on that. 

Mobile Order

I usually make my own coffee at home and bring it to work. But every now and then, through some disastrous series of events, I leave the house without coffee in hand. There is one drive-thru Starbucks on my route to work, and it is always packed, both in the drive-thru line and inside. Usually, I don’t have the time to stop. This is sad because I work at a hospital, and everyone knows hospital coffee is basically just dirty water that may or may not be hot. 

On one such unfortunate morning, out of sheer desperation, I tried out the Mobile Order feature on the Starbucks app and, friends, no exaggeration—my life was changed. I ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich and paid using the app as I was pulling out of my driveway. Seven minutes later I pulled up to Starbucks, parked and walked in. Per the instructions in the app, I walked up to the counter—strolling past the long line of impatient patrons waiting to order their nectar of life—where a steaming hot cup of coffee and a warm artisan breakfast sandwich quite literally had my name on them. I grabbed them, hollered a thank you to everyone in particular then threw on my shades and walked back out the door, past several mouths agape and crestfallen faces. 

Never in all my days have I felt more like a bona fide rock star. Doesn’t take much, apparently.

Starbucks isn’t the only business to offer this type of VIP service. Chick-fil-A has a mobile order feature as well, so naturally I’ve tried it, too. I have experienced only a brief reduction in wait time using the Chick-fil-A Mobile Order, but on days when getting two children out of their carseats and into a busy Chick-fil-A feels equivalent to climbing Everest, it’s been a lifesaver. 

Robotic Vacuum

I was initially skeptical about a robotic vacuum. Sure, maybe it’s convenient, but I have standards, man. There’s no way this tiny discoid robot can clean as well as my upright vacuum and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. 

I stand corrected.

It does take the robot a bit longer to really get all the dirt and dog hair, but given the fact that I can, you know, do other things while my floor is being vacuumed, do I really care? The answer is no. Not even a little.  

In the months since my son was born, I have had the distinct and delighted pleasure of experiencing a little phenomenon I like to call the Simulnap. I speak of that rare occasion when both my children decide to sleep at the same time DURING THE DAY when I have things like energy and open eyes.

When your children give you the gift of the simultaneous sleep, you mustn’t waste it on things like laundry or cleaning. This sacred time must be reserved for luxuriating.

So I settle in on the couch, good book in hand and turn on the Roomba. Half the time I don’t even turn a page. Watching a robotic object do your work for you can suddenly turn into something that is genuinely impossible to tear your eyes away from. It is truly a miracle of modern science

Amazon Prime

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Amazon Prime. For an annual premium, you can get free 2-day shipping on thousands of things that were already great deals to begin with. Amazon used to be an online bookstore, but man, things have changed. One delightful feature of Amazon Prime is that it ships free to APO/FPO addresses. This enabled me to order everything from camp chairs and yoga mats, to shampoo and ink pens, and have it shipped free to me in Afghanistan while I was deployed. It usually only took about a week. Welcome to the future, friends.

Now that I am home, I am still ordering pens on Amazon. When I notice that we need something around my house, I check my work schedule and compare availability to shipping times. We need diaper ointment … soon. Will I make it to Target in the next two days? No? Amazon Prime it is. 

The low-key conservationist in me gets briefly bent out of shape by all the boxes and padding I’m left to dispose of after a shipment comes in, but recycling goes a long way to assuage my guilt. Plus, who doesn’t love mail? Even when it’s only diaper cream. 

Fresh Flowers

Of all the things I’m bad at, keeping plants alive tops the list. This is truly baffling to me. In my day job, with some strategically placed electrical current, I literally have the ability to make a human heart begin beating again. 

And yet, I have been directly responsible for the death of more basil plants than I care to count. 

Rather than resign myself to a home full of fake plastic greenery, I get fresh cut flowers from the grocery store every week. Their shelf life is about a week, give or take, so perfect timing. And when they die, you know it’s coming. The seasonal availability of different flowers has become something I have learned to count on; every May I look forward to peony season almost as much as I do Christmas in December. I find this guilt-free way of adding color and plant life to my home to be far superior to its dastardly alternative: feeling like a constant failure. 

So there you have it. These are six simple things that have helped me save time, add beauty and joy to my every day, and begin to feel like the leading lady of my own life. May they do the same for you.

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