Want to make 2020 your most relaxed year yet? Try some of our editor- and expert-tested hacks to keep things organized and effortless
Breeze Through Airport Security
Apply for TSA precheck, which allows you access to shorter security lines in the U.S. for $85 for five years. For $100, you can get TSA precheck and Global Entry, which expedites re-entry to the U.S. through customs.
Skip the Line at Customs
If you don’t want to pay a fee but still want to speed through customs, submit your passport and customs form via the Mobile Passport app. You can check in along with your travel companions at 27 airports and 4 cruise ports. (Basic service is free; for $15 you can store your info for multiple trips for a year.)
Reserve Parking In Advance
The free SpotHero app books spaces in garages throughout the country, often at a discounted hourly or daily rate.
Find a Gym Anywhere
The FlexIt app gets you access to thousands of gyms in the U.S. so you can keep up your workouts while you travel. Find a gym at your destination, check in, work out and pay by the minute. Rates vary by gym.
Book a Pet Sitter
Use Rover.com to find a local pet sitter. Book and pay through the website, which offers 24/7 support and verifies its sitters with background checks.
Stay Partially Packed
Keep your 3-oz. bag of travel-size toiletries full and pre-packed, as well as another constantly-stocked small bag for medications, tweezers, Band-Aids and anything else you like to have in your travel emergency kit. That way, you aren’t hunting for sundries while you’re trying to pack for a trip – just toss the bag in and you’re good to go.
Easily Change Your Name
Just married? HitchSwitch.com prepares the paperwork for your new passport, credit cards, bills and social security card. They send you everything in an organized folder and you just sign and mail! ($39-$99)
Fill Out Medical Forms Before Your Appointment
Ask your doctor’s office to email you forms in advance to shave off time in the waiting room—and you’ll both have a digital copy.
Avoid Long Wait Times on Customer Service Calls
According to talkdesk.com, 7 a.m. is the best time to call customer service at a large company, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call.
Make Meetings Shorter
To keep them from sucking time out of your work day, come prepared, stick to an agenda, and designate a specific beginning and end time. Don’t finish up? Set up a limited follow up meeting.
Never Forget Your Passwords
The Dashlane app generates strong passwords and automaticallly remembers them on all your devices. ($5/ month)
Get a Flu Shot!
It could save you days in bed and hours of playing catch up at work or school.
Find Out What’s Streaming Now
JustWatch is a free app that keeps track of new offerings on all streaming services. Search shows and movies, get updates on new releases and watch trailers.
Dry Your Hair Faster
After shampooing use a microfiber—not cotton—towel to quickly absorb water and reduce frizz.
Find Your Misplaced Phone or Keys
Bluetooth Tile trackers locate them by sound. The newest Tile Sticker is just an inch wide and has a 150-foot range. ($30 for two)
Deposit Checks on Your Phone
Most banks have apps that allow you to make deposits on your smartphone. Just snap a photo of the check and approve the amount.
Organize Even Your Toughest Cabinets
Put a rotating turntable in your pantry so you can easily reach items in the back without knocking everything over.
Go Green when You Clean
Use bulk, or from-concentrate cleaning solutions in a reusable glass spray bottle to reduce single-use plastic and make your supplies look pretty and uniform. Branch Basics, Blueland and Clean Cult are several companies that make this easier.
Embellish a Cake Mix
Replace the back-of-the-box ingredients with 1 pkg. instant pudding mix (either chocolate or vanilla), 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 4 eggs and 8 oz. sour cream . The result is a much richer cake.
Level Up a Store Bought Sauce
A few extra ingredients can make any jar of red sauce in your pantry really sing.
Bring Eggs To Room Temperature In a Hurry
If you forget to take eggs out of the fridge before you begin baking, place them in a bowl of warm tap water and let them sit for 5-10 minutes while you start mixing the other ingredients.
Plan a Meal in a Minute
Tell Siri or Alexa the ingredients you have on hand and ask for a list of recipes.
Whenever you buy a big pack of nuts, separate individual servings (about 1/3 cup) into ziptop bags or small tupperware containers. It will save you time when you’re looking for a quick snack on the go — and prevent you from over eating.
Buy Peeled Garlic
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will save you as much time in the kitchen as buying already-peeled cloves of garlic. It’s every chef’s little secret!
Style & Beauty Hacks
Keep It Sleek
Sleep with your hair in a scarf to prevent it from tangling and to make styling easier the following day.
After filing nails, give them a gentle buff to give your nailbed a nice shine. It’s polished (pun intended) enough that you don’t have to carve out time to get a proper mani or fix chips.
Two of a Kind
If you love something (a sweater, a pair of shoes, a style of jeans) buy it in two colors. It’ll make your options
Use the one-in-one-out method: for every new item you buy, get rid of something that you haven’t worn in a while. This will help clear out clutter and keep your closet filled with things you actually wear.
Keep all of your essentials — wallet, keys, phone, lip balm, etc — in a small leather pouch. Transfer the pouch between bags instead of having to move each individual item whenever you change bags.
In the Wash
Replace your single hamper with separate “lights” and “darks” bags in your laundry area and kids’ rooms to save sorting time later.
Make Thank-Yous Easy
Download an app that turns photos into postcards and mails them for you. Easily send snapshots to non-email-using older relatives, or take a quick pic of your child using and loving a new toy and share how much he or she loves it, ensuring a timely thank-you note that will delight the recipient.
When getting home after a day out, restock the diaper bag immediately, freshening up any depleted snacks, diapers, sippy cups, toys, etc. That way if you have to run out of the house quickly or unexpectedly another time, you’re set to go and don’t have to worry about running from room to room grabbing the essentials.
Streamline College Communication
When you start your kids’ college search, set up a new email account just for college info, SAT prep emails, etc. It will save you time finding the college correspondence—and also finding the other stuff you need that’s not college related!