6 Small, Random Efforts That Pay Off Big at Home

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There is no such thing as effortless perfection — it takes a lot of work to stay happy and healthy at home. Which means we are all looking for small acts whose rewards are favorably disproportionate to the work involved. They don’t have to be major tasks and grand, noble goals— just little habits whose benefits compound exponentially. Here are six small things to do today:

  1. Back Up Your Computer: This is one of those tasks that gets put off time and time again. But, if you’ve ever lost data, you know what a pain in the ass it is, and the hours of work that are lost as a result. Backing up your computer to an external hard drive is one of the easiest technological things in this world to do, and will save you so much heartache when your first novel, or next week's presentation, suddenly disappears from your desktop.
  2. Get Off Mailing Lists: Nothing is more depressing to me than piles of unwanted mail. It’s incredible wasteful, annoying and did I mention wasteful and annoying? Don’t get me started on Restoration Hardware catalogs. Take a few minutes and cut off junk mail at the source, and stem the glut of useless paper and envelopes coming through your mail slot every day.
  3. Open Your Windows: When is the last time you opened your curtains or blinds, cracked open your windows and let some natural light and breeze in? This simple thing can really help on so many levels: it circulates the air in your home, boosts your mood, and — if it’s not too hot out — saves money on air conditioning.
  4. Set Up Your Outbox: This is a core part of our January Cure process, with good reason. Designating a place for things on the way out of your house (for donation, yard sale, etc…) is key to staying on top of clutter. It just takes a second to throw something in, and you can empty the box later when it gets full. I use this system throughout the year (under a table in my laundry room) and it completely works for my household.
  5. Bank Online: What is this, 2002? If you are still cranking out bills and writing checks by hand, it’s time. Take an hour or so and set up all your online billing and automated payments. Your free time will open up like a Nebraska prairie. It won’t absolve you of the responsibility of checking accounts and doing taxes, but it makes the process so much easier and faster.
  6. Sharpen Your Knives: I hate chopping food, probably because my dull knives make the process more difficult. If you keep your tools sharp and at the ready, you’re more apt to enjoy cooking, save money, and be healthier by eating more at home. If you’ve never done it, head on over to The Kitchn for the tutorial on how to properly sharpen your knives. You can also send them out to be sharpened by mail.

(Image credits: Kim Lucian)

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When Dabney's not writing around here, she's digging through other people's attics for fun and interesting stuff, or running around with her bloodhound Friday. Originally from the East Coast, she's still shocked to find herself living in Missouri.