30 Little Chores You’ll Be Glad You Did a Year from Now
Spend five minutes now and save hours of hassle and frustration later. Hint: One of these “chores” could get you to a beach.
Check your pantry before shopping
“Many people do not check their kitchen cabinets or fridge before grocery shopping and end up buying multiples of the same things over and over because they can’t remember if they have enough. It takes only a few minutes to check to see what you need to restock or may be out of, but it will save you money (and cleaning) throughout the year.” —Anna Bauer, owner of Sorted by Anna and Thumbtack Top pro
Take things all the way out
“You may be good at putting things in bags or piles to return, exchange, donate, or toss—but do you actually take those things all the way out of your house to their intended destination? Once you’ve decided something needs to leave, get it one step closer to its next home (whether that’s the trash can or the car) and clear up space instantly. It’s easier to take a handful out with you each time you go than to spend hours and make a giant trip once a year. It also means you can drop things off as you pass the store. If it’s already in the car, it’s a quick stop on the way home—not a day full of errands on your one day free during the week.” — Amy Trager, Certified Professional Organizer
Read emails only once
“Too often, people read emails but opt not to respond, sometimes for months! To prevent this, react to emails right as you read them instead of marking them as ‘unread’ and saving them for a later date. Delete any spam or advertisements that are not of interest to you and flag those that are. Reply to any emails with deadlines, even if you don’t know the answer yet. For example, ‘Thanks for your email. I’ll review your request within the week and get back to you. Please feel free to follow up with me if you haven’t heard from me by then. Thanks!’ Then, mark deliverables and dates in your paper or electronic calendar. This will save you time and frustration down the road, not to mention embarrassment when your colleagues wonder why you’ve not answered them.” —Amy Cooper Hakim, PhD, industrial-organizational psychology practitioner and workplace expert
Flush out your water heater
Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock
“The water heater accounts for a whopping 12 percent of your electric bill. Addressing your water heater can save you time and money, not to mention help the environment. Simply flushing sediment from your older system offers an efficiency boost. If you can afford to upgrade tankless ‘on-demand’ systems don’t store water, offering savings up to 30 percent.” —Glenn Gallas, vice president of operations of Mr.Rooter Plumbing. These are 10 vital home maintenance tasks that could cost you thousands if you skip them.
Take care of yourself
“Self-care often ends up on the bottom of our to-do lists but it should really come first. Before you do anything for anyone else (unless you have very small children) take time to exercise, eat breakfast, and attend to personal hygiene. Over time this becomes a habit and will build self-esteem, improve health, and save you so much time and money in countless ways. Self-care also sets the stage for the rest of the activities of the day to be done with intention, attention, and greater purpose.” —Michele Barton, PhD, Director of Clinical Health at Psychology Life Well
Change out your air filters
“Leaving your air conditioning and furnace filters in place for a longer time than recommended can cause them to accumulate dirt, which restricts air flow and leads to the use of more energy and time to clean them. Keeping your filters clean and working properly can reduce energy costs by about 5 percent. Take the five minutes to change the filter every two to three months to improve efficiency and ensure savings.” —Richard Ciresi, owner of Aire Serv in Louisville, Kentucky. Here are 16 more things smart homeowners do every year.
Schedule a yearly doctor visit
“Many people take an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to their health, but preventative health care is one of the best things you can do for your own health. A yearly exam is about so much more than blood pressure or cholesterol. For me it’s also about the conversation, the discussion, because so much comes out. I hear about substance abuse, depression, pain during sex, domestic violence, and other things that are incredibly important to a person’s health that they wouldn’t make an appointment to talk about otherwise.” —Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. Just avoid these 10 things you should never do before a doctor’s appointment.
Learn how to cook easy dinners
“I cannot count the number of hours I spend trying to convince clients that they are capable and have the tools they need to prepare food for themselves in a healthy and functional fashion. So many people waste time and money waiting on lines for food. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they end up standing in line or waiting for deliveries of food that is more expensive and less healthful than simple dishes they could make themselves.” —Dr. Barton. Here’s how to get dinner on the table faster than it takes to get delivery.
Make a chore chart for your kids
“Getting everyone in the family involved in chores can really help pull your family together as a team. But it can sometimes feel hard to get the kids involved because it feels like nagging. Creating a chore chart system can help take the burden off. Sit down in a family meeting and brainstorm a list of chores that need to be done around the house. Set up a whiteboard and write each child’s name on the board. Post a list under each child’s name and then switch up the chore lists each week—that helps keep kids from dreading chores because they change each week.” —Tonya Dalton, productivity expert, owner of inkWELL Press and the host of Productivity Paradox podcast. Need ideas? Here are 12 chores children should do by themselves.
Create a set of outfits
“Save precious time in the mornings by taking time to create a week’s worth of full outfits. Hang the clothes together in your closet and complete the look by putting accessories in a small bag on one of the hangers. That way you’ll be able to ‘grab and go’ instead of wasting time struggling to find something to wear. Once you’ve established a good outfit, keep it together. And don’t forget to check your calendar for upcoming special events.” —Jamie Novak, expert organizer and author of Keep This, Toss That