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Getting Clean Done: Effortless House Cleaning For Busy People

Written by Brett McKay

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One of my reoccurring goals is to do a better job keeping our living area clean. But because my wife and I are so busy, house cleaning usually gets brushed to the side. Before we know it, the place is a pig pen. Keeping a clean working/living area helps keep stress down and productivity up. Here’s some tricks to help you maintain a clean house with little effort.

  1. Use a timer. You would be amazed how much you can get clean in five minutes. Make it a game. Pick a room, set the timer for 10 minutes, and try to finish cleaning it within the time period. Because you’ll probably running around more than usual, you might actually get a workout from doing this!
  2. Break up house cleaning throughout the week. Instead of doing all your cleaning on the same day, make the task less daunting by breaking it up throughout the week. Make one day bathroom day, another kitchen day, and another bedroom day.
  3. Nightly pickup. Set aside 15 minutes each night to go through the house and pick things up. Once you have everything together, start putting stuff away where it belongs.
  4. Clean as you go. Make cleaning a part of your daily routine so when big cleaning days come up they’re not as hard. For example, after getting ready in the morning take a minute to wipe down the bathroom counter, sinks, and shower. That two minute investment can save you 30 minutes on cleaning day.
  5. Put items where they belong. Develop a habit of putting stuff where it belongs instead of dropping it off in random places. Not only will this help maintain a clean home, it will save you time when you’re trying to find things. No more frantically searching for your car keys when you’re late.
  6. Declutter. Take a weekend to go through your house and declutter. Throw out stuff you don’t use. Less clutter, less to clean.
  7. Clean in between TV commercials. If you watch TV to wind down at night, whenever a commercial comes on, do some simple cleaning. For example, wipe down the kitchen, put things away, or even vacuum. Instead of watching commercials, you can get stuff done, and enjoy your favorite show.
  8. Establish a keep it clean plan. Real Simple has a page with a great plan that shows you how to clean each room in your home in less than 10 minutes. My wife and I are working on establishing this habit. We’re having a hard time, but we’ve noticed that we save lots of time whenever we keep to the plan.

The Five Absolutely Worst Times To Go Grocery Shopping

Written by Brett McKay

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I’m not a big fan of going to the grocery store, especially when it’s packed with people. Not only do you have to deal with too many carts in the aisles, the waits at the check seem to last an eternity. If you want to avoid the crowd, don’t go shopping at these times:

  • Weekends. It seems like Sunday is the busiest of the two days.
  • Weekday afternoons between 4 and 7PM. This is when the on the way home from work crowd packs it in.
  • During or just before a holiday weekend like Fourth of July and Memorial Day. If you wait this long you’ll have to deal with all the grillers getting ready for the big cookout.
  • The day the weatherman predicts a big winter/rain storm to come in. People will ransack the grocery store to stock up on supplies. Not only will the grocery store be packed, everything will probably be gone
  • The afternoon before a holiday. Make sure to buy your Thanksgiving or Christmas Turkey at least a week in advance. You’ll avoid the crowds.

Are there any other times you try to avoid grocery shopping? Drop me a line and add to the conversation.

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[tags]food, grocery shopping, The Frugal Law Student, frugal[/tags]

Do You Suffer From Digital Pack Rat-itis? Here’s Your Prescription.

Written by Brett McKay

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Talk of the Nation had an interesting segment yesterday about pack rats. Neal Conan interviewed Mark McCluskey, products editor at Wired magazine, about how hoarding has gone digital.

Unlike analog pack rats who love collecting things, digital pack rats love collecting content. Analog pack rats love the tactile experience of holding an old vinyl album or smelling an old book. Analog pack rats generally don’t even listen to the records or read the books that they hold on to. Digital pack rats on the other hand love collecting information. They like knowing that somewhere in their computer or external hard drive lies a golden nugget of information.

I know I’m guilty of both, but more so with digital hoarding. I have emails from three years ago still on my account. I know I’ll never read them, but I just don’t have the heart to delete them. It’s like my little collection of letters tied with a digital bow that I keep in my digital attic. Instead of old drawings from kindergarten, my computer is overflowing with undergrad papers that I wrote years ago. I have no desire to read my research paper on the philosophy of language, but I don’t want to delete it.

However, analog and digital hoarding can cost people time and money. Important things or information can get lost in the clutter of stuff that you hold on to. That bill that was due yesterday is probably lost in the huge piles of paper sitting on your desk. My computer is starting to slow down because of all the crap that’s on it.

GTD: Just What the Dr. Ordered

My prescription to you is buying a copy Getting Things Done by David Allen. GTD will help you eliminate clutter and focus on the important things in your life. Below is a short list of resources about GTD and decluttering that I have used to cure myself of pack rat-itis.

Warning: Take productivity in moderation

In your quest to heal yourself of pack rat-itis, don’t replace your obsession with collecting “stuff” with an obsession of productivity. My own experience has shown me that one can get so obsessed with GTD and life hacks that you end up less productive than before. If you take productivity in moderation and you should be alright.

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[tags] GTD, life hack, productivity, NPR, Zen Habits[/tags]

Iron Your Shirt Like a Pro

Written by Brett McKay

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You’re set for a big interview with law job of your dreams. You have the suit and your belt matches your shoes. However, you have a wrinkly shirt. Don’t think you can hide the fact that your shirt is wrinkly by putting your suit coat over it. People can tell you have a wrinkly shirt on, which means the person interviewing you can tell that you have a wrinkly shirt on. In interviews, details matter. If you want the job, you better look like you have your act together, which includes a well pressed dress shirt.

The Iron Prep

  • Set the iron temperature. For all cotton fabrics, set the temperature for high; lower for part (or all) synthetics. High temperatures can melt synthetics. You don’t want a melting shirt in addition to a wrinkly one.
  • Iron on a padded surface. It makes ironing easier.
  • Dampen the shirt. The key to good ironing is to have a slightly damp shirt. Take the shirt out of the dryer before it completely dries. If the shirt is already dry, spray a down with some water until slightly damp.

The Iron Plan

Don’t just iron randomly. It’s less efficient and less effective. Follow these 7 steps for ironing nirvana:

  1. Collar. Lay it flat, wrong side up, pressing from the points towards the center. Then press it on the right side.
  2. Yoke: The yoke is the panel that covers the shoulders. Lay it over the widest part of the ironing board to do the job.
  3. Cuffs: Iron the insides, then the outside.
  4. Sleeves: Smooth the sleeve flat with your palm and iron it, then flip it over and do the other side. Then do the other sleeve. Use the seams as a guide on how to flatten it.
  5. Back: Lay it on the wide part of the ironing board, too.
  6. Front panels: Start with the pocket, then do the panels. The little grooves on your iron help you press around buttons.
  7. Retouch: Retouch the collar and cuffs if they need it

The Iron Finish

Hang the shirt on a hanger. Don’t put it in your closet until it’s cool or it will just get wrinkly again.

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[tags]homemaking, clothing, ironing[/tags]

Google Talk as GTD Capture System

Written by Brett McKay

There’s this guy that I sit behind in property class that is always doing something else on his laptop instead of listening to the professor. For the past few week’s I’ve noticed him typing stuff into a little box in the bottom of his screen. At first I thought he was using an idea capture tool like GyroQ to capture his ideas. Instant productivity envy and fear that this guy was going to set the curve on the exam filled my soul. But then I got a closer look. The guy is really just chatting on Google Talk. The envy and fear left, but an idea was born. Google Talk GTD Capture System.

Here’s how it works.

First, create a “dummy” account with Google. This is the account you will be “chatting” with.

Second, Send messages to yourself on Google Talk when you have an idea. That’s it.

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The really handy part is what happens to those messages after you send them. All chat sessions on Google Talk are saved in your Gmail account under “Chats.” This has three very powerful advantages to other idea capture tools.

  • First, your notes are filed in chronological order, so doing daily and weekly reviews won’t require remembering when you wrote that note. The date is already there and filed accordingly.

Second, you can add categories to your chat sessions to yourself. Thus, you have the ability to easily add contexts to your notes. If you have GTDGMail

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  • Finally, you have the power of Gmail’s search feature at your disposal. Need all your notes on that trip to Rome you’re planning? Type in “trip” or “Rome” or whatever and let Gmail retrieve your notes. It’s like having a reference file without having to really file anything.

I’ve just started to use this system and have been really happy with it. I’ve been looking for a good computer based capture system, but have not been happy with the plethora of digital scratch pads or sticky notes that are out there. Sure, they’re handy for writing an idea down, but organizing them was a pain. Now I have Google to do that for me. I love you Google.

Free Law School MP3s

Written by Brett McKay

Over at Top Law Student, there’s a great post about downloading free podcasts from CALI Radio. He gives several links to podcasts dealing with preparing for final exams. (My favorite was tips for multiple choice questions.) Not only do these mp3s offer great advice, they’re free.

Additionally, if you’re interested in listening to Sum and Substance or Law School Legends as part of your exam preparation, don’t fork over $60 to buy them. Most law school libraries should have these disks on reserve. Check them out and rip them to your Mp3 player. I was kind of leery of doing so because of copyright infringement, but my librarian said it was cool. Again, great review at no cost.

If you’re pressed for time and want to speed up the pace of listening to your Mp3s, Lifehacker has a great post on how to speed up Mp3s using Audacity configured with my . It took me while getting things figured out with my Ipod, but I condensed an entire Civ Pro Lecture to half the original amount of time. What’s great about it is that the tone doesn’t change, so it doesn’t sound like you’re listening to a chipmunk.