As a busy person, small business owner, or freelancer, you may overlook life hacks in favor of organization or productivity tips specifically geared to your startup lifestyle. But cultivating streamlined organization at home is essential to maintaining a more productive workspace.
Life hacks show you how to organize every area of your life—from your kitchen cabinets to your kid’s play dates. These small DIY project, videos, and tips and tricks will help you develop strong habits that will make every moment of your day more manageable, whether you’re working, working out, or working it.
Besides, how beneficial is having a completely organized office if you’re coming home to a productivity disaster zone?
Using life hack tips to save time, money, and preserve your sanity will directly benefit your small business and give you the freedom to spend more hours each day doing exactly what you want to do.
House life hacks
1. Can’t tell one key from another? An easy solution is to use different brightly-colored nail polish hues to help you differentiate between the house key, the laundry key, and the garage key.
2. Got signs of damage on your wooden floor or furniture? A weird solution is to rub the offending area with walnuts. (Yes, walnuts. We don’t know why this works, but it works.)
3. To clean or wash your shower head, fill up a large plastic baggie with vinegar. Dunk the shower head into the baggie and secure it with a rubber band. Leave the baggie in place overnight and wake up to a grime-free shower head in the morning.
4. If you have small lost items such as an earring or a set of keys, find them quickly by placing the end of an old stocking over the bottom of your vacuum cleaner. The sucking force will draw the object to the vacuum, but the stocking will prevent it from being sucked in.
5. Get into the nooks and crannies of your home while cleaning by placing the top of an old condiment bottle onto the end of your vacuum attachment.
6. Tuck the end of the toilet paper into one end of the roll to prevent dogs, cats, and kids from unraveling it.
Home office life hacks
7. Resolve to touch paper only once—preferably when you stuff your documents into a Magic Envelope to get them digitized by Shoeboxed!
8. Use binder clips to keep various power cords untangled and easily accessible. Attach each clip to the edge of your desktop and insert the end of each cord through the clip’s silver loop. Voila! Instant access to all the power you need.
9. If you don’t have any twist ties, you can use hair clips (the kind with claws) to organize your earbuds and other longer cords. Twist the cord into a neat circle or “bun” and place the clip near where the cord ends.
10. Place office supplies into the pockets of a clear, hangable shoe rack. Your desk drawers will stay free of clutter, and you’ll be able to find exactly what you need with a single glance.
Techie life hacks
11. Make it a habit to ask yourself, “Is there an app for that?” (See “5 Apps for a Better Work-Life Balance.”)
12. Increase your online security by including non-English letters and characters in your passwords. Include tildes, umlauts, etc.!
13. Why buy expensive iPhone speakers when you can make your own? Cut a phone-sized slit in the top of an empty toilet paper roll. Stick four push pins into the bottom of the roll, and space them out along all four “corners” of the bottom area. The pins will serve as a stand, and the roll creates a reverberation area for the sound.
Crafting life hacks
14. Want to conjure your inner artist (or just your inner Martha Stewart)? Place a large rubber band lengthwise around a can of paint. This creates a band across the center of the can, which can be used to wipe the brush in between strokes. It will also prevent paint from dripping into the ring of the can and over the sides onto the floor. For a super quick spray paint hack, water down some paint and put it in a spray bottle.
15. Stop smashing your fingers with a hammer every time you hang a painting! A quick fix to protect your hands, use a clothespin to hold the nail in place while you pound.
16. Keep wrapping paper from unraveling by placing empty toilet paper rolls around the center of the wrapping paper.
17. If you don’t have a screwdriver handy, try using the plug from one of your electronic devices to screw and unscrew. Most North American plugs can double as flathead screwdrivers.
Style life hacks
18. Late for a meeting with no time to iron your shirt? Your hair straightener doubles as a collar and hem iron! Smooth out hard-to-straighten areas with the iron, and spray the rest of your shirt with Downy Wrinkle Spray to release any remaining crinkles.
19. Life hack tip for early mornings? No problem! When storing clothes in dresser drawers, fold each item, then turn the entire stack on its side. This way, you’ll be able to scan available choices, grab your outfit and go quickly! (This hack is very effective for those who tend to wake up half asleep.)
20. We all have that one pair of pants with a zipper that keeps losing its battle with gravity. Combat Open Fly Syndrome by looping a circular keyring through the end of the zipper. When you zip up, loop the key ring over the button of your fly. Voila! No more London, France, or unsightly underpants.
Foodie life hacks
21. Are you on an egg whites-only diet? While making breakfast in the morning, use an empty plastic water bottle to separate the yolk from the egg white. Place the opening of the bottle near the yolk, and squeeze gently. The release of air sucks the yolk directly into the bottle!
22. Why is it impossible to put a straw into a can of soda without it rising upwards? Keep your Diet Coke addiction in check by placing the straw through the tab on the can.
23. Forget those big, expensive candle lighters—to light a flame in hard-to-reach places, light the tip of a piece of uncooked spaghetti.
24. If you’re having a barbecue or dinner party, place condiments like tomatoes, onions, pickles, and ketchup in the reservoirs of a muffin sheet. You’ll save time doing dishes later and be able to pass and share your condiment platter easily.
25. Knives are so passé—when cutting cakes, soft bread, cheeses, and other desserts, use a long strand of dental floss. Be sure to get the scentless, flavorless kind unless you want your gouda to be fresh.
26. An easy fix to have enough kindling is to use flavored tortilla chips to roast the flames.
27. When reheating leftovers like pizza, place a glass of liquid in the microwave with your food. The moisture will prevent the pie crust from becoming rubbery and too chewy.
28. In the summer, fill your ice tray with coffee. Instead of ice cubes, use the frozen coffee for your iced latte so it won’t become watered down.
29. An easy way to get lemon juice is to roll the lemon first, then squeeze it. The rolling loosens and breaks down some of the fruit membranes making it easier to squeeze.
Travel life hacks
30. Late-night meetings with potential clients? Make sure your headlights are primed and ready to lead the way! Use toothpaste to clean off dirt and dust from your car’s lights—you’ll roll up to your meeting safe and sound, and your new clients will be impressed with your sparkling (minty fresh!) ride.
31. Feel free to leave your towel unattended at the beach—place your phone, keys, and money into a used, rinsed-out suntan lotion bottle.
32. Clean and wash out an old lip gloss or Chapstick tube and use it for a wallet! Roll up your cash and stick it inside. This is a great life hack to use while traveling on business. If the unthinkable happens and your wallet gets stolen, it’s highly unlikely the thieves will also go for your Chapstick! See also: How to Write off Travel Expenses: The Total Guide
33. Did you know that most TVs have USB ports? Hook up your phone charger or your laptop charger to charge your devices while you’re away on business.
Small business life hacks
34. Change your desktop wallpaper to something plain so you can actually, um, see where things are.
35. Set aside a few hours—an entire day if need be—and delete all of those old emails already!
36. Get systems in place for absolutely everything. When X happens, then Y occurs, every single time. That way, when you’re out sick, your assistant will be able to cover for you without a meltdown.
37. Get into the habit of dealing with emails in one of three ways: respond to them, archive them or delete them.
38. Stop work at the same time every day—you won’t believe how much faster you’ll get things done when you have a set length of time to work.
39. Encourage clients and customers to email instead of call you. This minimizes interruptions and allows you to deal with communications on your terms (and when you have time).
40. At the beginning of the day, make a list of must-do tasks and could-do tasks, and organize them in order of priority.
41. Scan each receipt as you get it, or toss it into the Shoeboxed Magic Envelope. This means no more losing your receipts, creating clutter, accordion file folders, or distracting stacks of paper! Take a look at how Shoeboxed works as a receipt scanner for business receipts.
See also: The Total Receipt Organization Guide
42. Create next month’s revenue goals and budget by viewing the account overview of your accounting software. This allows you to instantly see what your income and expenses were for the month, and create next month’s goals based on those numbers.
43. Outsource the things you suck at, including web design, marketing, accounting and tax preparation.
44. Hire a virtual assistant (VA) to take care of those items on your to-do list that have been sitting there for ages.
45. Fill your workspace with colors, textures, shapes, and images that inspire and energize you.
46. Check out the Shoeboxed archives for endless organizing hacks.
47. Go paperless by skipping print-outs and sharing files via Google Drive.
48. Assign tasks based on talent. Ask your assistants or employees what they feel their strengths are. If they’re doing work that they’re good at and enjoy, they’re much more likely to be consistent and successful.
49. Turn off pop-up and audio notifications on all of your applications and devices during the workday.
50. Only check email and social media accounts at predetermined times throughout the day.
51. Accept the inbox. When you leave your job, or retire, or kick the bucket, you’re going to leave unfinished business. You may not get it all done today or the next day; maybe you’ll never get it all done. Relax, and just do as much as you can.
52. Make YOU your top priority. Guess what comes before that important morning meeting, or even before meeting that killer deadline? Your yoga class, that’s what. Or your meditation hour. Or, um, eating lunch. What good are you to your startup if you’re starving and running on empty?
53. Remind yourself that there are no emergencies. Unless someone needs to call 911, whatever fire you’re putting out is not an emergency—especially if it belongs to someone else. No one is going to die if that email campaign doesn’t get sent out or a mistake was made on an invoice.
54. One of our favorite tips is simply this: you’re human! Remember that! Everyone makes mistakes, and the rest of the world understands when other people make mistakes. Think of how you react when a coworker or client drops the ball once in awhile. Do you write them off forever? Of course not. (And if you do, where do you work, at the offices of The Devil Wears Prada?). And it’s okay if you`re in trouble or stuck on something.
55. Breathe. “Take a deep breath” is perhaps the most tried and true method of calming someone down, and for good reason. This hack works! So inhale for a count of 5, exhale for a count of 8, and remember—it’ll all get done. Or it won’t. And either way, it’ll be just fine.
What are some productivity hacks for students?
1. Keep track of your expenses.
2. To stay awake, have a consistent sleep schedule.
3. Start making money.
4. Ensure your tasks are scheduled.
5. Learn a new hobby or skill.
6. Organize your room and store any personal belongings.
7. Make new friends.
8. Read more books.
9. Take a walk and explore different cultures.
10. Exercise regularly and eat healthily.
What are the best office life tips to improve productivity?
1. Pomodoro technique—Use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for short periods followed by short breaks. This helps you to stay focused and avoid feeling mentally tired.
2. Delegating—Learn to delegate tasks that other team members can do so you can focus on those you do best.
3. Two-minute rule—Try the two-minute rule by David Allen to establish a new habit that usually would not take more than two minutes to complete.
4. Time blocking—Apply the time blocking method, which is a way to manage your to-do list by assigning it a designated time block on your daily calendar. During each time block, you work on the assigned task or group of tasks.
5. Color coding—Utilize the color coding method to maximize your workday by categorizing different tasks according to their priorities, each assigned with a specific color.
What are some recommended productivity life hacks for small business owners?
1. Don’t be distracted by notifications.
2. Avoid shallow distractions, and concentrate on deep work.
3. Automate your work with software to free up your time.
4. Try working in a 90-minute interval, followed by a short break.
5. Get more tasks done using the Pomodoro technique.
6. Be selective when it comes to meetings.
Frequently asked questions
1. Always have meetings scheduled on a work calendar.
2. Set up notifications and alarms for your meetings.
3. Know how to use work email and your calendar to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues and clients.
4. Apply different productivity techniques to maximize your time, such as the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking, or the two-minute rule.
5. Start your day by finishing the most important task of the day.
6. Try to get mentorship from someone you admire.
7. Hire a virtual assistant if necessary.
8. Learn to be a good communicator.
9. Continue learning new skills and knowledge.
10. Utilize software to automate tasks as much as possible.
1. Ensure you have a good amount of sunlight in your home office.
2. Invest in a good work desk and chair.
3. Place your phone somewhere out of reach, preferably out of your office.
4. Maintain good home office hygiene.
5. Use noise-canceling headphones if you happen to work in a noisy environment.
6. Keep your home office for work only.
Bonus infographic: productivity tips for small business owners
Finding creative life hacks that work for you is one of the best ways to grow your small business. Being organized and productive at home and on the go leads to a more productive day.
By saving time, money, and stress using these tips, you’ll be able to increase your focus while at work. Lowered stress levels will mean increased energy at the office, leading to more clients, conversions, and revenue for you and your business.
We’ll close this article with a little anecdote: When Duran Duran was first starting out, life hack tricks were an essential aspect of their survival. When no one knew who they were, it was nearly impossible to get stage time in any of their hometown clubs. So John Taylor took a job as a bouncer at one of the clubs they wanted to perform in. Nick Rhodes took a gig deejaying at the same club. Instead of wasting their time approaching multiple club owners, recording and distributing demo tapes, and pounding the pavement with the odds against them, the band used various strategies to solve their problem in a subtle, creative way. After some time working at the club, they naturally began rehearsing there. And when a hole in the lineup appeared for that night’s set, who do you think the club owners asked to perform?
Life hacks are like little shortcut gems sent from the organization gods. They make your day easier, and they free up time to deal with unforeseen problems that inevitably arise. The example of Duran Duran shows us that sometimes the fastest way to achieve your goal is by doing something that, on the surface, may seem counterintuitive to your goal. After all, couldn’t the club owners have dismissed John and Nick as “just the bouncer” and “just the DJ,” respectively? It took guts to put themselves in a position that appeared to be a step in the opposite direction of where they wanted to go. It also took foresight to realize that disciplining rowdy clubgoers and spinning Brotherhood of Man records would actually pay off in the end.
One thing to know is that these tips don’t always have to go for the jugular. Approaching your organizational goals in a roundabout way can sometimes be the most direct route toward getting things done. Don’t be afraid to get fun, creative, and counter-intuitive. When it comes to organization, a little finesse and foresight go a long way—just look at Duran Duran! After 34 years, they’ve never officially disbanded. So plan ahead, and get organized to get organized. It’s time well spent, and it may just result in a recording contract and a decades-long music career. Either that or a more uncluttered inbox. Either way, you’ll feel like a rock star!
Originally published July 10, 2013. Updated on January 10, 2023.
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