10 Really Minor Life Pro Tips You Won’t Read About Anywhere Else


1. Use fresh milk for your second bowl of cereal

When I eat cereal for breakfast, after I’m done eating, I invariably wind up with almost half a bowl of leftover milk. The obvious solution is to pour in some more cereal, which always worked for me, seeing as how one bowl never really satisfies my morning hunger. But why is that second bowl never as good as the first?

It’s because that leftover milk has already been used. It’s not cold out of the fridge anymore. And if you’re eating a sugary cereal like Cap’n Crunch or Waffle Crisp, that first serving of milk is going to be overly sweetened. The result will be a second bowl that leaves you questioning why you chose cereal in the first place. Just add a little bit more cold milk to your second bowl, just enough to cut through the warm, overly-sweetened older milk.

2. Start paying your bills

I kept getting all of these collection notices and harassing phone calls. The envelopes always said “Past Due!” and the messages on my voicemail warned me about destroying my credit score. And it was all true, the bills just kept piling up, my credit score kept sinking.

And then one day I went online and paid some of my bills. I kept paying them and eventually they turned my cell phone back on. Now that I have service, the threatening phone calls are getting fewer and farther in between. So just pay your bills, and keep paying them.

3. Unroll your socks before you put them in the washing machine

For years I would scratch my head in confusion, wondering why my socks always came out of the washer and dryer still wet. Worse, by the time I got around to folding my laundry, the wet socks would have been sitting there sometimes for days, totally defeating the purpose of washing them in the first place. None of my other clothing seemed to suffer from this dampening. It was just the socks.

And then one day I made the connection: when I take my socks off at the end of the day, they always wound up rolled into a ball. Maybe it’s the elastic in the socks, or perhaps it’s the way in which I scrunch them up and throw them into my laundry hamper. I don’t understand the specifics. But what I do know is, if I can take the time to unroll my socks before I run them through my machines, they’ll come out nice and dry.

4. Brush your teeth

I used to think that people who spent money on toothbrushes and toothpaste were the dumbest of the dumb. Come on, those fossilized Neanderthal skeletons always have teeth, and they probably didn’t have toothbrushes and toothpaste. But everyone kept complaining about my bad breath and lack or oral hygiene.

Finally one day I went to the dentist because of a toothache. He told me, “Rob, you really need to start brushing your teeth.” He even gave me a free toothbrush. I thought, OK, I’ll give it a shot. And you know what? It worked. My teeth actually feel pretty great now.

5. Say happy birthday to your friends on Facebook

I’m talking all of your Facebook friends. Even if you haven’t seen or talked to someone in years, it takes little-to-no effort to click on that birthday present icon and type out “Happy Birthday!” You don’t have to come up with anything clever or funny. That’s all you have to write, just happy birthday.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but so many times when Facebook notifies me of birthdays, there’s that hesitation, like should I? Should I go out of my way? Trust me, you’re not going out of your way. Just do it. It’s probably the singular positive innovation that Facebook has introduced into modern life: the ability to wish people a happy birthday. And if you can’t wish someone a happy birthday, why are you even Facebook friends? You’re probably long overdue for a friends-cleanse.

6. Say happy birthday to your mom on her birthday

If it’s your mom’s birthday, call her up and wish her a happy birthday. Yes, you can still wish her a happy birthday on Facebook, but when you’re dealing with your mom, you’re going to have to take that extra step and actually give her a call.

And do your best to make sure it’s on her actual birthday. My mom’s birthday is in February, but one time I called her up in March, and it was just a really awkward phone call. I felt like such a disappointment. I told her that, I said, “Mom, I feel like I must be such a disappointment.” And I wanted her to say something like, “No, Rob, I understand, you’re a busy guy, you’re not a disappointment.” But she didn’t say anything.

7. Use more salt when you cook

So many people get discouraged when their home cooking turns out bland and uninspired. It causes a lot of performance anxiety in the kitchen and, left unchecked, this lack of culinary confidence eventually leads to bad habits, weeks upon end eating nothing but takeout or delivery. In my experience, the single most destructive factor inhibiting home cooks is the inability to properly add salt. For whatever reason, people are scared of salt. Maybe it’s because “low sodium” products are advertised as a healthy alternative to regular food.

I don’t know why, but salt is seen as a vice. Do you find your cooking boring? Add more salt. Still boring? Try adding a little more. Trust me, you’ll know it when you over-salt. And if you’re still worried about too much salt in your diet, just remember that all the salt you use in your home adds up to only a tiny fraction of your sodium intake. Basically everything you consume outside of the house is loaded with salt.

8. Use a lot less nutmeg when you cook

I don’t want to be the guy that stands in the way of your culinary creativity, but nutmeg has a very strong flavor, and you don’t really see it used too much in dishes like chicken parm or huevos rancheros.

Again, do whatever you want, but just try maybe not using nutmeg once in a while. You might be surprised. Like that turkey sandwich you made me for lunch last week, I promise you it didn’t need nutmeg.

9. Buy a butter dish, and keep your butter out of the fridge

This might seem like a radical idea, but you shouldn’t keep your butter in the fridge. It’s too cold in the fridge, and your butter winds up rock hard. What’s rock hard butter good for? Nothing. You ever try spreading chilled butter on a piece of toast? You wind up ruining the toast. For years, I refused to make toast, not knowing that there existed a better way.

Just buy a butter dish, and leave it out. It won’t go bad, I promise. “But Rob!” I can hear you whining, “It says to keep it refrigerated on the box!” I don’t know what to tell you except, that’s not true. It’s probably some alarmist insurance policy butter companies use just in case they ever get sued by someone claiming food poisoning. Trust me, once you get used to the idea of soft, spreadable butter at your disposal, you’ll probably want to throw out your fridge.

10. Just because you have soft butter doesn’t mean you have to use it on everything

OK, you know what? Put the butter back in the fridge. When I told you about the soft butter, I didn’t anticipate how much more butter you’d be using. Toast? Fine. Pancakes? All right. But bananas? Pizza? Man, some things don’t need to be buttered.

How many sticks of butter would you say you go through in a day? Really? OK, that’s too much butter. Maybe try one of those healthy imitation-butter substitutes? Just lay off the butter for a while, just … just go see a doctor man, there’s something unhealthy going on here.