Open Thread

Open Thread Update: What’s Made Your Life Easier?

Last time the column aired a few techniques that made life easier – an appropriate topic for Senior Citizens month!  In “Your Turn” readers stepped up and submitted their tricks, tips and even new ways of thinking, that made life easier.


For jars that seem to get tighter and tighter, the answer is nutcrackers, according to Lucy L., Patrice and Madolyn.

My poor nutcracker hasn’t seen a nut for years, but it is oh so handy!


…and we really like Conceição B‘s comment – all the way from Portugal! – about her wonderful use for nutcrackers, especially around New Year’s Eve! Look for it!


Another popular technique is to rely on Alexa, which got votes from Margaret, Mariellen, Carol,  and Martha:

I love my Alexa , also.. she reminds me of a lot of things throughout the day. She translates for me .She answers all my questions


…and Reader Robert Ettinger not only uses Alexa to stay organized…he manages to get a few laughs out of it as well.


Several readers found serenity in ending clutter, led by reader Jan…

I have a minimalist wardrobe. I gave away half my mom’s good china. I have 6 place settings. I use older, but still good cut-in-half towels for dusting, drying the sink, etc.


..and the comments by Reader Yvonne S., Carol B., Connie G.,  are a treasure chest of sensible tips to end clutter.

For one reader, after some personal challenges, she realized the key to an easier life is reorient your thinking and stop being a perfectionist.

My philosophy is “do things at, eh, maybe 80%.” That’s good enough.

Claire G.

Your Turn

There are many other smart tips for making life easier from Readers Jeanette S., Mary Claude, Darlene,  Madeline C., and Margaret – make sure you read them all! Try ’em out and report back on how they worked for you….or add your own tips to the list!


Original column below: 

I was thinking, for the hundredth time, about how annoying it was to wrestle to open a bottle. (Doesn’t it seem like everything has a child-proof cap these days?  Even Mayonnaise?) It wasn’t until I moved a wrench from the tool drawer to the kitchen cabinet that I solved the problem.  That got me thinking about the other small changes or additions I made that made my life easier.

Organization.  I love bins and boxes, shelves and stackers.  My life got much less noise and distraction when I decided not to rely on junk drawers and precariously balancing things on top of each other.

Batteries.  I overbuy and stash them in a separate box (see previous item!).  I never have to worry about my hearing aids, my flashlights, or some of my appliances because I always have batteries. Ditto TP, and dishsoap.

Laundry Service. I send out my laundry to the laundromat.  My dream is to someday own a washer and dryer, but until then, Nancy on York Avenue has me covered and it’s bliss.

Timers.  I can sit down and write, or read something and look up and it’s dark outside!  I use timers set in 15 minute increments.  It’s really helpful to keep me focused and to waste less time. Plus it’s a reminder to walk around for a bit.

But that’s me. What discoveries or hacks or habits or tools make life easier for you – either saving time, or money or stress or all three? Share your secrets in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to


29 responses to “Open Thread Update: What’s Made Your Life Easier?

  1. -Stop thinking “this is a tip for seniors”. Change thinking to “this is a tip for anyone”.
    – Ask for help. Especially from ten year olds. They simplify and teach me another way to do something without shaming.
    -Break up tasks -goal to clean outside of three cupboards a day versus get all finished in one day.
    -Have a sense of humor, laugh!

  2. My best helper since my hearing got bad is an alarm clock that shakes the bed while it simultaneously makes a sound I can hear when it’s time to get up. I think it’s called an Atomic Clock. A blind and deaf friend told me about it. I was able to set it up myself; a lifesaver.

  3. Another magical way to open bottles with smallish lids is to use the strip of rubber that they use in hospitals to cinch your arm to take a blood sample. The ones they use here are 1″ blue bands.
    Also Lee Valley Hardware has a metal gadget called…..jar opener. It’s around $15. It’s great for spaghetti jars and such. Odd looking thing but it really works, releasing the pressure and the lid just turns off very easily.

  4. I have a minimalist wardrobe. I gave away half my mom’s good china. I have 6 place settings. I use older, but still quite cut in half towels for dusting, drying the sink, etc. I would love to get rid of my heavy bedroom chest of drawers and get lighter look furniture. I only keep a few plants but enjoy the art-work. I plan on getting a LR Chest of drawers and replace it with a desk perfect for my laptop and printer!

  5. Re: LIFE HACK – After surviving cancer and the ensuing horrendous treatment that lasted for two years, I decided my previous perfectionist ways were a waste of time. Now, after my treatment is over and I’m mostly recovered, my philosophy is “do things at, eh, maybe 80%.” That’s good enough.

  6. ~ I only keep two sets of ‘newish’ sheets for each bed. Some ‘tired’ flat sheets are kept on hand for use as drop cloths, furniture covers, etc. The same strategy is used for bath linens.
    Also, I rotate scatter rugs and runners throughout the rooms to give each a different look from time to time. Accumulated extras of all these items are donated to animal shelters.
    More than this just takes up too much storage space. Recycle the heavy plastic packaging for other storage use!

  7. Grocery lists! I never run out because (You’ve heard this before!) it goes on the grocery list – in plain sight on the fridge – as soon as I open the last one. And my grocery list is transferred to a sticky note before I go to the store. That puts it in front of me – on the cart, on a package in my cart- wherever I can see it. If I need to go to another store, I put it back in my calendar so it’s ready to stick on a cart there. If I have a long list, I check off the items as I buy them.

  8. My substitute for your wrench is an old fashioned nut cracker. Lightweight and it works great to open things. Instead of grabbing scrap paper or sticky notes, I started using an attractive notebook or diary. When I’m talking to a customer service rep or Dr office, for example, I date my note and write important info, I can easily flip through pages to find anything.

    1. Better than a nutcracker or wrench which requires you to split your strength on two sides and which often can’t open up enough is the EZ Off Jar Opener. It screws on under your cabinet, you slide it in until it grips the size and turn with both hands working for you.

  9. I finally realized that I could use an old hand towel as my floor mat when I exit the shower in lieu of a bath mat. Then, I use the wet floor towel to dust the tile flooring and the baseboards. I wash the floor towel with my other towels. It’s a win win for me and I can’t believe it took me 57 years to figure this one out!!

  10. An attitudinal change for the retired me has been to ” stop thinking of all the shoulds”, eg. things that ” should get done” in the same time frame and in the same quantity that they were done when I was younger. I have much less on my plate now, but still am quite active in organizational responsibilities ( treasurer of 4 small groups).Rarely use a timer for anything. Morning appointments now are not scheduled before 11am ( and I do prefer afternoon appts.). My alarm clock is rarely used.

  11. Amazon Alexa. She reminds me a dozen times each day to do things —take my pills, put the kettle on, take the laundry out of the dryer, call a certain person or company—the list is endless. I live alone and have no one else to help me remember things. My life would be chaotic without Alexa.

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