Fixing little annoyances

The other week we talked about how having the ability to throw money at problems was a great ability.

But sometimes there are little things that you can do to greatly improve your quality of life, just by fixing tiny annoyances.  These may not cost a lot of money or even time, but just need to get done.  Dedicating a weekend day or hiring a college student to go down the list or just doing them one at a time could produce great dividends.

For example, the light switch in our bedroom is one of those push kinds and has had a tendency to pop off when pushed.  Meaning I have to pick it up, find the notch, and put it back.  After weeks of partner talking about replacing the entire thing, but not going through with it, a little bit of fancy glue to keep the thing from popping off worked just fine and eliminated a regular annoyance.  Sometimes satisficing with the cheap and quick solution is the way to go, especially when optimizing really isn’t going to happen.

Another problem one of us has been having recently is that it has been difficult for her to bend down to plug in the power cord for her external harddrive.  Solution:  attach an extension cord that can go on the desk.  No bending over necessary.  Another quality of life improvement.

A somewhat more expensive fix that we’re contemplating:  partner’s glasses have some kind of coating that means they’re always getting smudged and he’s constantly cleaning them.  Otherwise the glasses are just fine… but I think they annoy him enough that it would be fine to get a new pair (especially if he gets a cheap pair from the internets!)

Are there any little annoyances that you’ve fixed or that you could fix that would make your life better?

52 Responses to “Fixing little annoyances”

  1. feMOMhist Says:

    hmm mine are sort of a combo, been replacing everyday items that annoy the crap out of me, like a battery charger that got something spilled on it so putting batteries in became major ordeal. I’ve also bought a few organizing things to make stuff easier to cope with. However sciDAD is the king of the cludge. He fixed a summer item with duct tape for me this weekend. I’m also trying to think of how to best re-purpose stuff like a TV armoire

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I need to pay someone to cut down all the weeds growing on my fence. I haven’t had time to do it but it makes me mad, frustrated, and embarassed when I see them every day!!!! I’m not very good at yard work.

  3. Julie R Says:

    My car finally has new windshield wipers! Husband insists that he can replace them himself, which he can. But somehow we can’t remember to do it. I finally convinced him to have them replaced when he took the car in for an oil change. Next time it rains I will actually be able to see through my windshield!

  4. becca Says:

    we just got extra money that has to be spent from a grant, and I did about a zillion of these things around my lab. SO HAPPY TO HAVE NICE ICEBUCKETS.
    In a perfect world, we’d hire some undergrads to wash all the dishes away, as that would be even BETTER throwing money at drudgery, but grant money being what it is, that was not in the cards.

  5. bogart Says:

    I’ve found superglue to be a great fixer of shoe-sole separation … commonly use it for minor incidents but recently reattached the entire sole of a Teva back to the sandal after it got pulled off in the mud when I went swimming in a lake. Astoundingly, that seems to have worked.

    I also recently used superglue to jam the button on my dad’s phone that otherwise allows the ringer to be turned off, so that it stays on. My dad’s dealing with dementia and tends to fiddle with the phone, not realizing he’s turned the ringer off, then to be aggravated when he doesn’t hear from me. One problem solved.

    We have a set of built-in cubbies by our front door and I recently cleaned out and organized my side. Not sure this counts as “small” as it took all of one evening but even so, it makes my life feel more orderly in a way that is good, and may yet inspire further such projects.

    I *love* Envirosax, reusable grocery bags that stash tiny yet carry huge (and heavy) loads. And they’re pretty! I basically carry (at least) one with me at all times now so that whenever I I have, well, groceries, but also any-assorted-pile-of-annoying-stuff to cart somewhere, I can cart it easily. And I benefit in no way were you to read this and go decide to buy some. I’ve found (ditto on no benefit to me) to have the best pricing.

    • Leah Says:

      I super-glued my teva soles too! I had even bought new tevas (in a different style), but I loved my old pair. I’m so happy to see that they’re working well again. Plus, I now have “nice” tevas and play tevas.

      And I am impressed with the phone fix. I wouldn’t have though of a mechanical fix like that.

      And I second the envirosax recommendation. It makes my life easier. I only own one, and I just keep it in my purse for an easy anywhere bag. I got one for my MIL because she *wants* to use reusable bags but forgets them in her car. She is really proud now that she remembers to bring her bag, and she uses it at least some of the time. Good enough for me :-)

      • bogart Says:

        Ooh, kindred spirits! Yeah, I actually “ruined” my favorite Tevas (which I have now repaired) and then pulled out my “spare” Tevas and had the exact thing happen to them, only both instead of 1. I’m debating the merits of fixing them. They’d been sitting in a camping trailer for years so I figure the aging plus the temperature extremes probably messed them up.

        Phone: I’d initially considered jamming some playdough in there (I have a preschooler), figuring it would harden and block sliding the button. But I forgot the playdough for the Nth time, was getting aggravated, and found superglue at the nearby drugstore (but not playdough). Unfortunately I also drizzled the superglue on my wallet, messing up the zipper…

        And yea, envirosax. They are amazing things. I wish they had more styles (like a small purse) and keep considering taking one to a local seamstress to have a small bag made for me. I like the Baggalini ideas but they are so, so, so overorganizational, I want something I can scrunch (er, fold neatly) and stash in my pocket when it’s not in use, and just drop my cell phone, wallet, and non-existent ipad (as a size example) into when it is)!

  6. Belle Says:

    A real recycling trash can combo – has doubled my recycling, thus reducing the trash.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:


      Our recycling is old school and uses a lot of clear plastic bags (but hey, at least we have recycling…), so DH made a separator out of cardboard, which makes things a lot easier.

  7. Cloud Says:

    Most recently- buying some shorts that actually fit.

    But my biggest win in this sort of thing was probably buying three small hampers at IKEA so that we could sort our clothes as we took them off over the week instead of all at once on Saturday morning. It is amazing how much nicer that made Saturday mornings!

      • Debbie M Says:

        Yes, we have one basket for darks, one basket for lights, and another basket (admittedly, somewhat in the way, stored across the top of the other two) that is just the size of what will fit in the washer. So, we pull stuff from whatever basket looks the most full until the washer-sized basket is full. (If necessary, we can mix darkish-light stuff, like khakis, with the darks, or lightish-dark stuff, like semi-faded jeans, with the lights.) (We wash one load per day when possible, so we only have to have one clothes drying rack out.)

  8. chacha1 Says:

    A while back I came to the much-belated realization that the big flat rarely-used cookware needed to live in the drawer under the oven, not slipping and sliding around in the cabinet. Still roll my eyes at how long it took me to figure out that the saucepans were much more accessible in the cabinet than in that stupid drawer.

    This weekend: kludged up a wire suspension apparatus for a little wooden windowbox thing that a friend gave me. It’s got three small pots with annuals (just now sprouting) and was lost (and in the dark) on a shelf in my patio garden. Hanging from a panel on the fence, much better.

  9. rented life Says:

    Need to: unpack those last few boxes. Hang stuff. Find solution for our so cramped “dining room” so that we could actually get to the coat closet that’s in that area and eat and the table. It’s so small that our current furniture prevents either. Buy stuff to hangle shelves for storage–that one we’re doing today and husband suspect he’ll be able to hang at least two (of 5) shelves!

  10. Debbie M Says:

    A friend once hypothesized that people trade in their perfectly good cars for new ones merely because after a while, it seems stupid to spend money fixing little annoying things on such an old car, but then they start to hate the car when there are still plenty of good years left. So, she always keeps up with that so that she can keep liking her car.

    Annoyance fixes: I have multiple copies of various things (such as scissors, calculators, bookmarks) so that I can have them in several places. I always have ibuprofen and ear plugs (in addition to the normal stuff) in my purse. A pocket knife on my keyring (though this is an annoyance at airports). A barrette to keep my hair out of my face. Comfy shoes for work. I’ve used Catalog Choice to stop delivery of catalogs I no longer want (or never wanted). Automatic deposit of my paycheck, and various auto-payments. Learning to put my keys, purse, glasses, etc. in the same few places (and, when I notice myself putting them elsewhere, loudly telling my roommate to remind me of this later, when I’m wondering).

    Annoyances I still have: bad curtains (I want to make some light/heat-blocking shades that are easy to open and close). Dresser drawers won’t pull out smoothly. Do not have a dishwasher. The freezer is too full to put more stuff into. Plus a bunch of stuff that requires regular work: weeds, dishes, laundry, trash, and other housework.

    • Leigh Says:

      I have so many chapsticks around… One on my desk at work, one in my purse, one next to the bed, one in the bathroom, and one in my car.

    • Z Says:

      I can’t believe more people do not realize this about cars, but it is so true. You can be happy with a car for decades if you do that, I kid you not, and this is economical.

      • Leah Says:

        my father in law mocked me for taking my car in for body work for (relatively minor) scratches and a dent. It was big enough that I noticed and was shocked each time I saw my car, and I was worried about the potential for rusting. I’m happy to have paid the $500 to have the work done. My car is 8 years old, and it definitely doesn’t feel that way. It is still very much a comfortable friend, and I want to keep it that way.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The no-dishwasher part would drive me batty. And possibly the curtains. I would break down and buy them after eventually realizing I am super-lazy.

      • Z Says:

        After all these years I finally want a dishwasher. Have had them before in rentals but never used. Now at last I want, but it would take a remodel to create a place to put. Ah well.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I also need a remodel to fit a dishwasher in. But it’s going to happen.

        Maybe I’m super lazy. But maybe when I’m done working (in not very many years) or on a break between jobs, I’ll finally make time to do it. Not yet ready to give up on that. Hmm, maybe this winter break.

    • hush Says:

      Earplugs – yes! Don’t leave home with out them, and certainly, never fly without them.

      • Debbie M Says:

        I also use ear plugs in all movie theatres and of course all music concerts. And every time I go dancing. I finally got some Caucasian-skin-colored ones so they aren’t as distracting to others as my day-glo orange ones.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I think you should rock the day-glo, but that’s just me.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Dayglo is good when I’m making a statement about the music being too loud. Don’t mind them at movies or concerts. But on airplanes, I don’t need the flight attendants mistaking my inability to understand their accent for an unwillingness to remove my earplugs. (Turns out “Take off your water?” means “Tea, coffee, or water?”) Also, when out dancing, I prefer the skin-tone.

  11. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    We recently reorganized our spices, threw away all the old/expiered ones, and lined them up on nice spice shelves in a cabinet instead of helter skelter in a drawer. (And when I say “we”, I mean “PhysioWife”. She is the best!)

  12. Z Says:

    This is OT now but the post on throwing money at problems is a good, very good argument for getting tenure. Had I done this at first or second job instead of schlepping around, moving then being denied then moving then moving, and having consequent salary compression in addition to job market debt, I would be able to throw money at problems now.

    Why I didn’t get tenure: needed to rebel, had never done and this was the last chance. Never regretted this at the time because I was not enamored of job or location, felt relieved not to be tethered there for life or at mercy of markets up. But it was huge financial hit not to, and if I had to do it over again I would get tenure right off, for that reason.

  13. Z Says:

    Annoyances: too many files, too many computer files, neat but not well enough organized, and need pruning. And too many books, each one lovely, but some must go. (I have Stuff, but I am not the hoarding kind.) Must get to these things before school starts.

    Annoyances fixed: hired housecleaner. Yes, given my financial situ I should not but it is going to save me on therapy and aging, probably, and give me at least twice as many hours extra in the month than she will spend cleaning since she is faster than I and no recovery time will be needed … and I will feel so calm and focused, I will write and not be irritated at the students, I claim. Plus, it makes my bed and breakfast on the side business so much easier to run. So … I am Happy.

  14. hush Says:

    Have fixed: asked to be removed from certain email lists, bought a shitload of HVAC filters so they’re there when it’s time to change them, put all of our account info in one clearly marked place so if we die, folks can find it (only took about 20 minutes), typed up the directions to our house so they can be shared quickly with new peeps, put up a dry erase board on which we write down the items we’re out of to prep for next trip to store. Getting all of these little nagging things has created some mad efficiencies.

    • Debbie M Says:

      Oh, yes, I like the huge piles of HVAC filters. Also, we put our grocery lists on the back of an envelope magneted to the refrigerator. We put coupons inside the envelopes.

      I use my dry erase board to remind me what’s in the freezer. There’s also a “do not buy” section with all those things I keep thinking I might be out of and so I buy more. When I’m back down to one, I erase that thing from the “do not buy” list.

  15. Leah Says:

    We just (sort of) fixed one. We have this back porch that is enclosed, and it even has a closet in it. We can see the porch through a window in our kitchen (likely was an external window before the porch addition — we live in a century+ old house). When we moved in, we thought it would be a sweet storage area. In the first rain, we discovered that is leaks mightily in one small area. For over a year now, we’ve just sort of dumped things in the area without a leak and tried to ignore this porch.

    This weekend, we cleaned out the whole porch, swept out all the dirt, put an old bookshelf back there for little boxes, wrapped up broken down boxes with a tarp (from moving — we moved enough that we still keep all our moving boxes), etc. The whole thing is now spic and span. And it will be much easier to maintain!

    Before, when I walked past the window, all I’d feel is a gut wrench. Now, I get that happy, fluttery feeling of a job well done.

    Before school starts, we’re hoping to do something similar to most of our apartment. It’s been disorganized for far too long.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I too have big ideas about cleaning/organizing office spaces before school starts. We’ll see if I manage to do that– it’s kinda low on the priority list but I probably should do it.

  16. Funny about Money Says:

    LOL! Right this minute my “fix” is working nicely. The dog loves to pester me with Ball while I’m working at the computer, tossing it into my lap and then ordering me to throw it. It often bounces into a corner beside my desk, where it rolls in behind the furniture, and then she barks frantically (and shrilly!) until I get up and fish it out. Fix: insert a kiddie gate between the wall and the side of the desk. Ball can’t get past it. :-D

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