The Best Small Fixes That Improved My Life in 2020
Blankets, silk pillowcases, and a little wicker basket really can make things better
As the year draws to a close, I am looking back on what 2020 has wrought. For me, it was a year of adjustments (new job, leaving journalism full time, new apartment, etc.), which included trying to find ways to self-soothe during a global crisis. I bought a bunch of stuff that made me happy because that’s evidently what you do when you have a small amount of disposable income for the first time in your life. I donated to my local mutual aid organizations, and and I made a bunch of pretty small changes and purchases that improved my life significantly. Here’s a few words on that latter category so that perhaps you too can make a few small changes to improve your life:
A silk pillowcase
If you’re getting any number of hours of sleep a night, you’re spending a not-insignificant amount of time pressing your face and hair against a pillow. Nothing against cotton or flannel, or my beloved linen-hemp blend sheets, but my silk pillowcases are cooling, help cut down on frizz when I toss and turn all night, and just feel incredibly fancy. There’s some people who claim there are skincare benefits to sleeping on a silk pillowcase, but I don’t know about that, I mostly just think it feels nice, and you deserve something that feels nice. I think I got mine on Amazon (I know! I’m sorry!) but Brooklinen has some good ones too.
A little wicker basket
A little wicker basket can be useful for many reasons. but one thing I have been using MY little wicker basket for is to empty out all the crap I carry from purse to purse—so it’s always in one spot and not like, strewn about the bottom lining of six different canvas tote bags in my closet.
A bedside pill organizer
This thing cost like $4 at CVS and I keep it next to my bed in my nightstand so I can take my medicine while lying in bed. I understand this does in fact sound like a laziness life hack but it also helps me remember to take my medicine regularly every day.
The Trello app
I love making lists. Every day I make a to-do list in one of my Muji notebooks and I feel the immense satisfaction of crossing things off as I do them. But remembering my notebook and bringing it with me wherever I go is not the most sustainable way to make to-do lists. So to make it digital, I’ve started using the Trello app to make different to-do list boards and consolidate them in one place on my phone. Current to-do lists include: “Catskills grocery list,” “Freelance invoices,” and “Ingredient list for baked ziti recipe.”
A series of Hydroflasks for different beverages
My roommate works for the company that makes Hydroflasks (I feel like this held much more clout in 2018 or 2019 when Gen Zers loved Hydroflasks for some reason), so we have a bunch of Hydroflasks lying around the apartment. I’ve started making tea in a Hydroflask so it stays warm for hours, and because I famously hate drinking water and want to be better at it, I bought a new Hydroflask and use it to drink water so it’s always cold.
A dish for our keys
We have a table next to our door when you walk in and now there’s a little dish there to hold all of our keys so they never get lost or end up floating somewhere in the living room.
Although my main association with dish gloves is a caricature of a 1950s housewife, they’re pretty cheap, can easily be replaced, and keep your hands nice when you’re washing dishes. I can’t believe I waited so long to buy these.
Those lighters with long necks
Instead of trying to light a candle that’s burned super low with a Bic I now use any of my four lighters with long necks to light candles and I never worry about getting burned. I do realize I could have been doing this years ago.
A waterer with a hose on it to water my hanging plant
This year I have made an honest effort to be a “plant person.” I haven’t killed anything yet, and in fact my plants appears to be thriving. It is easy to water my plants that sit in little planters, like my snake plants, but it is harder to water my hanging philodendron plant. For a while I just stuck it in the shower and turned on the water for a few seconds, which had the added benefit of keeping the leaves from getting dusty. But this was not the best option, so ultimately I Googled “hanging plant waterer” and found a $7 hanging plant waterer. (It’s sold out right now, sorry.) You unscrew the hose from the rest of it, fill the main chamber up with water, and then with the hose reattached you squeeze the bottle and you can water your tall hanging plants via the little hose.
A blanket at arm’s reach in every room
Since I’ve spent most hours of most days this year inside my apartment, I have leaned into making it a space I actually like to live in. For the winter, this has involved making my apartment cozy with the help of tons of throw blankets. You can find a cheap-ish wool Pendleton on Poshmark, or just pick up a new blanket from Target. You can also bring a blanket with you to an outdoor park hang or bar, since that appears to be what we’re doing this winter.
Separate piles of books
I’ve been organizing my new books this year by “books I’ve read” and “books I want to read” and it has been satisfying to watch the former pile grow and the latter pile shrink and then grow again whenever I pick up four more books at Greenlight.
Multiple 10-foot charging cords
Quite frankly I cannot believe there was ever a time in my life that I couldn’t use my phone while charging it while also lying in my bed, which is like six feet from the closest outlet. I always had one 10-foot charging cable before the pandemic, but then I bought another, and then another, and now I can charge my phone from pretty much anywhere in my apartment while sitting on the couch or in bed or cooking something in the kitchen. Is being so closely tied to your electronic device a burden of its own? Of course, but that’s a problem to solve after everything returns to “normal.”