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15 shortcuts for everyday tasks

  • Story Highlights
  • Planning tips can help you save time
  • Map out errands clockwise to avoid left turns
  • Keep fancy shoes, dangly earrings at office for evening wear
  • Print e-mails to family, friends and paste in journal to track life
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Real Simple

(RealSimple.com) -- Here are some better, faster, and easier ways to get from Point A to Point B.

Plan out your route and keep a cooler in your car to save time running errands.

Run Errands Quickly

"Plan the order of your stops in a clockwise direction," advises Susan Hamersky, owner of the Los Angeles-- based errand company California Concierge. "That way, you avoid all the time-consuming left turns."

Also, schedule your errands so you can drop things off (say, your dry cleaning and film for developing) on your way out and pick them up on your way home, says Dan McMackin, a spokesman for UPS and a former driver.

Keep a cooler in your car for perishables, too. Then a stop at the market doesn't have to be immediately followed by a run home to the refrigerator, says Julie Hagenmaier, founder and CEO of My Girl Friday, an errand company in Cincinnati.

Dry your tears quickly

"I stick my head in the freezer for a couple of seconds after I cut onions," says Todd Ginsberg, a chef at Manhattan's Alain Ducasse Restaurant, at the Essex House. Cold air stops the tears and reduces redness and puffiness by constricting blood vessels, explains ophthalmologist Marguerite B. McDonald, a professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, in New Orleans.

Don't Miss

If you're not in the kitchen, try dabbing -- not rubbing -- away the wetness. Then use an over-the-counter eye whitener to get the red out, or disguise it with blue eyeliner. "Draw a line on the inner lower rims of your eyes," McDonald says. "The blue will make your eyes look whiter."

Shortcut to keeping a journal

If the last entry in your diary is a cryptic scribble from 2003, stop writing and start printing -- e-mails, that is.

Since you're probably already summarizing your life in e-mails to your friends and family, print them out and paste them on the pages of a blank notebook, suggests Oriah Mountain Dreamer, author of "What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul."

"It's like my yoga teacher once said about working out: 'All you need to do is just stretch for five minutes a day,'" Mountain Dreamer says. "Of course, once you get going, it feels so good, you'll wind up doing more."

Turn day wear Into evening wear

Work is over, and you're ready for cocktails. Here's what to bring to the office for an instant upgrade.

• An extra pair of earrings. "I always have two pairs -- one small and one dangly," says Loretta Sanchez, a U.S. congresswoman representing California's 47th District. She also attaches clip-on earrings to her pumps.

• A lightweight shawl. "It's an easy new focal point for your outfit," says fashion consultant Leah Feldon, author of "Does This Make Me Look Fat?"

• A fancy pair of pumps or strappy sandals.

• Black eyeliner. For a smoky look, line your outer rims close to the lash lines, then smudge with a cotton swab, says New York City makeup artist Mally Roncal.

• A peach-tone cream blush. "The color will uplift your cheeks and eyelids," says New York City makeup artist Lea Siegel.

Get cut flowers to bloom quickly

First try cutting the stems at an angle, then placing the bouquet in warm water. If that doesn't work, use a blow-dryer with a diffuser to simulate the sunshine's warmth, says Denis Chandler, the owner of Bloomsberry Flowers, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Click here to get 10 more shortcuts for everyday tasks. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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