Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Productive Things to Do While Watching TV

    Cross a few simple tasks off your to-do list while watching your favorite TV shows.

    PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura/Getty ImagesPhotoAlto/Ale Ventura/Getty ImagesMultitask
    This article originally appeared on

    By the end of the week, the last thing we want to do is to tackle our to-dos. As important as it is to give full attention to big financial decisions and anything that requires real math, we'll confess that we often try to knock off our more menial tasks in front of the television. Nothing like killing lots of birds with one televised stone.

    Here are 13 to-dos to do while you pay a visit to TV Land:

    Newton Daly/Getty ImagesNewton Daly/Getty ImagesMake Plans for the Weekend

    Finish hammering out your weekend schedule. Email any last friends you need to so that your plans are all settled.

    Also See: How Do Women Spend Their Time?

    Aaron Graubart/Getty ImagesAaron Graubart/Getty ImagesSort the Junk

    Sort the paper on your desk into two piles: (1) Junk to recycle and (2) important things to deal with later.

    Also See: 14 Shortcuts for Everyday Tasks

    JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty ImagesJGI/Jamie Grill/Getty ImagesClean Out Your Inbox

    We all have emails that have been sitting in

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  • The Secrets to a Stress-Free Commute

    Follow these simple tips to make your commute both pleasant and productive.
    This article originally appeared on

    George Doyle/Getty ImagesGeorge Doyle/Getty Images
    Make the Most of It

    At the end of the day-quite literally-commuting is a necessary evil. After all, work allows you to bring home the paycheck that will help you reach your financial goals, and you need to get there. Follow these eight tips to make your back and forth (no matter how long), better.

    Also See: 4 Hazards for Commuters

    Jim CooperJim Cooper
    Catch Up on Your (Audio) Reading

    Getting engrossed in a good story is a great way to fight off feelings of being disconnected or unhappy. Non-drivers can use an actual book or e-reader, but drivers will want to download an audio book. Many libraries let you borrow audio books for free, and some public library systems actually let you download MP3 and WMA files directly, without showing up to the library.

    Here's a trick: Only allow yourself to listen to your book when commuting. That way, a little part of you will actually look

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  • Great Summer Books

    Looking for your next great read? Look no further. Real Simple's Facebook fans have you covered for the best books to read this summer.
    Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected- A Memoir

    by Kelle Hampton

    To buy: $25,

    Recommended by Christine H.

    Also See: Best Ways to Enjoy Summer
    The Fifty Shades Trilogy

    by E.L. James

    To buy: $16,

    Recommended by more readers than we could count.

    Also See: Summer Party Planner

    Penguin GroupPenguin Group
    Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

    by Jenny Lawson

    To buy: $26,

    Recommended by T.K.

    Also See: 50 Fun Summer Activities Checklist

    Penguin GroupPenguin Group
    My Name is Memory

    by Ann Brashares

    To buy
    : $15,

    Recommended by Carrie W.

    Also See
    : Favorite Summer Recipes

    The Dry Grass of August

    by Anna Jean Mayhew

    To buy: $15,

    Recommended by Estela D.

    Also See: Summery Pastel Clothing

    Big Girl Small: A Novel

    by Rachel DeWorskin

    To buy
    : $25,

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  • Favorite Summer Rituals

    Some of the ways our readers celebrate the season

    Andrew McCaulAndrew McCaulBy the Sea
    I love to walk along the shore at low tide with friends or family and look for beach glass. Ocean-polished hues of Coke-bottle green, iridescent clear, lapis blue, and dark green all look beautiful in a shallow dish or a clear vase at home. Trash becomes treasure. I began this hobby with my grandmother in the 1960s, and it continues to provide wonderful memories of time spent with those I love in my favorite part of God's creation.
    Karen Maurer
    San Clemente, California

    It wouldn't be summer where I live without going scalloping. We head to the Gulf Coast and spend the day on a boat out in the peaceful waters, snorkeling and diving for scallops. It's both relaxing and adventurous: I've seen huge stingrays, giant flounder, and amazing starfish. At night, when we're hungry and pleasantly tired, the reward is a fabulous dinner of sautéed scallops that couldn't be any fresher.
    Cynthia McFarland
    Williston, Florida

    Also See:

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  • Ways to Avoid Burnout

    Stuck in a rut at work? These eight strategies will help you get your positive attitude back on track.

    A version of this article originally appeared on

    Susie CushnerSusie Cushner
    Burnout isn't just a sign you need a vacation, it's a psychological response to consistent stressors, both on the job and at home. So while you likely won't be able to get your boss to turn your 7-to-7 into a 9-to-5 or get your parents to stop asking when they can expect grandkid number one with out some dramatic changes, you can take steps to prevent burnout.

    1. Readjust Your Own Expectations
    If you were expecting that your B.A. in English was going to turn into a staff writer position at The New York Times the day after graduation, then it's time to readjust. Everyone has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is generally at the bottom of the pack.
    Keep your head held high, and know that proving your competency at even the most menial tasks while maintaining a positive and professional attitude will help keep your

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  • What Has Your Pet Taught You About Life?

    No wonder dogs-not to mention cats, birds, and bunnies-are man's best friend: These loyal, lovable creatures are also surprisingly wise. This month, readers share lessons from the animals who rule their roosts.

    Christopher Silas NealChristopher Silas Neal

    My fat, cantankerous cat, Pasadena, often rolls off the couch accidentally while she's sleeping. Every time it happens, she gets back up and struts her stuff, as if to say, "Yeah, I fell down, but I'm still awesome." She reminds me not to take myself too seriously.
    Adriana Macias
    Albany, California

    Also See: How Much Do Pets Really Cost?

    When Jacques, my 12-pound silver poodle, got into a tussle with a mule deer, he lost an eye. For days afterward, I was devastated. But Jacques had a different reaction. His first morning home from the vet, he got up with his tail wagging, excited to greet a new day. By moving on so quickly, he showed me that you shouldn't hold on to sorrow when you can be happy. I've given him a new nickname-Jacques Sparrow-because he's the bravest little

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  • Are You a Hoarder?

    The main reasons why people can't seem to let go of their stuff and the smartest tricks for outwitting that hoarding instinct. Nato WeltonNato Welton

    Reason #1:

    "If I get rid of this wedding vase, I'll feel guilty."

    Solution: People feel a responsibility to be good stewards of things, says Randy Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, and a coauthor of Buried in Treasures. Especially items they've been given by or inherited from a loved one. Getting rid of a present feels like disrespecting the giver. But remember the true meaning of gifts.

    "When you receive a present," says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer in New York City and the founder of, "your duty is to receive it and thank the giver―not to keep the gift forever." That goes for items you inherit. "Ask yourself, 'How many things do I really need to honor this person's memory?'" says Frost. Select a few objects with strong associations to your late grandmother, say, and keep

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  • Quick Fixes to Make Around Your House

    Fifteen-minute projects that won't put a dent in your weekend.
    By Adam Bluestein

    France RuffenachFrance Ruffenach
    Squeaky Door Hinges

    Spray a little WD-40 onto the hinges, moving the door back and forth to work in the lubricant. Or try rubbing the hinges with petroleum jelly. If these tricks don't work, lift the hinge pins about halfway and lubricate them with three-in-one oil, using a rag to catch drips.

    Also See: Decorating With Door Accessories

    Mark LundMark Lund
    Squeaky Floor

    For a temporary fix, sprinkle talcum powder over the noisy area and sweep it into the cracks. Be sure to remove any traces of powder if you're ever going to refinish the floor.

    Also See: The Best Floor Cleaners

    Hallie BurtonHallie Burton
    Peeling Wallpaper

    With a knife, smear wallpaper paste onto a piece of writing paper. Rub the paper against the underside of the peeling section. Press the wallpaper against the wall. Slide the writing paper out and smooth away bubbles with a clean cloth.

    Also See: New Uses for Leftover Wallpaper

    Hallie BurtonHallie Burton
    Worn Caning

    A little sagging over time is natural

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  • Surprising Uses for Your Dishwasher

    22 unexpected items you can put in the dishwasher and 13 things you shouldn't. Plus, how to cook salmon in the dishwasher (seriously).

    by Sarah Stebbins

    Related: The Secret Life of Your Dishwasher
    Tom SchierlitzTom Schierlitz
    Baseball caps can get bent in the washing machine but hold their shape in the dishwasher, especially inside a contraption like the Ball Cap Washer ($5, Don't wash them with dishes; food can get trapped in the cloth.

    Action figures and other small toys can ride in a mesh lingerie bag on the top rack (but don't wash Barbie or she'll have a horrible hair day).

    Rain boots should have the liners removed and lie horizontally. Hook flip-flops on tines in the top rack. (FYI, Crocs are not dishwasher-safe)
    ---Also See: New Uses for Clothing

    Tools with metal or plastic handles will be fine.

    Ceramic cabinet knobs do well in the silverware basket, so if you feel like embarking on the process (remove, wash, replace), go for it.

    Hairbrushes and combs made of plastic can take a spin, but not

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  • Repurpose Rarely Used Appliances

    Surprising things you can do with your ice cream maker, rice cooker, waffle iron, and milkshake machine.
    By Melinda Page

    Your Ice Cream Maker
    Andrew McCaulAndrew McCaul
    Make Cola slushies.
    Set up the machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Pour in one 12-ounce can of cola and start the machine. When a thick slush has formed (after 10 to 15 minutes), scoop it into two glasses and serve.

    Make margaritas.
    Pour all the ingredients except the alcohol into the ice cream maker. When the liquid has frozen, add the tequila and triple sec.

    Whip up a frozen lime rickey.
    Pour 6 ounces of seltzer, 1 ounce of simple syrup (made by dissolving 2 parts sugar in 1 part boiling water), and 1 ounce of lime juice into the machine. Let freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.

    Make frozen hot chocolate.
    Prepare instant hot chocolate according to the package directions, then pour it into the machine and freeze for about 20 minutes.

    Also See: Classic Margaritas

    Your Rice Cooker
    Andrew McCaulAndrew McCaulSteam towels to offer guests before dinner.

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