From The Tips Box: Sink Mats, Taskbar Arrangement

Readers offer their best tips for making effective sink mats, rearranging your Windows taskbar for quick program switching, and writing important information on dried foot containers.

About the Tips Box: Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they're a bit too niche, maybe we couldn't find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn't fit it in — the tip didn't make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Use Silicone Baking Mats in Your Sink

Karen shares another piece of kitchen equipment with multiple uses:

I was tried of clear plastic sink mats yellowing and curling and generally looking gross after only a couple of months, so several years ago I sprang for 2 silicone baking sheets, cut out holes for the drains, and have used them as sink mats ever since.

They come in so many colours now that it should be easy to find some that match or coordinate with your kitchen colours, and they can be cut down for smaller sinks with a pair of scissors (as I did for the right one in this photo).

They still need to be scrubbed just like your sink does, or put in the dishwasher, but they have the added benefit of doubling as a safe place to put hot pans.

Rearrange Taskbar Icons For Quick Program Switching

rpjrugby shows us his alternative to alt-tabbing between many applications:

Don't be hesitant to reorder your Windows 7 taskbar icons when working on tasks. I've found that simply moving around the 3-4 applications I'm using to complete a task to positions 1-4, and learning where they are, allows me to quickly switch between windows by using Win+(1-4) without alt-tabbing through several windows and hoping I don't pass the window I want and having to cycle through them all again (or using the awkwardly positioned shift key to go back one). For instance, if I'm studying notes I've made in OneNote, using Firefox for research, and chatting on Skype all at once, I'll just drag each of those icons to positions 1, 2, and 3 on the taskbar, respectively. I know where each one is now on the taskbar, and can just hit the win+# combo to switch to the window (or hit it again to choose which of the open multiple open windows I want). The best part is that when you're all done, its just as easy to move the icons back to where you keep them normally!

Label Food Containers with Cooking Information to Save Time

Photo by Katherine Raz.

Sean Walker tells us how he keeps his food fresh and properly cooked:

Write the ratios of dry:liquid on the outside of dried grain/rice/bean containers to avoid having to look them up. I hate having to search how much water I need every time I want to cook a batch of oatmeal. Throw the cooking time on there while you're at it!

Take Pictures of Moving Boxes Instead of Lengthy Indexes

Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer.

CalsualSubversive comes up with another great use for Evernote, when moving:

I'm packing to move right now. It's especially important for me to know what's in each box, because I'll be in a small space for six months or so. I'll leave most of my stuff behind and send for it later, as needed.

Instead of writing out an inventory of each item, I'm taking photos of what's in each box and putting them in Evernote. This works really well for my large library-Evernotes OCR picks up most of the text on the books, so I can do a text search to find out what box a specific book is in.


    when you feel adventurous enough to replace a car part yourself, take a series of pictures as you remove it.

    This will help a lot when you go to put it all back together and cant figure out if the belt went over or under that wheel.

    Or why you have one tiny screw left.

      you need to change your perception Jake, you are not stuffing it up, you are actually increasing the efficiency of the car with weight saving with every little screw you purposefully remove. :P

    "... and writing important information on dried foot containers"

    *can't get the picture out of his mind*

    *runs off to vomit lunch*

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