From The Tips Box: Minimalist Decluttering, The Common Cold, And Quick Translating

From The Tips Box: Minimalist Decluttering, The Common Cold, And Quick Translating

Readers offer their best tips for decluttering your posessions, alleviating indirect cold symptoms, and translating phrases quickly with Google Translate.

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

Photograph Belongings to Reduce Clutter

Colinwright tells us how he declutters his home:

As a Minimalist and long-term-traveler who likes to travel light, the best way I’ve found to reduce the numbers of things I own down to a manageable minimum is to photograph each item individually and pop it into a Flickr (or other photo-sharing service) set.

This allows you to see everything you own on one page and share it where you like.

It can help remind you to de-clutter and snag some advice from friends (import the set into a blog post for feedback, then save it as your home page so you have to deal with it every time you open your browser).

If nothing else, the ritual of emptying out your closets and drawers so that you can individually photograph EVERYTHING you own will put in perspective just how much you have and allow you to visualize it and quantify it.

You’ll want to get rid of the excess, and it will be easy to see what doesn’t belong.

The first step to reduction is perspective.

Alleviate Dry Nose During Flu Season with Lip Balm

Photo by Mr. T in DC.

Ryan Preston Peck shares how he makes the common cold a bit more manageable:

For those of you suffering from the rhinovirus as I am, here’s a tip: when the skin around your nostrils gets red, dry, and chapped from tissues, apply lip balm! In my experience, it is less greasy than lotion and you don’t have to apply it as often. Also, if you use something like Burt’s Bees you get the nice added benefit of peppermint oil, which seems to help a little with congestion. Best to designate a different tube for this than the one you use for your lips.

It’s probably something you don’t want your coworkers to see, but I live and swear by it.

Use Foreign Google Translate Pages for Quicker Translating

Aaron lets us know a quick way to translate, without messing with drop-downs:

On Google Translate, if you put in foreign language text, it will automatically detect the language and convert to English by default (consider it translate instant). But what if you want to know how to say an English phrase in another foreign language just as quickly?

For example, if you want to say “Hi, how can I help you?” in French, but you don’t want to change the language swapping and what not, just go to and type the phrase. It will automatically detect the “foreign language” as English and convert to the default French.


  • I’m all for reducing clutter and junk, but I can’t help but wonder if obsessing about your possessions to the point that you force yourself to see them all on your homepage every day is kind of counter productive. Isn’t the point of minimalism to reduce stress and increase practicality?

    How is it practical to spend so much effort trying to perfect your list of possessions, when “near enough” is infinitely easier to achieve, and is much better bang for your buck? How is it less stressful to anxiously examine the things you own on a daily basis, in minute detail?

  • I like the idea of photographing everything. I wouldn’t put it on Flickr, but I’d certainly store it local so I can quickly search through what I have. If you organise it in folders (eg. rooms, type of object etc.) then finding an item could be quite easy.

    Which reminds me, I need to continue on with going paperless..

  • an alternative perspective might suggest that you just spend a little time each day sorting through your stuff, rather than wasting it obsessing over photographs of your haul? or putting it all up somewhere for others to gasp over (or use as a shopping list while you’re out one night …)

    you can use tissues that don’t dry your skin out? or take medication to reduce the symptoms of the virus that lead to the nose-blowing?

    as for google translate: is it really so hard to hit the button that reverses the directionality of the translation? surely that’s easier than typing in the localised google url?

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