The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

Soldiers often come up with shortcuts to lead the disciplined life required in the military. The good news is that a lot of these tricks can be applied to make civilian life easier too.

Picture: Dmitry Natashin, gcpics, Vox Efx, Frank Lindecke, Simon Evans

Keep Your Dress Shirt Tucked In

Dress shirts have a tendency to billow at the waist. But the /”military tuck” is an easy mechanism to counter that. You can see it in action at the 00:53 mark in the above video, but here’s a basic explanation: right before you tuck, pinch your shirt’s seam on the side at your waist and fold it towards your back. Tuck tightly and you’ll get rid of that puffed up appearance.

Eventually, the shirt will billow again, especially if you stand and sit often. The good news is that it is easier to tighten the military tuck than to to do it from scratch. And once you have done it enough times, you’ll get faster at it.

Shine Your Shoes to Perfection

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

The difficult parts of shining your shoes are the two parts that are noticed the most: the tips and the heels. But the military has a neat trick for this. And all you need is a cotton ball.

Dip a cotton ball or pad into some water and squeeze out any excess moisture so it is damp, not dripping. Then get a little polish on the damp cotton. Next apply the polish on the toe and heel of the shoe using small circular motions. Sit back, this is going to take a while.

This step should only be done after you are finished cleaning all the dirt off your shoes with a stiff brush. And really, it takes a lot of time, so I only do this for rare occasions. On average, I end up spending anywhere from 20-30 minutes on just this one step. But the result really is worth it!

Roll Your T-Shirts for Efficient Packing

When you are packing a suitcase, rolling them up will prevent creases and save you space. Well, the military has a super-efficient version of doing that. And it’s best executed with a dollar bill, as Hector Cervantes shows in the above video.

Lay your t-shirt out on a flat surface. Fold it in 10cm from the bottom, from all sides. Fold one side of the tee with the sleeve out, and then do that with the other side. Start rolling the t-shirt tightly from the neck. When you reach the portion you folded at the start, stick your hand in it and pull it over the rolled up wad. You’ll have a perfectly rolled up t-shirt!

Make Your Bed Quickly

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

A soldier is required to make his bed every morning, and it should be immaculate if inspected. Unless you have pets in your house, you probably don’t change the bedsheets everyday. So to keep them tightly made, the Art of Manliness says you need two things: learn what “hospital corners” are, and use a bunch of safety pins.

If you want to really create a super tightly made bed, use this trick. First, gather several safety pins. Before any step that requires you to tuck a sheet and blanket under the mattress, stick a safety pin through them. When you tuck them under the bed, pin the blanket and sheet to the mattress. Do this all down the foot of the bed and down the sides to about the midpoint on your mattress. This will ensure that your bed stays nice and tight through the week. Of course, your wife might object to using this technique on her 700 count Egyptian cotton sheets. Use with discretion.

Again, this is going to be useful only if you don’t change your sheets every day, otherwise the pins are going to be more hassle than just making the bed. Also, as the blog notes, you want to be choosy about when you employ this trick.

Use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and Military Time

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

Two conventions that the military made for daily life make things so much simpler, yet we don’t use them often enough.

When the other person on the line can’t figure out what you are saying, you’ll be thankful you took the time to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet. It was invented in a way where the word you are saying can’t be easily confused with any other word, and the spelling is always clear, so you don’t say something like “with a ‘p’ as in psychology.” It doesn’t take much to learn it, and an app like Eidetic can make it even easier.

Military time confuses many people, but it’s actually really simple to convert it. If anyone gives you a time that starts with “13” or more, all you need to do is subtract 12 from the first 2 digits and add a “pm” to the end. If you need to tell someone the time in military terms, add 12 to the hour part of anything from 1pm to 12pm and remove “pm”. It’s especially useful to employ military time when you are dealing with a large group of people so there is no confusion, and if you are coordinating schedules in different time zones (in fact, it’s what we use here at Lifehacker behind the scenes!).

Use Caffeine Effectively to Pull an All-Nighter

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

It’s not surprising that most Special Forces veterans told Art of Manliness that caffeine was their go-to for staying up at night. The trick lies in two things: not having it before, and not binging when you need it. And it helps to have caffeine-enhanced gum made for the military.

The trick, according to all of them, is to lay off the caffeine the day before and the day leading up to your all-nighter. Your body and mind build up a tolerance to caffeine, so if you’ve been ceaselessly pounding back the coffee all week long, it won’t have as strong of an effect during your round-the-clock vigil.

When you do need the caffeine boost, you can chew on Military Energy Gum instead of guzzling coffee. Each piece has 100mg of caffeine, while a regular coffee has about 250mg. With the Energy Gum, you can pace your intake to one piece every 2-3 hours, instead of one big dose with a coffee. Plus, chewing gum gives you a 20-minute mental performance boost, so there’s that added advantage too.

Of course, caffeine isn’t your only option, and there are lots of other tips on pulling an effective all-nighter.

Waterproof Gadgets with Two Condoms

The Best Military Tricks To Make Your Daily Life Easier

How does a Navy Seal waterproof his phone or camera? With two condoms, of course. See kids, this is why you should always carry protection. Well, that and other reasons.

DIY Photography outlines the procedure and it’s quite simple. Just slip a condom on your phone from one side, tie it into a knot and then seal the knot with some wetsuit glue. Then slip on a second condom and again, tie a knot and seal it with glue.

Why a condom over a plastic bag? A condom is easier to slip on and make a tight seal for the gadget.

Note: You want to remember to do this with an unlubricated condom (because eww). Also, it’s a good idea to use a non-coloured condom if you are planning to take photos. And if you can’t do it fast enough, don’t worry, it happens to every guy once in their life.


  • From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Look up PM, Pm, pm, or p.m. in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
    PM (also written pm or p.m.) often means “After noon” in the 12-hour clock (Latin Post meridiem). I take it you don’t make any appointments between 12 noon and 12:59.

  • Yep, I love using the NATO alphabet. “N for nellie” is one of my pet peeves!
    Can’t find the time to remember it? Just get it printed on a coffee cup!

    • When I was working at Telstra, one of the guys earned a somewhat cruel nickname: ‘Afer’.

      He earned it after he was overheard telling a customer, “A for Orangutan.”

      NATO alphabet, people. Use it. None of this M for Mancy bullshit.

    • The one that surprises me with the NATO alphabet (or is that alfabet) is the use of Hotel, which, being from French origin, is traditionally pronounced with a silent H.

  • How is using 1400 hours any easier for people in other timezones than 2pm?

    I mean, you get bonus points for sounding like a douche who clips an ‘everyday carry’ leatherman to his belt and has a Gareth Keenen-style phone holster…

    • Depends on the context, and the fact a lot of people tend not to append the am/pm to the hour, they just say ‘o’ clock’.
      For industries that are 24/7 operations, you will find it is the norm to use the 24 hour clock.

    • If you get in the habit, people will know what you’re talking about. If you say we’re meeting somewhere at 21hundred no-one’s going to rock up at 9am and wonder where everyone is. AM and PM are really not that hard, but for some reason you would be surprised at just how many people get them muddled up in their heads and fuck up scheduling. Perhaps because of wishful thinking?

    • havent fully read the article but theres 2 military times, theres 24hr which 1-24 for each hour and then there is Zulu time which is going off the greenwich meridan time (basically at 0:01 Zulu, its 10am here in sydney)

  • I find most people have trouble, or take too long, subtracting 12 from the 24-hour time given to them. More often than not, they actually try to count upwards from 12 to the 24-hour time (e.g. 19:45 is worked out by 12 (+1+1+1+1+1+1+1) = 7×1 = 7:45pm).

    I find it easier to teach people the following; If the time is 13 or higher, just ignore the first number and subtract 2 from the second number.

    19:45 = ignore the first number = 9(-2) :45 = 7:45pm

      • its 12pm, 24hr time is as follow 12am= 0, 12pm=12, 11:59=23:59. its fucking simple

    • as a former ADF member i really dont know how poeple have so much trouble with 24hr time, i was using it before i even joined the ADF because it just makes so much more sense

      also: 1pm =13 aka 12+1, 10pm=22 aka 12+10

      • Never been in ADF or anything and yeah, I also don’t know how people have so much trouble. I tend to use it for any device that allows it and have for a long time.

    • 21:45 = ignore the first number = 1(-2):45 = -1:45 PM

      Thanks for the life hack!

  • The ‘NATO alphabet’ is the aviation one invented many years before NATO was formed.

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