Unitasker Wednesday: Roll N Pour

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

My children probably have no idea what gallon milk containers look like because I don’t buy gallon milk containers. The kids can’t lift and pour a gallon yet, so I get 1/2 gallons that the oldest one can manipulate and the younger one eventually will. When we do make the switch to gallon containers, however, I can guarantee we won’t also be purchasing the Roll N Pour:

In the words of Skippyjon Jones, “Holy frijoles!” This plastic rocking chair for your gallon milk jugs is enormous! The product description says it’s “great for kids and seniors” but I don’t understand how — there is no way my 5 year old son or my husband’s 99 year old grandfather could even get this device AND the attached gallon container out of the refrigerator. Putting it back into the refrigerator would be just as disastrous. It adds weight and girth to the milk container, making it heavier and more cumbersome. And no one with limited or developing mobility needs or wants “heavier and more cumbersome.”

Okay, I’ll admit, there is something adorable about a gallon of milk rocking away the hours in the refrigerator. I imagine it would take up knitting and ask me to keep quiet during its stories. But, for the itty bitty amount of help it might give someone with pouring, those benefits would quickly be erased by the amount of storage space you’d have to sacrifice in your refrigerator and in the process of having to carry it in and out of the refrigerator every time you wanted a drink.

If handling large gallon containers is an issue for you or your family, do what we do and simply buy smaller, easier to carry and pour containers (which you’re likely already doing). Or, buy the larger container and have or provide assistance in pouring some of its contents into a more manageable small carafe. If handling gallon containers isn’t an issue for you or anyone in your family, this device is just downright ridiculous. I think we can chalk the Roll N Pour’s unitasker status up to over-engineering that intended to be helpful, but isn’t.

Unitasker Wednesday: BootSwag

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

ARB is a chain of stores in Australia that makes accessories specifically for 4X4 trucks. As opposed to most 4X4 owners in the US, it appears 4X4 owners in Australia occasionally take theirs off road. (Who knew?!)

One of the things ARB manufactures is tents that attach to 4X4s (by extending off the truck bed or the trunk or on the roof or in some other awesome manner) and regular ground tents for hikers who drive exciting places off road. But, lo! Their tenting doesn’t stop there! They also make a special cutie patootie itty bitty tent just for your boots. The ARB BootSwag:

We really aren’t pulling your leg with this. It is a real, genuine product. According to their website, “the ARB BootSwag provides a sheltered enclosure for storage of footwear and other items.”

Now, I would assume that one’s tent or enormous 4X4 would also provide this kind of shoe storage … but, apparently not?? I’d also think a large zip-top bag could do the same thing and keep snakes and spiders (or whatever deadly critters roam the Outback) out of one’s boots (this does not, as the bottom flap doesn’t close). But, what do I know? I drive an all-wheel vehicle and the only “off roading” I’ve ever done is in a busy Target parking lot after a big snow. And the closest I’ve come to camping in the last two decades was in a cabin with central air.

Thanks to reader Richelle for introducing us to this fun unitasker.

A quick Friday link

It’s been a long week and I am so thankful it is finally Friday. Instead of putting up a long post today, I want to simply direct you to a fairly long interview I did with the financial website Mint.com.

In the article, I talk about how I got started working with Unclutterer, provide some insights on why we buy so much stuff, and then end with a little financial advice I’ve picked up over the years.

Expert Interview with Erin Rooney Doland on Uncluttering

Feel welcome to check it out and have a great weekend, everyone. Happy uncluttering!

Unitasker Wednesday: The Selfie Brush

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If the dictionary were to have pictures instead of words providing definitions, the entries for vanity and absurdity would only need this picture:

The Selfie Brush is, exactly as its name implies, a brush for you to use when consumed with the process of taking a selfie.

Technically, it is a brush and a cell phone case and a mirror and an arm extender. Regardless of its multiple functions, however, it leaves us asking two questions that we feel make the Selfie Brush an undeniable unitasker:

  1. Why?!! WHY?!!!! WHY?!!!!!
  2. The more existential question, “Is this really how far we’ve fallen as humanity?”

Many thanks to Dave for stumbling upon this unitasker while reading an article on Engadget.

Part 3: An uncluttered back-to-school transition

In my opinion, one of the best parts of kids being in school is that it can bring more routine into their lives and yours. Years of research by social scientists strongly concludes that routines help children adjust better to new situations and also improves the overall happiness of a family. For the school year to run smoothly, routines are a valuable key, and schedules and calendars are a great way to get started creating this practice.

Although it might seem a bit cumbersome, I suggest each family have at minimum a shared calendar and a shared routine schedule. Then, each person in the family will likely want a personal calendar (and maybe even a personal routine) to keep track of things like homework, projects, and personal to-do items.

A family calendar

Whether digital or print, there needs to be a calendar everyone in the family can post items to and review together. In our house, we’re currently using a 17-month Chalkboard Wall Grid Calendar that Paper Source sent to me (it’s pictured at right). I’ve embellished extremely important dates with some Washi Tape, but mostly we just write shared events onto the calendar with a black pen — nothing too fancy or a pain to update.

I also continue to love Martha Stewart’s Chalkboard Paint Wall Calendar, and if we owned our home I would immediately paint this up on a wall. A big visual calendar provides lots of room to write important family events, as well as creates decoration for what might otherwise be a plain wall.

If your kids are older, a shared digital calendar like Google Calendar (great for all mobile devices) or Fantastical (for iPhone) might be a good alternative for you.

The most important parts of keeping a family calendar are 1. remembering to add items to the calendar, and 2. reviewing the calendar each evening so everyone in the family is in-tune with tomorrow’s events. In our house, we add important events to the calendar as they pop up and then review the calendar each night as a family before the kids take their baths. Some families choose to review the calendar during the evening family meal, which is also good for keeping conversations going. The only warning about talking about the calendar at dinner time is if you keep the calendar digitally it means everyone will come to the meal with an electronic device (this is a no-no in our house, but I know it’s not the same for all families).

For more information on calendars, read our in-depth article “Family calendars.”

A family routine

If you’ve read my book Unclutter Your Life in One Week, you know I’m a detailed routine planner listing specific times and tasks to complete each day. Currently, with a toddler at home full time, two adults who work primarily from our home office, and an elementary schooler with a lot of energy and a handful of extracurricular activities, our house would fall into complete disarray if we didn’t keep to such a regimented schedule.

I’ve heard numerous complaints over the years from people saying that routines are dull and kill creativity and fun. I find them to be the exact opposite. Because our family has routines in place for the repeated activities at home, the things that must get done do so without much effort or thought and then leave us free to enjoy ourselves the rest of the time. When we head out to the zoo or a festival or go on vacation, we live purely in those moments. We’re not thinking about dishes or laundry or other things we should be doing — because those things are done or scheduled to be completed at a specific time. Our free time is truly free because our routines make this possible.

I recommend creating a family routine in Excel or a similar grid-style software program. Include all seven days of the week and break down responsibilities to the house by time of day and who will complete the task. For variety, you can switch up who does what on different days, or you may choose to keep the same responsibilities with each person if that is easier for your family. As you crate your routine chart, be realistic about how much you can do and how long tasks take to complete. Time yourself for a number of days to make sure you aren’t underestimating the length of a task.

Our family routine chart includes items like packing lunches, creating weekly meal plans, grocery shopping, feeding and caring for pets, regularly scheduled lessons and appointments, laundry, dishes, chores throughout the house, and even who puts the trash can out on the curb for pickup and who brings it back. We also identify which load of laundry is done each day — clothes on Mondays, towels on Tuesdays, more clothes on Thursdays, and sheets on Fridays.

At the start of each month we review the routine chart as a family and add and subtract and make alterations as necessary. Everyone receives a printed copy of the routine chart on the first day of each month.

For more information on creating routines, read our detailed article “Routines can make even the most unsavory tasks easy” and check out pages 98-99 of my book.

Personal calendars

In addition to the shared family calendar, each person in our home (except for the toddler) has a personal calendar. Our son keeps track of school assignments and violin practice records in his pocket calendar provided by his school. My husband, who loves all things digital, uses Google Calendar. He uses Gmail, so it’s even easier for him to schedule items that come into his inbox because the programs are integrated. I’m a tactile person, so I use the Staples Arc Planner for my appointments and obligations. (And, on the off-chance you’re curious, I use the Emergent Task Planner by David Seah for my to-do list. I have an Arc Planner hole punch, so the pages fit right into my Arc Planner.)

The personal calendars my husband and I keep are primarily full of work-related items, but other activities are included. It can be easy to forget to put family-related items on the family calendar if you also keep a personal calendar, so I recommend scheduling into your daily routines a time to transfer relevant information from your personal calendar to your family calendar. If you keep a digital calendar, this is extremely simple since all you typically have to do is check a box indicating all of the calendars with which you would like to share the appointment.

How do you keep your family on the proverbial “same page”? What routines do you find to be the most helpful? What has worked for your family and what has failed miserably? Thankfully, in our home, we’ve found that the research about routines being beneficial has been accurate. As long as we keep to our routines, life runs much more smoothly than when we don’t. Our home is also at a fairly consistent state of order, which makes having friends over to visit extremely simple and helps to keep our stress levels low.

Unitasker Wednesday: Beer Foamer

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This is the first time in a long time that I have no idea why anyone — and I mean not a single human being — would need this unitasker. Usually, I can think of one person with some kind of special need, but not with this device. Absolutely no one needs this. Introducing the pointless Beer Foamer:

For starters, when you pour beer out of a tap or a bottle or a can, it foams. Heck, just the natural movement of bringing a glass, can, or bottle to your mouth to take a sip makes a beer foam. There is no need for a special tool. Foam happens.

I’m seriously bewildered by this device. The most positive thing I can think to say about this confusing device is that it looks fun to use. Whirrrrrrrrrr!

Thanks to reader Kelly for bringing this unitasker (no-tasker??) to our attention. Wow.

Unitasker Wednesday: Snack Spout

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Do you like snacks? Do you like buying snacks in really large quantities from big box stores like Costco? Then, do you feel it is too much trouble to unscrew the lids on those snacks and scoop or pour those snacks into a bowl or onto a plate? Do you love to drop your snacks onto the floor as they fall from between your fingers? Do you love to get the bacteria off your hands onto your snacks and then eat the contaminated candy? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then we have a unitasker for you! The Snack Spout:

The Snack Spout wants to make eating junk food even easier … because apparently it was too hard to eat junk food before now! For people who buy snacks in bulk, they can attach the large container to this device and then use their hands to repeatedly access the snacks. The product description claims it’s more sanitary to use your hands to get the snacks from this device, but I personally think it’s more sanitary to use a scoop and bowl when eating snacks (and hey, look at that, science agrees with me).

Sure this thing is kind of cute, but thinking about the amount of bacteria on this dispenser also makes my tummy a little queasy. Blergh.

Thanks to reader DK for helping us find this unitasker.

Unitasker Wednesday: DestapaBanana

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This is one of the more bizarre unitaskers we have encountered here at Unclutterer. Dave possibly described it best when he said, “if this isn’t a unitasker, I don’t know what is.” He was right in that this may be the most unitaskery unitasker of all time. Introducing the DestapaBanana from Argentina:

In case the images didn’t give you enough information, I’ll explain the device in a bit more detail. The DestapaBanana bores a hole through the length of your banana and then you pour a sweet filling (like caramel, chocolate, or strawberry sauce) into the reservoir. Once sauced, you can eat the banana right away or you can put it in the freezer and eat it frozen later.

For starters, this device does nothing else and won’t work with bananas that have a lot of curve to them. Additionally, I think a straw would do the same thing if you really are fond of this idea. Or, you could dip the banana in a sauce and not waste part of your banana. And, finally, let’s not forget the most obvious thing here that injecting sauce into a banana transforms it from a health food into a tube of pure sugar.

Anyone else craving a banana split now?

Unitasker Wednesday: Bottle Opener Cap Catcher

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

As longtime readers are aware, I don’t understand the desire to keep trash as a hobby — I’m referring to things like wine corks and baby teeth. I’m cool with dropping these items into a trash can or recycling bin, because that is where trash belongs. But displaying trash or hoarding it in a drawer doesn’t sit right with me. Trash, waste, rubbish is clutter.

This week’s unitasker selection falls into the trash-as-hobby category, it’s the Bottle Opener Cap Catcher:

This device removes bottle caps, and then stores them for you. Instead of removing a bottle cap and instantly putting it into the trash or recycling bin, you get to save it … for reasons I cannot not imagine.

Maybe if you are an artist and bottle caps are your medium I could understand the desire to save bottle caps. However, my guess is that the vast majority of Unclutterer readers are not artists who are paid to create sculptures from bottle caps. Just a hunch.

Per Jacki’s post about “Modified principles of sanitary design” on Monday, try to avoid buying things that create additional work and unsanitary conditions for you and your family. If your intention is to throw away the bottle caps after collecting them, don’t add the extra step of collecting them in the first place. Throw them right away. Save space in your drawers/cupboards for things that are worth taking up that space. A small bottle opener is uncluttered and doesn’t tempt you to keep trash as a hobby — this device is the opposite of those things.

To be fair, this is far from being the worst unitasker we’ve featured. However, I think it’s important to really think about the items we buy. Are we creating extra work for ourselves? Are we keeping something that really belongs in the trash? Good questions to ask about everything, even something as simple as bottle openers.

Unitasker Wednesday: The dunkr

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Back in 2011, we featured The dipr in one of our Unitasker columns. It’s a spoon made to only hold sandwich cookies when you dunk them in milk — to clarify, it’s only for cookies like Oreos and Hydroxes. It’s cute, but undoubtedly a unitasker.

Since its introduction into the sandwich-cookie-dipping market, a few problems have been discovered with the product. The most notable of these problems is that The dipr doesn’t work well with standard cups. The angle of the handle is too shallow, so the cookie rolls off The dipr when you go to dip your cookie in milk. Instead of doing the sensible thing and changing the angle of the handle to improve the product, the same company has introduced a specialty shallow cup to hold your milk! The dunkr:

Now, you can buy The dipr AND The dunkr! For $15! One cup. $15 for just one cup. Not two, not four, one. All to “fix” a bug with the original product.

Can you imagine if a car company “fixed” a failing brake problem by asking customers to buy special padding to wrap the car in instead of fixing the brakes? Or if a roofing company solved a leaking problem by telling its customers to buy buckets to catch dripping water?

This does nothing to help my faith in the manufacturing industry.

Unitasker Wednesday: The Locker Rocker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

A long time ago, I went to high school. (True story. This awkward phase actually happened.)

Like most everyone who ever went to high school, I was issued a locker. It was a brown, metal, industrial, rectangle with a door that had been embedded in the wall of the school since before my grandmother had gone to school there. It was utilitarian and stuffed with books and notebooks and supplies and my coat and purse and about a thousand pony tail holders. It was not glamorous because it was a locker, not a night club, and I wasn’t an extra in a teen movie.

High school kids today, however, must either have enormous walk-in lockers or not need books or notebooks or supplies or a coat or purse or ponytail holders because the other day in The Container Store I saw this: A Locker Rocker.

Why?

Why would any student have need for a chandelier in his or her locker?

Are lockers really so large today that students require task lighting in these spaces?

Well, if a chandelier isn’t enough proof that lockers today must be the size of small cars, check out the locker rugs and locker wallpaper you can get to go with your chandelier. (I’m not making this up. Really, I’m not. Chandeliers and rugs and wallpaper.)

Kids must bring their contractors and interior designers with them on the first day of school.

Unitasker Wednesday: Nutmeg Grinder

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I appreciate a little freshly ground nutmeg on things like chai lattes and roasted carrots. To use it, I grab my multi-tasking cheese grater that has a zesting plane on one of its sides, and I grind a bit of a nutmeg seed onto whatever it is I’m preparing. Fresh nutmeg seeds store almost indefinitely in a sealed container (I use a little glass jar), so as long as you keep them away from light, heat, and moisture, you don’t really need anything special to keep a few in your kitchen.

Noting how easy it is to have fresh nutmeg on hand, I have to admit to being confused by this device specifically made to grind nutmeg seeds — the Nutmeg Grinder:

First, this device is about the size of a travel coffee mug. It’s not small, like a salt or pepper shaker. For a single use device, it takes up a decent amount of space in your cupboards. Second, and this is my main beef with it, it’s not electric. The piece on the top folds out and you have to hand-crank the grinder. You use the same amount of effort as you do if you were to manipulate a nutmeg seed across a zesting plane. I thought initially that if you had arthritis or another hand complication that an electric grinder might be useful, but since this one requires hand strength and agility it doesn’t help anyone with those needs.

When outfitting a kitchen, it’s fine to consider single-use devices if they are extremely convenient and save you time and space and you regularly use them. But, even if you regularly use freshly ground nutmeg, this device won’t save you time or space and its purpose can be easily duplicated by a multi-purpose device.