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10 Of The Best Ways To Complete Everyday Tasks According To Science

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Every day, humans complete the same actions. A lot of times, these actions are completed on autopilot without much thought. However, just because we’ve been doing things the same way for centuries, or even millennia, does not mean we are performing the actions in the most effective ways. For that reason, scientists have spent some serious time and energy to find the best and most effective ways we can do certain tasks.

10Give Gifts

10 gift
Depending on the size of your family and social circle, buying gifts may be an ongoing and exasperating task. How do you figure out the best gift to give someone?

When looking at the science of gift giving, researchers at Yale University found that there is a communication gap between givers and receivers. Givers want to give something that has the best value. However, people receiving the gift would rather have something that is simple and convenient.

Two examples they gave were giving a computer program with a lot of features or a simpler program with fewer features. Givers would rather give the more complex gift, while receivers would like the simple program more. Another example is gift certificates for restaurants. One restaurant has great ratings but is an hour away. The other is five minutes away, but the reviews aren’t as good. Again, the giver would choose the highly rated restaurant while the receiver would choose the gift card for the restaurant that is closer to them.

Another thing to strongly consider when buying a gift is to consider what the person asked for. Givers tend to think something unexpected would show more thought, but receivers simply want what they asked for. Also, price really isn’t a big factor. According to their study, people don’t tend to get more excited over expensive gifts versus cheaper ones.

Finally, when giving the gift, you might not want to consider dressing it up with bows, ribbons, and tinsel. The problem is that by making the wrapping fancy, it raises the level of expectation of the receiver. So, if the gift is less than stellar, they may be even more disappointed if it comes in beautiful and elaborate wrapping. Lastly, if all else fails, giving money, which may seem rude, is actually appreciated a lot of the time.

9Bake Cookies

9 cookies
To be honest, there isn’t one way to make a perfect cookie because everyone has his or her own taste when it comes to the texture and taste of baked goods. This led to NPR pooling a number of resources to examine the matter. They came up with ways to prepare eight different types of batter to ensure that you can bake cookies of your favorite texture.

Depending on how you like your cookies, choose one of the following methods. If you like your cookies to be more gooey, simply add two more cups of flour. If you like your cookies to have a nice brown tone, set the oven temperature to at least 180 degrees Celsius (356 °F). If you like the centers to be soft, add one-quarter teaspoon baking powder and one-quarter teaspoon baking soda.

If chewy is what you desire, then swap bread flour for all-purpose flour. If you want them to be similar to store-bought cookies, use butter instead of shortening. For thick cookies that aren’t really crispy, freeze the batter for 30–60 minutes before you bake them. For cookies with more of a cake consistency, use more baking soda. Finally, if you like your cookies to pop with flavor, freeze the dough for 24 hours before making them.

These simple changes should allow you to enjoy your own version of the perfect cookie.

8Cut A Round Cake

The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake – Numberphile

Sir Francis Galton was a Victorian scientist who studied eugenics and human intelligence. He also had an apparent interest in how cakes were cut. In 1906, he wrote a letter to the editor of Nature explaining the best way to cut a cake if you aren’t planning on eating the whole cake in one sitting.

Normally, if someone is cutting a cake they cut it similar to a pie or a pizza which makes the pieces wedge-shaped. The problem is that the insides of the cake are exposed to air where the wedge was taken out and this makes the cake go stale. Instead, Galton says that you should cut a rectangular piece that is the width of the cake from the middle of the cake.

Once you’ve sliced your desired piece, simply push the two halves together to make a smaller circle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put a rubber band around it to ensure no air gets in. This should keep the cake fresh. The next time you want cake, turn the cake so that the previous cut is horizontal, and cut another rectangle out. This will leave you with four quarters, and again you can push them together and put a rubber band around it. You can continue this process until the four pieces are small enough to eat on their own.

7Pour Ketchup From A Glass Bottle

The H. J. Heinz Company was started in 1869 and has been selling their flagship ketchup since the early days of the company. In 1890, they introduced their iconic glass bottle, and people have struggled to get the ketchup out of the bottle ever since.

The reason that it’s so difficult is because ketchup is both a solid and a fluid, something known as a non-Newtonian fluid. Unlike Newtonian fluids (for example, water), non-Newtonian fluids change consistency depending on how they are treated. (Ketchup is one of the more complicated substances in the world, and scientists put some serious study into how it works.) They’ve found that the best way to get the ketchup out on your own is to shake up the bottle since this mixes up the particles and makes ketchup more of a liquid.

Taking it a step further, a team at MIT created a substance called LiquiGlide, which is a lubrication for fluids. By adding the substance to a bottle of ketchup, it can get every last drop of ketchup out of it. Or, you could just get a squeezable bottle, but where’s the fun in that?


6 study
When it comes to taking in information and applying it to a test, there are a number of different practices or tricks that people use. In order to find the best way to study, researchers at Kent State University looked at 10 different methods for studying. Their research found that doing practice tests, along with planned intervals between study sessions, was the best way to study. So, if you want to study most effectively, start ahead of time, make a schedule, and make up or find practice tests to do at each session.

As for the least effective way to study, they concluded that a number of usual methods were not as helpful. This included doing things like creating a summary, reading while highlighting the important information, making up imagery for the text, re-reading, and creating mnemonics using keywords. Mnemonics include making up songs or creating a phrase to remember keywords (e.g., My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos is a mnemonic for the planets in our solar system).

5Swallow Pills

5 pill
There’s nothing worse than trying to swallow a pill and getting it stuck in the back of your throat. So, it is a good thing that researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany have come up with the two best ways to swallow a pill.

The first is called the “pop bottle method,” which is ideal for ingesting tablets. For this method, get a plastic bottle and fill it with at least a tablespoon of water. Place the pill on your tongue and create a tight seal around the tip of the bottle. Tilt the bottle back and, using a sucking motion, swallow the pill with the water immediately.

If you are swallowing a capsule, again, you’ll need at least a tablespoon of water, but you can use a normal glass. Place the capsule on your tongue and take a medium sip, then tilt your head forward so that your chin is closer to your chest and swallow. The researchers believe that this will help people who struggle with swallowing their medication.

4Eat A Hamburger

Almost everyone, from vegans to carnivores, love a good burger. They are versatile and can be made from meat, soy, vegetables, and mushrooms, just to name a few.

Did you know that there is a proper way to hold a burger? If you don’t hold your burger correctly, it could become an unmitigated mess. Luckily, the Japanese show Honma Dekka had three experts work on this very important project. One expert specialized in fluid mechanics, another in engineering, and one in dentistry. Together, they worked for four months and created a computer program that looked at how the particles in the burger interacted with each other.

Finally, they deemed the best way to eat a big burger with minimal spillage is to grasp the burger with both hands. Place the thumb and the pinky on the bottom of the burger and the three middle fingers on top of it. Hold it firmly, but not too tightly, and enjoy.

3Get Motivated

3 motivated
Some days, finding motivation is one of the hardest things to do. You get up and you have a whole day of hard work ahead of you, but all you want to do is lie around. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign searched for the best way to motivate yourself.

They performed two tests where they had half the participants write advice and encouraging statements referring to themselves in the first person. For example: “I can do this.” The other half was instructed to write their statements referring to themselves in the second person, i.e., “You can do this.” The first test had participants work on anagrams after writing the encouraging statements. In the second test, they had the participants write down encouraging statements about exercising and then had them exercise over the next two weeks.

In both tests, the researchers found that the people who wrote encouraging statements in the second person performed better, and their attitudes were better when they performed the tasks. It is also important to note that the researchers had the individuals write down their statements. However, you don’t necessarily have to write it down. You can simply say it aloud, but just be sure to refer to yourself in the second person.

2Shake Hands

2 shake
At the University of Manchester, researchers have actually developed a step-by-step guide so that you can nail this ancient cultural mainstay. According to the researchers, there are 12 key factors that go into the perfect handshake. This includes the temperature of the hand and the use of eye contact.

For the perfect handshake, you need your palm to be cool and dry. Using your right hand, completely grip the other person’s hand and squeeze it firmly, but not too tightly. Then, with a “medium amount of vigor,” shake three times. The handshake should only last for about two or three seconds. During the handshake, maintain eye contact, smile naturally, and make an appropriate statement, like “pleasure to meet you.”

The researchers say it is important to have a good handshake because it’s often one of the ways people form opinions about you and gather information about you when they first meet you.

1Brew Tea

1 brew tea
Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, placing second to water. As a result, there has been plenty of debate about the best ways of making tea. One person who put a lot of thinking into this was George Orwell, who had his own system. So, on the 100th anniversary of Orwell’s birthday, the Royal Society of Chemistry decided to look at Orwell’s 11-step guide to making tea. They decided that his tea was much too strong and that he put the milk in at the wrong time.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, the best way to make a cup of tea is to boil the water in a kettle. Using a ceramic teapot, put one-quarter of a cup of water in it and, as the water in the kettle nears its boiling point, microwave the ceramic pot on high for one minute.

After the pot is done in the microwave, drain the water from it and put one round teaspoon of tea per cup or water into the pot. Pour the boiling water into the pot, stir, and let it brew for three minutes. If you drink your tea with milk, the next step is important: Pour the milk into your mug before you pour the tea. Finally, if sugar is your thing, add that to your desired taste. Then sit down and enjoy!

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian crime-fiction writer. You can follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @RobertGrimminck, or visit his website.

fact checked by Jamie Frater