Testing 16 Holiday Life Hacks

In this week’s episode of our List Show, John Green tests a number of holiday-themed life hacks we found on the Internet. Which of these will actually make your holiday season easier?

10 Ways To Look Professional, and Hide Your Pajamas, In a Video Conference Call

You don't need to wear full business attire to maintain a professional appearance.
You don't need to wear full business attire to maintain a professional appearance.
fizkes/iStock via Getty Images

The COVID-19 crisis has forced offices to shutter around the country, and as a result, more people are working from home than ever. That means we're seeing more of coworkers' bedrooms, pets, and pajamas than we ever imagined.

If you're navigating the dos and don'ts of working remotely for the first time, you don't necessarily need to choose between professionalism and comfortable pants. Just keep a few tips in mind to make your transition from being alone on the couch to hopping onto a last-minute Zoom video call as smooth as possible.

Just like in real life, wearing the right outfit can go a long way when it comes to looking professional for your colleagues. Standards aren't as high when you're telecommuting, so even switching out your T-shirt for a business-casual top when you expect to be on video can be enough to show you put effort into your appearance. And unless you plan on moving around on the video call, don't bother putting on pants that don't have an elastic waistband.

If you want to look good on video, there are a few things to keep in mind that don't apply to in-person meetings. Position your computer so you're eye-level with the camera, placing it on a stack of books if necessary, and find a room with good lighting so your coworkers can actually see you. And to avoid getting any unpleasant surprises when you see yourself in a group meeting, check how you look on camera privately before calling in.

You can find tips for looking professional on a video conference call below. And for more ways to optimize your telecommuting experience, check out these habits to practice.

  1. Sit facing a window for natural lighting.
  1. Wear a business-casual top.
  1. Choose clothes with neutral tones.
  1. Position your webcam so it's level with your eyes.
  1. Sit farther from the camera rather than closer.
  1. If you're having a bad hair day, pull it back with a hair tie.
  1. Keep on comfortable pants if you can avoid standing up.
  1. Find a private room to minimize background distractions.
  1. See how you look on your computer camera before joining a video call.
  1. If you have limited time to put on makeup, focus on brows and cheeks to give your face dimension.

20 Boredom-Busting Science Experiments You Can Do at Home, Courtesy of YouTube’s Physics Girl

YouTube's Physics Girl snuffs out a candle with carbon dioxide.
YouTube's Physics Girl snuffs out a candle with carbon dioxide.
Physics Girl, YouTube

YouTube sensation Physics Girl is keeping boredom at bay in the best way possible: with DIY science experiments that you can recreate on your own.

In the video below, she challenges herself to complete all 20 experiments in five minutes—not including the time it takes to set everything up—which amounts to 15 seconds for each one. Parents who are homeschooling their kids (or adults who just have a little more free time than usual while in self-isolation) can, of course, slow them down to a more leisurely pace or even spread them out over a few weeks.

You probably already have a lot of the materials you’ll need, like eggs, candles, soda cans, oil, water, pans, and other basic household items. Some experiments are simple and kid-safe—like spinning a hard-boiled egg on its side until it stands on its end—while others require adult supervision, like blowing out a candle and relighting it without actually touching the lighter to the wick.

A few of them might end up entertaining kids (or you) for much longer than the duration of the experiment itself. A mixture of cornstarch and tonic water, for example, creates a slime-like substance called a non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it can act like a solid or a liquid, depending on how you handle it. (If you don’t have tonic water, here’s how to make it with regular water.)

And after you’ve mastered all the challenges and spent hours letting cornstarch slime run through your fingers at various viscosities, there are many more wonders to behold on Physics Girl’s YouTube channel, which is run by PBS Digital Studios. There, the MIT graduate (also known as Dianna Cowern) explores why Tic Tacs sometimes bounce higher on the second bounce, investigates whether it’s possible to power a house with a ShakeWeight, and plenty more.

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