11 Solid Rules of Thumb for Adult Life


Being an adult is about more than the number of candles on your birthday cake. It’s about personal growth, building healthy habits, and embracing responsibility. It may sound like a daunting challenge (and in many ways it is), but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Remember these 11 rules and you’ll do just fine (consider this your cheat sheet to life).


It’s easy for little chores to pile up and become intimidating. To cut down on procrastination, do any task that takes less than two minutes to complete right away. This applies to anything from doing the dishes to responding to personal emails (work emails are another story, as studies show it may be more productive to spend longer stretches of time focusing on a single task—see No. 7). Just get it out of the way, and you won’t have to worry about it later. Avoiding procrastination will lead to a less cluttered house and mind.


Keeping documents organized is one of those things that doesn’t feel important until it’s too late. To avoid misplaced-passport-panic in the moments before you leave to catch a flight, or having to laboriously re-write and reformat your resume when your ancient laptop finally crashes for good, keep all of your important documents—both physical and digital—well organized. For physical documents, it’s a good idea to have a designated binder or drawer to keep everything important—from tax documents to bills to your lease—in one place. And for digital files: Back everything up often, either online or in a back-up hard drive.


Never get caught without household basics like toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, and batteries. Paying a little bit of attention to your stock of household supplies now is easier than dealing with a spill without any paper towels later. Find out what kinds of batteries the electronic devices in your home like remote controls and smoke detectors take: If the smoke detector in your home starts running low on juice, it will beep all day and night until you replace its battery, so it’s a good idea to grab a few in advance to avoid a sleepless night. Speaking of…


Sleep is crucial to mental and physical health, but people habitually treat it like it’s optional. Fewer than seven hours a night will take a toll on your health; but, on the flip side, getting enough sleep can improve your ability to focus, lower your stress levels, and even keep you at a healthier weight. You’ll ultimately be able to get more done during the day by investing in a full night’s sleep than by staying up for a few extra hours to work.


It’s totally possible to live in the moment and plan for the future at the same time. Break down your long term goals into smaller, more immediate tasks in order to spend less time worrying about distant future events. For instance, if you’re planning for a big career shift or a new job down the line, break that goal down into things you can do in the near future, like job applications, additional education, and networking events. Breaking your big goals into smaller tasks will help you get more done now, and allow you to worry less about the future in your down time.


Start saving money right now—you’ll be glad you did. No matter how much money you’re making, it’s a good idea to put a little away each month. You can even have a set amount automatically transferred from your checking account into your savings at set intervals, so you won’t even have to think about it.


Want to get more done? Sometimes it helps to do less. While it might feel like we’re getting more work completed when we perform multiple tasks at once, most of the time, that’s not the case. Multiple studies have found that multitasking breaks our focus, makes us less efficient, and can even cause cognitive damage in the long run. Instead of trying to do everything at the same time, break down your day into different tasks, and focus fully on each one. Many of our most common distractions are technology-related: If you’re at work, designate specific times to check and respond to emails; at home, put down your phone if you’re watching a movie or hanging out with friends.


People talk about finding a work/life balance, but it’s equally important to find a balance between categories like friends and family, fitness and relaxation, and being social and spending time on your own. Finding the right balance means something different for everyone, so it’s important to follow your own instincts instead of looking at what other people are doing. For some, working out at the gym every morning feels right, while others are happy to get their recommended weekly dose of cardiac exercise by heading out for jog or yoga class a few times a week. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling, and find the balance of time spent on activities, work, and relationships that feels right for you.


Learning how to stand up for yourself isn’t just about fighting back when you’re being bullied. It’s about knowing how to express your feelings with tact, and voicing your opinions respectfully. Whether you’re negotiating a pay raise or caught in an argument with your significant other, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your point across in a way that’s assertive but not combative. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re listening as much as you’re talking, and to remind yourself that you’re having a conversation—not a fight.


When it comes to human emotions, things often exist in a gray area. For instance, if you’re arguing with a friend or significant other, it’s often more productive to find a middle ground than it is to prove you’re right.


When you’re a young adult, you have to work to undo all of the bad habits you developed in college, like going to bed too late, eating junk food, and skipping your workout in favor of takeout. Develop good habits the same way you developed the bad ones: Through repetition. Exercising regularly or eating healthy may feel like a chore now, but eventually it’ll be as second nature as staying up until 4 a.m. watching TV once was.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

1. Apple AirPods Pro; $219


You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

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2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35


For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46


This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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5. Jashen V18 350w Cordless Vacuum Cleaner; $180


If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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6. Evachill Ev-500 Personal Air Conditioner; $65


This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

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7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120


The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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8. Townew: The World's First Self-Sealing Trash Can; $90


Never deal with handling gross garbage again when you have this smart bin helping you in the kitchen. With one touch, the Townew will seal the full bag for easy removal. Once you grab the neatly sealed bag, the Townew will load in a new clean one on its own.

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9. Light Smart Solar Powered Parking Sensor (Two-Pack); $155


Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

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10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46


Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

What the Color Codes on Toothpaste Tubes Really Mean

PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images
PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images

Packaging details—like the circles on chip bags and the symbols on cosmetics labels—can be mystifying to the average consumer. For years, a graphic has circulated the internet claiming to explain the hidden meaning behind the colored markings on the bottom of toothpaste tubes. While it's true that those color codes are there for a reason, the reason is much less interesting than the online rumors suggest.

According to Snopes, a widely-shared image on social media alleges that the colors on the seams of toothpaste tubes correlate to certain types of ingredients. The picture shows four different colored markings, with green meaning natural, blue indicating natural and medicine, red meaning natural and chemical composition, and black signifying pure chemical.

This "decoding" isn't based in truth, however. The markings on toothpaste packaging have nothing to do with the ingredients inside the tube—and even if they did, classifications like natural and chemical are too vague to mean anything. The real reason the colors are there is to aid the machinery responsible for putting the packaging together. The tiny colored rectangles are actually called eye marks or color marks, and they tell light beam sensors where a tube needs to be cut or folded. Once the toothpaste reaches the store, the markings no longer serve a purpose.

If you do want to know more about the ingredients in your toothpaste, it's not as hard as deciphering a mysterious code. "Oral care companies don’t mark their toothpastes with colored squares to try to trick consumers and hide ingredients from them," Colgate writes on its website. "If you want to know what kind of ingredients your toothpaste has, don’t look for a colored block at the end of the tube. Instead, take a look at the packaging for a comprehensive list of ingredients."

You can find the ingredients in your toothpaste listed on the outer box and/or the tube itself—and you don't need to know any secret codes to read them.

[h/t Snopes]