#138 Clean Out Your Pantry

This is one of those tasks that often sounds more time consuming than it really is and your feelings of satisfaction will flood your senses …

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#138

Clean out your pantry.

You may or may not have an official ‘pantry’ yet it is likely that you have a cupboard in your kitchen that is a ‘catch all’ – a place to stash those arbitrary ingredients that you rarely use. When was the last time you dug through there and got rid of the old stuff? I’m occasionally embarrassed by how long I’ve kept a can of water chestnuts or a packet of gravy mix that I picked up for a recipe or overbought.

First Things First

It’s a good idea to pull everything out to clearly see what’s what. Experts suggest we attempt this task at least once a year. It makes sense to do it now – before the holidays when we are apt to buy more groceries and may need the extra room.

Check Expiration Dates

Take stock in the items you have that may be on the verge of expiring. Expiration dates on food are conservative as required by the FDA and my family is hard evidence for the fact that people can eat food after it’s expiration date and live to tell about it (some foods are a hard no to this). Anything that has a close expiration date  can be incorporated into your meal planning over the next couple of weeks. Pasta stays good for a couple of years when it’s stored in a cool dry space, for example.

Organize It

This is a good time to see if you’ve run out of anything that you like to keep in stock. I generally have an extra bottle of ketchup or chili makings for a quick and easy way to feed a few if the kids pop in for dinner. Make a grocery list for those items that you need to stock or replace.

Next, group things in a way that makes sense to your lifestyle. I tend to organize my pantry the way my favorite grocery store is lined up; baking items on one shelf, cereal and grains on another.

Put it Back

Before you return things, make sure to wipe down the shelves and vacuum up crumbs and dust. Some people tout the use of shelf liner, making clean up really easy from  year to year.

As you return food back to the pantry, be sure to check that is securely packaged. You don’t want an open bag of rice to suddenly spill and spoil your efforts. For those items that are better in airtight containers, consider Ziplock bags or containers that lock in freshness.

There are thousands of ideas on Pinterest for pantry storage with many of the suggestions using free or low cost items to keep things neat and tidy. It’s easy to get inspired.

This is one of those tasks that often sounds more time consuming than it really is and your feelings of satisfaction will flood your senses each time you open the pantry door once you make the time to…

Clean out your pantry.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#154 Follow the 5 Minute Rule

What tends to happen here is that once we begin to attack something – the enormity of it goes away.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#154

Follow the 5 Minute Rule

About a year ago I ran across Mel Robbins and her explanation of the 5 second rule…. A commitment to start those things you’ve been putting off by counting down 5-4-3-2-1 – and GO. She does a much better job of discussing this and extolling its benefits – it’s worthy of attention if you procrastinate. Interestingly enough, as I was explaining it months later – I confused the concept by describing that we can do anything for 5 minutes so go ahead and … just do it. It’s different than Mel’s strategy but helpful nonetheless.

There are tons of things in our life – on our to-do lists – that we simply don’t want to do… we may dread it or be annoyed by our need to accomplish it. Perhaps it just feels overwhelming. The idea behind the ‘5 minute rule’ is that if spend just five minutes on that item  you are avoiding and still don’t find the wherewithal to keep going – then, stop; redirect and know that you made an effort.

Reality

What tends to happen here is that once we begin to attack something – the enormity of it goes away. We often finish before the five minutes is up, having manifested the ‘thing’ to be much bigger – more challenging – than it actually was. Additionally, after giving something five minutes of our time and attention, we frequently discover that we can keep going; that it isn’t that bad after all or that we’re halfway there.

Try It

As you go throughout your day and face something that feels overwhelming or too cumbersome to attack – consider using this 5 minute rule and step into it with a timer set. Let me know what the result is! I love to hear the successes or challenges when people make an attempt to …

Follow the five minute rule.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#166 Organize a Food Drive

Perhaps now… before we’re all inundated with people asking, it would be more effective! It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy…

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#66

Organize a Food Drive

Perhaps one of the best feelings ever is that sensation that settles in when we do something selfless that benefits someone else. It seems as if there is some type of disaster annually that strips communities and its residents of resources and even without, there are always people in need for a variety of reasons. Food pantries exist for this very reason yet during disasters and especially near the holiday’s, their contents dwindle to levels that make it difficult to meet need.

Feel good feelings

As an individual, it seems that there is often little we can do other than contribute money but that means someone else does the grunt work. This suggestion is aimed at increasing your sense of Eudaimonia (a deep sense of well-being) by initiating, organizing, and following through with a food drive in support of a local pantry or a larger effort at providing supplies to disaster relief.

Getting started

After connecting with a charity that will accept the donation, it may be necessary to establish a collaboration with your work, school, or spiritual organizations to get energy, committment, or permission. Generally it’s as simple as placing collection containers in an obvious place and inviting people in that environment to participate by contributing to the cause. Unexpired canned or boxed food items are always appreciated as are paper products that any family could use. Some drives are specifically aimed at children or infants. What a blessing it would be for a food pantry to be inundated with a supply of diapers it can offer its patrons!! (I know, diapers aren’t food but they are often desperately needed).

Start now

This is a common effort during the holidays and we’re entering that season so it may be something you want to add to your to-do list or your ‘holiday intention’ yet I would offer “why wait?”. Perhaps now… before we’re all inundated with people asking, it would be more effective! It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy… a phone call to a pantry or charity to get needs and details… an email or flyer distributed to your cohorts… the actual collection… and then delivery. It could be one box or ten.

Motivate the gang

This may be a great activity for your family, your bible study, your business team, your department, your bowling team, or your book club. It’s bound to boost your gratitude level, your sense of belonging, and your overall well-being and that’s just the benefit to you! Your energy will most definitely help others and make life easier for someone who need their own boost. I hope you’ll consider…

Organizing a food drive.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#167 Clean Out Your Car

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?)

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#167

Clean out your car

If it’s true that a clean house is a predictor of your health and happiness then it must follow that the cleanliness of the inside of our automobile is also somewhat of a predictor… especially for those of us who spend a ton of time driving. Our mental health is more stable when our environment is stable – organization and cleanliness manifest a sense of stability no matter the location.

Top to Bottom

Reader’s Digest suggests there’s much more to cleaning the interior of our car than simply dusting and vacuuming and an order in which to do those things. To start – as in your home – you should vacuum first! But from top to bottom; starting with the dashboard, then the seats, and finally the carpet. Vacuuming creates dust so don’t wipe things down until the vacuuming is finished. When you wipe things down, don’t stop at the obvious… be sure to wipe the inside of the door – the door jam – it’s the part that everyone first sees and ultimately determines how tightly your door closes.

Nooks & Crannies

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?), the center console, and the seat pockets. I’m lazy when it comes to those areas and when I do make the effort, I typically find little treasures that make me cringe, not to mention items I’d forgotten I had. Generally I’m a few dollars richer for the loose change that has collected there.

Taboo Items

The next step is to be sure to remove all the items that one should never keep in a car. Valuables is the obvious choice but there are other items that can be negatively affected by significant changes in temperature (heat & cold); plastic, for example. Eliminate any water bottles that have been exposed the the intense hot temperatures possible with a car sitting in the sun. Same advice goes for anything electronic; computers, cell phones, and tablets can overheat when exposed to extreme temperature, rendering them temporarily inoperable. Electronics are also frequent targets of thieves, making your car a tempting target.

Benefits

Inevitably, getting into a nice clean car that smells fresh ignites that ‘new car’ sensation – always a good feeling. Cleanliness is like a blank slate and allows your mind to focus on tasks at hand; clutter is distracting. Cleanliness helps us avoid the perils of allergens; the inside of your car is a small space so keeping the air there dust free will ultimately be beneficial. Take a look at your schedule and find some time to carve out so that you can …

Clean out your car.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#173 Refresh the Photos in Your Frames

Additionally, your brain has become accustomed to the photos currently in place – after awhile they become almost invisible to your senses.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#173

Refresh the photos in your frames

We frame favorite photographs of people we love or of great memories so that we can keep the moment alive and in front of us. While the snapshots of the kids in preschool are adorable, there’s a good chance that they have had a number of memorable moments since.

Digital Age

I am personally guilty of and have heard consensus that since the onset of the digital age, fewer and fewer photographs actually get printed. This may be one of the reasons that we aren’t updating the photos in our household frames even though many photo printing services make it exceptionally easy.

Get Organized

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of the frame sizes around your home. Many of them are typically 4×6 (the standard print size) or 5×7. Some of us may have special occasion photos that are the larger 8×10. Once you have a list, spend some time going through your phone or your online photo storage app (Google photos, Facebook, Shutterfly, etc…) and pick out a few to print. Most of the time, all you have to do is copy the photo so that they are all on the device you intend to transfer from.

Print

Once you know which photos you want, use a printing service such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. Of course, most box stores (Target, Walmart) and drug store chains also offer printing services. Simply download the photo to their online app, select the size and finish, and then pick them up when you are ready! It’s that easy.

Memory

Changing photographs is another activity that can help keep your memory strong. By stimulating our recall abilities, we engage memory in a way that keeps it moving… kinda like greasing a cog. Additionally, your brain has become accustomed to the photos currently in place – after awhile they become almost invisible to your senses. Changing the pictures will stimulate your brain as it notices something new as you move from room to room.

New Look

Replacing the photos in existing frames also protects against excess clutter as the years go by. Obviously, the longer we live, the more moments we capture and want to remember. Yet, continuing to add frames and photos can become overwhelming as time passes. As you go about this project, you may wish to update your frames as well but it’s not necessary to replace them. A fresh coat of paint, some embellishments or simply moving them into a different room may be all you need for the overall look to be updated.

Add this task to your master to-do list to keep it on your mind and the next time you need a ‘rainy day’ activity – consider the novelty and pleasure you’ll experience by taking an afternoon and …

Refreshing the photos in your frames.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#180 Organize Your Manuals

I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#180

Organize your Manuals

Do you have a drawer of instruction or operating manuals? Is it overflowing? Outdated? I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more. I am often amazed at how many coffee pots I’ve purchased since the last time the drawer was cleaned! (I go through them faster than tires on my car!)

Why Bother?

My dad taught me the importance of keeping manuals and while it’s a little less imperative now that everything and anything is on the internet – one of the habits I have is stapling a receipt or at least noting the date of acquisition on the instruction/operation manual. Recording the date of purchase is important for warranty information. Having the original manual is also a nicety for the person who buys the item secondhand from you. It demonstrates that you ‘take care’ of our belongings and that you are responsible (that’s what Dad said).  

Memory Lane

Looking through a collection of appliance/apparatus manuals can be entertaining as well… the last time I made this effort we found information for a Karaoke machine I had bought the children more than ten years ago… it offered an opportunity to walk down memory lane for awhile and giggle at the memories of bellowing teenage voices – the Britney Spear ‘wanna-be’s’.

Quick & Easy

It’s a simple chore that really only takes a few minutes… a much shorter time than we imagine. While you certainly can take it seriously and create a binder with sections and labels – it’s probably just as productive to weed out the drawer. Whether its a tool sitting in the garage, an appliance that you use every day, or a toy that’s been forgotten the manual may be lying dormant in that drawer. Right now while it’s fresh on your mind, either tackle the task or scribble on your to-do list…

Organize your manuals.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

 

#182 Do ONE Thing You’ve Been Putting Off

Any time we can promote a personal sense of accomplishment, we instantly feel better about ourselves and about the world in general.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#182

Do one thing  you’ve been putting off

This particular tip will satisfy all three objectives in terms of making your life 1. Easier, 2. Happier, and 3. More Productive.

When we procrastinate, our inner voices often become critical. Criticism is a negative modifier to happiness. Procrastination complicates our life more often than not because it clogs the flow of productivity – contributing to negative self talk – fostering dissatisfaction overall.

If you’ve activated some of the earlier tips about organization and productivity then you may have a master to-do list. What item on that list has been there the longest? What is preventing you from accomplishing that task? What would happen if it were no longer on your list? If you still can’t find the motivation to tackle that task consider the reason it is there in the first place. Perhaps it’s important to reconsider the task in its entirety.

Rethink

I used to have a separate file for each bill that I paid throughout the year in case I needed to access it at a later point in time. I detested the task of filing and the pile would often grow to an unmanageable height – creating another layer of complexity to the concept of task completion. Eventually I realized that in all the years I’d been spending those hours carefully organizing – I’d never had a reason to go back and pull something from those files.

Today, I simply have a box dated for each year and all the papers go into the box – fully unorganized – completely random and IF… I ever need to find something I will spend the hours necessary to find what I need. I’ve saved 20 or more hours with this new – chaotic – but time efficient – system. The best part about this ‘system’ is that I don’t have a pile of papers waiting to be sorted – that pile haunted me every year!

Feel Better

Any time we can promote a personal sense of accomplishment, we instantly feel better about ourselves and about the world in general. It erases feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. It fosters a sense of control and personal power so take a look at your master ‘to-do’ list and identify the item(s) there that you’re procrastinating about most. Decide if the item needs to stay on your list or if there is a different solution. For the items that remain, make a decision today to…

Do ONE thing you’ve been putting off.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below