The One Touch Rule

You’ve probably heard this one before, but if you haven’t it can be a game changer in making your life so much better.

Once is Enough

The rule is to touch stranded or misplaced items in your house only once. This is basically another way of saying put things away immediately (laundry, dishes, shoes, you-name-it). Now this of course assumes that you have a place to put things in the first place. That’s a given. Everything needs a home and hopefully one in which you don’t have to play a game of tetris in order to put it away.

The biggest culprit in our home? Mail and paperwork. My husband brings it in and lays it on the dining room table. I distribute the mail and walk the rest of it upstairs EVERYDAY to the office where I have an “In” file box that I put pending papers. I’ve gone paperless with what ever bills I can, that helps. Most bills have statements online if you ever need a history or a quick phone call should do the trick.

The one touch rule is one of those things that you do for your future self. Is it a pain to always put things away immediately? Yep. But it’s essential if you want a tidy space in which to live and the sanity that comes along with it.

80% is Good Enough

A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of those art and craft supply stores to replace some inserts for my Happy Planner organizer that I use. I was perfectly satisfied with my system until on the way to check out, I passed a kiosk that held a smaller version of what I already had. This stopped me in my tracks. Would I prefer the smaller size? Yes. Could I fit everything I needed into it? Probably. It might be difficult, but I could at least try. A smaller size would allow me to carry the planner around with me all the time. My current one is big and the cover keeps falling off constantly but I love the system and it works for me. But this smaller version just might work better…

But is it better?

After wasting fifteen minutes looking over, analyzing, walking up to the cash register then back to the kiosk again, I finally decided to listen to my own advice that I’d recently shared with a friend: if you have a system in place (for your grocery shopping, wardrobe, house cleaning, laundry, carpool, or whatever) that works for about 80% of the time, then call it good and stop trying to make it perfect. I could’ve spent my fifteen minutes elsewhere, on something that is not working at 80% in my life yet, like exercising. I could’ve taken my dog for a short walk in the amount of time I wasted hemming and hawing.

Stop trying so hard

How much time/money/energy are you wasting try to cover the gap from 80% to 100%? My guess is too much. Stop. Now choose an area that isn’t working, then re-dedicate that effort. For me it’s regular, consistent exercise. I may do one or two days a week but I want exercise to be more like brushing my teeth; something I just do without thinking about it too much.

It’s so easy to get wrap up in what isn’t working in your life. How about reversing the question and ask what IS working in your life? Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back. Those are the areas you do not need to spend more time on, savvy? Choose something that needs some TLC and start taking baby steps.

Menu Planning for the Win

On my death bed, as I list out the regrets in my life, I will write “Should’ve Started Menu Planning Earlier.” I kid you not. One of the best budgeting and time saving tools is menu planning and please don’t complicate it. It takes five minutes, tops. A paper and pencil will do. Level one menu planning looks something like this:

Mon– tacos

Tues – lentil soup & bread

Wed – steak, potato, side salad

Thurs – leftovers

Fri – pizza (something easy at the end of a long week)

Sat– salmon, rice, broccoli

Sun– crockpot chili, cornbread, steamed spinach

Stick this on the refrigerator so everyone can see it and admire it for the intricate artistry.

The basic rule of thumb is to include a protein, starch and vegetable in each meal. Nowadays, the veggie is supposed to take up half the plate, the protein and starch should be palm-sized for portion control.

When you get comfortable with level one, you move to level two.

Check the weather for the week

and write it down by each day, so you’re not making creamy broccoli and cheese potato soup when it’s 95 degrees out.

Quickly scan your cupboards and refrigerator

to see what items you already have. Use them in your menu plan. Allrecipes.com lets you search a recipe by ingredient. Use the rest of the missing ingredients for your grocery list (Please tell me you’re using a grocery list to shop because otherwise I guarantee you are wasting money if you do not use a list. Also, eat first. Before you go grocery shopping, I mean. And keep your grocery list on your phone so that you always have it. Are you at information overload? Then go back to level one at the top of this blog post and stay there.).

Glance at your schedule

for the week. Your teenager has a basketball game on Wednesday? Leftovers, a made-before-the-game crockpot recipe, microwaveable frozen dinner, or fast food run it is, then!

Quickly look through those annoying grocery sale flyers

you get in the mail each week. Pork chops on sale? Mild weather forecast for Sunday? Fire up the grill!

Buy enough food for the whole week

so that you’re not having to run back to the grocery store multiple times.

Let your cupboards and pantry get bare

before grocery shopping. It’s odd looking and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way I’ve found that my family will eat whatever is left. In other words, they will not eat the carrots and celery if chips and dip are available. Savvy?

Okay, that’s probably enough. You know me, I have more info and tidbits but I’ll save those for another day. I hope this makes your life better. It has mine. Please let me know how it goes!

What’s in My Trash Bin

I think a lot about trash. Does that surprise you? I like to consider the long-term impact of my actions and purchases and that includes going more zero waste. What happens after I’m done with something? This line of questioning has changed the way I consume products, both groceries and apparel.

For instance, I didn’t realize that any synthetic material (i.e. nylon, polyester, spandex, etc.) in our clothes are made from plastics and plastics are made from petroleum. The textile industry represents one of the largest polluters on our planet, second only to oil and gas. The plastic waste in our oceans comprises 269,000 metric tons and 5.25 trillion particles—enough to stretch to the moon and back, twice* (think single use plastic water bottles, the plastic micro-beads in your face wash, or plastic toothbrushes for that matter).

What you can do

Wear out the clothes you have then donate donate it to a program that sells textiles for fabric recycling. Goodwill has been a leader in recycling textiles and uses any profits for their job training program.

Need help recycling a certain thing-a-ma-jiggy? You can find a place near you by searching  Earth911.

Downsize to a capsule wardrobe. Haven’t worn an item in over a year? It’s a safe bet you can let go of it.

When shopping to replace any items in your wardrobe, choose second hand. Read the material tag. Pick clothes made from an all natural fiber (cotton, linen, hemp, wool, silk, etc.) that can compost naturally without harmful by-products seeping into our ground water (but consider the thread, I just read where thread is not usually 100% compostable).

Let’s educate ourselves and make better choices for our own lives and health and others.

Here are some of my favorite sustainable clothing companies:

Eileen Fisher

Patagonia

Here are some of my favorite bloggers on the subject of Zero Waste:

Paris-To-Go

Trash is for Tossers

Zero Waste Home

To the Universe with Love

The Beauty in Simple

This post doesn’t really do justice but I will continue to write more about this. Have you ever thought about trash? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below (also, it would make me feel less nerdy, but whatever, I’m trying to be an adult about that).

p.s. What’s in my trash bin this week? We had one regular sized kitchen trash bag and a small one gallon sized trash bag from our bathroom in our weekly trash bin for a family of four. I’m pretty proud of that. Also, someone’s ratty chaise lounge chair pad that blew into our yard after a wind storm. Weird, huh?

*data provided by a 2012 study (read more @ 5Gyres)