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.

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!

If you’re feeling agitated or angry– hit the pause button.

My mom reminded me of a piece of advice I’d given her awhile back. Do not make any big decisions when you’re angry or agitated. That is not the time. Wait it out, then see what you think.

If you’re yelling at the driver who cut you off in traffic or rude to the grocery store clerk who didn’t get things right, that is misplaced anger. If you’re slamming the kitchen cupboards (what did those poor cupboards ever do to you?), then it’s time to stop and take a good look in the mirror to examine what it is that’s really upsetting you.

No Thank You

 

Feeling angry is usually when you want to give someone or something a big, “No Thank You!” A line has been crossed and you probably expect the other person to understand that. My guess is that they don’t. The reality is, you’re in the driver’s seat. You have to teach people how to treat you, even when you think it should be obvious (it’s not).

The Johnny Paycheck

 

Before you give your boss, roomate, spouse, or whomever a Johnny Paycheck (he recorded the tune, “Take This Job and Shove it!”), give yourself a timeout. Anger is a sign that you need to give yourself a bit more care; take a walk in nature, go get a massage, listen to your favorite music or watch a favorite movie. Give a minimum of 24 to 48 hours to sleep on the problem at hand, as hard as that may be. This pause will allow you to figure out a strategy that works best for you. Ask yourself what do you need to feel better? Maybe you need to ask that person for an apology. Maybe you need to tell your boss that you’re not going to be able to give overtime next week. Whatever it is, you deserve to take care of yourself. If everyone took responsibility for their emotions, we wouldn’t really have as many problems as we do.

Feeling anger is natural

 

If you drive a car, at some point you will get cut off in traffic. Grocery store clerks and waiters at restaurants won’t always get things right. Get to the real bottom of your anger, so that these little things won’t upset you anymore. Let’s choose to be adults and take responsibility for our emotions and well being. It may be a little painful and scary at first, but eventually, it will make your life much better.

Try “No Goals” as a New Year’s Resolution

If you’ve already let go of a New Year’s resolution then you’re gonna love this suggestion. I recently ran across Leo Babauta’s no goals post and found it intriguing. I’m really not that into New Year’s Resolution’s anyway. I figure if something is good for my life, then I should just start doing it. But there is a definite consensus that the New Year is a time for new beginnings and all that. In years past I’ve gone crazy in listing too many resolutions only to fail. But ‘No Goals’? I’m like, how do you get anything done? I live for my planner. I luuuuv crossing stuff off of my to-do list. I didn’t understand how this could work.

So, I thought I’d try it for a half a day as an experiment. Guess what? I got more done in that 2-3 hour period than I had all week. How’s that you ask? I’m not entirely sure. I know that once I decided on having no goals, I felt a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. It felt wonderful and uncomfortable all at the same time. Suddenly, because I didn’t have to do something, I just felt like to doing something. Weird, huh?

Start Small

My suggestion? Start small. Try no goals for a few hours and see where it gets you. If you just do nothing, I think that’s best. Doing nothing is the hardest thing to do in our production-oriented society these days.

I’m going to try this experiment again because it made my life seem a little better. And as you know, I think better is better.

If you try this, I would love to hear about your experience below.

Got the post-holiday clutter creep? I’ve got an answer.

The gifts are unwrapped, the tree is on it’s way out, the last of the cookie crumbs have been eaten and lo, you find yourself amidst a pile of post-holiday-clutter-creep. What’re you going to do when you’d rather go bury your head under the covers? You’re going to get up and start by cleaning the kitchen sink.

But what about the Christmas decor that needs put away? Start with the kitchen sink.

But what about the mountain of laundry? Start with the kitchen sink.

But what about the credit card bill? Start with the kitchen sink.

But what about the cat hairball? Start with the kitchen sink.

Whatever life happens to be throwing at you in this moment, start by cleaning your kitchen sink. You will feel immediate beneficial results that will carry with you throughout the day. I’m not kidding about this. It’s better than therapy (well, probably not, but you get my point).

Look, I get it. We’ve all got ten million things to do and only 24 hours to do them in. No matter the length of your to-do list, always begin with the sink. The beauty of starting in the same place is that you won’t question it. It’s just what you do. It becomes routine. You don’t even have to think about it anymore.

Everything begins with your kitchen sink, mostly your health. It’s where you will make up to three meals a day for yourself and/or your family. It’s where you will eventually start your morning by drinking a glass of water to re-hydrate after waking up (you’re doing this, right?). You can’t fill up your water bottle thorough out the day if the sink is filled to the brim with dirty dishes. Believe me, I’ve tried. So start with the sink. That’s it. That’s all. Don’t worry about those other things right now. If that’s all you get to, great. As I like to say around here, better is better.

Now. After your sink is clean, you’re hydrated and fed, you can tackle the clutter. Put on some good music and separate it into keep, giveaway, donate and trash.

Please share your tips and tricks for reducing holiday clutter creep below. I’d love to learn from you!

p.s. This post is NOT sponsored but it is inspired by Flylady, who encourages people to start with the kitchen sink. She’s got all kinds of great advice on keeping your house clean.