Tip o’ the day: Leftover Management!

Now that the weather is finally beautiful, I get so motivated to throw open the windows and really clean out! How about you?

Tip of the day: Keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie next to your refrigerator, or attached to the door. Every time you put a container in the fridge for the first time, put a chunk of masking tape on the top first and scribble the date on it (e.g. “4/26”). That way, you don’t have to wonder, “How long has this been in here?” It takes all of five seconds, costs almost nothing, helps you remember to finish leftovers before they go bad, and makes fridge cleanout very easy. You can write directly with the Sharpie on jars and throwaway containers like Chinese food packages – don’t even bother with the tape. We do this in my house, and I don’t know how we managed before it.

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Do It While You’re Thinking Of It

Tonight as my boyfriend prepared to return to his own home after our date, he reminded me that his drill was still in my car, and asked me to go outside with him to unlock the car and get it out for him. I balked at that, because I didn’t want to go out in the cold, and since he was planning to come back tomorrow, asked, “Can you just get it when you come over tomorrow?” He said he could, but then I realized that my suggestion had just created one more thing for us to do.

We were thinking about it now, already. If we were to put it off until tomorrow, at least one of us would have to remember once again that the drill was still in my car, and likely we both would, because we’re both organized like that. And we’re busy people, with plenty to keep track of as it is. Why add one more thing?. If we just went ahead and did the task now, it would be done – and that’s what we did.

Consider those small tasks that you keep putting off because “It’s such a little thing and will only take a moment.” How many times has each task grabbed your attention before it finally gets done? Think of what a waste of brainpower that is. Or what about things you see in your home or workplace every day that gives you a visual cue that something needs doing? Every time you see it, you think “Oh yes, I have to do X.” If the thing takes a second or two, like picking up an item of clothing, or sticking the stapler back in your drawer, or even sponging down a countertop, just doing it while you’re thinking about it can save you lots of brainpower (and any ensuing stress/angst/guilt) later. If you can’t do a task when you’re thinking of it, writing it down is the next best thing (just write it in a sensible and easily recoverable place).

Of course it’s possible to overdo it, getting sidetracked with the many small things that need doing, to the point where you neglect the big things. I’m just suggesting that you weigh how quickly a task can be accomplished against the hassle of having to remember it later. Plus, it’s so satisfying to take care of these easy tasks, it’ll give you more confidence for the big ones.