“Waste Not, Want Not” is a saying that dates back to the 1700s, but is especially relevant to the times we’re living in now.

I’ll tell you what: I never realized I had some wasteful habits until, well, until going to the grocery store became an event that had the potential to literally make a person ill.

I love to cook. We have the best Wegmans less than a mile from our front door. Weekly meal planning was never my thing. I would simply decide what I felt like cooking based on any number of factors: my work schedule, my mood, the weather, perhaps a late-in-the-day meeting or evening plans. I would typically buy fresh produce, dairy or meat as needed during any one of my 4-5 weekly trips to the store. Throw in a once-a-month trip to Trader Joes and Aldi, and you can easily see that I spent (wasted?) a fair amount of time shopping for food and sundries. Add in wear and tear on the car and the cost of gas every trip, and it doesn’t paint a very “green” picture, does it?

I readily admit that, due to the frequency of my shopping trips, I didn’t think twice about throwing away wilting salad greens, wrinkly tomatoes or bell peppers, mushrooms past their prime or any other spoilable items that were less than perfect. Even dairy products that had reached their, “best by” dates were tossed without a second thought. “No biggie diggie, I’ll just get more,” was my cavalier attitude.

Thanks to COVID-19, those bad habits have been kicked to the curb. I’ve learned to create my shopping list in two-week increments. I use a shopper via dumpling – check it out if you’re weary of waiting for instacart sessions to open up at your local grocer. I place an order and Emily (that’s my gal) shops and delivers it the next day. She texts me with any replacement questions. I wave at her through the window when she leaves the order on our porch. She gets a nice tip, and it’s all paid for via the dumpling app.

Lo and behold, I’ve also discovered the practically magical ease of freezing fresh veggies! For example, I now get the biggest container of sliced mushrooms. I put some in the refrigerator for daily use. Then I line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, fill it with a single layer of mushrooms, and freeze them for a few hours. Then I simply divvy them up into freezer bags or containers to store in the freezer until needed. I do the same with the pack of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, cutting a chunk of each to keep in the fridge, slicing the rest and following the same drill: cookie sheet, parchment paper, yada yada yada. Same with baby spinach and kale. Easy breezy and ZERO waste! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE?!

Salad greens no longer get tossed just because the date says they’re done. I take the time to pick out the slimy bits and continue to use the still good pieces.

I used to dump out half the carton of milk every few weeks. I could’ve bought a quart instead of a half gallon, but the quart cost more! What the… Now we’ve switched to almond milk. Oh, I hear you, I was skeptical, too, but it’s delicious! And it has at least triple the refrigerator lifespan of cow’s milk. I’ll tell you what else: when I add it to eggs for scrambling, it makes them really fluffy. Who doesn’t love fluffy scrambled eggs?!

Here’s one of my best meal extender tips: I add at least a cup or two of fresh or frozen chopped veggies to all kinds of stuff. This increases the volume AND the nutritional value. Plus, if you chop them fine enough (I use my 3-cup mini food chopper) picky eaters can’t pick out the veggies. I put them in tuna, scrambled eggs, sauces, etc. Typically, it’s a combination of bell peppers, celery, scallions, mushrooms, greens, and sometimes carrots.

Oh, and I’ve started a mini garden from kitchen scraps and seeds! I planted the end of a sweet onion and some scallions, the base of celery hearts, and seeds from red, orange, and yellow bell peppers. It sits under a kitchen window and gets early day sun. So far, so good!

I hope you’re all staying safe and feeling healthy, wearing masks and looking out for the most vulnerable among us. If you’d like to get future blog posts delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly newsletter titled, “Organized Thoughts.

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I first wrote about the Procrastination Diet in 2015, and my need to stay on top of things has increased since then for a variety of reasons. People don’t realize I actually have a propensity for procrastination because I’m organized. I’m a great juggler, adept at prioritizing and meeting deadlines, but that can be a stressful way to exist on a daily basis.

I just re-watched a video by Robin Sharma, an internationally-known life and business coach titled “How I Beat Procrastination.” I was probably avoiding one thing or another when I originally found the link; the irony of not doing what I should’ve been doing in order to watch something on procrastination is not completely lost on me. I highly recommend checking out the entire video, but to summarize, his five tips for beating procrastination are:

  • Create a vision board / dream collage and a “Big Dream” statement
  • Go on a  30-day procrastination diet
  • Exercise with a focus on a second-wind workout later in the day
  • Create a distraction-free environment (Mess Creates Stress!)
  • Release your self sabotage (self-limiting beliefs) and rewire your brain

For the 30-day procrastination diet, he suggests taking a calendar and on each day for a month, write one thing you’ve been resisting doing and then… do it.

It’s time for me to re-commit to this, but I tweak it a titch: rather than using a calendar and trying to determine which thing to write on which day, I format mine as a list titled, “30 Things in 30 Days.”  That way, I can do any thing on any given day in any order I choose. The flexibility works better for me.

This weekend, I will compile my list, and my procrastination diet officially begins on Monday, February 3rd. Pfft, I don’t need it to start on the first day of a 30-day month, any old day will do. I like Monday. It will be a mixture of business and personal items I have been avoiding, ignoring, fearing, or pushing to the back burner for too long.

For my lists, I now use Google’s Keep Notes because I can access it on my laptop or smartphone, allowing me to review or update my list from either device. I like that I can set it up so there’s a little check box to click on and, upon completion, it draws a line through the item and moves it to the bottom of the list. There’s a psychological benefit, seeing the growing list of “done” things and viewing the shortened list of to-do items. I prefer this to a paper list that I’d forget to carry around with me, but many of you probably have daily planners you use… whatever works is fine!

At the end of 30 days, I’ll report on my progress. Anyone interested in joining me? You don’t have to share your list, but please share your intention to accomplish 30 things in 30 days with a comment! There’s strength in numbers… let’s do this thing.

If you’d like to get future blog posts delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly newsletter titled, “Organized Thoughts.

We’ve all had clutter creep into our lives at one point or another. Sometimes it can overwhelm us. Fear not; I bring you tidings of great joy – well, maybe not of great joy, but of hope. No matter how big your clutter issue is, it’s not hopeless.

It might be a month of unopened mail or many years of paper piles, and there comes a point when the idea of tackling it becomes daunting.

Maybe there’s a closet of clothes you may or may not wear or a spare bedroom overflowing with excess clothes, and you can’t muster the energy to separate what fits and is flattering from what’s outdated or no longer appropriate.

Here’s the thing. The longer you wait for the “perfect” time or “enough” time to tackle the entire clutter project – whatever it may be – the longer it’s going to build and build and nothing will get done and trust me when I tell you: clutter has negative energy that affects you mentally, emotionally, and physically. It can damage relationships and sometimes tears families apart.

Instead of making a vague New Year’s resolution to “get more organized” or “tackle all the clutter,” try this: start the year by breaking down those big clutter projects into specific, smaller, manageable projects. Clutter’s ability to overwhelm you diminishes when you chip away and make progress. Remember that fable about the tortoise and the hare? It’s true: Slow and steady can win the race.

Instead of negatively thinking, “I’ll never find the four hours I need to open and process my backlog of mail,” try this: “Each day I will open and process today’s mail PLUS ten pieces from that big ol’ pile.”

If there are paper piles everywhere, gather ‘em up. Fill a bin or two or ten. Start with broad categories:  Shred/Recycle/Toss/File/Pay/To Do and dig in. Put on some music that calms or energizes you and focus for a set period of time. See how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes and try to break your record by doing a little more tomorrow. Instead of just watching your favorite TV show, use that as a timer and sort papers. TV AND progress – win-win!

Don’t focus on the entire closet or roomful of clothing. Get up 15 minutes earlier each morning to try on three or four items. Decide if it’s keep, sell, or donate, then move on with your day. Wash, rinse, repeat.

If it’s a hodgepodge of clutter, choose a category and gather “like with like” – all wrapping paper, all books, all seasonal decor, all toys, all garbage – whatever it is, gather it up and attack that clutter one category at a time. Where should those books live? You can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a home…

By incorporating some of these suggestions into your daily routine rather than making vague, doomed-to-fail resolutions, you’ll be creating new habits that will serve you well in the long run and help keep clutter under control.

My clients hear that question all the time.

When they complain about the backpacks plopped in the middle of the kitchen floor, or the car keys that can’t be found when needed, or the pile of missing mail from two days ago…whether its backpacks, keys, or the incoming mail – whatever it is – I ask, “Where should that item live? Where is its home? We know where it doesn’t belong – where does it belong?”

This question is usually met with an eerie silence. That’s the problem in a nutshell, folks: you can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a home.

Keys on hooks

So: establishing a home is step one. The right spot should be logical, practical, and doable. Your child can’t slide a backpack into a cubby that’s four feet above her head, and it doesn’t make sense to walk through three rooms of the house to put away your car keys. Remember: logical, practical, and doable.

Step two is developing the habit of actually putting the item where it belongs, and that takes time.

Have faith – we humans are smart cookies. We can be trained to establish new routines so that, over time, hanging keys on a hook by the door will become a habit. Teach your child that the backpack goes on a reachable peg every day when she comes in from school. Put the incoming mail in that one designated spot so you can find it when you’re ready to process it, and in a matter of weeks, maybe even days, some common daily frustrations will actually be eliminated by answering that one simple question: Where should it live?