What are you favorite satisfying activities or habits?
January 24, 2018 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I have a short list of activities that I find very satisfying and oddly pleasing (hard to resist, in fact), such as cleaning out my ears with a q-tip (not so good), scrubbing out a kitchen sink until it’s spotless (great!), or kicking snow chunks off car tires (fine to do on your own car, not so much on others’). Please share yours; I’d love to hear new ideas for oddly satisfying activities (bonus points for tasks that are useful in some way!)
posted by sucre to Grab Bag (73 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Stepping on crunchy leaves
posted by raccoon409 at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

I like shredding paper. So I keep all my old bills, medical documents, anything with my address on it in a special bin so I can sit down once a month or so with my office shredder and reduce them to confetti.
posted by decathecting at 11:27 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Filling gouges in ski bases with melted PTEX
Waxing surfboards
Peeling carrots
posted by craven_morhead at 11:29 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Organizing books.
posted by Automocar at 11:30 AM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Cracking thin layers of ice.
Knocking snow off of fence posts.
Breaking off icicles. (Wow winter is great for these things!)
Pulling the hardened layer of fat off of homemade stock in one piece.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Dicing vegetables
Dusting when it’s easy (before it’s caked on)
Collecting can tabs for recycling
Regular foot care - pumice, lotion/Vaseline then socks, again if this gets out of hand then it’s not fun/satisfying and moves into the realm of a chore
posted by bilabial at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Here's a totally weird one. I have a hairless cat who needs a weekly bath. It is an amazingly satisfying thing, to take my grubby brownish monster and get him all pink again with warm water and pet shampoo. He likes it too, to a point.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

clipping my toenails
peeling oranges in one piece
brushing enough hair off my dog to make another dog
shaving with a new razor after letting it grow for a couple of days
posted by murphy slaw at 11:37 AM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sorting a pack of playing cards into order.
Getting good quality saucepan sparkling clean.
posted by 92_elements at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2018

Disassembling and cleaning the vacuum cleaner. I have a electric air duster (essentially, endless compressed air) and with a bagless vac (never again!), it really can clean things up nicely.

Same for disassembling and cleaning a fan's blades.

Organizing my downloads folder
Creating the perfect playlist (bonus points if it's a gift for someone else)
Scrubbing my inbox of newsletters I no longer want by unsubscribing
posted by Twicketface at 11:41 AM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Organising my music in iTunes (ensuring each song is correctly labelled with the album, date, and genre; eliminating duplicates).
posted by Amy NM at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Take those q-tips and get them wet and clean all the places in your kitchen and bathroom where there are sharp angles - around the faucet base, around the sink drains, around the LED displays and knobs on the stove, etc. It's wonderfully disgusting the shit that accumulates there.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Cleaning stretchy acrylic paint off a palette.
Pulling all the keys off a keyboard, blasting all the crud out, and putting the keys back on.
posted by The otter lady at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Polishing silver!
posted by rachaelfaith at 12:05 PM on January 24, 2018

Best answer: Splitting wood. When you get a nice straight-grained log and it splits perfectly with minimal effort it's the most satisfying thing in the world.
posted by bondcliff at 12:07 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Scooping the cat litter box, especially when everything clumps nicely. It feels like a weird treasure hunt.
Pulling the hair out of the bath tub drain.
posted by misseva at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Cleaning dryer lint out of the lint trap.

Pouring water in a cast iron skillet while it's still hot, so it goes FSHHHHH and loosens any crud you need to scrape out of it before you rinse it and put it on a warm burner to dry.
posted by clavicle at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Pulling the stickers off the back of books

When I was in high school and chatting with friends on the phone I would let Elmer's glue dry on my hand and then peel it off.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

I like using a old, i.e. slightly dull, razor blade to scrape hard crud off the stove and countertops. If you enjoy peeling paint or glue off of things, this becomes a more rewarding exercise than boring old spongework.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 12:13 PM on January 24, 2018

Power-washing cement (or pretty much anything power-washable).
posted by stefnet at 12:25 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Peeling that weird stickum stuff that comes on the back of credit cards when they're mailed to you
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2018 [11 favorites]

Stomping on acorns.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:29 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Finding and clearing the sewer grate by my house of ice and snow during a melt. Prevents a lake from developing on my driveway.
posted by maggiemae at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2018

Best answer: I actually love doing laundry and then putting everything away in its place—productive and so satisfying to have so many possibilities when all the clothes are clean.
I also love organizing files and purging what has become outdated and unnecessary.
posted by bookmammal at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Rubbing the bottom right-hand corner of my Kindle case while I'm reading it. It's quite shiny now.

Also, you might like to know that the people in my office refer to those snow chunks on car tires as "snow boogers."
posted by JanetLand at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Turning all the labels on products on the shelf to face forward. Like canned soups on the shelf at a store.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:42 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Using a zip-it to pull hair clogs from your shower drain.
posted by The Toad at 12:46 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Walking. In nature, in my neighborhood, or in a circle around my pool.
Stacking my books in descending order, from tallest to shortest.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:50 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I find home maintenance tasks with mindless, repetitive motion to be very relaxing. Luckily, there are plenty of options. Plus, I can put something on the television and it doesn't feel like wasting time.

-Knife sharpening (by hand, with a whetstone)
-Shoe shining (I have a lot of dress shoes that I'm really picky about)
-Filling dumplings?
posted by backseatpilot at 1:01 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sucking up dust bunnies with the vacuum cleaner
Trashing stuff on my computer (love the sound it makes)
Getting rid of the smelly stuff that builds under your toenails
posted by Desertshore at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No one's mentioned popping bubblewrap???

Cleaning the gunk out of the crevices in my glasses. When I was a kid, I used to use an Exacto to do it (!!!).
posted by praemunire at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2018

We use rocks instead of mulch in our flower garden as a weed deterrent. It is very satisfying every spring to weed out the winter's weeds/dead leaves/dirt, shift the rocks back to the top of the dirt, and plant beautiful new flowers in straight little lines. Even better if you split it into two days, so that you can spend part of the time staring satisfied at the change between the winter's detritus and the spring's beauty.

-balancing a bank account to the penny
-work related: reconciling spreadsheets
-work related: authority files for metadata

These all tick the same satisfying weird little organizational part of my brain.
posted by librarianamy at 1:07 PM on January 24, 2018

Polishing copper pots and pans.

Using personal care products to completion and discarding/recycling the empty. (opposite of satisfying: my husband has a giant clear growler in which he has been SAVING his empty chapstick tubes for a decade ::shudders::)

Consolidating half-full containers of the same stuff into one container and discarding/recycling the rest.

Consolidating inbox noise using Unroll.me
posted by le_salvo at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Categorizing transactions
Cleaning wax off a menorah
Detailing the inside of a car
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:32 PM on January 24, 2018

Oiling cutting boards
Cleaning earbuds
posted by kapers at 1:32 PM on January 24, 2018

Refilling the hand soap dispensers in our bathrooms
Restocking cupboards with extra paper towels and TP from the Costco stash
Cleaning door knobs/handles and the door right around them
Vacuuming the stairs
posted by pril at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2018

Untangling necklaces that have gotten tangled up in each other.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I categorize the examples in your question as "de-crudding," and I find them much more satisfying than regular cleaning tasks because I'm removing a big layer of built-up crud without much effort. Here are mine:

- Dusting, especially forgotten areas like the tops of door frames.
- Cleaning hair out of hairbrushes.
- Vacuuming with a bagless vacuum and then emptying the collected dust and crud into the trash. (If you have the budget for a Roomba, you can schedule it to run daily and come home to a ready-made chamber of dust to dump, plus periodically cleaning the brushes is its own de-crudding ritual.)
- Cleaning a scuzzy tub: mix up a bowl of 1:1 dish soap and vinegar, soak a bunch of paper towels in the mixture, and splop the soaked paper towels on the tub walls. Leave them for a couple hours (open a window because your bathroom will reek of vinegar). When you come back, the crud will wipe off super easily.
- Clipping my cats' claws (this is considerably less satisfying for the cats).

You might also really like these exfoliating washcloths. Once a week, take a long shower or soak in a bath, and then wet a cloth and start scrubbing your arms and legs. After a little while, little gray bits of dead skin start to come off. I don't always get gray bits, but when I do it's great.

I miss degaussing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Sharpening all the pencils in the house.
posted by Corvid at 2:08 PM on January 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Shuffling playing cards over and over.
Seconding splitting wood. I use an electric splitter and the quiet "shook" sound that a knotless split makes has me making kindling just to do it over and over.
Scraping or peeling glue or dried paint.

And, working as a nurse, I used to secretly love the feeling of satisfaction I got in suctioning a big glob of mucus out of an endotracheal tube.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2018

Best answer: Taking bags of stuff to Goodwill.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

Sorting beads.
posted by delight at 3:03 PM on January 24, 2018

Pulling the tape off after painting walls.
Pinching back and deadheading the garden in the spring, unfortunately becomes less delightful as the summer wears on, by mid-August I'm lucky if I'm still watering
posted by BoscosMom at 3:14 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

A neatly lettered crossword puzzle completed without needing help to solve any of the clues.
Creating a new photo shuffle to put on my photo frame.
Cleaning my sterling silver jewelry and making it shiny.
Chopping branches off the ligustrum in my backyard.
Seeing a new bird species in my backyard.
posted by narancia at 3:17 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

i can't believe no-one's posted r/oddlysatisfying

warning: gif-sink!
posted by lalochezia at 3:55 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I really enjoy shredding paper drink coasters (the kind you get in bars or restaurants that have advertising on them) with my fingernails. I also like organizing my clothes (I pick out all my outfits for the week on Sunday night), sharpening pencils, refilling the ink in my fountain pens, organizing my tea bags, stomping on cherries or crab-apples that fall on the ground, putting away groceries and organizing the fridge, and pushing buttons on things (like the DVD player, the coffee pot, the microwave, the Sonos, etc.).
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:58 PM on January 24, 2018

Best answer: Stepping on iced lawns like cracking creme brulee
Highlighting long passages with a really juicy beautifully bright highlighter
Refilling canisters with dry goods from the bulk bin
posted by sestaaak at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Ironing! Especially something without a lot of nooks and crannies, like a cloth napkin or tablecloth.
Sooooo smooooooth....
posted by exceptinsects at 4:16 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Winding yarn into balls. (My friends keep helpfully offering me their swifts and winders. Nuh-uh!!!)
Kneading bread dough.
Rolling out tortillas.
Alphabetizing a stack of papers.
posted by BrashTech at 4:58 PM on January 24, 2018

Stuffing envelopes.
posted by delight at 5:04 PM on January 24, 2018

Peeling apples in one long, continuous peel. Segmenting stone fruit like peaches into neat slices with little mess.
Picking at loose skin (my cuticles hate me), ingrown hairs, or other weird skin things. Related: plucking odd random hairs in places I do not want them, usually my chin.
Brushing another cat's worth of fur off my cat.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:16 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Pulling the foil away from the waxed paper of a gum wrapper all in one complete piece!

Using products up and feeling more moisturized, Greek spiced, vitamin fortified, cleaner floored, what have you.

Using a pen with a clear cylinder of visible ink over time and watching the ink go down, down, down past the metal tip until you have used it completely dry. More words written! (If you lose the pen before you finish, you are crushed. Crushed.)
posted by jgirl at 6:26 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: flossing
posted by aniola at 7:00 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

using a sheet of paper or some fabric as a wick, and ironing the wick, and removing wax stains.
posted by aniola at 7:06 PM on January 24, 2018

Pealing the thin transparent film off new electronics
posted by pmaxwell at 7:51 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh! Punching out the pieces/cards/counters from their cardboard frames when you get a new board game.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:20 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I came in to mention /r/oddlysatisfying as well :)

I also recommend r/interestingasfuck


posted by wwartorff at 8:24 PM on January 24, 2018

Entering receipts into my transaction register, adding them up without a calculator, then checking them with the calculator.
posted by serena15221 at 8:38 PM on January 24, 2018

Magic Erasering, especially on things like light switch plates where it's reeeeally effective!
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:03 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pulling weeds, preferably when they're just tiny sprouts and don't fight back. I probably uprooted 5,000 morning glory sprouts from my garden last year. (Sometimes 25 in one handful.)
posted by aws17576 at 11:20 PM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh my god I live for this stuff.

Shoveling snow.

Sanding and staining my front stairs.

Using a log splitter. My husband and I fight over it.

When I worked in long term care I would have all interested residents line up after supper and do manicures. Sooo satisfying.

Searching my scalp for the rogue coarse hair, plucking it out and sending a picture to my sister (too weird?)

Brushing and flossing my teeth.

YES using a pressure washer.

Cleaning the shower with a magic eraser. If you have never used a magic eraser they were made for you buddy.

Using the self checkout at the grocery store and dumping all the change from my wallet in first, then paying the remainder with a card.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:15 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

anything involving glass and cleaning it and then being able to see things in laser focus - windshields, mirrors, windows, the grimy surface of my smartphone, computer monitors, oh my

popping the pop socket on the back of my phone

dumping out recycling into the bin

deleting all the video files on a flash drive after you've finished the season

rinsing soapy, almost clean dishes

poppin a nasty whitehead, especially if it's a juicy boi
posted by runt at 8:53 AM on January 25, 2018

Best answer: Biore Strips.
posted by velveeta underground at 12:09 PM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

- using a razor to remove piling from clothes

- pruning (is this the word?) the dead branches off trees and bushes

- de-scuffing my suede boots

- taking stickers/price tags off things (why do people leave stickers on their laptops?under the keyboards??)

- sanding and oiling down the kitchen counter
posted by speakeasy at 12:42 PM on January 25, 2018

- using the magic eraser on the wall next to the dishwasher. So much crap on that wall.

- using a magic eraser until it's all puckered and falling apart--bonus if it happens in a single use because I am cleaning so much.

- rubbing my eyebrows the wrong way, smoothing them back, then pulling out rogue hairs with my fingers. I then make a little pile of brow hairs and marvel at them before throwing them away.

- plucking the dead leaves from my plants

- using CLR on the shower faucet (which gets really calcified)

- weaving in ends on my crochet projects. I HAAATE doing it but it's very satisfying at the end when everything is nice and non-thready.

- removing the pins from a freshly blocked shawl
posted by catwoman429 at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

-Crossing things out on my to-do list with a big Sharpie.
-Getting cat hair off of things with a lint roller.
-Using my really sharp cuticle trimmer.
-Brushing snow off my car.
-Actually using coupons before they expire.
-Filling the birdfeeder.
posted by trillian at 7:14 PM on January 25, 2018

Response by poster: Oh maaaaan! It's very satisfying (heh) to find out that I'm not the only one who enjoys these small moments in life. Thanks so much for sharing!

(I'm reminded that pulling dead leaves off plants is sooo good. Same with weeding a garden. There's something about getting rid of unnecessary stuff that just feels so great.)
posted by sucre at 8:02 PM on January 25, 2018

I smile and make the tiniest noises at random dogs I meet. If they react and if their human smiles as well, that's immensely satisfying.
posted by Vesihiisi at 10:57 PM on January 25, 2018

Removing all read and never-going-to-read samples from my Kindle.
posted by Skyanth at 1:39 AM on January 26, 2018

Best answer: Time consuming, but I got into Korean-style multi-step face cleansing, and I actually enjoy it.

Nthing taking a can of compressed air and a brush to my keyboard.

Updating all of the programs on my computer.

Taking a shower and then changing the sheets on my bed for the best possible sleep.
posted by koucha at 1:36 PM on January 26, 2018

"Peeling a Pommelo grapefruit," she said, pithily.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:15 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Vacuuming crumbs from the inside of the couch with the upholstery wand attachment thing

Sliding books into the self check-in machine at the library
posted by janepanic at 7:12 PM on January 26, 2018

Removing the price tags completely from surplus library book acquisitions using a razor blade.
posted by craniac at 6:47 AM on January 28, 2018

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