Help me be kind to my future self!
July 5, 2018 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I really like the concept of "being kind to my future self" to motivate me to do things I don't want to do. (Floss! Finish this memo! Deal with this Big Thing now so your future self doesn't have to!) Now I'm thinking I could use it to tackle small tasks as well. Any ideas?

For example, I read somewhere recently that you should wash your fruit when you get home from the grocery store rather than before you eat it, to make it more likely you'll eat it later. (Same for cutting up vegetables.) I guess meal planning falls into this category, as does making the bed. I'm thinking of also taking 3 mintues at the end of the day to make a daily plan for the next day.

Any other ideas that are little things you can do or plan ahead for to make life a lot better later? Big things are great (annual visit to doctor?) but I'd also really like ideas for little things (i.e., lay clothes out the night before, pack diaper bag when you get home rather than when you leave.)

Anything that works for you?
posted by heavenknows to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
*Keep first aid kits in all vehicles
*Have plenty of flashlights and know where they are when the power goes out
*Tidy up dishes right after eating
*Shop for groceries when you are not hungry
*Keep a few shelf-stable staple foods on hand
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:19 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Maybe this won't be as revelatory to you as it was to me, but I'm finally learning that cleaning a little bit every day makes your life a million times easier. I used to scrub the bathtub, oh, I don't know, maybe once every 3 months or before having houseguests. It took forever because there was a ton of accumulated grime and soap scum, and I hated doing it. Turns out, if you give it a quick scrub once a week, you never get to the point of accumulated grossness and you don't have to do a huge cleaning. The same thing goes for dusting, vacuuming, mopping the floors, etc.
posted by coppermoss at 11:22 AM on July 5, 2018 [14 favorites]

I try to put my transit card back in the correct pocket in my purse and put my keys in the same spot when I get home. I also put my phone on the charger every night before bed so I have a charged battery for my morning commute.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 11:32 AM on July 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Cleaning, totally. "Won't it be nice to come home to an empty sink rather than one full of dishes?"

Organizing. "I know what this document is and where it goes because I just looked at it. Future me's going to have to spend twenty minutes figuring it out. Here ya go, future me: right into the correct file."
posted by praemunire at 11:40 AM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

ALWAYS picking my clothes for the next day, before going to bed. I love myself and my decisions every morning. They don't call me Dressed to Kill for nothing.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:40 AM on July 5, 2018 [21 favorites]

(Signed up after long term lurking because of this question! Hi everyone!)
I have a valet, this one in particular, which I like because it includes a space for shoes. Clothing is lined up at night, clothing goes in while my eyes are crusted shut in the morning, no time wasted trying to wake up and coordinate. Dirty clothes are immediately sorted into two hampers when they come off -- one hamper for "goes in the dryer" and one for "rack drying." The rack drying hamper has a lingerie bag attached with a clothespin, and all bras go in there as soon as they need a wash. Bag full, zip it up, entire hamper goes in the wash. Socks I keep together using sock clips, so no sorting/matching there.

For the microwave I have a microwave cover. Microwave accidents and cleanup: minimized.

I have a sick kit specifically stocked for the stomach flu. Pepto, single serve applesauce, a few cans of sprite, saltines.

Get a password manager like RememBear. Just do it. It makes your online time vastly simpler.

More as I think of them!
posted by snerson at 11:48 AM on July 5, 2018 [31 favorites]

I put coffee and water in the La Pavoni at night so that in the morning all I have to do is switch it on and pull. Worth it not to have to mess around with the portafilter and the tamper when I'm still half asleep.
posted by zadcat at 12:00 PM on July 5, 2018

After I get a haircut (approx every 2 months), I add a reminder to my calendar for when I need to get another haircut, including the date of my last haircut as a “yeah it has been that long” kicker.

I fill up my gas tank at halfway empty because future me does not have time to get gas before work.
posted by samthemander at 12:22 PM on July 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

• I've recently developed a health issue that requires me both to eat better, and more regularly (I've been known to go over 8-10 hours without eating, simply because "I forgot").

So I now regularly stock easy-to-prepare-and-eat munchies in my fridge, so I no longer have any excuse for not eating at least something small and healthy. This includes my favourite breads, real butter, lean sliced deli meats or roasted/grilled chicken breasts, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, english cucumbers, low-fat cheeses, and low-fat dips/dressings. I can now throw a quick "Hobbit Meal" together on a plate with very little effort and feel much better about myself, now that I eat healthier and more regularly.

• I also prepare myself a good 2-3 weeks worth of my meds, vitamins and supplements in weekly med-kits, so that I don't have to dig all the various bottles out every day.

• I picked out a local pharmacy that will accept online orders, and place them in my mailbox for me, at the time of my choosing -- without ringing the doorbell, since I often sleep during the daytime. Some pharmacies can even do auto-refills and delivery for you.

• I set up online monthly payments for all my utility bills, so that I don't have to worry about remembering to pay them on time. Also handy for if I'm travelling and lose track of payment dates.

• I use Evernote extensively to remind me of all kinds of tid-bits of information. For example, as soon as I notice I'm low on some items in my fridge or pantry, they go on the appropriate shopping list -- so that I'll always have an updated list whenever I go shopping.

• I've discovered the small but satisfying psychological thrill of checking off items on my lists. So, whenever I feel overwhelmed by stuff/projects/chores, I'll create a list of what needs to be done, and even sub-categories for larger/more involved things. It helps to realize that I can tackle each of these in turn, and that even the big stuff can be done if you break it into steps. And I feel supremely contented when I can look over my scratched out list. (For me, it can be particularly helpful when I've spent the entire day doing chores/housecleaning, and yet it doesn't seem very visible -- but I look over my list and feel better because I *DID* accomplish stuff!)
posted by Jade Dragon at 12:27 PM on July 5, 2018 [12 favorites]

Pre-book your exercise sessions the day before, so you can't reason your way out of it day of/hour of.

Put calendar reminders on for every little thing at work and in your personal life, so you don't have to constantly do the work of remembering.

Set up recurring dinner date series with friends so that you strike the right balance of meetings with minimal scheduling issues every time.

Set up one weekend morning a month where you just power through stuff that's been "this would be so nice if..." for a while. Replacing a light bulb, repotting a plant, ironing, buying something missing, whatever it means to you. Schedule it and get yourself caffeinated and well-fed on both breakfast and lunch.
posted by vacuumsealed at 12:39 PM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do a meal plan for the week ahead
Make sure you check for ingredients and add stuff to your grocery list
Clean as you go when you're cooking
Clean up any remaining mess/do dishes immediately after you eat
Pre-assemble leftovers into lunches in lunch-sized containers (not big containers), unless you have a reason not to
Pack your lunch the night before and put it in the fridge
Put out your clothes for the next day before your go to bed
Have your grocery list on your phone & sync with your partner/housemates as appropriate
Put things on the grocery list as you notice they're low/out-- and put stuff like toilet paper or cat food on the list when you're down to 2-7 day's supply
Have a file cabinet and labeled files (so you have a place to put the receipt/doctors invoice/warranty)
File things that you don't need to follow up on immediately (and file the follow-up things as soon as you follow up)
Always make sure you take out the garbage/recycling/compost before you go away for more than one day
Put fresh sheets on your bed and clean up the kitchen before you go away for more than one day
Make sure you have given spare housekeys to family/friends (it's much much easier when you don't have to coordinate getting someone a key & getting it back every time)
Make sure you have at least two spare housekeys available as-needed
posted by Kpele at 12:41 PM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Keep cold brew coffee in the fridge for mornings when I require caffeine but not effort.
Loooong phone charger cables everywhere I use them (bedroom, office, car, couch).
Keeping a battery backup charged and in my purse for when my phone is dying while I'm out.
Meal planning.
Good quality dark chocolate on hand in the pantry at all times.
Contractor lock box on the front door with spare keys.
Filling up the gas tank on my way home from work instead of realizing I need to stop when I'm driving in the morning.
posted by ananci at 1:00 PM on July 5, 2018

I buy a book of stamps every time I have to go to the post office to drop off a parcel in person (for me, about once a month). They get tucked into the back of whatever journal I'm currently carrying and voila! I never need to hunt for stamps ever again and I can always send a bill/spur-of-the-moment postcard as soon as I want to.

I love candles. I keep a lighter in every single room of the house so I can always light a candle exactly when I feel like it.

My dog's treats come in a pouch that is a pain to reseal. Every time I start a new pack, I dump them into a big jar instead of struggling with the stupid bag over and over.

This is the littlest thing, but - for some reason, I absolutely hate cleaning the lint trap of my dryer. So I always, always do it as soon as the dryer stops, before I even pull my clothes out. That way it's out of the way and I don't have to confront it when I next start a load of laundry.
posted by DSime at 1:32 PM on July 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Buying myself a physical address book and filling it out right away as friends send me their new addresses has made a big difference for me.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:44 PM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Doing my dishes before bed so future me doesn’t have to do them.
posted by greermahoney at 3:41 PM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always have a box of nice but generic “Happy Birthday” cards, a box of pretty notecards, and a box of thank you notes on hand for last minute events so I don’t need to stop to buy a card for Uncle Steve’s birthday party or Bob and Sue’s anniversary dinner or whatever. I also like to have a few extra bottles of decent wine and wine gift bags on hand for a quick hostess gift.

My husband threw together an “overnight guest kit” with extra chargers, travel toiletries, our home WiFi password, etc. that we leave out if someone is staying over - I think many guests feel too shy to ask for something so we can just hand them the box and say “here you go!” instead of having to hunt for a spare toothbrush.
posted by castlebravo at 4:23 PM on July 5, 2018 [11 favorites]

Thought about this all day, a few more I came up with:

Absolutely agree with SpaceWarp13, keys in the same place every time is essential. I keep a bowl near the front door. Keys and work badge are the only items allowed in there, and those items are permitted literally nowhere else because I won't remember. The basic idea here, as in the thread, I think, is you continuously return your an environment to a state of neutral or ready-to-go as soon as you're done with it. Another way to think of it is adding the reset to your "use cycle" instead of having two use cycles -- "using" and "cleaning." You run out of toilet paper, you return the bathroom to neutral by changing the roll and recycling the cardboard tube immediately (one use cycle) instead of waiting until you clean the bathroom later in the week (two use cycles).

It takes a lot of words to explain, but just incorporating reset/return to neutral into your routine saves you a lot of braining and doing in the long run. It's the philosophy of perpetually preparing for your future self. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

PS squeegee the shower every day after you're done. Cuts down on scrubbing.
posted by snerson at 6:18 PM on July 5, 2018 [17 favorites]

There's a lot of good ideas above that I would have suggested, but thank your past self. Out loud.

You can even start this today, if you've noticed something you did earlier that makes your life easier now. There have been so many nights when I come home tired from work with the dishes already clean and dried in the rack, that I could just start cooking and not have to clean up more before starting. On those nights I will say, "Thank you, me!" and it really cements the idea that having things clean and ready to go is nice and convenient and hey, maybe I should do this more often.
posted by lesser weasel at 6:26 PM on July 5, 2018 [28 favorites]

Every single Friday without fail, I clean and organize my desk at work so Future Me gets a nice fresh start to the following week.

I use the last hour of Friday to sort through the stack of papers on my desk, filing, throwing away and reorganizing whatever is left into a more manageable To Do pile. I shake the crumbs out of my keyboard and wipe all surfaces down with a Clorox wipe. I water my plant and wash my coffee mug. I will also take the time to write myself a note if there is anything pressing I need to get done at the start of the week, and leave it on my keyboard so I see it first thing.

Future Me really appreciates starting the week with a clean, organized workspace.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:11 PM on July 5, 2018 [13 favorites]

Putting dinner in the crockpot in the morning. I hate to cook, so Future Me is always delighted to come home from work and find dinner already cooked and ready to go.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Similar to above: keep Keurig reservoir topped off.

Need something, or are considering buying something? Put it on a shopping list/wishlist (I use Google Sheets) with any useful details. Refer to list when shopping. Partially inspired by YNAB's wish farm concept, but mine's more remembering-focused than budget-focused currently.

The basic idea here, as in the thread, I think, is you continuously return your an environment to a state of neutral or ready-to-go as soon as you're done with it. Another way to think of it is adding the reset to your "use cycle" instead of having two use cycles -- "using" and "cleaning."


I've also seen this expressed as "return things to maximum utility" and it's one of my new goals in life. There are degrees ranging from practical to aesthetic, e.g. an empty dryer is ready for its next use; a clear space is attractive and calming. And it cuts down of the feeling of "always" having to do something--you're not just emptying the dryer only to immediately fill it, or unloading the dishwasher only to load and wash the dishes yet again. Complete all parts of a task in short succession so you can enjoy a break before next time!
posted by Carouselle at 10:02 PM on July 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

I've developed a 2 week cycle that has worked fairly well for the past 6 months or so. The weekend after pay day (I'm paid every two weeks on a Wednesday), I meal plan and shop for groceries. Also, as soon as possible after payday, I do a budget and pay bills/shift money around so I don't have to touch it again till next pay day. On the alternative weekend, I wash all my clothes and sheets.

I realise this makes me sound like the dullest person in the world, but it means that I've got my money sorted, and I never run out of food or clean clothes, all of which make current me very impressed with past me. Also, I only have to do the (clothes) washing every two weeks, so every second weekend feels like a mini holiday.
posted by kjs4 at 11:03 PM on July 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

On hot nights, I put tea leaves in a jug, pour water on them, and put them in the fridge. Tomorrow Morning Me gets a glass of cold-brewed tea.

Chocolate chip cookie dough actually gets better if you let it sit in the fridge for at least one (and up to three) days, plus Future Me gets to just pop some in the oven and have cookies.

I keep a Sharpie in the kitchen and whenever I open something, I write the date on the outside. Future Me never has to worry about how long ago something was opened.
posted by yankeefog at 3:00 AM on July 6, 2018 [8 favorites]

Make a menu one week at a time, then shop for it, then actually do it. Putting all the thinking & deciding (which we both hate) into one session has been awesome for us.

Make a list of what’s in your freezer and update it as you take stuff out. No more wondering whether you have a particular ingredient!

Cook extra and save leftovers for future Lazy Nights.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:44 AM on July 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, yesterday the power went out when it was 117F outside. Some things made me really happy...

If you drive, there are power-bricks that can jump start your car and/or power your Kindle, MP3 player, portable speaker. In about 5 minutes I was DJ-ing for the apartment complex.

Flashlights in home and car. Mine has a wrist strap and hangs on the bedroom doorknob.

Rechargeable batteries, well-stocked and topped off. Collection of USB cables for devices to go with the battery.

What I wished I had... A head mounted light for hands-free use.

Fire extinguisher! Sharpies everywhere. Reading glasses everywhere.

I'll probably be Amazon shopping for a head lamp and another (non-jumpstart but big) battery to keep in the house.

Carefully freeze a milk-jug full of water. Drink it as it melts. Half-fill your water bottle, let it freeze, add more water, drink cold liquid for longer.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Spend the money on a really good belt, preferably all leather, with no additional sewn on layer on top of it. Essentially, a strip of leather with a buckle. You can find nice and stylish ones if you shop around. It will last for decades, I promise.

Second on the head mounted light. Invaluable.

Live in a cold climate? Remove the outside hose and water nozzle for winter storage. If you don't, you'll have to get a new nozzle every spring.

Do you carry a backpack? Put some things in it that you might not ever use but will be totally thanking yourself for if you do: toque and gloves/mitts, small umbrella, toothbrush, pen, small notebook, flashlight.

Speaking of backpacks, when you get a new one take the time to shop around and get exactly the one you want. You'll be berating yourself every time you use it if it's not perfect.

Speaking of carrying things, while not fashionable, get a fanny pack. You might only use it once a year but it's perfect for carrying keys, wallet, etc while on a hike, doing touristy things and so on.

If you haven't already done this, investigate which is the best pillow for you. You may have stuck with the same type of pillow from when you were a child/teen/20-something but maybe it's not the best one for you.

It might not make your life better but get a decent to really good bluetooth speaker. You'll love it.

Learn something practical: the basics of plumbing (god I wish I knew that before I disastered my bathroom doing a simple faucet fix!), electrical, woodworking.

On this note, some tools are invaluable: a saw, screwdriver set, vicegrips, hammer, plyers, wrench. They don't have to be expensive.

You might not have a need for them, ever, but matches. You'll thank yourself when you do need them.

Somewhat ironically, based on the last one, quit smoking. You'll thank yourself for those matches when you start again. Then you'll berate yourself.
posted by ashbury at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're the to-do-list or daily planner sort, you'll thank yourself every morning for making the day's to do list last evening/night.

ABCS: always be Christmas shopping. Always. When someone, in passing, says darn, or oops I broke, or I lost my, or I should get, or why do I always forget, or where is my, or this thing stupid thing doesn't work - take note and/or buy it.
posted by klarck at 1:07 PM on July 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Look after your teeth, and schedule a check up now if you haven't had one in a while. They laugh at me at the dentist when I set my next appointment on the way out, but I never have the 'i'll call next week' issue 6 months later.

Work out the best tax effective retirement investment where you are, and start putting just a little tiny bit toward it ($20 a fortnight even). The effort focuses you a bit to think about it and maybe next pay rise you go to $40 etc.

Keep two six packs in the fridge (or wine, or whatever is your preference) so you can always be ready to head off to a party or whatever, and put another one in when you take one out. Nothing worse than finding just one cold beer left when you invite a friend for a drink.

I second writing a physical to do list I can cross off. I manage my mood sometimes by including some easy/trivial tasks that I can cross off fast to build some momentum.

If you use a tax agent, ask them how they like to see your records organised/grouped, then you have system, instead of guesswork, to organise your financial papers. You will also get a prompt to what is important (not always the bits of paper with bigger dollar amounts).

Make a little list of recipes/meals you like and stick it on the fridge. Leave space at the end. Look at it when you are out of ideas for dinner and are thinking of calling for pizza. Add new items when you see a recipe in a magazine or on the web for something you want to try.
posted by bystander at 5:26 AM on July 8, 2018

Facial lotion with sunscreen in it. Daily.

Lift weights. Not so much that they're a pain in the ass, but enough that you progressively get stronger.
posted by talldean at 1:02 PM on July 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Keep quarters in the glove compartment (it's a huge pain in the ass to need to park somewhere with coin-op meters and not have any change on hand), and always keep an emergency $20 tucked away in your wallet/purse/backpack. I try and keep a few singles on my person, too, as those come in handy when I need to buy water from a street vendor or give a buck to someone who's down on their luck. It's just a matter of asking for $10 cash back (in ones) every now and then when I'm at the pharmacy or grocery store.

A small thing, but at the beginning of every calendar year I create a "[20xx taxes]" tag in gmail, and every time I donate to a tax-deductible org online, I tag the email receipt so I have it all in one place next year.

This is as much for my wife (and our guests) as it is for me: I always keep a couple of extra TP rolls on top of the toilet, visible and obvious, and when a new roll is placed on the dispenser, I make sure there are still at least 2 rolls on top of the toilet tank. That way no one is left up shit's creek, and it's easier to tell when we're running low on supplies.
posted by duffell at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

Buy household supplies of the sort that won't spoil in quantity when they're on sale. Examples would include bar soap, laundry detergent, many other cleaning products, and most paper products - trash bags, aluminum foil, paper towels, paper napkins, etc. Over time, you'll save a little $$ on a per-unit basis, and you're much less likely to run out of stuff when you need it.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 7:12 PM on July 8, 2018

This isn't as healthy as most of the other posts, but I have trained "drunk me" to put some Advil, a big bottle of water, and some makeup wipes on the nightstand for "sober and semi-regretful me."
posted by DulcineaX at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

I recently told a (30 year old) smoker friend, "You ARE going to be 60 someday. What is your future self going to think of you smoking right now?"
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:44 AM on July 10, 2018

Like the lighter example above, I have multiple useful things, kept where they're needed. For example, I've got a phone charger in every room, a small wash bag in my desk at work for showering when I cycle in, and another one lives in my suitcase, for when I'm travelling. I use different bags for different reasons, an everyday one, a bike pannier, one for when I'm out doing fieldwork, a small handbag, the only things I move from one to another is my money purse, travel card, phone and house keys, there's duplicate items in each one, slightly tailored for how each bag is used.

Basically, future me thanks past me for making it so I don't forget basic items, plus having handy things on hand just in case.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:47 PM on July 10, 2018

Also, this year instead of New Year's Resolutions, I've been doing one small thing each month so it becomes a habit. June was floss more and clean the cat's teeth more. In the evening, after I cleaned my teeth (and flossed), I'd do the cat's teeth, with liver-flavoured toothpaste, which she loves. Now, every evening she dances around asking for her toothpaste, which reminds me to floss. I recommend training your cat to be a memory jogger...
posted by Helga-woo at 3:53 PM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Split your direct deposit into one account covering your monthly budget and the other going to savings. Forget (literally if you can) about the money going to savings. Just as a cat conforms to a container you will conform to the amount of money you think you have available.

If you take medications daily invest in a one or two week pill caddy. Among other things they definitively answer the question of whether you remembered to take your medication this morning.

Get a couple of toolsets, one for home and one for the car. You may not need them often, but they are absolutely irreplaceable when you do.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:01 PM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Keep napkins or a travel pack of wet wipes in the car. I don't do this but I have a friend who keeps a microfiber cloth in the car and wipes down the dash board while waiting at the stop light when it gets dusty.

I learned from another AskMe to keep a frozen pizza in the freezer in order to save $40 on take out on those nights when you don't want to cook. Reader, it has saved me a couple hundred dollars in the last two years.

I was terrible at checking the calendar. I finally found a widget on my phone I can use as my home screen so that it's in my face and I can't forget to check it (fwiw I use the free Cozi calendar. I linked my hubby on the account so that we are both in the loop regarding events and making plans).

I have kids and I like to thrift shop for gently used specialty gear like rain boots, rain coats, ski jackets, etc. I keep a note of the sizes I already have on hand so that I don't duplicate sizes. We save a ton of money but more importantly I never have to scramble when we need gear.

Similarly, and this is probably common but its something I *just* figured out - I keep all the swim gear in it's own box in the closet, and all the cold weather gear in it's own box in the garage. No more hunting through all the drawers and closets to find things.

I bought a stand-alone freezer which lives in the garage and I stock up on meat when it's on sale. For example this week I bought about 80lbs of beef chuck; some of it I froze as whole roasts, some I butchered into large chunks for stews and some into smaller chunks for chili. It will last us until about the end of the year. A couple of weeks ago I bought 16 whole chickens, which will be roasted whole or done whole on the bbq. Sometimes I will butcher them down into various pieces, and then I will use the discards to make broth, which will be incorporated into stews and such later.
The ones I just bought will last a couple of months but chicken goes on sale more often than beef. It helps to have a handful of go-to recipes so that when a good sale comes on you can pounce on it. It also helps to read the grocery mailers every week to get a feel for the rhythm of the sales.

I usually cook a double portion of whatever I'm making and freeze half, to cut down on cooking time.

I do laundry on Thursday or Friday nights rather than scrambling to do it on Sunday nights.

I put all my mailing addresses into a label file so that at the holidays or times when we need to mail thank you cards en masse I can just print addresses onto labels and not have to address all of the cards by hand.

I always have a couple of birthday cards, bereavement cards, and blank cards on hand. I keep a box under the bed with various wrapping papers and tape.

We keep a white board on the fridge where we write down things for the shopping list. We take a picture of it once or twice. a week before leaving the house, in case we find ourselves stopping by the store that day.

In an effort to Konmori our home, I keep a bag near the door where I toss in things to be donated (most often outgrown kids clothes). When it gets full I make plans for the donation, usually every other month or so.

I keep big plastic bins in the garage and rotate out toys every month or two; we don't buy a whole lot of toys. We have a big bin with empty boxes, paper towel tubes, etc, as a maker's box for the kids. These two practices keep the kids busy but cut down on physical clutter and thereby mental clutter.
posted by vignettist at 5:41 PM on July 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Most of these have been mentioned already but I started typing this up on July 10 and have been coming back to it every now and then when I have a minute.

Wash the shower curtain, make a schedule to throw it in with bath mats, towels, once a month or every other month. By the time it looks moldy it’s.....very moldy. Fabric shower curtain liner can also be washed and saves you having to replace the plastic ones.

This works for other yearly or otherwise infrequent tasks - batteries, curtains, baseboards, etc - schedule them to coincide with other things that always happen, like thanksgiving or new year or flag day.

Extra pillow cases, change frequently but wash at the at the same rate as normal if you have allergies to dust etc.

Freezer meals - whether homemade leftovers, or a frozen pizza, or boxes of Trader Joe’s mac n cheese, keep something satisfying and easy in the freezer.

Correspondence - anniversaries, holiday mail, thank you cards, have them on hand with stamps. Set phone alerts 1-2 weeks ahead of birthdays and anniversaries so your card is in the mail in time.

Menstrual supplies. I have a few boxes of the disposable version of the reusable items I like. I keep one or two everywhere so that I’m never stuck in an emergency without a way to really clean the reusable item that might have been living in my purse.

Marie Kondo - expand or contract your wardrobe and other belongings as needed

Good quality kitchen tools - veg peeler! I was just gifted with a nice cherry pitter and while the older one is a time saver, the new one is almost a joy to use.

Get the slightly or vastly nicer versions of things you actually use. Not just in the kitchen.

Get rid of things you don’t use. Don’t clutter your house with corn holders if you don’t eat fresh corn off the ear future you will not enjoy being poked by the corn holders.

Good quality cleaning tools - bathroom squeegee, vinegar frequently is better than harsh chemicals randomly or infrequently.

Regular drain cleaning - vinegar bomb and hair snake. Do these when you pull down the shower curtain to wash. That way neither becomes an emergency. There is a product for hair in drains I think it’s called a zipit but I can’t be bothered to look it up.

Sunscreen every day.

Yearly visit to dermatologist for a screen. Also a yearly well visit with your GP. They can keep track of your yearly blood results and also look at you. Things that change slowly may seem normal to you.

Dentist 2x year minimum. If they tell you more often, believe them. Then schedule at your current appointment so you don’t have to remember to schedule. Get an email service that will email future you a reminder in case the dental office drops the ball (those automate systems are programmed by people, after all). Schedule other things on dentist day - take off work and plan big laundry like curtains, or a museum visit. This way, if you have a filling and they can do it same day you won’t have to worry about novocaine after effects at work. Even more important if you don’t like the dentist, because there’s a prize for you at the end - great art or a new book or whatever. Also, often having a first in the morning dental appointment means less waiting, but if you do have a long wait you’re not anxious and upset that it’s making you late to the next thing because you’ve taken the day off.

Car service - schedule it regularly.

Cancel subscription to things you don’t read and recycle the old issues.

Use your library. Set aside a day a week or once a month to go browse magazines, use your library’s ebook and eaudiobook services. Put the money you were spending on these services toward a saving goal, or to charity.

Volunteer - this is important to future you. It helps build and nurture your sense of connectedness to your community, whether you can see or feel the long term benefit to yourself. Pick a volunteer activity that you will reliably DO, not the biggest, loftiest task. Keep showing up. This can be picking up trash, literacy tutoring, packing boxes at a food pantry, leading field trip tours at the botanical garden where you’re already a lifetime member. Do something.

Descale the coffee maker/keurig or other things that use tap water once a month minimum. Also take things apart and clean them thoroughly once a week. I was once the person that discovered wildlife in a keurig. It still makes me shudder and it’s been years

Order or find seasonal things in the off season - for me this means canning supplies in winter, snow boots in summer if they need replacing. Thrift just at the beginnings and endings of seasons.

Chocolate chip cookie dough blobs in the freezer. Though future other people usually eat these before I get to enjoy more than one or two. And now a present day someone has asked me to stop putting them in the freezer. Sob.

If you want to be a houseplant person but are afraid you’ll kill all your plants, try this. Get several different kinds of plants. Take care of them the way you will reliably do those tasks. Whichever plants make it 6 months or a year are the plants you should buy more of. That’s a long game but five years from now you will be very glad to have plants you aren’t constantly killing.

I keep a daily habit tracker on paper with things like ‘floss’ and then each day I color in the squares of the things I accomplished. Future me is glad to be able to realistically tell my dentist how much I flossed and future me is glad to really see that I can take ‘drawing’ off my list because it’s purely aspirational. I never do it and now I can give myself permission to not feel bad.

If something becomes worn out or uncomfortable I get it into the donation bin or garbage as appropriate, immediately. Future me spends less time putting together an outfit, getting into it and realizing the offending garment makes the entire outfit unmanageable because that one piece brings everything else together. This is a bit much but I keep a spreadsheet of my clothes so I can see what I’m wearing and how. It also has a tab for ‘holes in my closet’ so that when I see things in the thrift store I can refer and see if it’s actually a thing I need/really want, or just an impulse.

Smaller trash cans and smaller trash bags. I’m always very glad when I don’t have to haul an enormous heavy bag out. Other bonuses: it doesn’t break/I don’t worry it’s going to break; the trash is almost never stinky because there isn’t time for things to get gross.

Winter hand care - I had a tiny paintbrush that I used to apply cuticle cream/aquaphor/Vaseline to my fingers and it was amazing. The brush has since died and finding a natural bristle brush to replace it has been a pain (oils will dissolve an acrylic brush). I’ve made do with my fingers and sometimes a q tip if I need to have my finger tips clean. Life hasn’t been the same. But applying the hoop before things get dry and chapped remains something that future me is very thankful for.

Carry a water bottle. Not having to pay an arm and a leg for a drink is important.

Buy any sweetened beverages you prefer in bulk. Don’t buy a can of Coke at the office canteen. Keep your own stash in the fridge or at home. This depends on trusting other folks not to drink your drinks but the savings are immense. Future you will be even more grateful if you switch to water. It’s altogether cheaper and better for you.

Walk 20-30 minutes a day at a pace brisk enough to get you sweating. The dividends on that are amazing.

Choose one kind of athletic socks. Get rid of all the others. When it’s time to replace your socks, do it all in one go and with either the same (if available) or different style.

Delicate laundry and socks go into a laundry bag. This makes it slightly more likely that all the socks come back out and helps prevent lacy things from getting shredded.

Empty laundry pockets and check for stains before washing. Spray collars and cuffs with shout or scrub with a wet bar (really any kind) of soap. Once ‘ring around the collar’ is noticeable it takes a lot of work to get out.
posted by bilabial at 1:08 PM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm in my 60s. I am thankful that young me saved, paid down the mortgage, learned different skills and knowledge, read a lot. I'm glad young me moved to Maine, except that when I moved here, the economy sucked and my earnings and opportunities did, too. Build your career and earning power while you can. I wish young me had gone to graduate school, but it wasn't realistic. In a couple years, I can get another degree at reduced tuition. I'm happy that all ages of me have been politically active, because it's a useful skill, esp. now.

I would like it if young me had worked harder at maintaining friendships. Facebook has allowed me to get back in touch with friends, so that helps. Tag your photos. Go to the concerts of the artists you love.

Floss. Watch your cholesterol. Wear your seatbelt. Wear sunscreen. Eat sensibly. Things with elastic will last way longer if you dry them on a rack. Buy less stuff.

Save love letters.
posted by theora55 at 3:47 PM on July 16, 2018

A coworker at work waxed poetic about how he hasn't been to the dentist in 19.5 years because his teeth are in such good condition. His secret? He brushes 2--4 times a day, after every meal, and flosses in the car.

Now, you may doubt the voracity of this evidence, but my flossing has gone up probably 10,000% since I started carrying those little flossing picks in my car. Now I have something to do at red lights and while getting my mind off traffic.
DDownside, don't think about single use plastics and it's impact on the environment :(
posted by tedious at 3:30 AM on July 17, 2018

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