You can thank me later!
May 30, 2020 3:54 PM   Subscribe

What things do you do to make things easier for future you?

I'm mostly thinking of little things, like refilling the diaper bag when you get home (rather than scrambling when you're trying to get out the door on time) or emptying the lint trap when the load of laundry is done (rather than when you're putting a new one in). The sorts of things that make you think, "Ah, thanks, me of two days ago!" Happy to hear any short- or long-term things, and/or bigger or smaller impact things as well.
posted by stillmoving to Grab Bag (65 answers total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
Doing dishes right away instead of letting them pile up. Less of a factor if you have a dishwasher.

Cleaning up while you cook instead of afterwards.

Pay bills when they come in, not just before they're due (but obviously one's personal finances can affect this).
posted by acidnova at 3:57 PM on May 30 [10 favorites]

I put water and coffee in my machine at night, so I can simply switch it on in the morning.
posted by zadcat at 4:02 PM on May 30 [10 favorites]

Batch cooking and freezing meals!
posted by btfreek at 4:05 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]

Putting my keys where they belong, returning my credit card and subway card to my purse after use, refilling they ice cube tray, and setting up auto ship on my cats food and supplies.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:11 PM on May 30 [9 favorites]

I look ahead at the weather forecast for the week and plan out an entire M-F for work clothes. I also plan 1-2 alternative choices if I am not necessarily feeling my pre-planned outfit when the day arrives. I hang them in day order, and I can just get up and pull out the outfit for the day without having to give any though to what I am going to wear that day. ( I suspect this comes from the love/hate relationship that I have with having worn uniforms to school).
posted by JennyJupiter at 4:15 PM on May 30 [13 favorites]

Having a key hidden somewhere secure, or at a neighbor's, especially if you live alone.
Keeping a spare car key in your wallet.
Having a stash of some kind of shelf-stable milk (soy or oat milks are better than dairy for this IMO) that will be tolerable in morning coffee if you're out of regular milk or cream.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:18 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]

When I take clothes out of the closet, I consolidate all the empty hangers in one place, rather than just pulling clothes off the hangers and leaving them in place. Saves a tiny bit of annoyance when putting away laundry.

That’s literally the only thing I can think of.
posted by obfuscation at 4:21 PM on May 30 [18 favorites]

Taking the time every Sunday night to review my schedule for the week.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:22 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

I clean the kitchen every night after dinner so morning-me has a clean kitchen to make coffee in.

I clean-as-I-go while cooking so after-dinner-me doesn't have as much to clean before bed.

I make my bed every morning so bedtime-me doesn't have to sleep on a cat-fur sheet-set.

And when I put dishes away or pick things up off the floor, I make sure to put them somewhere safe, stable, and out of the way -- but that is mainly so future-housemate won't knock them over or trip over them, because destruction follows in her wake wherever she goes.
posted by invincible summer at 4:25 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

These are great, please keep them coming! Also happy to hear any longer-term things (like I put $10 in a coffee can every month and that's my holiday present money), etc. And also any suggestions that have to do with things you do for your kid (or to make your life as a parent smoother).
posted by stillmoving at 4:31 PM on May 30

I fold my socks together so I don’t have to hunt for a pair when I’m in a hurry.
I recently put together sets of my workout clothes. One sports bra, workout shirt, and one pair of pants or shorts all together so I can just grab three and go. This also helped me jettison workout clothes I was hanging onto just in case and kept passing over.
I also fold my undies so they are easy to find, and take up less room.
In the autumn I roast squash, sautee mire poix, and freeze them flat, separately, in ziplock bags. Then in the winter I’m halfway to soup with less chopping.
I bulk buy some things. Present day me is very grateful to past me who ordered a case of instant oatmeal.
I have a small collection of gift bags and tissue paper so that I don’t have to hunt at the last minute for a gift giving occasion.
I wipe things down before it looks like they need it, because when something looks Crusty and gross it’s already late.
I sort my laundry as I take it off so that I don’t have to sort before washing.
I am on a nearly obsessive ebay vigil for a discontinued style of shoes that I adore so they can be my signature shoe forever. So far I have five pairs.
There is exactly one home for my keys in any given situation. This has been life changing.
I taught my partner how to fold plastic grocery bags into little compact triangles. They take up so much less space and are easier to grab and go.
I got a roll of clear recycling bags for each can and put those rolls in the bottoms of the cans so when I take the recycling out I don’t have to find or even think about the bags.
I use general cooking guidelines much more than I use strict recipes so that I can put together a meal without worrying about one missing ingredient.
When I am considering a purchase, I have begun asking myself if I want the thing more than I want the other goals I am pursuing. I also have been asking myself if I need the thing, and do I have room for it. The answer to the first and third question is almost always no, and the second question leads me to discover that I could make do.
I went back to therapy last summer and I am extremely grateful to past me for that.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later.
posted by bilabial at 4:46 PM on May 30 [20 favorites]

Whenever it occurs to me that I need to do something later, I immediately set an alarm on my phone to remind me to do it. Like, if I’m at work and my SO texts me asking to bring her a certain book (which is at home) when I next come over, I will set an alarm for 8:00 PM labeled “Put book in bag” so that neither 8:00-PM-me nor in-a-few-days-me have to remember (which they won’t).
posted by ejs at 5:06 PM on May 30 [15 favorites]

Not just putting socks together, but sock-gami: hold the two socks together, turn one inside out while pushing the second into the inside-out sock. It's easier to do than to explain. Anyway, the socks can't come apart.
posted by kindall at 5:17 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

There's no heat in the kitchen where I'm staying ... so I make sure that pancake batter is made the night before. I still have to add a few things and fry it up the next morning, but it's that much less time in that cold kitchen.

Off to make up some pancake batter now.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:19 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

To continue the sock theme, when I found a type of sock I liked, I bought a ton of them and phased out any other socks I had. Now all of my socks are identical and it doesn't matter when one of them gets lost or worn out.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:20 PM on May 30 [23 favorites]

I set up files at the start of every year to keep receipts related to donations, medical, and other categories likely to figure into my taxes for that year. When it comes time to actually do my taxes on TurboTax, all the sorting of deductions has already been done.

Whenever I remove a backup food from the pantry, it immediately goes onto the shopping list. Having another backup may not be an emergency, but I sure don't want to forget about it. This is applied to everything in the house. E.g., when I refill the jar with the last of the cotton balls, cotton balls get added to the shopping list.
posted by DrGail at 5:23 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]

I'm going to see "Pay bills when they come in" and raise it, if that's how that terminology goes. Put all bills on auto-pay unless you financially can't, and cross "pay bills" off your to-do list for good.
posted by less of course at 5:27 PM on May 30 [15 favorites]

Cooking up a double batch of a recipe so there are enough leftovers to eat another time or two before I have to cook again.

Setting a crockpot in the morning so that when I come home the delicious smell in the hallway leads straight to my apartment, where I realize someone has cooked a hot dinner for me! Thanks, 10-hours-ago me!

Picking up a few cans of a hearty soup like Progresso at every grocery trip, so on nights when I don't feel like cooking and no past-me has set me up with leftovers or a crockpot dinner, I still have something quick, cheap and low effort to have for supper.

Setting up an auto-debit from my checking account to an online savings account, which I leave alone for the most part. We haven't managed to amass a huge amount over the years as we've needed to use it for various emergencies, but boy howdy was it gratifying to log into our savings and realize we had a bit of money on hand to cover the thing that came up!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:41 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]

I line up my cereal bowl, spoon, and cereal container on the kitchen counter at night, and fill the electric kettle. It always makes "morning me" smile.

Oh and making the bed every day is a game changer, if you're not doing that already.
posted by kinsey at 5:44 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]

Buying two of any weird, relatively inexpensive stuff that's hard to find. I may not even be looking for it at the time I come across it in a store or online but if I find myself thinking 'that's cool!', I buy two. A few months back, I purchased a little suction cup sponge holder for my sink. It's a little thing, obviously, but it keeps the sponge out of sight and dry. When it fell apart, I had a hard time finding a replacement. (Because I'm very particular and I didn't like the other options available.) When I did find a replacement, I bought two.

I (ok, Mr.Pitts) replaced the flapper on two toilet models that were discontinued. We found them online in the manufacturers 'back pages' of supplies. Took quite a bit of digging and reading through the product specs. We bought two of each.

Pro tip on this one: keep track of where these extras are. It's super easy to forget you've got a backup.
posted by MissPitts at 5:49 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

I care about the people around me. Maybe some day it'll be my turn.
posted by aniola at 5:52 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]

I keep notes at work. I usually do a dozen paragraph size notes a day and meetings. I copy important emails and internal docs into my notes.
posted by bdc34 at 5:56 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]

Logging all of my expenses (or verifying categories in Mint) at the end of every week so that when I go to do my taxes, it takes no time to enter all my business and personal information. I finish my taxes in a snap.

I put gifts on my desk (where I need to work) and don't remove them (or wear/use them) until I've written the thank you notes, so I don't ever have that guilt hanging over me.

Buy more light bulbs when I use the second-to-last of any size.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 6:14 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]

I use google calendar a lot - setting up recurring events for things like birthdays and annual medical appointments and having the reminders emailed to me a few days (or weeks, if needed) before the event occurs. I’ll also set it for shorter term events, like watering plants.

Related to this, I have a stack of birthday and thank you and sympathy cards so I can grab one when needed.

Keep extra smoke detector batteries handy.
posted by umwhat at 6:19 PM on May 30 [6 favorites]

I stash a bunch of new garbage bags in the bottom of the can, under the currently-in-use one, so it's much easier to replace the bag.
I refill the doggie bag holder on the leash when I come back in, if it's empty or close. if there's only a bag or two, I refill it anyway and pull the last couple through the hook.
I try to keep a spare or two on hand of every toiletry/paper product we use. It's not foolproof, but it sure helps us not be completely out, and it's been very helpful in the current situation... I just worked on adding another extra of things, in case supplies got low, and we actually haven't run out of anything except chocolate.
posted by stormyteal at 6:22 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

When I buy ginger root, I puree it and freeze it flat in a ziploc. That way we can just break off an appropriate chunk instead of having to peel and grate it. blurkerspouse is SO HAPPY every time he doesn't have to grate ginger.
posted by blurker at 6:43 PM on May 30 [17 favorites]

I have various health issues and I'm mobility disabled; so I've found ways to make my life easier in small ways:

- I splurged and installed a digital lock on my front door; so that I wouldn't have to struggle with two sets of keys in very finicky locks, while struggling with grocery bags and a cane. I can reprogram the number as I see fit, and it has backup keys in case the battery dies. It's become a lifesaver for me over the years!

- do an automatic online refill of my various medications from my pharmacy, and taking advantage of their contactless home delivery service (especially during pandemic times). I usually do this at least 1 week ahead of time, so that if there are any unforseen delays, I won't be panicking because I'm running out.

- I have four weekly pillbox dispensers, and I refill them all once I receive my refills. This saves me time every single day, from having to dig out ALL the various meds and supplements that I must take. I can keep one out on my kitchen counter, where I am more likely to notice it and take them every day.

- As I am prone to weather-related migraines; I keep a small supply of my migraine pills in tiny ziplocks in various places -- my car, my purse, my backpack, and in a specialized tiny metal canister attached to my car/housekeys. For me, the sooner I can take them, the less intense the migraine is likely to be. (This could apply to other meds such as gastro/indigestion, etc.)

- I have arranged to automatically pay for all my monthly bills online; so it's one less thing to worry about. I have also arranged for my Hydro/electricity bill to be on "equalized payments" since cold Canadian winters mean that it can skyrocket during those months. I'll usually also pay about $5 over the amount, so that during the annual readjustment, I'm never owing any extra.

- I've always kept a sort of "Zombie Apocalypse Siege Pantry", because my disability can make it very difficult to get out for groceries, especially during the winter. This includes a lot of "emergency food" that is filling, and requires very little effort to prepare, for those days when I have very little energy, or have a migraine. This could be canned foods, or frozen. I also keep several boxes of UHT shelf-stable milk on hand, and freeze at least one pack/loaf of bread/buns.
When I have a bit of extra money, I make sure to refill my stockpile, usually at the end of the month when grocery prices are often cheaper. I keep a list of the items in my pantry and freezer on a dry-erase board, to more easily keep track of their contents.

- I keep my kitchen garbage bin filled with at least a half dozen garbage bags, all ready opened and secured in place with one really large elastic band. This means that it is easier to just take empty the garbage, knowing I don't have to rummage around for a refill immediately. Also, I can secure a possible leaky bag by simply using a second one at the same time. I also keep one sheet of fabric softener at the very bottom of the bin as a deodorizer. So *very* handy!

- I have several dozen rechargeable batteries (in various sizes) stored in custom bins, and a number of inexpensive battery powered LED lamps and flashlights. These come in super handy when the power goes out during winter storms, or summer thunderstorms. I also have several heavy duty external USB battery packs that can be used to recharge smartphones, tablets or my laptop, and I keep them fully charged. I also have several backup charging cables (in home as well as my car), with multiple types of adapters, which are very handy for friends to use if they stay over.

- I keep a series of ongoing shopping lists on my iPhone in Evernote; so that I can always consult what I need. It also comes in handy if I happen to pass by a store that I might not have planned going to, but now can check to see what exactly I need from there.
Having a list means I'm less likely to splurge on non-necessary purchases. I also keep a list of recipes and ingredients they need; so I can check on how much I might need of something if the main ingredient goes on sale (ie: chicken goes on sale, so what else do I need to make chicken pot pie).
I do tend to keep backups of certain items, either because it might be difficult for me to go out and replace it at that moment (lightbulbs, etc.), or because it was a great useful purchase and I probably won't see it at that price again.
posted by Jade Dragon at 6:54 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]

Wrote "legacy letters" to my kids in case something happens to me, and included my thoughts and encouragement about big life stuff they may encounter. Also, as someone who lives where there's a lot of winter, I schedule routine stuff like car maintenance, physicals, house repairs and a big run to Goodwill for late summer or early fall so things are more likely to stay in tune through the winter. I've also learned it's sometimes more than twice as helpful to have two of something (shovels for front and back door, reading glasses). Financially, as a woman I was aware early in my life of studies showing that women were less likely to ask for raises, so I started documenting my work & asking for raises more frequently. Sometimes I got them, and other times it made it clearer faster than I wasn't going to see fair progress at a company. Both outcomes were valuable to future me.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:54 PM on May 30 [12 favorites]

Descriptively label and date when freezing food. Chicken stew vs pork stew looks identical when frozen. Cheese can be frozen. Triple batch, rolled into sheets, when making old-fashioned flaky pastry dough. Freeze fresh cake yeast in 25g blocks. Weekly automatic deductions to savings accounts for holiday, medical, home maintenance/rates (property tax), credit cards, utilities, savings, etc. Leftover is mad money.
posted by lemon_icing at 7:09 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

I keep a separate set of essentials in every bag I own. If I want to switch bags, I just have to grab my wallet and cell phone and I’m good to go. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. It’s not like Kleenex and Chapstick are such rare, expensive Items. Why was I transferring the same Chapstick back-and-forth like it was precious? Add Chapstick in each bag, and I never have to worry about it!
posted by ficbot at 7:40 PM on May 30 [11 favorites]

Whenever I come across a mention/review of a book or movie or TV show that sounds interesting, I add it to a list in my planner. Then when I want something new to read/watch, I have a list to choose from rather than having to google and find something.

Keeping lists in an accessible place is a good idea in general. I keep lists of projects I want to do, of things I want/need to buy, of presents I'm going to be giving to people during the current year, and of my goals, in my ARC planner. I also keep needed samples and other specifications in an zippered insert at the back. It makes project time and shopping much more efficient. I use my Amazon wish lists and Toronto Public Library wish lists a lot too.

Batch cooking, of course, and also keeping your closets and drawers tidy. It saves time when you're trying to find something/put something away. Wardrobe planning is a time and money saver in the long run too.

My internet favourites are all very carefully organized by category. It took some time to get them set up that way, but it saves me googling if I can get to a site I want in just two clicks.

I like to keep my manuals and warranties in one folder in my filing cabinet. When I need that information, I know right where it is.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]

I often think "Well you don't want to do that thing NOW, are you going to want to do it more LATER?" and sometimes the answer is actually "Yeah sure" like if I am sick or something, but more often I'm just saying to myself "I don't waaaannnaaaaaa" and I should get over that.

In specific

- If I need to wake up earlier than usual, I "set myself up for success" and pick an outfit and get the coffeemaker all set up.
- Going on a trip or have an early drive somewhere? Get gas BEFORE you need to.
- Agree with others, an extra can of this or that shelf-stable food on shopping trips really helped me these past months as I got my shit together (dang there are a lot of english muffins in this freezer!)
- I am eternally cheap (but do not need to be) and getting the big size of a thing means having to shop for the thing less often
- Same with Jade Dragon on pill containers (fill them before they are all empty) and batteries (buy more than you need) and a few very simple and also tasty meals good for emergencies or exceptionally low-ability days. I got a shingles vaccination that surprise-flattened me for 36 hours and was really glad for this recently.
- have a "taxes" label for my email, and any tax-deductible donation receipts go there

And as aniola wisely says, sometimes it's just spending time and attention when you have some to spare with or on other people, so that when you don't, you can maybe draw from that cosmic karma bank.
posted by jessamyn at 8:24 PM on May 30 [7 favorites]

If you reach a point where you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, have some of your check deposited into an account at a different bank. As you can, increase that periodically. Our last three vacations were debt-free using that technique.
This is an oldie, and I cannot believe how long it took me to get there - pay off your credit cards in full, every month. If you’re in debt, use whatever method works for you pay those suckers down until they’re gone! This will discipline you to really think about need vs want, and choose more wisely in the future.
Get your mammogram (and other preventive exams) as often as recommended.
Go on budget billing for all the utilities you can, that way your payments are the same throughout the year.
If/when your cable/internet bill creeps up, call them and ask to speak to a “retention specialist”, or just start asking why your bill is so high these days, and geez you got a great offer from Blah. You will get a better deal. It involves a contract, make note of the date it runs out (put it in your calendar) and call them in the year (or whatever) and do it again. PITA, but it works!
posted by dbmcd at 8:58 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]

I use reminders on my phone for so many things:
- remembering something in the future (take X to Y appointment)
- movies, TV, books to watch/read
- ask X what they want for their birthday
- water a plant that doesn’t have a once per week scheduled
- get a flu shot

If you have a chronic illness or disability, it can be useful to track symptoms (I use Symple and really like it) so that when a doctor/physio/whatever needs to know how you’ve been since the last appointment, you can have the data rather than your memory which could be wrong due to a recent bad day.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:40 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]

>I fold my socks together so I don’t have to hunt for a pair when I’m in a hurry.

I'm struggling to understand this one. Do people not do this anyway? Like do people just have drawers filled with loose socks?
posted by McNulty at 11:20 PM on May 30 [10 favorites]

Note Christmas gift ideas throughout the year as you think of them or people mention they want something. Christmas comes, shopping is easy, and you look like someone who paid attention all year because you did.
posted by migurski at 11:40 PM on May 30 [12 favorites]

Socks and laundry are a recurring theme. I used to ball my socks up and toss them in the hamper when I took them off, like playing wastebasket basketball. That just meant that future me had to un-ball the socks en masse when it was laundry day, though. So now I do future me a solid and eschew sock sports. Ditto with unrolling any rolled-up shirt sleeves, etc.
posted by mumkin at 11:43 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]

>I fold my socks together so I don’t have to hunt for a pair when I’m in a hurry.
I'm struggling to understand this one. Do people not do this anyway? Like do people just have drawers filled with loose socks?

I remember my math teacher having to patiently explain again and again that my "ha ha! trick question! answer is that you will always pull out a matched pair of socks!" answer was wrong, and that what the problem was asking me to do was figure out the probabilities assuming the socks weren't rolled together. Finally it sunk it- "why would people do that? It's just dumb." (I was always on the look out for 'trick questions' like if it's multiply by zero you can skip it and just write 0, because math problems frustrated me. Anyway.)

On future me- adding things to the shopping list as they run low, rather than when they run out. (Especially in these times- time between shops can be long.)

Nthing Crockpot. Adding: freezer bags of meals that you can just dump into the crockpot. I need to do that again, it's amazing, because you still need to do the prep for the crock pot at some time, and the morning rush isn't ideal. I've also dumped the crockpot ingredients into a bowl in the fridge over night for the same effect.

I like folding my sheet sets into 'kits' (using one of the pillow cases) so when we make the bed we've got everything we need ready to go. I also sorted my linen cupboard into sheet sizes, so I don't grab the double for the queen bed.

I built in our entry way a dedicated shoe spot and mounted the shelf off the floor so that when cleaning you can sweep under it. This was admittedly a design decision rather than a habit, but yeah I'm happy with it!

In outlook, you can write emails and delay send them, which means that you can write at a time that suits you and send them in business appropriate hours. This is definitely a 'thanks past me' thing when I don't have to remember to send that email in the morning when I am busy getting ready for the day.

When I was early morning exercising, I laid out my exercise clothes ready to go- and I ended up storing them on a shelf so after the wash they would go back there, saving present me the job of laying out the clothes!

Habit that saves future me- I don't assume that pockets have been emptied before a wash. I check each time, just before they go into the machine. This saves tissues-blizzards.

If you commute a device between places (say office and home) have a dedicated charger for both spots. Saves on bag organisation, forgetfulness disasters, etc.
posted by freethefeet at 12:05 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]

Similar to blurker's ginger trick, I've taken to buying a big bag of peeled garlic cloves every few months. It takes an hour or so of prep to tail them & blend them in the food processor with a little salt until they're minced, and then I freeze the minced garlic into portion sizes (people tend to use an ice cube tray for this but we don't have one that's the right size, so I use a mini muffin tray instead and it works fine). Now my freezer is full of portion-sized pucks of prepared garlic and I don't have to dick around with peeling and mincing small amounts of garlic whenever I want to cook with it.
posted by terretu at 1:08 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]

Not little things, but I exercise, put on sunscreen, eat healthy, and brush and floss as gifts to future me. (because present me sure as hell couldn't care less about doing them for herself)

Any time I'm tempted to put my keys (or, these days, my coronavirus mask) somewhere random, I stop myself and put it in a fixed location, for future me. I put all appointments into my phone immediately for the same reason.

I've bought myself certain purchases, like a water flosser or a reliable, comfortable can opener, instead of getting by with whatever. Investment in quality is something future me gets to enjoy.

I save treats for when I know I'll need them. One of those days when everything is utter garbage but hey at least past me saved me my favorite chocolate. Now everything is still garbage but at least my mouth tastes delicious.

If I really need it and can't do without it, I should own more than one of it. Eg: headphones and chargers and vegetable peelers and corkscrews...

Replace the toilet paper on the holder as soon as I see its running low. Same for any supply I don't want to discover I'm out of only once its out.
posted by Cozybee at 1:20 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]

Every night, no exceptions, when I get into pajamas, the pants go next to the front door, with a car key in the pocket.

Three small but bright flashlights hang on the wall near bedrooms where all can find by feel if needed.

A duffel bag with extra clothes, meds, first aid kit, and so on is in an accessible location.

Shelves in the laundry room form a pantry for LOTS of non-perishables in case of earthquake, etc. When store shelves were empty in March, we were already well stocked.

Crank-powered flashlight and solar-powered phone charger.

Backing into parking spots, so hurrying-to-get-out-on-time me saves a few seconds.
posted by wjm at 1:50 AM on May 31

If you use ice cube trays, put a plastic bowl for ice in the freezer. Whenever you need ice, get it out of the plastic bowl. If the bowl is empty, dump an ice cube tray into the bowl and refill the ice cube tray right then. This way, you only ever run out of ice if you're using an abnormally large amount of it, and generally, all your ice cube trays are always full of ice, except for a short time immediately after you use up the last of what was in the bowl, in which case one of your ice cube trays will be full of water.
posted by smcameron at 3:51 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]

I also back in when parking, or pull through, if such a space is available.

Not for me, but after being executor of my Mom's will, I did what she did: Had a will, and changed my primary bank account to a living trust. Your survivors will appreciate it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:19 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]

When I am folding laundry in my bedroom, rather than subject not-too-far-in-the-future Me to the annoyance of going back and forth to retrieve a clothes hanger every time I have an article of clothing to hang up, instead I lay out the clothes that need to go on hangers as I’m sorting through my laundry, putting one article of clothing on top of the other to make a neat pile.

I count how many there are in the stack and then retrieve a corresponding number of hangers. I realize others’ mileage may vary and maybe folks naturally do this, but for me it was a game-changer.
posted by dean_deen at 4:40 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]

In the days when I used to go out, I would make sure that anything I needed to take with me was already in a bag either hung off the doorknob or right at the front door so I couldn't forget it. If it was something I needed to take out of the fridge, I'd stick a post-it note on the door.

Setting up my podcasts to download the latest episode.

Buying garlic paste, ginger paste and garlic/ginger paste in jars from the Indian supermarket (my Indian neighbour says everyone she knows uses these. I use a lot of ginger and garlic, so this is a real time saver for me.)

As someone said above, setting the coffee maker the night before, on a timer so that first mug is ready and waiting.

Laying out my clothes the night before. Of course, since lockdown this has all gone to hell, as I just pull on whichever sweatpants are to hand.

When I open a new tube of toothpaste, I buy another so I never run out. This is also a good idea for things like tampons or diapers that you really, really don't want to run out of. And peanut butter.
posted by essexjan at 6:09 AM on May 31

Set long-duration reminders for tasks that are important, infrequent, and catastrophic: passport renewal, car registration, and license renewal. My nightmare is I need to drive to Canada for a funeral and everything is near expiration.

I schedule floating to-do or all-day appointments for the entire month before expiration. Four months for passport, as it can take 8 weeks for a new one, and some countries deny visas for soon-to-expire passports. A single calendar event or due date is not enough, I need to give myself time to get it done and leeway to chose when to do it.

When shopping I use the reminder "just buy two" if it is a non-perishable item that I know will get used up.

I have an 80 year old steam heating system. I fire up the boiler and check for steam leaks and clogged radiators in mid August.

I setup bill pay to make a donation of 10% of my net paycheck to a charity that then makes payments to other organizations that support my values. This has a side effect of making me happy when I see my bank balance go down.

- - - - -

This is a great question because it calls out something I'm not very good at. Current me is kind of a jerk to future me. Like, I am not very gentle to that guy, and my default is to have unreasonable expectations combined with little faith that he will accomplish them. "Future me needs to get this done right on the deadline! Future me had better exercise every day! I'm sick of that guy's excuses! He had better get his act together!"

By contrast, my current self is very generous to my past self, forgiving of mistakes, understanding context for failures, so I guess that's good.

I don't really understand why this contradiction is true, but these questions thinking about small things to help, and making intentional time to help future me, is a trick to bypass my default behavior.
posted by sol at 6:24 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]

I set out clothes and other items that are needed for the next day the night before. So on nights before work and gym days, I set out my work clothes in one spot with my gym clothes next to it. (I go home between the two to feed the cat.) That way in the morning (when my brain is not quite up to functioning) I already have everything for the day ready. When I get home from work, I can easily strip and change into gym clothes, feed the cat, and then grab a fresh beverage to go back out.

Basically anything I can do the night before (make protein shake and put in fridge, put things that need to go in the mail on top of my keys in my handbag, put grocery list in my resuable bags so I remember to bring both into the grocery store)--I do the night before because I take a long time to wake up mentally in the morning so the more that I can put on "auto pilot" the better.
posted by sperose at 6:48 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

I don't ball my socks because I knit the vast majority of them by hand. The few pairs of ankle socks that I own for house lounging and exercise I want to last a long time because I am cheap, I have noticed that balling socks makes the elastic go out quicker. And as far as sensory nightmares go, a sock with no ankle elastic slipping down around my heel and toward the arch of my foot as I walk is near the top of the scale of fucking excruciating.

I buy the slightly bigger bag of potting soil for plants because then I have some on hand for the next round of repotting. (We have a selection of slightly larger pots on hand as well, somehow. The two plants that need pots bigger than we have on hand have been waiting for....a while) So this is sort of a thing I try to do for lots of tasks. Is there something coming up that I need supplies for, and not having those supplies will prevent me from getting started when it is time? Once I know the answer is yes, I can look for those items on sale instead of 1. buying them last minute at full price 2. delaying the task because I forget/get distracted/can't find the items/refuse to pay full price.

In anticipation of my future infection with covid-19, I have stocked up on oral hydrating solution powder. I know that sick me will not want to make it, it will be unsafe for me to take the infection into stores, and from everything I have heard, hydration is extremely important. This also came in handy when my neighbor had the virus, because I had some to share. I can share as needed and restock then as other people catch it, minimizing trips out.

Also, I only buy "emergency" food (like hurricane prep) that I actually like and regularly eat. So it's just extras of what I would normally have on hand. This way, I rotate through the stock so that when the hurricane comes I don't have expired food, or misery food. Or worse, expired misery food. So many people who never cook dried beans keep pounds and pounds of them on hand and then when it's impossible to shop they don't know what to do with the damn beans. And don't have anything on hand to make them taste great.

(A thing I know future me would love is an organized email inbox. I have....a lot of unread messages. Lots of it is spammy, and a fair portion of it is misdirected as I have a first.last account, and have had the address for nearly 20 years. Does anyone have any tips on what they do? I go through and unsubscribe and mass delete, but it's still a mess.)
posted by bilabial at 9:36 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

about 5 years ago I bought a bunch of rechargeable batteries, about 10 each AA and AAA (eneloop), and a good charger (one that can cycle the batteries to refresh them). Now I always have a battery when I need one and haven’t had to take any to the recycling point that whole time.
posted by tomp at 12:05 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]

Work-wise, I have a recurring calendar event on my work calendar every Friday from 4-5pm to wrap up my week. I make a to-do list for the following week and also one specifically for Monday. I also throw out any junk scattered on the desk and give it a wipe down, shut down the computer fully, make sure to turn off my bluetooth keyboard and mouse, etc. Makes coming in Monday so much nicer. On Monday-Thursday I write the next day's to-do list at the end of the day as well.

I try to outsource reminders as much as possible to electronic systems. Recurring phone reminders for personal things like paying rent, giving the dogs his flea/heartworm meds, etc. Ad-hoc reminders to do things later. Slack /remind for things like remembering to submit weekly expenses.
posted by radioamy at 12:48 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]

This is maybe a little more abstract but... I'm in a healthy long term relationship with someone I don't live with. We do, however, sometimes argue. Sometimes present-me very badly wants to win an argument, is upset at the injustice of some interaction we've had, or is just having a crap day. However, it's a gift to future-me to, unless it's very important, get better at letting things go. This is both true in the near future (i.e. let's not fight!) but also the longer term future so that if something really is important and I'm not willing to let it go, my partner knows it's a big deal, not just me needing a snack or something.
posted by jessamyn at 2:50 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]

I have about 10 minutes of exercises I do every morning, and a shorter version I do every evening, that I worked out with a physical therapist. If I do them, Future Me gets a good night's sleep! If I skip them, Future Me is woken up in the middle of the night with back and hip pain.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:54 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]

I really wish I turned my t-shirts in-side in before I put them in the laundry basket.
posted by bendy at 9:33 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]

bendy, next time you take one off, figure out what little additional flip you need to add to the motion to do it automatically. Then train yourself to just do it that way every time.
posted by bink at 12:19 AM on June 1

I'm a runner, and for a couple of years, I put $1 in a jar for every mile I ran, then at NYC marathon time, I donated half to a running charity, and splurged on marathon gear for myself with the other half.
posted by gaspode at 6:33 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

Whenever I create a calendar entry for something in my personal life I will ensure that it's as helpful as possible - does it have the correct address? Have I included a booking confirmation number (particularly useful for e.g. car hire/hotel check in/ticket pickup)? Would it be useful to have an end time? Have I invited the right people? etc.
posted by muthecow at 8:37 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I really wish I turned my t-shirts in-side in before I put them in the laundry basket.
That reminds me... when I was a kid, I started pulling my t-shirts off top-first so they came off right-side-out, and I didn't have to turn them.
posted by kindall at 8:40 AM on June 1

When I take something off a hanger, I move that hanger to the far left of my closet so that's where the empties live, and when things have been laundered or are ready to re-hang, I hang them up with the empties. Then as the season goes on, I can see the items to the far right that I haven't worn and (ideally) go through and donate things from that section. It's shocking what a small percentage of my clothing gets most of the regular wear.
posted by jabes at 9:15 AM on June 1

Same sort of things everyone else has said.

Whenever I see something I think someone on my Christmas/birthday present list would like, I buy it. This doesn't completely save me from stressful last-minute present shopping, but it goes a long way towards avoiding it. (This year... it may not work so well. Quite a few of the things I'm listing don't really apply this year, come to that.)

Sometimes I prepare a whole work week's worth of clothes and accessories at the weekend. Sometimes I only do each day's the night before. Either way, it helps sleepy lizard-brain me not have to do anything more than the absolute minimum in the morning.

Moreover, certain garments go with certain other garments, and they get washed and dried together and paired up together in the wardrobe so that I never have to go hunting.

I keep things where they're needed: shoes by the door, keys literally in the lock (not visible or reachable from outside), spare soap under the sink. Things that get used in multiple places in the house exist in multiples. I have no idea how many tape measures or pairs of scissors I have, but it's been a while since I had to go hunting in another room for one, so apparently the answer is "enough". There is a lip balm in the pocket of every pair of jeans I own. There's also one in my handbag and one in my desk drawer at work... just in case. Same principle with painkillers: I get a lot of headaches, so there is a packet of ibuprofen everywhere I might need it.

After all the talk of no-deal-Brexit-related scarcity over the past couple of years, and three bouts of illness over the same period that each confined me to the house for a whole fortnight (imagine!), I decided it would be prudent always to have spares of anything that's both consumable and shelf-stable. So over the last year or so, I've got into the habit of taking advantage of discounts on non-perishable things that I routinely use, whether my stocks are getting low or not. And when I finish up a non-perishable thing, if the one I open to replace it was the last of its kind in the house (because it hasn't happened to come up on sale for too long), I get a full-price new one at that point, rather than hoping a sale comes up before I need it. I was starting to feel that this might be a bit OTT... and then *waves vaguely* all of this, and I have been so very glad to have small stockpiles of everything.

When I'm baking or cooking, I make sure the dishwasher is as empty as possible before I start, and put each utensil in it as soon as I'm done using it. Same with the ingredients - get them all out at the beginning and put them away as I use them. The me who's very pleased to finally get the cake in the oven or the pasta in the bowl is also very pleased with the me of ten minutes ago who left the kitchen so tidy.

When I go away somewhere, even just overnight, I try to leave the house tidier than usual so that I'm coming back to something not too chaotic.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:34 AM on June 1

I keep a list of what's in our chest freezer. Before the list, we would buy meat and not realize we already had some. Or stuff would fall down to the bottom and get nasty. I also date everything that we put in the freezer. As things get older, I try to find uses for them. The last time we cleaned out the freezer, we made a couple batches of stew and soups. We always have a dessert on Sunday. I check out what kind of fruit is on sale/in season and find a recipe to use that. Last year I started buying berries in season and freezing them. This year, we got a vacuum sealer for Christmas and I used that to freeze berries so they stay fresher longer.

I used to use an online blog to keep track of recipes, but now I just save them to Pocket. As a Christmas gift to my dad, I made a cookbook of frequently used recipes. I'm now working on volume 2. That way I don't have to keep printing them out for him. I use my tablet, but asking my luddite dad to do that is impracticle.

We buy baking supplies in bulk. I always have flour, sugars, chocolate chips, shortening and butter on hand. At Christmas, we make tons of cookies for the church bake sale. With my recent free time, I've been trying out new cookie recipes by making a batch, baking a couple and freezing the rest. I scoop them (a cookie disher is the greatest invention ever) onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet, freeze them and then vacuum seal them. I think I have about 5-6 batches of cookies in the freezer right now.

I lay out my clothes the night before. Because I work in childcare, that involves jeans/shorts and a casual shirt. I turn all my clothes right side out before putting them in the hamper. I have my current season pants in the dresser and off season ones hanging in a section of the closet. I have my long sleeved and short sleeved shirts separated in the closet with the current season's shirts closer to the center. I have my dress clothes sorted into dresses, skirts, tops and pants. I try to buy pants in neutral colors so they can be worn with just about any top. When I take clothes out of the closet, I group the hangers together. I also put clothes just worn/washed at the end of the section so I'm rotating them. When I find things I'm not wearing frequently, I reassess and donate them if I'm not wearing them.

I don't use a flat sheet, but do store the pillowcases and fitted sheet in a pillowcase. I have two sets of sheets in two different colors that coordinate with my bedspread. Last time I changed my sheets, I took way too long to figure out what was top and what was sides. I got a sharpies and just wrote top on the sheet. Now I only have to look for that. The pillows cover it, so nobody will know.

I live and die by my calendar. I have a recurring therapy appointment and it's set up as a recurring appointment. I also put recycling on the calendar as a recurring event since I never can remember the week. Things with deadlines (like my online CE courses) go on the calendar on the deadline date plus a week and a month prior to deadline.

Also, Google Keep. I keep multiple lists, including my meds. Being able to pull out my med list at the doctor's rather on relying on my addled brain is awesome. I have shopping lists for each store I go too. I have a list of the names of the kids in my class, toddlers and preschoolers and their DOB so I remember to make their birthday crowns. I also put in a list of the activities I have planned for the week when I write my lesson plans. That way I can get anything I need from the store or out of my supplies at home. This also helps keep me down to one trip a week.

A password manager has changed my online life. I use Bitwarden. I use that to generate random passwords and I feel so much more secure.
posted by kathrynm at 11:08 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Keep cash in the car in case of future me needing gas and not having wallet.
Keep water, windex, and ziplock of fastfood napkins in the car. When I had a flat tire, I cleaned the car while waiting for Roadside Assistance.
Keep granola bars in the car for future me who didn't eat breakfast. Mostly my friends and family eat them.
Put all sorts of reminders in my phone.
Took pictures of credit cards (front and back) for when future me loses them. They almost always turn up, so I am able to use the number while the card itself is hiding from me.
Keep a list of family addresses, phone numbers, and birthdays in an email draft so if I can get to email, I can call people, mail letters, etc.
Lists in Keep. Lots of Lists in Keep.
posted by theora55 at 5:52 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

For whitegoods or big electronics purchases, I find the place I am (most likely) going to be buying it from, and buy a gift card/voucher of X value each pay until I hit the threshold of what I want to purchase.

Depending on what you've got going on, you might have a way to get discounts for gift cards, but not for outright purchases. My union gets me 5% off gift cards at several places, which isn't a lot, but I'm saving towards some big purchases at Christmas and this will end up being a few hundred dollars off.

Plus, when you go in to buy the thing, straight up ask for a discount for cash.

Point is, if you have trouble saving for particular things, like I do, this is a good approach that has worked for me in the past.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:22 PM on June 2

This is another one that's more for future emergencies, but: make a bootable Ubuntu (or other beginner-friendly Linux distro) USB key when your computer is working. If your computer has some kind of catastrophe--terrible virus, hard drive problems, Windows installation getting b0rked--you will very possibly still be able to use it by running Ubuntu from a USB key. Useful if you need to do internet research into how to fix your computer, download some kind of recovery tool, or just have a time-sensitive internet thing you need to do using a full web browser and not a phone.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:19 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]

This is a really good questions, and I've been thinking about it. When my neighbors sold their house, they got all the little things fixed, they painted, did some landscaping. Do that nw, so future you can enjoy it. A few years ago, I planted a cherry tree that now bears enough fruit for pie, and is beautiful. Thanks, past me. I wish past me had paid more attention to nuisance saplings that will require more work to get rid of as nuisance trees. I planted an apple tree this year and future me will make pies.
posted by theora55 at 7:05 AM on June 6

Jedi mind trick ... "always assume positive intent". You can practice this right now! It will serve you well when you are wondering why Joe Schmoe at work sends you an inflammatory email (and cc's 100 people) or refuses to follow along on some rigid corporate timeline...basically this will provide at least a "pause" to be less retaliatory in your initial response. This will work with every human interaction.
posted by ollo at 4:11 PM on June 19

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