Organize your fridge. The turning point in a kitchen is often the refrigerator. When your fridge is messed up, it can be hard to know what you have available to cook, what foods are about to go bad, and what you need in the store. Wirecutter got the best advice on organizing refrigerators from Marguerite Preston, a former pastry chef who knows how professional chefs organize a kitchen. “Organization is important in restaurants not only because it helps chefs move quickly and smoothly, but also because wasted food is a waste of money,” she writes. “That also applies at home. You may not see the effects of a messy refrigerator in a bad Yelp review or balance sheet, but it will show in the time it takes to cook your dinner and the stress that comes with it. "
Watch the jellyfish. One of the best mindfulness tips I came across this year was Cord Jefferson, the television writer who thanked his therapist on national television when he won an Emmy. Mr. Jefferson told me that he was struggling with traditional meditation, but he was enjoying seeing the feed on a webcam showing the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Bookmark the jellyfish camera on your phone or laptop and lose yourself in the jellyfish for a brief mindful break during your work day.
Do the standing 7-minute workout. All you need is a wall and a chair close by for balance. You don't even have to change. Our new training video is a smooth workout for anyone who refrains from moving because it is difficult to get up from the floor after a push-up, plank or sit-up.
Do a 1-minute task. One of my favorite health tips for dealing with stress is the one minute rule. It's by Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before, a book about building new habits. This simple piece of advice will help you decide what to tackle on a long to-do list. First, complete the one-minute tasks. Hang up a coat. Read some emails. Clear the kitchen counter and wipe it down. Arrange a bookshelf. Whenever you take on a minute-long task, you get a sense of accomplishment and a quick burst of happiness.
Do a five-finger meditation. That is a easy way to calm down no matter where you are. (I tried a dentist's chair and it worked for me!) First, hold your hand in front of you with your fingers spread. On the other hand, start using your index finger to draw the outline of your hand. Track your pinky and down. Track your ring finger up and down. Inhale as you track and exhale as you track. Continue finger by finger until you've traced your entire hand. Now reverse the process and trace from your thumb back to your little finger. Be sure to breathe in as you track and breathe out when you track. For more tips on overcoming stress, check out my story, “Peak Anxiety? Here are 10 ways to calm yourself down. "
Create a Sunday basket. I learned this tip from Lisa Woodruff, author of The Paper Solution. She suggests tossing your bills, receipts, and various papers in one basket. (She sells a product for it, but I only use a regular basket.) Once a week, sort your recyclable papers (the ones that need attention) from your archival papers (the ones that can be filed). The Sunday basket approach (she claims) that adds an extra five hours to your week. This is part of a larger system proposed by Ms. Woodruff that uses three-ring folders instead of a filing cabinet. (She suggests five folders for financial information, medical needs, household information, school supplies, and day-to-day operations.) The Sunday Basket is enough for me, but if you're chronically overwhelmed by paper, you can visit Organize365.com to learn more.
Buy partially prepared foods. Chopped food and meal sets cost more to buy but save time. "I used to avoid buying sliced fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, but I've found that I actually use them earlier. So it pays off in the end," said Dr. Wood.