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10 Tips on Keeping Your Kitchen Clean When You Cook

10 Tips on Keeping Your Kitchen Clean When You Cook

Of course you want to cook a fresh, hot dinner for your family, but at the end of a long day, it’s a tough task to take on. Not only do you have to prep the food and cook the meal, you have to clean up afterwards! Don’t stress about how long cleaning up might take. Instead, check out these ten tips on keeping your kitchen clean when you cook. If you get it all done while you’re making the meal, you can relax after!

1. Start Fresh and Clean

Starting with a clean kitchen is a time saver. If you already have spills on the counter and dishes piled up in the sink, you won’t really be in the mood to cook a fresh meal. Make time to deep clean your kitchen one day, so you won’t have to clean as much every time you use it.

2. Pick the Right Spot

Where is the best place to cook? Do you have an island in your kitchen, so you have unobstructed counter space to prepare everything before turning around and dumping it in a pan? Or it might make sense to slice and dice right next to the sink, so you can clean the fresh produce as you go. Pick the right spot so you’ll be running around less. Don’t prep half of the meal on one side of the kitchen just to have to run it across the room to the stovetop. Prepping next to your workspace will also cut down on spills you’ll have to clean up later.

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3. Cook Simpler Meals

You might fancy yourself a gourmet cook, but are you trying to make a masterpiece or feed your family? If you’re just trying to fill everyone’s bellies, don’t worry so much about the appetizer, main course, and three sides. Cook enough food so no one walks away hungry, but don’t worry about going all out for the dinner. Simple meals are just as filling as anything gourmet!

4. Prep Ahead of Time

If you can fix any part of your meal ahead of time–do it! Bake bread in the morning while you’re packing lunches, or dice vegetables while the kids are having their snacks. Use a slow cooker to make your meat extra tender while you’re at work all day.

5. Try Canned, Frozen, and Dry Ingredients

Of course you want the best fresh ingredients for your family, but that’s not always possible–or affordable! Don’t be afraid to try canned, frozen, and dry ingredients. These also work to cut down on your prep time. Using frozen chopped spinach is way easier than washing fresh leaves and cutting them up yourself. Use dry mixes instead of trying to toss together all the spices by yourself. The meal will taste just as good, and you won’t be too exhausted to enjoy it!

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6. Use Fewer Dishes and Utensils

Plan ahead so that you can use fewer dishes and utensils, which means you’ll have less to wash later. If you use a cutting board to cut the onion, rinse it and the knife to use again when cutting the chicken while the onions are already simmering. If you’re preparing a lot of similar ingredients, see if you can mix them all together in the same bowl without even washing it in between.

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    7. Collect Trash As You Go

    When you take something out of the package, go ahead and put it in the trash can or recycling bin. This will be easier than trying to run around picking up trash after the meal, and it will make your cooking space look bigger and less cluttered. Throwing out trash as you go can help cut down on spills as some ingredients or packaging might start oozing over time.

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    8. Clean Spills Immediately

    Don’t let spills sit! They’ll get sticky and stinky and before you know it, you’ve put a clean bowl right on top of a mess. Wipe a spill up as soon as you see it happen so you won’t have to deal with a potentially larger mess later.

    9. Use Rags

    Using rags to clean up spills and surfaces helps immensely. It cuts down on trash because you can just use one rag and rinse it out as needed, instead of tearing off paper towel after paper towel and throwing them away after one wipe. You can hang the rag on your sink faucet, which keeps it out of the way, as opposed to having clusters of used paper towels hanging out on your counters.

    10. Multi-task

    While one thing is simmering on the stove, get a jump on the clean up. Start washing some of the dishes you’re done with so you won’t have to do it later. Make sure you’re always busy either preparing for the next step or cleaning so you won’t have to later. This will make the most of your time while you’re already in the kitchen, so you’ll have the rest of your evening free.

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    Featured photo credit: Jeff Kubina via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

    Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

    The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

    Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

    In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

    When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

    Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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    1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

    When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

    As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

    That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

    The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

    What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

    Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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    There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

    So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

    2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

    When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

    No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

    3. Move Your Body

    A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

    It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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    So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

    4. Connect With Another Person

    Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

    One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

    Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

    5. Use Your Imagination

    When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

    That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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    And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

    Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

    Final Thoughts

    Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

    Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

    More on the Importance of Taking a Break

    Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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