“Group items in your refrigerator by type, labeling shelves so family members know where items belong. When it’s time to shop, you can clearly see what you need.” — Real Simple (April 2009)
Is that so?
If you have an egg shelf, and it’s empty, I can see how that would signal “buy eggs.” But will a half-full produce drawer say “apples”? Oranges? Zucchini? What if I really need bananas?
This is a fairly typical tip. It sounds lovely, and I’m sure the author thought she was quite clever when she wrote it. But I’d also bet a lot of money that the author has no such labels in her own refrigerator.
The Internet abounds with lists of tips, and they are reportedly a strong way to drive traffic to a website. I’d like to encourage you to stop reading tips like these, and more importantly, take great care not to share any yourself.
Reading such “tips” not only takes up your valuable time, but it likely causes your Type-A personality a great deal of stress. Suggesting that you label your fridge may seem innocent enough, until we whip out the label maker and actually try to do it. (Please don’t try. It’s impossible, unless you intend to eat the same exact food in the same exact quantities every single day for as long as you own your fridge.)
Then there’s tips like these:
Eat more spinach.
On its face, good advice. But how do you eat more spinach? More that what? What’s the baseline amount of spinach? How much more? Why spinach — could I eat something else? In fact, could I get the same benefits by eating less of a different food? Can I eat too much spinach? For how long do I need to eat more spinach? How will I remember this calculation for the next 50 years?
Ultimately, these tips are not only empty suggestions of questionable merit, but they’re triggers for us to go on multi-day organizing binges trying to implement their advice. Eating more spinach sounds good, and you want to do it, but with zero guidance and action plans, all the tipster really did was tease you and take you on a lengthy wild goose chase. You’ll end up with a fridge full of spinach and a pile of spinach-related research notes in your inbox, at the expense of tending to your real responsibilities.
In my Type-A eyes, a responsible writer will present concrete action steps and facts to accompany their suggestions. Don’t make trite admonitions to “get more sleep” or “relax” — one cannot just go do that, and you know it.
If you’re a writer, you should be keeping a refresher list that you review before editing each piece. Please consider adding the following questions to your refresher list. (Or, if you see another writer sharing vapid tips, email them a link to this article!)
(Photo by Brett L..)