Posts

Creating The Minimalist Kitchen

As you know, I like to consider myself a minimalist, but there are certainly areas of my life where I am not necessarily practicing  what I’m preaching. In fact, Melissa Coleman, author of The Minimalist Kitchen,” has shown me that when it comes to cooking and organizing, I have a lot to learn.

I first met Melissa when she was one of my private media training clients.

We got along straight away, as we’re both productive and practical people. Melissa’s speciality is helping you really think about the ingredients that your using as well as cutting back on an overflowing pantry. She’s like the Marie Kondo of the kitchen.

We spoke recently about all of her best minimalism tips in this video interview:

How it all started

Melissa had always been a competent cook but, after the birth of her daughter, things started to unravel:

“I had my daughter about … she’s five now, and the kitchen completely broke for me. I did not know how to get dinner on the dinner table. It was mind-blowing, and it got to the point that I looked over at my husband and I said ‘I’m going to either quit this space or fix it.’”

A big life change can often leave us having to re-evaluate the systems we have put in place.

What worked before will not always work forever.

So how did Melissa turn it around? She invented her own system.

“The Minimalist Kitchen was born. I love food, I love to eat, and so I wanted to preserve the dinner table. And getting back to the dinner table took a long time. It took making over my pantry. It took changing my shopping habits. It took convincing my husband to change his shopping habits.”

Of course, it’s important to not just find a style that works for you, but for those you live with too. Melissa saw her kitchen like a restaurant that needed to be managed.

“I’m the restaurant owner and I need to build the system for my employees. I don’t like that hierarchy, but just for an example. And it needs to work for my employees. Like, the snack bin for my five-year-old needs to be at a place she can reach it or she’s gonna scale the pantry and it’s gonna all fall apart.”

 

Fixing What’s Broken

When she was looking at what wasn’t working, Melissa started with her pantry.

“I had spilling bags of pasta and rice. I had every variety of rice, because different recipes call for different varieties.”

How many different types of rice do you have? How can you combat this? Melissa explains you have to pick just one.

“What you use most, or an ingredient that you really like how it performs. I imagine if you looked in your pantry there would be one rice that you pick up every time. Or when it runs out you replace that rice, even though you’ve got five other bags. Or, the same with pasta. There’s a bunch of different varieties of pasta, and I imagine that you go pick the same one.”

As much as I hate throwing stuff away – it’s true. There’s no point keeping things we never use.

Melissa recommends getting rid of everything at the back of your pantry and learning to work with what’s at the front – the items we use most.

 

The Concept of Negative Space

Melissa’s background in graphic design has inspired her minimalist quest.

“I am a graphic designer by trade and before that I was a painter. A technique or a philosophy or a tool that I always grabbed was negative space, and then when I became a designer they called it white space. I realized that what I’m doing now is what I was doing then. I am trying to minimize what’s around me in my physical space to create physical white space and mental white space. Just a space to breathe and think.”

Melissa also uses a lot of lists, like I do, in order to plan her meals for the week.

“I have to write down a meal plan. I have to not only write it down, I have to see it, so we have this huge chalkboard in our house that I write the meal plan on for the week. So as I’m going throughout my week, I see that list and then I make that list.I used to loathe dinnertime, and when I see that list, I know what to do, I know what to buy at the store. I just make dinner and it feels light. It feels easy and really doable, but prior to not having a list, trusting my brain, it was not working so well.”

If you feel like you need more help, be sure to check out Melissa’s book, “The Minimalist Kitchen. It features loads of great recipes that all use the same core ingredients -the kind of stuff you already probably have lying in your pantry. So you can spend less time shopping and more time cooking! My personal favorite is the take-out cashew chicken.

Melissa has something special coming up in the New Year. In January, she’s launching a deeper pantry cleanse tutorial. It’s taking the same concepts of the book, but taking a deeper dive, doing worksheets, really making it so practical so that you can completely makeover your kitchen. I’ll keep you posted on that because it’s something I need to do as well! We can do it together.

The Case for Becoming A Minimalist

Since my book Listful Thinking has been published in 12  different languages I have been able to connect with list makers across the globe. In particular I often receive messages from people in China and Japan who want to talk about their love of lists.

It’s become clear to me that while  we may have different approaches and styles, being more productive without overworking ourselves is a common human goal. In fact, in my search for a more minimalist lifestyle, I have often been inspired by ideas from the other side of the world.

As you may know I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo, who brings a simplicity to clearing clutter. She has you ask a simple question as you hold items from you home in your hand, “Does it spark joy?” It makes you really think about the stuff you  choose to keep, not just in your closets, but in your life in general.

I’m not the only one who has been inspired by eastern minimalism. Raymond Tang felt overwhelmed by his fast paced technology driven lifestyle and sought change elsewhere. He was inspired by the classic poems of by Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. These poems are thousands of years old, but as Raymond explains in his TED talk they offer advice that we can embrace today.

Lao Tzu encouraged people to act more like water, which fills the shape of its container. t doesn’t fight against the obstacle in anyway. In the same way, all of us can be more open to opportunities and rather then force ourselves to be a certain version of success, we can just go with the flow.

It’s easier said than done, of course and I struggle with this on a daily basis. I really like order and structure and when I’m in a chaotic situation it makes me anxious. But I’m trying to be more open to chance and circumstance.

Minimalism is big  in Japan as well, where  young people are trying to own fewer and fewer things. Inspired by traditional Zen Buddhism, they have reduced the amount of physical things in their life to free up time spent cleaning or decluttering to be used elsewhere. When explaining the difference between Eastern and Western styles one person said, “In the west, making a space complete means placing something there. But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make that space complete.”

In that same article one Japanese man explained that he only four pairs of pants, three shirts and four pairs of socks. If that makes you nervous, it shouldn’t! There’s something really freeing about having less stuff.

When you think about you probably use the same clothes over and over again anyway. So why are you holding onto it?

Do This Gut-Check With Your To-Do List

It’s official!

It’s been one year since I became a full-time entrepreneur! Do you believe it? Wow!

In that time I’ve really honed in on what I really want to do in my business and what I can best leave to others.

I also launched a new website for my media strategy and training services at PaulaRizzo.com to let the world know what I’m doing! And I’m really proud of it.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this year is to do what I call a “gut-check move.”

That’s made all the difference for me and it’s something you can do with your to-do list today! Read more

How To Be More Productive This Fall

It’s September, which means colder temperatures, warmer drinks and the leaves are going to be changing color. It’s also the time when kids go back to school and everyone at the office is done with their summer vacation.

Many  of us will probably have to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas for our next vacation days. Looking at the long months ahead can mean feeling blue about the status of your career or how much enjoyment you get from your job.

In August, we were all treated to the wholesome tale of Cassie Semyon, also known as the “blue dress girl” seen sprinting out of the Paul Manafort trial to deliver the verdict to her newsroom.

The NBC News intern’s eagerness caused her to become a viral internet sensation. As I watched the video my first thought was, “Wow! Remember when you cared that much about your job?!”

It’s not that long ago that I was a fresh-faced enthusiastic intern, excited by the world of news producing. Reigniting that passion I once felt was one of the reasons I quit my job to start my own business  and help experts get better at being interviewed whether is on camera or in print.

Your message deserves the media’s attention. So how do you get out there in a bigger way? I’ve got you covered. Sign up here to get my free “Checklist to Become a Go-To Media Expert.”

If you’re feeling a bit down about your job you too can reignite your passion for it! It’s simple.

Look at your job through the eyes of your intern

It’s one of my most classic pieces of advice. I always encourage people to think about how excited they were on the first day of their job.

One of my favorite things to do during my time at Fox News Channel  was to show my interns around for the first time. They are always in awe of all the equipment in the control room, the buzz in the newsroom and the energy in the studio.

It’s easy to forget these things when you’re walking in there every day. Make sure you don’t take your awesome space and career for granted. Take a moment to be more like Cassie Semyon and get excited about it. (Although if space in your workplace is limited I wouldn’t recommend running around!)

Maybe it’s time for a change

If you’re still struggling to find any enthusiasm for your workplace, it might be time to start looking elsewhere. Dust off your resume  and start checking in with your contacts for any good openings.

Or maybe, like me, you could think about making the step into entrepreneurship!. Becoming my own boss has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, but also one of the most rewarding.

What are you doing this fall to re-energize or rejuvenate yourself?

Speare Helps Writers Become More Productive

We are all writers in some form.

Writing is such a brilliant creative outlet – whether you’re a journalist, blog writer, advertiser or just writing sassy emails to your office co-workers – writing is a core part of our lives.

People like to talk about writing as though its this magical process filled with moments of genius and innovation – which it can be.

But most of our time spent writing is spent sitting in front of a laptop, thinking about what to write.

So when you do decide to finally write a novel you’ve always dreamed off, or start up your own blog you tend to hit a roadblock.

Am I right?

Writing certainly isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

I’ve written before about how to break free from writers block, but today I want to share with you a powerful tool that can help expand your creativity and stop writer’s block before it even hits.

It’s called Speare and it’s designed to help you write in small bits to help pull together an entire project more quickly.

Rather than list all the benefits here I thought I would ask the app, Kent Sisco, to chat with me about them on my YouTube Channel.

In the video Kent and I chat all things writing and how in many ways, it all comes back to classic productivity methods.

Kent is actually a reader of this blog and read my book Listful Thinking too!

We met because he signed up for my online course Lights Camera Expert, which is designed to help experts, authors and entrepreneurs get and keep media attention.

He did the work and showed up to our live group calls and that’s how I got to know about the amazing productivity tool he created.

Plus he got himself some great media attention too! Being productive can come in handy for so many tasks 🙂

Writers from all backgrounds use Speare.

It’s not just for books or blogs but it’s even used by pastors!

Speare is designed for anyone with a passion for the written word – it’s name comes from Shakespeare after all!

For more go to Speare.com.