Podcast 50: Ask For a Favor, Cooperation vs. Competition, and I Struggle with My Daughter’s Ear-Piercing Request.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: We’re still basking in the glow of the live event.

Try This at Home: Ask for a favor.

Know Yourself Better:  Do you prefer to cooperate or compete?

Listener Question: Fiona asks, “How can I manage dealing with all the interesting articles and recipes that I cut out from the paper?” Elizabeth and I address this — and what are your suggestions?

 Gretchen’s Demerit: My sixteen-year-old daughter Eliza wanted to get more piercings in her ears. I didn’t handle it well.  If you want to hear Eliza’s perspective on the ear-piercing episode, you can listen to her excellent podcast, Eliza Starting at 16, episode 6. Yes, she has her own podcast!ElizaStartingat16logo

 Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth gives Michelle a gold star  for her empathetic gaze during a mindfulness exercise.


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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #50

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  • Shanna

    Pinterest is by far the best way for me to keep track of recipes, sewing patterns, decorating ideas and anything else I want to hang on to. You can easily create sepearte boards with different themes. It’s fantastic.

    • Amanda

      Yes Shanna, I was going to suggest the very same thing! Pinterest is by far my most used App on my phone and the web site is so easy to use. You simply click the Pin This! button located at virtually every web site and it will save the web site address and the picture associated with the article/recipe/whatever and then you create various “boards” around your interests. I have over two dozen boards but my Dinner board gets the most pins. You can see how it looks here: https://www.pinterest.com/amandabinsf I even installed the Pin button so I can easily pin any picture I see while browsing the web. It is a fantastic way to remember books you want to read, recipes you want to try, knitting projects, crafts, etc

  • Sarah Cochran

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth! I love listening to your podcast every week! I’m an upholder to the core, and I’m reading Better Than Before right now and absolutely love it.

    In response to Fiona’s question…I have a (free) app on my phone called ScannerPro that allows me to hover my phone over an article and it will scan it and save it as a PDF document. I have the app connected to my Google account, so the PDFs automatically get saved to Google Drive. Then I log in from my laptop and I organize all the scans into folders and can change the titles (to include information like recipe name, date, and source) so I can easily search for them. Another nice feature of Drive is that you can share documents with people or even entire folders, so I have shared my Recipe folder with my mom so she has access as well. Drive is easily accessible on other devices as well with a phone and iPad app (so I’ll often pull up a recipe on my iPad in the kitchen while I’m cooking, or reference a recipe on my phone from the grocery store).

    Hope this helps Fiona! And thanks for making such a great and useful podcast!

  • Teresa

    I’ve kept recipes for years in plastic sleeves in a binder and I make notes on the recipes that I’ve tried. If I like them they stay in the binder, if I don’t, they go. Typically, they stay in the front pocket of the binder and don’t make it into the sleeves until I’ve made them and we like it! My daughter parked herself at the kitchen table for an entire afternoon over Christmas vacation and asked me about each and every recipe, made new tabs and organized everything again. This is my favorite recipe book and I use it several times a week. It’s fun to look back and see the notes on the recipes too — “We had this for Abby’s confirmation” or “Ana and Evan loved this!” It’s grown into quite a full binder over the 20 plus years I’ve had it and is my favorite kitchen tool!

    • Tracy

      I do this too! When I try a new recipe, I asked for the kids opinions and write them down on the recipe. Then I know who liked it and who didn’t. Since I have four, I need to write it all down to remember it. Also, I make notations of changes that I have made, for example, use more garlic, leave out mushrooms, etc. One thing that helps with this process is to tape the recipe to a plain white sheet of paper. Then it is easier to write comments. Also, it allows you to use the sleeve for two recipes.

  • Daniela

    I have been listening to the podcast for quite some time but have never commented…Today, I have been listening to this one over dinner and actually laughed out loud because I just so relate to Fiona! But in the complete opposite way…I love reading cookbooks and getting inspired. So every time I cook, which is about 5 nights a week, I feel compelled to cook something new. I would never ever in a million years cook the same dish twice. And I also collect recipes from magazines, books and the internet. But the amount is just so overwhelming! So I made two new folders on my phone for pictures: 1. “dishes”: I take pictures of most of the things I cook so that I can scroll through the pictures and remind myself of how great it tasted (if it did) and I hope that this will make me cook things more than once; 2. “recipes”: where I put pictures of the recipes I really want to try. I don’t need the internet to scroll through all the recipes but still always have them on hand. Plus, I don’t have clippings of recipes everywhere.
    Maybe this tip can also help Fiona…Oh and of course, yes, I am also a Questioner who likes to collect clippings and ideas and things…Just as Gretchen analyzed 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      So interesting to hear your responses!

  • Amanda

    I wanted to chime in on something from today’s podcast – the ability to
    say no. I have work full time with two kids in elementary school and I
    feel this need to volunteer as
    much as possible with their school. In some way, I am likely trying to
    make up for the mom guilt I have around being a working parent. In the
    past, I have said yes to so many volunteer opportunities at their school
    that I have taken away time with my kids to complete these projects. My
    most recent volunteer debacle was signing up to sew 30 monkey costumes
    for a school parade that my own children aren’t
    even participating in. What was I thinking? Last week, a friend of mine
    was listening to me talk about these various commitments and pointed
    out that maybe I was saying “Yes” too much. She understands the desire
    to put my time into things that I feel passionate about, but that
    everyone, including me, should have limitations. Then she made this
    genius suggestion – when a volunteer opportunity arises and I feel the
    need to raise my hand to say “I volunteer!” she asked that I simply
    reply with “Let me check with someone first and get back to you.” She
    said from there I was to either call or text her to talk about the
    project and she would talk me through the good, the bad and the ugly
    around signing up for yet another thing. Just by her offering to talk
    with me about a volunteer opportunity before I commited has made me slow
    down and realize that I do not have to say “Yes” to make myself feel
    better or to break the awkwardness around being asked to do something.
    It is more than alright to say “Let me check with someone and get back
    to you” before I sign on for something. She jokingly refers to herself
    as my “volunteer” sponsor and it is a relief to know she is there for me
    when I get that urge to raise my hand.

    • gretchenrubin

      This is a TERRIFIC solution for Obligers – to have a confederate! Super helpful.

  • Katie

    I’m a Questioner and collect lots of informational articles – I never put it together that they would be connected, but it makes sense 🙂

    I use Evernote as my external brain. It relieves stress knowing that I can deposit so much info into a searchable resource. I find the ability to email in, web clip from websites, and scan/send photos from my phone super useful to make the service encompassing of all types of materials. I use it a lot for recipes now, but I’ve used it for several years with wedding planning, parenting info, etc. I just use basic tags to deliberately avoid overorganizing – I instead primarily use the search function when I need to find recipes. Evernote also makes a great scan app that integrates directly with their service (Scannable) if you want stuff from cookbooks.

    I also use Pocket to save web articles to read for later and those that I want to save for reference, I send to Evernote (again, Evernote can link up directly to Pocket so it’s the click of a button).

    In both cases, I find it very useful that they are available on whatever platform – web/phone/computer/etc.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestions!

    • Fran

      I second Evernote! I, too, am a Questioner, and have relied on Evernote for years to store articles that I use for work research, writing, recipes, technology tips, a DIARY, and even finances (a photographic record of checks, etc.).

      What really makes Evernote functional is the tag feature. I tag any note with every tag I can think of, including each ingredient in a recipe, so that I can do a quick search for it later and find exactly the options I need. And having it store my infrequent diary/scattered thoughts entries is invaluable to look back on later.

      I can’t recommend Evernote highly enough! (Maybe I should look into being a spokesperson for them, haha.)

    • Anthony Wilson

      Yes! Pocket and Evernote! I’m a questioner too. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Pocket saves me from wasting time and getting distracted and Evernote makes me feel like I’m actually going to make the dozens of recipes. I also use Wunderlist.

      • Katie

        we’re technology twins! I love Wunderlist. I use it, Pocket, and Evernote many times a day. Don’t tell me you use Feedly too 🙂

  • Wendy Stoll

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth, I’m enjoying your podcast. Regarding yesterday’s podcast about storing information, I too used to have a huge pile of clipped recipes. When my niece went into labor with her first child, I was a nervous wreck. I wanted so bad to be with her but couldn’t due to the distance. Instead I stayed up all night, unable to sleep but unable to do much else either. I found myself pacing and going a little crazy until I had an idea. I tackled the recipes! It was the perfect busy work. I put the recipes into plastic sleeves and then put the plastic sleeves into three binders: Favorites, Good but not Favorites and New Recipes to Try. Recipes in each binders were further divided into categories: Chicken, Pies, Vegetables… It took HOURS to do and I was pretty happy when it was finished, BUT I have to say, I have NEVER and will NEVER clip another recipe! So, unless you need the busy work, THROW THE PILE AWAY!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great story! And great advice!

  • Caro

    I loved the part about asking for a favor… Found it interesting! It is hard to ask for help, but maybe showing vulnerability can bring us together… We all struggle. I have been thinking these past weeks about trying to make new friends and it is a big process, kind of overwhelming. (Breaking habits of a lonely life one step at a time!)
    I would certainly love to hear you talking more about making new friends :).

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear it struck a chord with you!

  • Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth!

    I was listening to today’s podcast and wanted to chime in regarding the listener who wanted advice on how to store recipes she clips out from magazines and finds online. I use Pinterest for EVERYTHING and create different boards for different uses. When it comes to recipe I have a separate board for lunches, salads, entertaining, weekend recipes, healthy recipes, etc….you get the picture. Here is a link to my Pinterest page in case that is helpful: https://www.pinterest.com/jessiesquires/

    My suggestion to her is to create boards for her recipes and upload links from websites she visits with recipes to her board. Also, most sites have an easy to use Pinterest share button so you can ping that page with an image to your preferred board. I also suggest that instead of clipping recipes from magazines she take pictures! I have taken pictures of recipes from magazines that are not mine and uploaded those pictures to my preferred Pinterest board. So handy! I hope this helps and thank you for being so amazing!

    Jessie Squires

  • Mimi Gregor

    I’m a Questioner, and I have clippings also, especially recipes. I have two accordion files for recipes, that are divided into various categories (soups, pastas, desserts, etc.). One file is for the recipes I’ve tried and liked. If a recipe needs adjusting, I cross things out and write my additions right on the recipe, along with any comments. (Usually I like twice as much garlic as a recipe calls for, and I generally like stews and sauces thicker than the recipe makes it, so I add more thickener.) The other file is for recipes that sound good that I’ve yet to try. Once I try a recipe from that file, if I like it, it goes into the other file. If it sucks, I throw it out. It’s good to have the recipes that I haven’t yet tried separate from the others, because sometimes I’m in the mood for a tried and true dish, and other times I feel more experimental — it depends on my mood.

    As for articles on other subjects, I have manila folders in my file cabinet that are labeled according to the subject matter: gardening, home decorating ideas… whatever.

    Now that I no longer subscribe to magazines (I borrow them from the library instead), I can’t cut the actual recipe or article. So instead, I scan it into my computer, where I have folders for recipes, style ideas, etc. My recipe folder is divided into sub-folders according to category, so if I want to try a new soup, I go to the soup file, print up the recipe, and make it. If I like it, it stays in my accordion folder AND in my computer file. If I don’t like it, I delete and throw away.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great solutions.

  • Flora

    I got a free tablet from a friend I email all my recipes to it. I also have bookmarks in its browser. It sits in a stand in my kitchen and I only use it for recipes. I also got a book that has clear (splash-proof!) plastic envelopes as pages. This is an easy way to store recipes that are printed. You can get them at a dollar store or an art store.

  • Christin

    Gretchen and Elizabeth, the online and web application Workflowy has been a perfect “where to store it” solution for links to articles, videos, etc. It’s an ever expanding, clickable, searchable list. No storage issues, and you can tag articles (for example, #toread, #topost, #totry). When someone shares a recipe I might like to try some day, I pop the link (or copy and paste the text of the recipe) under Recipes. It’s also a great place to store and sort ideas for projects and all sorts of stuff. You can’t upload files but that’s okay with me. The interface is very simple and it has really helped me to have one place to put everything! Thanks for your awesome podcast.

  • heylucyloo

    I came to recommend Pinterest to Fiona too! I am definitely a questioner, and have had binders and boxes with pages ripped from magazines of ideas and recipes and things to try. Frankly, it was overwhelming and impossible to find things. Since so much is available online I’ve begun the painful process of throwing out all the paper and just saving things to Pinterest. You can pin links from anywhere and even upload your own photos and descriptions. I have boards for cooking and knitting, two of my main hobbies, but also other crafts, home design ideas, travel, and lots of other stuff. It’s so easy to customize boards to your interests and find that great idea you pinned weeks later. I use it on my phone and on the web.

  • Randee Bulla

    I used to have different boxes and binders of beautifully cataloged clippings of recipes, garden ideas, photos of things I found inspiring for decorating our home, etc. Then at your suggestion, I read Marie Kondo’s tidying book, and now I’m free of them. What do I mean? Just like you said in your podcast…it was the idea of who I thought I wanted to be that did the clipping. The real me found having them around weighed me down. In fact, the more recipes I clipped, the less I would even look at them. It started to even feel like an act of rebellion and brought me satisfaction to NOT look at them or use them. What a waste of emotional and physical space. So when I was tidying, I realized that the act of clipping made me happy, but the actual clipping did not. It’s then that I took the plunge and tossed them out. I found that I don’t miss a single recipe that I never tried, nor a garden tip I didn’t take. I now clip less, but when I do I keep them in a designated spot for a week. If I don’t make the recipe, in the trash it goes. If I make a recipe and love it, I immediately put it in a plastic protector sleeve in one of my 3-ring binders. Since I have food sensitivies, I have 2 binders (with category tabs, of course). One is white for “good” recipes that I can make without adaptation or worry of an upset tummy. One is black for “bad” recipes that are family favorites or are so good that we need to keep them.

  • Ramona

    I was so surprised to hear Elizabeth include “read your script” in the list of favors that she says yes to and then asks people to follow up with her on if they don’t hear from her. I’m sure you’ve read the Josh Olson rant “No, I will not read your *#&%#$ script” that has popped up again recently in social media. As someone who was asked a lot, I applaud you for not being so cynical or disenchanted that you will still read someone’s script.

  • Samantha

    I did ask for a favor…which is really hard for me to do. But this has been such a benefit for me and has bettered my life. A parent and I now swap rides for our children’s sports and it has made life a lot better! Now each of us are getting a few minutes more each day to get things done we need to. It is amazing how much this has helped!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Lori D

    Hi Gretchen and Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your podcast – I consider it a gift. I lost my sister last year and I miss her every day so I appreciate your great sister relationship. Something I used to tell my sister (who did not like to ask for help) is that sometimes people need to do things for you more than you need it done so do something for them and accept it gracefully, smile, and say thank you. Some times the giver benefits as much or more than the receiver. Thanks again for all you do!


    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. That is so rough. It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying it.

  • SK

    I love your podcast! I’m also a saver of recipe clippings and I have an entire file draw full of them. They are my most favorite collection, even though I consider myself a minimalist in general. I’ve organized them meticulously in categories like Soups/Stews, Vegetable Side Dishes, Appetizers, etc, and then because I have more dessert recipes than anything else, those are in more specific folders like Brownies, Cookies, Pies, etc. I also have some special folders like Thanksgiving, Parties, Christmas, where I keep recipes I love (or want to try) for those special occasions. Once I make a recipe I either recycle it (if it’s not something I loved and want to make again), or I keep it and make a note that it turned out great. I periodically go through them and toss recipes that no longer fit my tastes/lifestyle. I also keep Pinterest boards for digital recipes. One of those boards is called Tried & True, where I keep my go-to favorite recipes. If I got a scanner like you Gretchen I could probably get rid of my file drawer!

  • Carol

    I also have a pile of recipes. I try to do at least one new recipe a week. After I make it, if I don’t like it, it gets trashed. If I do like it, it goes in my permanent collection and I’ll make notes on it as to the date it was made and any tips to myself when I repeat the recipe like “use Yukon Gold potatoes” or “took 30 minutes longer to cook than says on recipe” I also make notes in my cookbooks.

    If the listener doesn’t have time during the week to make a new recipe, try it on a weekend. If it’s something the kids might not like, feed them early and have a romantic dinner for two with the husband.

    I file the articles I tear out of magazines. I would suggest going through those files every couple years or so. I recently went through my file of Martha Stewart Living articles and threw out 90% of them.

  • Jessica K

    I have a binder for all my recipes! Binder tabs are divided by breakfast, appetizers, sides, breads, beef, chicken/turkey, pork, desserts. I store all of my recipes, either printed or from magazines in page protectors so that I can easily remove them to use when cooking. In the pocket in the front of the binder, I store recipes that are new that we haven’t tried. Once we cook and try it, I decide whether it has made the cut to belong in the binder or not!

  • Alison

    Hi Gretchen! I’ve really been enjoying the podcast, and want to thank you and Elizabeth for all of the useful and interesting information.

    I had a couple of ideas for Fiona to help with clipping recipes. I think these are more geared towards reducing the volume instead of just organizing them:

    1. Like grocery shopping, don’t look through recipes when you’re hungry.
    2. Stop clipping the recipes and write them down on recipe cards. This will make you stop and think if it is really worth the effort to save the recipe, and it will also make the collection “uniform” and more easy to organize in a recipe box. These can also become a sort of family heirloom. Handwritten recipe cards passed down to me from my grandmother and mother are a nice reminder for me of favorite family recipes and the love they both put into making delicious food for their families.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestions!

  • Regan Gray

    Hi there, I just wanted to say I absolutely love your pod cast! I heard about it from Diane Sanfilippo and been hooked ever since!

    I have a few tips for Fiona, regarding her copious amounts of unused recipe clippings.

    1. If she is open to using online I highly suggest Pinterest, its simple to use and organize any recipe. Most magazine clipping recipes can be found on pinterest.

    2. For the hard copy articles, I think the best way to actually use them would be to keep them organized in a binder. Keep it close by in the kitchen and take one recipe out per week. Post it on a cork board or a display in the kitchen. This will be the inspiration for the week. Or the one new recipe she can make along side her regular meals she continues to make each week.

    3. All holiday and special occasion recipes, could be kept in the binder for a later date.

    I can relate to this! I am a questioner with rebel tendencies and find if I make my own rules I always follow through. I laughed when you mentioned questioners tend to keep things, this has been an issue with me regarding anything from business cards, to articles etc. I justified keeping them because they are all things I can use later on for my business, and perhaps make a connection that will serve me in the future.

    Before I would keep everything in a messy pile on my table, which eventually moved to a box. Since then I have now organized and put everything into labeled folders and card holder books.
    It’s silly but knowing this information is close by and easy to access, is a breath of fresh air and brings me complete joy! Even if I never use it, I know that its there. I usually go through it once per year and throw away anything I have not used.

    For my daily tasks, ideas, and connections kept for the longest time in one large note book, which was incredibly difficult to organize and found I was not able to find the information easily.
    I currently have three note books now that make a huge difference.
    1. Weekly/ monthly promises (to do lists) 2. Work shop/ seminar topics / info
    3. Program development and networking events. I also write on the article or card where I got it from, how I can use it in my business and a any other details.
    Because the truth is when it comes time for me to contact that person or share a document I never remember, why it was important, who they were or where I came across this info.

    Perhaps keeping recipes in separate binders or labeled folders for easy access can help Fiona?. She can pull one per week and use. If she liked the recipe she could find it on pinterest and keep it saved for ever! This can help her throw out the paper copy and have room for future clippings.

    Hope this helps
    Regan Gray
    From Calgary Alberta Canada

  • Megan F

    I haven’t visited your blog in awhile, and am so happy to see we can now listen to the podcast right from the site! I used to listen on Youtube, but now I can get the newest ones right on this site – awesome! Thanks! 🙂

  • Lisa

    Two things: First, I am also a recipe/article clipper (and, ahem, lifelong questioner working on a PhD). I have tried to reel in my clipping mania and transfer some of it to Pinterest, where it is not cluttering my house. But for recipes, I use a thin file box with folders for my oddball categories (camping recipes, Christmas cookies, slow cooker recipes, fake meats), with a folder in front for Try Me. Periodically I go through the whole thing and recycle anything that no longer looks good or the 10,000th carrot cake recipe. Any Try Me flops get recycled immediately and successes get filed in the right folder. I prefer this to the binder because it’s more flexible–just sheets of paper. I can file anything from little newspaper clippings to printouts.
    Second, re: the gold stars and demerits. I thought it was interesting that when Elizabeth shared about how emotionally healing it felt to be really heard at the meditation group, neither of you made the connection that your daughter wanted exactly that re: the earring thing. Sometimes it really does take just two minutes of listening to make a huge impact.
    I love the podcast!

  • Cate

    Loved the Podcast, several interesting elements, BUT the most fascinating thing was that Gretchen, the supreme upholder, had 3, yes 3, ear piercings in one ear! A touch of a rebel in you as a teenager. How interesting that you didn’t want to hear your daughter’s request for another piercing…but you finally did hear her voice and gave in. BTW my daughter wanted a second piercing, my answer was “not on my watch, when you’re 18 years old, you can pay for it yourself and see if it’s still that important to you.” Hasn’t come up again yet, hard ass category for me on that issue. Piercing the cartilage is risky, the nerd in me speaks.

  • Teri1147
  • Kiah

    I save all of my recipes and inspiration on Pinterest! Super easy to snap a picture and save into boards for later.

  • Abby Hatch

    Another great episode!

    I could really relate to Fiona’s question about handling articles & recipes. I’m an Upholder who is finishing my PhD in Education. I love information!

    I started using Evernote a few years ago and it’s made me so much happier. 🙂 I can easily save webpages, podcast episodes, etc. to Evernote and access it anywhere!

    And then it got even better…

    I invested in a SnapScan scanner that automatically scans papers into a pdf, AND saves that pdf in my Evernote account. Talk about convenient!

    Yes, at this point I have collected way more information that I will ever use or reference again. However, I totally love the peace of mind I get from feeling like I have it all captured and safely stored.
    (For anyone interested, Michael Hyatt has written numerous blog posts about using Evernote, and the scanner is available in the Evernote store.)

    That’s the solution which has worked best for me. Really enjoying everyone’s comments, though. Fascinating to see what we’ve all come up with!

  • Kirsten Juenke

    I’ve been a collector (hoarder!?!???) of recipes and also clippings and magazines of quilt inspiration. So one day the drawer where I tossed recipe clippings was overflowing and I bit the bullet. I put on a movie and pulled out some page protectors and dividers and sorted from appetizers to desserts and “maybe one day….” And quite frankly, way more than half were tossed. The binder went with the cookbooks and I was inspired to try some recipes. Same with quilts. Here’s the thing: those clippings and magazines did their job – they inspired me. And most of them had outlived their welcome, so it was time to move on.

  • Mikki Burcher

    I loved that you tackled the suggestion about articles and clippings. That is definitely an area I have struggled with as I attempt to minimize and simplify my life and home! I used to really feel guilty about the clutter of a pile of clippings and photocopies, but having that stack to browse through brought me joy! It took me a while to realize that the clippings brought me joy because it was like looking through a customized magazine – articles, recipes, and pictures that were custom tailored to me! Then I had the brilliant idea: make a magazine! So I grabbed a few “binding” items – binders, report covers, etc. – and I divvied up the clippings by topic and then but them into a binding item according to how big each stack was! I call them my “inspiration books” and I love them! Here’s some examples and tips:

    1) Recipes (large binder) – organized with dividers by theme (pastas, sides, solo veg, casseroles, etc.)
    2) Vegan (report cover)- articles, information, pictures about veganism and animals, scrapbook format without any dividers
    3) Home (small binder) – could include pictures of homes I love, print offs of individual items I’ve found that I love (pillows, furniture), articles on how to paint a dresser, etc. Scrapbook format.
    4) Christmas (report cover) – pictures, crafts, recipes for Xmas. scrapbook format.
    5) Self Improvement (large binder) – broken into categories like time management, health, spirituality, etc.
    6) Reading (binder with folders inside) – for articles I want to read but haven’t time to from leadership magazines, alumni magazines, industry magazines, TIME, etc. Each publication has it’s own folder. Then I can just grab a folder when I’m headed out the door! File what I want to keep into the appropriate inspiration book, toss the rest after reading!
    7) Homesteading (large binder) – organized by theme (gardening, home remedies, etc.)

    Tips for Inspiration Books:

    -Tear out stories and staple them together. Then put each story in it’s own page protector. This keep the pages from tearing and keeps the pages together.
    -Have a place to put your clippings as you collect them, but put them into the appropriate inspiration book as soon as possible. Don’t let it overflow.
    -You can simplify this system by having one large inspiration binder with dividers. I just like having them split up.
    -Purge periodically. As you look through your books you might find that you no longer enjoy a picture, story, etc. Throw it out.
    -For recipes specifically, date them. If you haven’t made them within 1 year of putting them in your binder, throw it away. If you were that excited to try it you would have made it within one year.
    -Keep them together and give yourself time to look through them! You can’t be inspired by them if you don’t look at them!

    This will seem complicated to some, but for those who really enjoy browsing through their clippings easily, this is a great and enjoyable solution, because you get to actually see everything again as you create your inspiration books, and then it’s easy to just thumb through all the inspiration books and see those clippings whenever you want!

  • elizabeth strauch

    My suggestion for the recipe clipper: I don’t clip recipes, but I understand the dilemma as I have a bunch of cookbooks that I want to put to good use and am overwhelmed by where to start if I want to try a new recipe. This may be too much work, and too old school, but I love Excel for this kind of thing. I flag all the recipes I want to try and them plug them into a spreadsheet. I have columns for which cookbook it came from, the name of the recipe, the course, whether it’s vegetarian friendly, estimated time to make it (esp. if something needs to sit overnight), and any odd-ball ingredients I wouldn’t normally have in my fridge or pantry. That last point is especially helpful for those times I have a random ingredient that I’m not sure how to use up, or to quickly identify things I’d need to add to my shopping list. As I said, this takes a lot of time up front, but for me, this was the major hurdle in getting myself to actually cook from my cookbooks. (It’s a great activity to apply the “bootcamp” principle to!) The other key is to meal plan, since the listener said she usually ends up making the same dishes. Pick a day or two to try a new recipe from your spreadsheet.

  • Anthony Wilson

    I second the suggestions for Pocket and Evernote. For a scanner, use Scannable on iOS. It’s superior to a scanner and it’s on your phone or iPad. You can scan anything of any size – I just scanned some old Scientific American articles mentioned in The Witch of Lime Street that would have been too big for a conventional scanner. It is linked to your Evernote app/account so it’s perfectly integrated. Scannable isn’t available for Android so I use the scanner feature in Evernote for that.

  • Ana Maria Fernandez Pujals

    Hi All, I’m new here and also another PhD student finishing my thesis and juggling the future and my dog and work…

    I looked through the comments to see if anyone else suggested this, but I don’t think anyone has. For managing recipes online, and making sure you use them and weed out the ones you are just never going to make and not care about:

    The solution is Paprika. http://paprikaapp.com/

    Paprika is the best thing that I have found to solve this problem of recipe proliferation from the web! You can save a recipe with a SINGLE CLICK (it reads page formats of many many common recipe sources and they always take suggestions for more recipe source websites) and you basically have no typing involved to save a recipe from a website. It populates the ingredients list, the instructions, a photo if available, time, servings, nutrition facts if available, etc. You can also customize and edit any fields and in the case of a website that isn’t part of their “one click” wonder of saving, you can select with a finger the fields that you want to fill and then highlight the text that you want to fill it with. This is amazing. A further advantage of this is that if you want to put the recipes into categories, you can create your own categories, ratings (1-5 stars), and plunk it into the built-in weekly meal planner. This makes meal planning a breeze and there is virtually no typing involved. You can search by top rated, recently viewed/used, category, you name it. Any recipe can be “loved” and any recipe can have all or some of the ingredients plopped into a grocery list. If you buy the app for Mac iOS (sadly, I think this is only a mac iOS solution), you can have it on your desk, on your ipad to mount on a kitchen wall to use as a recipe guide while cooking or baking, and on your iphone to update yourself with what you need at the grocery store. I absolutely love it and rely on it for days when I am totally uninspired to eat or cook and find things that are healthy, delicious, low cost, or whatever the need is. I highly recommend if you use an iPhone, an Android phone, an iPad or a mac. It obviously shines when you use it on all three since you can save while you are surfing on the web from any device, access it on a screen in the kitchen on an ipad and get your grocery list without dreading that you forgot something while out on the run.

    I hope this is helpful! I love this community! You all are the best and I love thinking about small ways to make my life better. You all are full of so many good ideas!! 🙂

  • Ramona

    I’ve been meaning to thank you guys for keeping it real with the demerits and gold stars. I have been guilty of putting people I respect and admire on a bit of a pedestal sometimes and it’s good to know that even experts mess up sometimes!

  • Kris

    Just like mementos, the best recipe collection is well curated. Here are a few of the things I do, plus a tip for Elizabeth at the bottom:

    Compare recipe to cooking goals. Decide what you are really looking for. Is it something quick or for the crockpot, low carb or gluten free, something with nutritional information or that uses common ingredients, a side dish to match your favorite entree, etc. What do you really need?

    Do some math. 1 entree recipe plus 1 or 2 side dish recipes for each day of the month plus 1 dessert recipe per week that you and your family love equals a more manageable recipe collection. (30 entrees, 60 side dishes per month and maybe 26 dessert recipes for the year. )

    5 Stars only, please. If I search for recipes I do so online. I only look at those that are rated 5 stars by at least 5 people. I generally do not look at unrated recipes. Plus printed recipes are ready to hole punch and add to a three ring binder.

    Try it before adding it to the collection. See if it really is worth 5 stars. If you and your family think so, add it to the collection. Does it replace a recipe you have in your collection? If so toss the old one.

    Don’t duplicate. Once I find a great recipe for something…like chocolate chip cookies or chili, I stop looking at those recipes.

    Make a plan. I find all cooking happens more easily with a plan. If I have the ingredients I need for 7 entrees and side dishes in the house and have tomorrow’s meat/entree thawing in the fridge my kitchen hums along nicely. If you have the ingredients for the new dish, you’re more likely to try it. I find our entrees are usually good year round, but I change the side dishes with the season. On my master menu I have a soup, salad, sandwich combination, but I only use what sounds good for the season we are in dropping the soup in summer or the salad in winter.

    Tip for Elizabeth: Instead of learning “how to cook” maybe you want to learn how to make the best Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken Salad or your favorite entree or side dish. It might be easier to make a couple of things you really love or get excited about, rather than focusing on learning to cook, in general. Narrowing your expectation of yourself might increase your motivation. Maybe you only cook 1 thing on Saturday and Sunday to go with a bought entree or roast chicken. Maybe once a week you have salad night that you fix. Maybe all you ever learn in 5 recipes that you love and have every other week! But if you love them and find it easy to do it might make you happier! 🙂

    I’ve had to go gluten free and prefer low carb, so I have had to learn to cook all over again. I feel much more excited about cooking, when I really like the finished product (hence the 5 star only rule.) We will eat more butternut squash, cabbage, green beans, healthy vegetables, etc. if we really like the way it is fixed. I try always to choose recipes that are not too complicated or that can be put in the oven. Roasted vegetables for example…easy and delicious.

    All of this makes cooking a much more enjoyable and happier task for me!

  • Rani Batra

    My favorite system for recipes ever (and I have tried a few) is an app called Pepperplate. It works because I can upload recipes from almost any website with the click of a button on my browser, I can upload hardcopies of recipes as an image, or simply type in recipes. The app allows me to scale the recipe (double it for a crowd) and has a planner feature that lets me prepare a menu plan for the day or week. Then I will create a shopping list from the recipes I have selected. Best of all, I can then use the app from my computer or mobile devices. I have shared the account with our babysitter and my husband so that I can easily create a list for them if they are headed to the store. I actually credit this app with helping eat healthier on a regular basis and entertain our friends more often.

  • Laura H

    I’m also a Questioner with serious information hoarding tendencies. I’ve been using Evernote for nearly 10 years now. I highly recommend it as a solution for all kinds of information storage!

    Browsing through the comments, I find many well meaning folks who talk about ruthlessly purging/sorting as the solution. And while I agree – that’s one solution – trying to purge/sort/organize is a huge source of stress for me. And when I find something interesting (articles, recipes, quotes, whatever) the idea of having to purge it, or sort it or even file it is often overwhelming… but the idea of LOSING the information is WAY more stressfull to me!

    Evernote to the rescue. I dump everything into Evernote. I use the web clipper to grab everything browsing the web, scan from my phone for documents, forwarding email chains… The number of ways to get information into Evernote is amazing.

    From there, I just have high level notebooks to group things – high enough level that is is obvious where something goes, and I don’t need to spend to much time debating with myself “where does this go.” So: Recipes, Faith/Christianity, Workout/Training, Home Decorating, etc.

    I find great peace in the freedom to just clip anything I find interesting and know I have it – honestly, even if i never look at it again. Evernote’s amazing search features make it easy to know I can find anything I”m looking for quickly and easily.

    I also agree with the commenter below about the “personal magazine” concept. I LOVE browsing back through my Evernote account. And when I search for something, I’m often especially pleased / pleasantly surprised to find the various connections that show up within my own personal collection of interesting stuff.

  • kate teodoro

    I am a huge fan of Pinterest because you can pin stuff and keep them on “boards” by category and then you can go back whenever you want. It keeps everything organized without adding paper or clutter to your house. Also, the app pepper plate is great for recipes. you can input them and then access them only when you need to make something! Compact and organized! hope this helps!

  • Sandy

    Hi, I use Pocket which is like Pinterest for articles. https://getpocket.com/ Then I was thinking I could use Pinterest for work as a resource bank so recently I’ve been pinning images as a research touch point based on topic so it’s like an idea board for different subjects it’s great because this way I kind of have cloud access to bookmarks that can even be shared or kept secret.

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