Air frying. Like a lot of trends, it's one I arrived late to.
According to news reports, sales of the super-charged benchtop cookers "skyrocketed" during lockdown.
I acquired mine recently, and can confirm it certainly looks like something made for outer space. Sleek, silver, very shiny and completely unaware of the valuable real estate it has on the kitchen bench.
This line from a friend sold it.
"Like, you don't have to f*** around waiting for it to warm up like the oven."
Even before we'd finished dinner, I'd clicked into the ever-dependable weekend Briscoes sale to get one. Because, as my mate's observation inferred, an air fryer would totally speed up meal preparation time. That would mean less minutes in the kitchen and - stay with me here - more time for other tasks on the never-ending to-do list.
It's like they say: if you want to get everything done, find ways to make time in your day so you can sub in more things to do and be even more efficient.
I'm just kidding. No one says that and it's certainly not a mantra to run life by. However, in the constant battle to balance what needs to be done with what's practical, it's an easy line of thought to fall into.
For me, it manifests in the eagerness to assign time approximations to nearly everything I do. Even things that don't really need it, like minutes required for the oven to heat up.
The idea is that by timetabling tasks and activities, I know exactly what gets done, when is best to do them and how long things really take. It can be an extremely useful tool, particularly for focusing.
Where it becomes less useful is when I shoot past its focus-assist purpose and employ it as a type of accounting tool for tasks yet to be done. That gets translated into a "time-owed" figure, which sees me unhelpfully weighing up whether what I'm doing at that exact moment is a good use of time.
The most ridiculous example this year was on Mother's Day. Yep, that's the Sunday intended to celebrate all the hardworking māmās. My family organised to have dinner out and attend a netball match. Per usual, I did the sums in my head. It takes about an hour to get to the stadium, which means leaving at 3pm to get there in time for the start of the match. Then there's the game itself, drive back and 7pm dinner.
By my approximation, the whole thing would take about eight hours. Not actually a big deal, just that particular weekend I had a bunch of work with a Monday morning deadline. For various reasons, none of it was completed before Sunday afternoon rolled around. That meant a looming sense of dread all through netball and dinner, and a dessert of strong coffee so I could work once home.
Unsurprisingly, I was stressed most of the outing and probably not the best company. I also ended up redoing most of the work on Monday because I'd basically put together a lot of crap in the hours after midnight.
Whatever way it's spun, the most obvious solution to this is to be better organised. Either I should've dedicated some of my Saturday to finishing things or not over-committed in the first place.
But like a lot of things, sometimes the ideal scenario just doesn't happen. Connected to that is figuring out the best way to deal with what inevitably comes after. If you're already at the netball and a lovely dinner is around the corner, does worrying about work that's not actually in front of you help get it done? Further, how does behaving like this tend to diminish what you're currently doing?
Back in May, I forgot to ask these rather fundamental questions. Luckily, all it really meant was a bumpy start to the week. But every now and then, when I go overboard, I have to check myself around what I'm really trying to achieve. This is particularly important when home and work boundaries are so fuzzy.
Yes, productivity is important, but so is reality. That constant drive to fit as much into our day doesn't always equate to being better.
Sometimes, it just means a spontaneous air fryer purchase. Which may certainly cut down minutes in the kitchen but could also result in requests from those interested in your new cooking device. That, of course, brings its own value to the week.