Tag Archives: work

Secret of Adulthood: We Have More Time Than We Think. And Less Time.

From Further Secrets of Adulthood.

I’m always surprised by how much I can get done in a relatively short period of time, if I really settle down to it. I’ve learned that from my habit of Power Hour, for instance.

But we always need to remember that we may have less time than we think, too. If nothing else, the passage of time itself will bring about changes and endings. On this subject, and of everything I’ve ever written, I think this one-minute video, The Years Are Short, resonates most with people.

Podcast #8: On Warm Hellos and Good-byes, the Atmosphere of Growth, and Playing “Divorce Lawyer.”

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having a great time doing our new podcast,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

This episode was especially fun; I was in Los Angeles for my book tour for my new book Better Than Before, so Elizabeth and I got to be the same room as we were recording. Usually we can only hear a voice through our headsets, and it’s much nicer to be able to see each other.

Elizabeth is shadowed in the photo — sorry about that. I forgot to check to see how the picture turned out before I put away my phone.

As I’ve been traveling on this book tour, many people have told me that they’re enjoying the podcast. Thanks for listening! (If you like the podcast, we’re sheepishly asking people to rate and/or review it, if time and inclination permit; that’s very helpful for a new podcast like ours.)

Before describing this week’s episode, I want to say thanks again to the folks at iTunes; they created something special for me, a single page on iTunes where people can find Happier with Gretchen Rubin as well as my books.  As I wrote in a recent post, I try never to read reviews, but I did read this — and I’m very glad I did:

“We’re major fans of Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project. Rubin’s fascination with human behavior–as well as her sincere believe that we can make our lives more fulfilling and joyous–shines through in her podcasts, blog, and books. Her new book, Better Than Before, looks at how we form and break habits and is packed with her trademark warmth, wit, and down-to-earth intelligence.”

So nice. Yowza.

Here’s what Elizabeth and I discuss in today’s episode:

Try This at Home: Give warm hellos and good-byes. I mention a passage from Flannery O’Connor that’s been much on my mind lately: “The things that we are obliged to do, such as hear Mass on Sunday, fast and abstain on the days appointed, etc. can become mechanical and merely habit. But it is better to be held to the Church by habit than not to be held at all. The Church is mighty realistic about human nature.” –Flannery O’Connor, letter to T. R. Spivey, August 19, 1959, quoted in The Habit of Being.

Know Yourself Better: What did you do for fun when you were ten years old? It’s a clue to what you’d enjoy now, for work or for leisure. That’s certainly true for Elizabeth and me (though true, for Elizabeth, it was the reading and TV-watching, not the divorce-lawyer game).

Listener Question: “Happiness is tied to a sense of accomplishment. What are your thoughts on people who can make and set goals?”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth neglected to tell her husband Adam that she wanted praise, not constructive criticism. If you read this post from a few days ago, Why I Don’t Read Reviews or Profiles of Myself, I mentioned her comments in my post.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: A friend’s mother-in-law said just the right thing: “You know, sweetheart, there will always be a special place in our hearts for you.”

Want to get in touch? Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Phone: 774-277-9336 (774 HAPPY 336). Click here for Facebook Page. Or comment right here.

And we would love to hear from you — about whether warm greetings and good-byes made you happier, what you did for fun when you were a child, your questions, and any other comments. (For instance, one listener suggested that we include the contact information in this weekly post and on the podcast links. Great idea. Done. See above.)

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).

Each week, we give  a “Try This at Home” suggestion, for some easy habit you can try, as part of your ordinary routine, to boost your happiness—something like setting an alarm to signal your bedtime, or using the one-minute rule, to help yourself stay on top of small nagging tasks.

We also suggest questions to help you “Know Yourself Better”—like “Whom do you envy?” and “Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter in your work style?”—and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks,” those small, seemingly insignificant parts of daily life that drag us down—everything from the problem of the Evil Donut-Bringer to the fact that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

We “Grill the Guest” (well, we plan to — we haven’t had a guest yet), consider “Listener Questions,” and finally, we get even more personal, and each of us either gives ourselves a “Demerit” for a mistake we made that week, that affected our happiness, or awards a “Gold Star” to someone or something that deserves recognition.

We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want to listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Tell us what you think! Drop us a line at @gretchenrubin, @elizabethcraft, Facebook, podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or call 774-277-9336. Or just add your comment to this post.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!

This New Yorker Cartoon Expresses a Big Idea in a Very Brief Way.

I’ve often thought that it would be fun to write a book about happiness and habits that would consist of a series of New Yorker cartoons, with my commentary.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Consider, for instance, this cartoon by David Sipress. A guy in an office looks up from his computer to see Death, with his hooded cloak and scythe, walking through the door.

The guy says, “Thank goodness you’re here–I can’t accomplish anything unless I have a deadline.”

This reminded me of a couple of principles of happiness and good habits.

First, we all share that ultimate deadline. The days are long, but the years are short. I often remind myself: don’t wait to find time for something that’s important to me; make time for it now. Because we never know when we’ll run out of time.

Second, for most people, deadlines — and other forms of external accountability — are very helpful. If there’s something we want to accomplish, it’s helpful to put a deadline around it. Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time. Deadlines help.

And for Obligers, this external accountability is key. Crucial. Indispensable! (Not sure if you’re an Obliger — or what an Obliger is? Take this quiz.)

I admire the ability of cartoonists to capture large ideas in a single image and a few lines of text.

Is there a cartoon that you saw where you thought, “Wow, this cartoon says it all”? Or a cartoon that you’ve kept on the fridge or above your desk, for years?

“I Formed a ‘Resolution Club’ with Three Friends. We Each Had Different Resolutions.”

Interview: David Lat.

I got to know David Lat through our connection as being combination lawyer/writers. He founded and is the managing editor of Above the Law, a site which covers law firms and the legal profession (in an edgy way).

David recently published his dishy first novel, Supreme Ambitions. It’s the story of a woman who graduates from Yale Law School and wants to clerk on the Supreme Court. As a Yale Law School grad who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, you can see why this intrigued me.

I was curious to hear how David manages his novel-writing habits, work habits, and health habits.

Gretchen: Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

David Lat: Procrastination. I postpone difficult, unpleasant, or challenging tasks until they can’t be postponed any longer. Running a widely read, commercial blog like Above the Law has been good for me because I can’t indulge my procrastination habit; I constantly need to be writing and editing. But procrastination was a major problem when I was trying to write my novel, Supreme Ambitions, which was a much more long-term project.

Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

I managed to pick up a healthy habit (walk at least 15 miles a week) and break an unhealthy one (excessive consumption of desserts and sweets) by forming a “resolution club” with three friends. We each had different resolutions we brought to the group. Every Monday, we’d check in with each other: did we keep our resolutions over the prior week? Those who failed to honor their resolutions had to pay $20 to the other group members — and also had the shame of acknowledging failure. [If you’d like a “starter kit” for launching a group of people who work on their habits together, click here.]

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?  [Readers, to learn more about this framework, or to find your own Tendency, look here.]

I’m definitely an “Obliger.” When I was in school, I would do assignments to meet the expectations of my professors. When I worked as a law clerk and then a lawyer, I would complete projects to meet the expectations of my bosses. Now that I basically work for myself, running Above the Law and doing outside writing, I struggle more with getting things done. When I was working on Supreme Ambitions, I would have a hard time sitting down and producing pages. I didn’t start making real progress until, acknowledging my “Obliger” personality, I told my editor Jon that I would send him some pages every Monday. He didn’t have to read them immediately, but I committed to sending them to him every Monday, which at least kept me writing so I could meet Jon’s expectations.

Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits? (e.g. travel, parties)

Travel interferes with my healthy habit of going to group fitness classes at my gym. I’ve been traveling a lot over the past few months on book tour. I try to exercise in other ways while on the road, but I do miss my classes. What’s great about classes is that they occur at fixed times, and I make an “appointment” with my friend and workout buddy Jen to go to certain classes, ensuring that I actually go. But when I’m traveling, that’s not possible.

Do you embrace habits or resist them?

Generally I resist habits. I enjoy spontaneity, novelty, and excitement; I like every day to be different. So I have relatively few habits, since I associate habits with routine, and routine with a lack of freedom. But maybe I’m overlooking the way that good or healthy habits “free us” to be our better selves.

Podcast #5: Embrace Good Smells; Remember That Working Is One of the Most Dangerous Forms of Procrastination.

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having so much fun with our new podcast,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

I was in Los Angeles last weekend, as part of my book tour for Better Than Before, which was published last week. (Buy early, buy often!) It was great to have a chance to visit Elizabeth and her family — they live in Encino. While I was there, Elizabeth and I got a professional photo taken of ourselves, for the podcast, and we also managed to record two episodes. Usually, we don’t get to be in the same room as we talk, so it was great to be able to see each other for the conversation.

We also recorded an episode that will be a little bit…different.  I’m dying to see how that one turns out.

As I’ve been doing events for Better Than Before many people have told me that they’re enjoying the podcast. Thanks so much, and thanks for listening!

Here’s what we discuss in today’s episode:

Try This at Home: Embrace good smells. How I love good smells. The unconventional perfumer I mention is Christopher Brosius’s CB I Hate Perfumes.shrinetosmell Here’s a photo of my Shrine to Smell. What are some of your favorite smells?

Happiness Stumbling Block: It turns out that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. One big theme of Better Than Before is the question of how to use habits to avoid procrastination. WorkingIsOneOfTheMostDangerousForms_124851

Listener Question: “What’s something that can be done every morning that will guarantee a happier start to the day?”

Gretchen’s Demerit: I can’t make myself check my voice-mail messages on my land-line phone. It drives me crazy.

Elizabeth’s Gold StarInform Fitness Gym. I’m a believer, now Elizabeth is a believer! It’s a gym where we do high-intensity strength-training. The form of training is called “Super Slow.”

1pixGretchenRubinwithAndyBowersBonus Gold Star: When Elizabeth and I were recording, we got to see Andy Bowers, the brilliant Chief Content Officer of Panoply. Gold Star for Andy, who has made our entree into the world of podcasting so fun and easy.

This week, we had our first advertiser! Very exciting. Check out Framebridge — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge offer.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).

Each week, we give  a “Try This at Home” suggestion, for some easy habit you can try, as part of your ordinary routine, to boost your happiness—something like setting an alarm to signal your bedtime, or using the one-minute rule, to help yourself stay on top of small nagging tasks.

We also suggest questions to help you “Know Yourself Better”—like “Whom do you envy?” and “Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter in your work style?”—and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks,” those small, seemingly insignificant parts of daily life that drag us down—everything from the problem of the Evil Donut-Bringer to the fact that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

We “Grill the Guest,” consider “Listener Questions,” and finally, we get even more personal, and each of us either gives ourselves a “Demerit” for a mistake we made that week, that affected our happiness, or awards a “Gold Star” to someone or something that deserves recognition.

We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want to listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Tell us what you think! Drop us a line at @gretchenrubin, @elizabethcraft, Facebook, podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or call 774-277-9336. Or just add your comment to this post.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!