To keep your house from falling into cluttered chaos:
-- never buy "souvenirs."
-- somewhere, keep an entirely empty shelf or drawer.
-- strive to keep surfaces bare. Put away kitchen appliances you don't use every day; don't cram stuff onto every ledge.
-- get rid of newspapers and magazines as soon as possible. Never keep a newspaper overnight, and never keep a magazine for more than two months-unless you find a positive joy in keeping an orderly collection.
-- have an exact place for everything.
-- know where to give things away: books, clothes, kitchenware, toys. It's much easier to get rid of things if you can imagine who will benefit. Figure this out before you start a major clutter-clearing effort.
-- fight the piles that accumulate in the hallway, in corners, on bedside tables, on the dining room table.
-- use dimmer switches.
-- don't buy things on impulse, particularly from bargain stores.
-- storing a thing means you don't need to use it. So before you squirrel
Blog Posts by Gretchen Rubin
- Gretchen Rubin | Work + Money – Tue, Jun 15, 2010 4:22 PM EDT
To keep your house from falling into cluttered chaos:Read More »from The twenty-seven most important rules for keeping your house in order.
- Gretchen Rubin | Healthy Living – Sat, Jun 12, 2010 6:10 PM EDT
As he records in his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin "conceiv'd the bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection."
From his reading, he came up with a catalogue of thirteen moral virtues, and he drew up a graph on which he scored his successes and failures each day.
His Project was a big inspiration for my Happiness Project -- I even copied his scoring chart. Here's his list:
1. Temperance. Eat not to Dulness. Drink not to Elevation.
2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.
3. Order. Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality. Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e., Waste nothing.
6. Industry. Lose no time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.
7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful Deceit. ThinkRead More »from Tips for living a virtuous life--from Ben Franklin in 1793.
- Gretchen Rubin | Work + Money – Thu, Jun 10, 2010 7:37 PM EDT
When I was little, I was always puzzled by the maxim, "A stitch in time saves nine." I couldn't figure out what that meant. Finally, light dawned: a single stitch, made in good time, saves the trouble of making nine stitches later. In other words, a little effort now saves a lot of effort later.
That notion underlies several of the tips below. The other notion: when you have a reasonable amount of energy, life feels a lot less stressful.
1. Keep some cash in the house.
2. Never let your car's gas level fall into the "empty" zone.
3. Have Advil (or whatever) at hand at all times.
4. Put your keys away in the same place every day.
5. Turn out the light as soon as you're sleepy.
6. Walk around the block.
7. Take ten minutes before bed to tidy up.
8. If you have to pack a lunch for anyone, get it ready the night before.
9. Have at least one good friend who lives in the neighborhood.
Samuel Johnson pointed out that "To live in perpetualRead More »from 9 extremely simple and easy tips to take stress out of your day
In honor of my sister, I'm posting a list of her tips about trying to make a successful career of TV writing. She didn't actually formulate these as tips, but every once in a while over the last few years, she's dropped one of these truisms-which I find so interesting that I've remembered them all.
1. "Every stereotype about L.A. is more true than you can possibly imagine."
My sister once went into a meeting to pitch a TV shows about a bunch of teenagers at a boarding school where they're trained to use magical powers. The executives at the meeting said, "We love it! We absolutely love it! But what about changing the teens to adults, and setting it on Wall Street?" Just like you read about.
2. "People succeed in groups."Read More »from Tips for succeeding as a TV writer in Hollywood
We all know the uncomfortable, competitive feelings that you can get when friends score a success-it can even feel like that their success makes your own success less likely. My sister's motto is "People succeed in groups," so good career news for
One of my resolutions is to "read more."
Reading is essential to my work. It's an important part to my social life. And far more important, reading is my favorite thing to do, by a long shot. I'm not a well-rounded person.
A friend once told me, "My idea of a good weekend day is when I'm outside with my kids for two hours before lunch and two hours after lunch." I answered, "My idea of a good weekend day is when we all lie around reading in our pajamas until the mid-afternoon."
But reading takes time, and there aren't many days when I can loll around with a book for hours. Here are some tips for getting more reading done.
1. Quit reading. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started. No more. Life is short.
2. Use TiVO. It's amazing how much more efficient it is to watch TV shows on TiVO. You skip the commercials and control when you watch.
3. Skim. Especially when reading newspapers and magazines, often I get as much from skimming as I do by aRead More »from Tips for getting more reading done
- Gretchen Rubin | Parenting – Thu, Jun 3, 2010 6:25 PM EDT
In general, I aim to travel light, but I've learned over the years that this generally isn't a good strategy as a parent. If anything teaches you the happiness value of preparation, it's parenthood. The right supplies can mean the difference between misery and good cheer.
If you're traveling with a baby, of course you need a whole different set of supplies. My children are out of that stage now, and now I never go on a trip without at least most of these items:
1. A bag of almonds. These are for me as much as for my children.
2. A bottle of water. (Usually I'm violently opposed to bottled water, but I now concede that it's good to have a bottle when you travel.)
3. Novelty candy. By this, I mean a candy that's odd (e.g., Pop Rocks, candy spray) or takes a long time to eat (candy necklace) or fun in some way (Pez). I save this to whip out if my kids get crabby. Chocolate or anything that can melt is a risky choice.
4. Coloring book and markers, but REMEMBER toRead More »from 8 Tips for Items to Carry When Traveling with Kids
- Gretchen Rubin | Work + Money – Tue, Jun 1, 2010 4:26 PM EDT
We've all had the experience of having to make phone calls that we dread making.
Here are some tips to get yourself through these calls as painlessly as possible:
The night before, make a list of the calls to be made, along with names, phone numbers, and any other necessary information.
If you're making some kind of pitch or argument, rehearse in your mind what you want to say. Have an outline to make sure you hit the important points once the call begins.
If you want to set up appointments, have some convenient times in mind.
As soon as you get to your desk in the morning, pick up the phone and start dialing. No procrastinating, or you may never begin.
Stand up while you talk.
Smile and use a friendly tone.
If you have more than one call to make, don't hang up the phone when the first call is over. Keep the phone at your ear and use your finger to disconnect the call.
Don't let yourself be hungry, hot, cold, or in need of a bathroom when you'reRead More »from Tips for making phone calls that you donâ€™t want to make
As part of my current obsession with Flannery O'Connor, I recently finished the volume of her collected letters, The Habit of Being.
Her letters were fascinating, and among other thing, included some interesting advice and observation about writing. O'Connor was a very idiosyncratic persion, and this advice is idiosyncratic, which makes it more interesting than a lot of writing tips that I see collected.
1. "Try arranging [your novel] backwards and see what you see. I thought this stunt up from my art classes, where we always turn the picture upside down, on its two sides, to see what lines need to be added. A lot of excess stuff will drop off this way."
2. "I can discover a good many possible sources myself for Wise Blood but I am often embarrassed to find that I read the sources after I had written the book."
3. "I suppose I am not very severe criticizing other people's manuscripts for several reasons, but first being that I don't concern myself overly withRead More »from Eight writing tips from Flannery O'Connor.
In Wake Up and Live, she suggests twelve mental exercises to make your mind keener and more flexible. These exercises are meant to pull you out of your usual habits and to put you in situations that will demand resourcefulness and creative problem-solving. Brande argues that only by testing and stretching yourself can you develop mental strength.
Even apart from the goals of creativity and mental flexibility, Brande's exercises make sense from a happiness perspective. One thing is clear: novelty and challenge bring happiness. People who stray from their routines, try new things, explore, and experiment tend to be happier than those who don't. Of course, as Brande herself points out, novelty and challenge can also bring frustration, anxiety, confusion, and annoyance along the way; it's the process of facing thoseRead More »from 12 mental exercises -- zany but productive.
- Gretchen Rubin | Healthy Living – Tue, May 25, 2010 5:18 PM EDT
Studying happiness has shown me that there are very few new truths out there.
It's like dieting. New diet books hit the shelves every day, but we know that the real secret to staying slim is to eat better (mostly plants), eat less, and exercise more.
Likewise, the keys to leading a happy life have been around for a long time. I get a big kick out of uncovering "tips lists" from the past -- Sydney Smith's tips for cheering yourself up from 1820, Francis Bacon's tips for how to be happy from 1625, Lord Chesterfield's tips for pleasing in society from 1774.
In De Civilitate, Erasmus gave eight tips about how to behave yourself around other people. He wrote this list around 1500 A.D., and his advice has a long shelf life.
According to Erasmus, you should not…
2. tell unkind stories
4. indulge in self-display
5. seek to defeat others in argument
6. interrupt people when they tell a story
7. be too inquisitive
YouRead More »from Eight tips for how to behave yourself -- from 1500-ish.