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Productive Interview Series: Gretchen Rubin

Productive Interview Series: Gretchen Rubin

Productive Interview Series is a quick four questions interview, targets on productive people who have been changing their work/life style with life hacks and self-development tips. It’s my pleasure to interview Gretchen Rubin, the person behind The Happiness Project blog. She has tested many tips and theory on how to be happy in her life – look like I could get couple of great lifehacks from her.

Gretchen Rubin

    Who are you?
    I’m Gretchen Rubin.

    I started out as a lawyer. At Yale Law School, I was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, and I went on to clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

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    Then I realized that, although I’d had a great experience in law, what I really wanted to do was to write. I’m currently working on THE HAPPINESS PROJECT—a memoir about the year I spent test-driving happiness tips, theories, philosophical insights, and scientific studies. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and explain what works. On my blog, The Happiness Project, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenges of being happy.

    Raised in Kansas City, I now live in New York City with my husband and two young daughters.

    My only hobbies are reading and writing—and helping other people clean out their closets. I’m left-handed, terrible at sports, tone-deaf, a constant hair-twister, and afraid to drive. I talk to my parents and my sister all the time, and I live around the corner from my in-laws.

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    What have you done to increase your productivity?
    I now keep a detailed chart on which I record my progress toward my goals. It sometimes seems like a waste of time to mark up the chart, but it has made me much more persistent—especially in doing work that I’d otherwise put off.

    I follow a “one-minute” rule. If I can do something in less than one minute—hang up my coat, read a letter and toss it, load paper into the printer, answer an email—I don’t let myself stall. This doesn’t sound like it would have a dramatic effect, but it does.

    I exercise more regularly. Exercise boosts my energy and brightens my moods.

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    I’ve conquered the clutter in my office and in my apartment. Being able to find things I need in a flash, not feeling overwhelmed by mess, freeing up more storage space, not feeling so…caked in…has simultaneously increased my productivity and given me a sense of calm.

    I force myself to go to sleep earlier. Nothing saps my energy like lack of sleep.

    What is your best life hack?
    I’ve found dozens of strategies that have boosted my happiness, but there’s one thing that’s almost like a magic trick. It’s uncannily effective. Here it is: Act as I would like to feel. If I’m feeling angry at my husband but would like to feel loving and warm, I do something thoughtful for him. If I’m going to a party but feel irritable and shy, I put on a big, eager smile. If I feel low energy, I force myself to move faster and to enliven my voice.

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    This “fake it ‘till you feel it” strategy isn’t new, but I’ve been astounded by how effective it is.

    What are your favorite posts at lifehack.org?
    No surprise—my favorite post is the “9 tips in life that lead to happiness.” It’s one of Lifehack’s most popular posts, and for good reason. Great stuff there. But I often just poke around, jumping from here to there, when I have a few minutes. I always get great ideas.

    Previous Productive Interviews: Michael Leddy, Henrik Edberg, Andy Mitchell, Patrick Rhone

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    Leon Ho

    Founder of Lifehack

    Book summary: A Technique for Producing Ideas 10 Ways to Extend Laptop Battery Life Bob Parsons on His 16 Rules for Survival Free note taking templates and techniques Fifty Essential Topics on Economics

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

    How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

    When you become an early riser, you’ll experience a lot of benefits including feeling more energized and having more time to do what you want.

    If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

    So how to become an early riser?

    Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

    1. Choose to Get up Before You Go to Sleep

    You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

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    No more!

    If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before.

    Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually, your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

    Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

    2. Have a Plan for Your Extra Time

    Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day?

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    If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

    What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed.

    You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

    3. Make Rising Early a Social Activity

    Your internet or social media buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

    Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am?

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    The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

    4. Don’t Use an Alarm That Makes You Angry

    If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning?

    I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

    When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

    5. Get Your Blood Flowing Right After Waking

    If you don’t have a neighbor, you can pick fights with at 5am, you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head.

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    Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

    If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

    If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

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    Featured photo credit: Nomadic Julien via unsplash.com

    Reference

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