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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.