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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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    Last Updated on October 9, 2018

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

    If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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    A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

    So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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    For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

    Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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    To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

    1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
    2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
    3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
    4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
    5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

    If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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    Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

    Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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