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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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    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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    1. Make a list of your goal destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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    2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

    3. Write down your goals clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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    4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule your to-dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Review your progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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