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Book Review – Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Book Review – Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin


    I had the pleasure of reading Gretchen Rubin’s last book, The Happiness Project, which chronicled her quest to spend an entire year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life while working to build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps along the way. In fact, she’s maintains a blog over at the www.happiness-project.com, where she continues to write about her happiness adventures.

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    So when I learned she had a follow-up to The Happiness Project, I jumped at the chance to give it a read. Today marks the launch of that book, Happier at Home, and while my initial curiosity was all about whether or not there would much of her previous work reappearing within its pages, that isn’t the case. Instead, the author builds upon her previous book, and as result she makes both books all the more accessible to a wider audience.

    Happier at Home describes her second Happiness Project, which ran from September to May — which essentially mirrors the school year. As with The Happiness Project, Rubin devotes a chapter — consisting of one habit — to each month, outlined as follows:

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    1. September — Possessions
    2. October — Marriage
    3. November — Parenthood
    4. December — Interior Design (Renovate Myself)
    5. January — Time
    6. February — Body
    7. March — Family
    8. April — Neighborhood
    9. May — Now

    As a writer and a stay-at-home parent, Happier at Home really resonated with me. Rubin strives to make her home as pleasant a place as possible through measurable means and provides a guideline (and guidance) for the rest of us. Much like A.J. Jacobs has done in his work, Rubin acts as a sort of “guinea pig” for the readers, so that we can see what can happen if we follow through with an experiment like this. And in this case, an experiment like this one well worth giving a try. No matter whether or not you work at home or not, it’s important to make your home a place where you can thrive — and by working to improve on nine aspects of her home life Rubin has provided a roadmap for us to follow.

    Rubin’s writing style is quite anecdotal, but many of the stories are easy to relate to. Her style makes Happier at Home a very easy read, even if taking on the project within isn’t quite as easy.

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    If you were a fan of The Happiness Project, then you’ll like how Happier at Home takes things one step further. But if you haven’t read Rubin’s previous book, then this book is a great place to start.

    We’ve been given the opportunity to giveaway copies of Happier at Home to 3 lucky Lifehack readers. To enter for your chance to win, simply leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page mentioning what one of the nine areas of home life mentioned in the book that you feel is the most important for your to improve to achieve greater happiness. You will get one entry for a comment here and one for a comment on our Facebook page, giving you two chances to win if you do both.

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    We’ll select the winners at random on Sunday September 9th at 11 p.m. Pacific time, so be sure to enter by then and to leave us with a means to contact you. Good luck!

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

    4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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