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  • Crystal Ellefsen 15:09:47 on 2018/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , inteview, Morten Hansen, productivity, ,   

    “The Data Revealed a Big Surprise: Top Performers Do Less.” 

    Interview: Morten Hansen.

    Morten Hansen is a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the co-author with Jim Collins of the book Great by Choice and also the author of Collaboration, and he has a new book that's just hitting the shelves, Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.

    Morten has done a lot of thinking about how people do their best work and live their happiest lives, so I couldn't wait to hear his insights about happiness, habits, and productivity.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit or activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Morten: One of the things I have always done is to celebrate milestones, even the small ones, with my wife and kids. When I got an academic paper accepted in a prestige journal, I would open a bottle of champagne with my wife and have a toast, to mark the milestone but also to give thanks for her support. When I finished my last book, I took my family out to dinner and thanked them. We do this for their milestones too. Some of these are small markers, perhaps, but it’s great to pause for a moment in our hectic lives, celebrate a bit, and express gratitude. I believe we don’t celebrate enough at work. It’s an easy thing to do.

    You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or other people -- most?
    In my new study published in my book Great at Work, I set out to answer a deceptively simple question: why do some people perform better at work than others? I developed a data set of 5,000 managers and employees from across corporate America to find answers. The data analysis revealed a big surprise to me and to many others; top performers do less. We live in a world where we strive to do more to succeed: we take on more assignments, go to more meetings, fly around, network more, get online 24/7, and so on, yet we don’t pause to ask, is this the best way to work? It turns out, it isn’t. That’s an uncomfortable piece of news to many, including myself: I do more and stress to get it all done, believing it is the road to success—yet it isn’t. Of course, the good news is that we can change that and perform better, and have better lives, too.

     What’s something you know now about building healthy habits or happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    When I started out working, I joined the Boston Consulting Group in London as a 24-year old. I had no real prior experience, so I came up with a great formula to succeed: I would work crazy hours. I put in 70, 80 and even 90 hours per week. I did rather well, being promoted up the ranks of the company. I discovered that some colleagues who also did well (and some better than me) worked fewer hours, but I just couldn’t figure out what they did, so I brushed it off and kept those long hours. Of course, it took a toll on my relationship with my fiancée (who, luckily, stuck with me). Now, a few decades later, I have discovered how foolish I was. I had fallen into the trap of believing that each extra hour worked improves output, and that’s not the case.

    The results from my new research show that the relationship between hours worked and performance is an inverted U: you perform much better when you go from 30 to 50 hours per week on average (slacking off at 30 is no good), performance only goes up a little bit by going from 50 to 65 hours, and it DECLINES from 65 hours onwards. So my “brilliant” strategy of piling on 70 and 80 hours a week was most likely a dismal failure. Uggh. It hurts even today to think back on all that wasted time (and life). But I have learned from my data. I have created what I call the “50-hour work week” rule: Work about 50 hours per week (which is hard work), but no more. My true lesson for a good work habit: it’s HOW you work—and not how hard—that matters.

    Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    I am a “do more” type of person. By that I mean that I take on many assignments, say “yes” to too many things, and then I work hard—and stress—to get it all done. Many people work like that. First off, it doesn’t lead to the best results, as I said. But it also makes me less happy: that stress to get it all done means I am working at night when I should be with my family, and it’s also stressful to coordinate all kinds of priorities. I don’t feel burned out (yet!), but working this way clearly increases the risk of that. I know this from my data. We asked our study participants whether they felt burned out at work and about a fifth strongly agreed they felt burned out, and another quarter agreed somewhat. Those are big numbers and it’s hard to feel happy when you’re burning out working. The solution is to “do less”: cut priorities and zoom in on what matters the most.

    Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    Yes! On January 1, 2017, I set the goal of getting in shape. Like so many others, I signed up with a trainer at a health club. And like so many, I have had this New Year’s resolution every year! I am a former competitive track and field athlete, so I thought this was going to be easy, but alas, I succumbed like so many others. But this year I succeeded and here’s how. I applied the idea of “20-mile march” from my book Great by Choice (co-authored with Jim Collins): the idea is to set a periodic goal (say monthly and weekly) and then set an upper and a lower bound (that’s crucial). I told myself: the goal is to exercise 3 times a week, and the lower bound is 1x, and the upper bound is 4x. My motto was: stick to the bounds, no matter what. The bounds made all the difference: I would reach my goal even if I just exercised a paltry 1 time a week. This is very different from what I used to say to myself: exercise 3 times a week, and everything below that is a failure (and sure enough, after 6 weeks in 2016 I failed and then I had, in my mind, broken my new year resolution). Now, why an upper bound? The reason is, if I exercised too many times in one week, my legs would be sore from running and so I had to rest the next week. Pacing yourself like that works really well in forming a habit, I found.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    I am a Questioner, absolutely. Particularly at this point in my life I notice that I question many things. Of course, I can be annoying at times, like when I ask flight attendants why we board by zones that don’t make any sense (“because that’s the way it’s done, duh.”). They are not especially impressed (or interested) when I tell them that research shows there is a better way. In my research, I found that a number of people kept asking fundamental questions about why work was done in certain ways, and that allowed them to find new and better ways. A high school principal asked his faculty, “Why do we send kids home with homework?” which challenged a 300-year old model of teaching in school. This question prompted the school to switch to a better method, where they “flipped” the classroom—homework at school, lectures via video clips at home—and results soared. It would be great to include a measure of The Four Tendencies in a study like the one I did for my book to see how work practices relate to performance. I can see why Questioners like me and the high school principal have some strengths, and yet weaknesses too (my bosses don’t especially like it when I question everything they ask me to do….oh well).

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:32 on 2017/11/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , productivity,   

    The Surprising Truth About Why Your To-Do List May Be Failing You. 

    The most important thing I've learned about happiness, habits, and human nature? There's no one magic, one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone.

    We've all heard the expert advice: Do it first thing in the morning! Do it for 30 days! Start small! Give yourself a cheat day!

    But here's the thing: those approaches work well for some people, some of the  time. They don't work all the time for everyone.

    The most important thing is to know ourselves, and what works for us.

    One place where I've seen this issue arise? With to-do lists.

    Over and over, I see the advice, "Write down your to-do list, set your priorities, work your way through the items, this is the way you'll get things done most successfully."

    But I've been talking to people about this advice, and I've discovered that to-do lists just don't work for many people. They make them, they try to use them, they fail.

    And they often think, "Something's wrong with me, I have no will-power, I can't stick to a list, why can't I use this simple tool that works so well for so many people, what's my problem?"

    To which I say: "There's nothing wrong with you. How could we tweak the tool, to see if there's a way to make it more effective for you?"

    Since I've started looking for new approaches to the to-do list, I've found several versions that work for people:

    To-do list:

    If the classic to-do list works for you, terrific. I make them all the time myself, and find them very helpful. That's no surprise: Upholders tend to do well with a to-do list. But if it doesn't work...

    Could-do list:

    A Rebel told me that the minute she made a to-do list, she wanted to resist it (the very term "to-do list" is not Rebel-friendly). So she changed the vocabulary. She explained,

    ‘To-do’ lists almost never get done by me, because as soon as I have to do something, it’s the last thing I want to do. A ‘could-do’ list, however, reminds me that I can choose whether or not I complete the task.”

    Brilliant.

    Variation: the Might-could list: I'd never heard this term until an audience member used it during my book tour. I love it! It's not a to-do list; it's a might-could list.

    Ta-da list:

    In episode 134 of the "Happier" podcast, for our weekly "Try This at Home" tip, Elizabeth and I suggested making a ta-da list. Make a list of everything you've already accomplished. You're often pleasantly surprised and energized to see how much you've done, and giving yourself credit for your efforts often make it easier to keep going.

    To-day list:

    It's easy to feel overwhelmed at the sight of all the errands, tasks, and aims that require our attention. If you can't bear to contemplate the complete list, try making a to-day list. Just list the things that you'd like to get done today.

    We're told that "everybody" should use to-do lists, and that "everybody" finds them useful. Nope, not in my observation.

    How about you? Are you a fan of to-do lists, or have you found another version that works for you?

     
  • gretchenrubin 19:35:12 on 2017/10/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , NaNoWriMo, productivity,   

    Signing Up for “NaNoWriMo”–National Novel Writing Month? Here’s Why It Works. 

    Have you heard of "NaNoWriMo?" "National Novel Writing Month" is an engaging approach to writing a novel. The writing "month" is November, and starting on November 1, participants work toward the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30.

    Are you planning to join NaNoWriMo?

    As I describe in The Happiness Project, I did this program myself. I'd run into an acquaintance on the street, and she mentioned that she was writing a novel in a month. I was immediately intrigued. "How, why?" I asked.

    She told me that she was following a program laid out in Chris Baty's book, No Plot? No Problem! A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. You start without any preparation, don't edit yourself, and by writing 1,667 words a day, you write a 50,000 word novel in a month.

    Now, for many people, this wouldn't be an exciting prospect, but I went straight to a bookstore and bought the book myself. I followed the book's instructions, and wrote my novel in the month of September, but far more people join the NaNoWriMo community each November, and each year, a big surge of people do it together.

    By doing joining the official "month," you join an international group of people who are pursuing their writing projects at this particular time, and you can announce your project to the group, attend local events, award yourself with participation and writing badges, update your word count each day, verify your word count by writing your draft on the site, choose a "writing buddy," and so on.

    In all my work, I think about the question, "What makes us happier, and how can we get ourselves actually to do the things that make us happier?" And one challenge for many people is: "I know I would be happier if I worked on a creative project, but how do I actually get myself to make consistent progress on this project or side hustle?"

    A common happiness stumbling block is the feeling that you have a creative or entrepreneurial idea and impulse, but you're not putting that creation out into the world.

    I've been fascinated by NaNoWriMo for years, as a way to tackle this problem, and it's interesting to think about why its design has helped so many people to complete ambitious projects.

    For one thing, it's interesting to think about how it works for the Four Tendencies.

    For Upholders, write-a-novel-in-a-month provides a clear set of expectations. Note: as an Upholder, I didn't join the group or do my project in November. I did it on my own, in September, when it made the most sense for me. Just reading the book was enough to get me to do it, without that structure. Which may have meant that I missed out on some fun, too, of course.

    For Questioners, the program gives a concise justification for its perhaps seemingly arbitrary rules. "Our experiences since 1999 show that 50,000 words is a challenging but achievable goal, even for people with full-time jobs and children. This is about the length of The Great Gatsby. We don't use the word 'novella' because it doesn't seem to impress people the way 'novel' does." This brief explanation establishes authority, shows that experience has born out the effectiveness of this program, and explains why the goal has been set at a certain number.

    For Obligers, NaNoWriMo provides many kinds of accountability, which is crucial because a) Obligers need accountability if they're going to follow through and b) different Obligers respond differently to different forms of accountability. Here, you can set up accountability by announcing your goal publicly, joining a group, earning visible gold stars in the form of badges, attending a meeting, pairing up with a "buddy," getting your word count verified daily and at the end of the month by the program, etc.

    For Rebels, NaNoWriMo is a fun challenge. It's like running the Boston marathon, for creativity. "My friends don't think I can write my novel in a month? Well, I'll show them!" Rebels often like to meet their aims in unconventional ways -- like NaNoWriMo. And with this program, you can drop out at any time, obviously, and you're not locking yourself in for long. "Can I do this for a month? Of course I can!"

    Obviously, even people who aren't Questioners like to understand the reasons behind what they're being asked to do, and even people who aren't Rebels like a fun challenge, and even people who aren't Obligers can benefit from accountability. That said, I do think that certain aspects of the program will resonate most deeply to particular Tendencies.

    Also, in my book Better Than Before, I outline the twenty-one strategies we can use to make or break our habits.

    NaNoWriMo taps into these habit strategies:

    Convenience: by writing on the site, it's easy to save your work, get credit for it, and track your word count.

    Monitoring: when we monitor, we tend to do a better job of following through, and this program is all about monitoring what you're creating. I remember that when I was writing my novel, I spent a lot of time checking my word count, to see if I'd reached the magic number of 1,667.

    Scheduling: you're writing every day, and as my Secret of Adulthood holds, it's often easier to do something every day rather than sometimes or most days.

    Loophole-Spotting: no excuses, no loopholes!

    and very important...

    First Steps: for many people, it's hard to get started. This kind of boot camp, start-now approach is a way to get a project off the ground.

    Have you ever tried NaNoWriMo -- if so, how did it work out? If you haven't done it, does this kind of program appeal to you?

    If you want to read more about my experience writing a novel in a month (a novel that's safely locked in a desk drawer now), I describe it in the chapter "September: Pursue a Passion" in my book The Happiness Project.

     
  • feedwordpress 19:50:32 on 2017/09/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , productivity,   

    How Do You Feel About “To-Do” Lists–Helpful or Not? 

    How do you respond to "to-do" lists?

    When it comes to productivity advice, certainly one of the most common and most-discussed suggestions is, "Make a to-list, and check off the items as you go." Is that good advice?

    I enjoy making and using to-do lists, and this is great advice--for me. And for many people. But it's not necessarily great advice for everyone.

    If there's one thing I've concluded from all my research and writing, it's that there's no single best way to make your life happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. There's no magic, one-size-fits-all tool that suits everyone.  (Well, actually, maybe the twin Strategies of Convenience and Inconvenience work for just about everyone. But that's the exception.)

    So how do people of the Four Tendencies profiles respond to the question, “Do you find it easy to complete your own to-do list? What about someone else’s to-do list?”

    Upholders complete their own to-do lists as easily as they complete to-do lists that others gave them

    Questioners more easily complete a to-do list they wrote themselves

    Obligers more easily complete a to-do list that someone else gave them and is holding them accountable for

    Rebels usually ignore a to-do list, or they may put a Rebel spin on it

    People often ask me, "Okay, though, I'm a Rebel. So how do I put that Rebel spin on a to-do list? Or how else can I get things done?"

    Good question.

    It's helpful to remember that the minute that Rebels see a list of things they are "supposed" to do, they feel that Rebel spirit of resistance. For them, making a to-do list may make them less likely to complete a task.

    They might be better served by doing tasks spontaneously, whenever they feel like doing them. One Rebel told me, “I keep a running to-do list, and when I feel like tackling some chore, I’ll do it, but only when I’m in the mood.

    Another Rebel turned the prospect of doing routine, scheduled tasks into a challenging game:

    Instead of writing a to-do list, I write each task on a separate piece of paper. I fold up all the pieces and put them in a bowl, then select one folded paper and do whatever task is written on it. I don’t select another paper until that task is completed. This makes for a fun game of chance, and looking at the little folded papers feels less daunting then looking at a list of tasks.

    Another Rebel was able to use a to-do list by making a simple change in vocabulary, by using a "could-do" list: “‘To-do’ lists almost never get done by me, because as soon as I have to do something, it’s the last thing I want to do. A ‘could-do’ list, however, reminds me that I can choose whether or not I complete the task.”

    As for Questioners -- Questioners need to make sure they see the efficiency and justification for every item on their to-do lists. Then they will follow through.

    Obligers need to build in outer accountability for anything on their to-do lists -- even items like "read for fun," "practice guitar," or "keep my New Year's resolution." This is crucial, Obligers! Always, outer accountability.

    Upholders tend to enjoy using to-do lists, and find them easy to use.
    ot;}">

    When we understand ourselves, and how our Tendency shapes our perspective on the world, we can adapt our circumstances to suit our own nature -- and when we understand how other people's Tendencies shape their perspectives, we can engage with them more effectively.

    If you keep telling yourself -- or someone else -- to use a to-do list, and that method isn't working, it's time to try something new. There are so many different ways to build the lives we want, when we do it in the way that's right for us.

    And what works for an Upholder, or a Questioner, or an Obliger, or a Rebel, are often quite different.

    Don't know your Tendency? Take the free quiz here. Soon I'll hit the one-million mark for the number of people who have taken it.

    My book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves on September 12.  Important: if you want FREE access  to my five videos about the Four Tendencies (videos: overview; at work; in romance; with children; in health-care), pre-order the book now and get your bonus videos. After September 11, there will be a (hefty) charge for the video set.

    How do you feel about to-do lists? Do you use them, or have you adapted this idea in a way that suits your Tendency?

    It's funny to remember...years ago, as I was groping for an understanding of the framework that became the Four Tendencies, it was a glance at my own to-do list that gave me the key insight that the response to expectation was the core theme.

     
  • gretchenrubin 10:00:41 on 2017/09/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , productivity, ,   

    How Do You Feel About “To-Do” Lists–Helpful or Not? 

    How do you respond to “to-do” lists?

    When it comes to productivity advice, certainly one of the most common and most-discussed suggestions is, “Make a to-list, and check off the items as you go.” Is that good advice?

    I enjoy making and using to-do lists, and this is great advice–for me. And for many people. But it’s not necessarily great advice for everyone.

    If there’s one thing I’ve concluded from all my research and writing, it’s that there’s no single best way to make your life happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. There’s no magic, one-size-fits-all tool that suits everyone.  (Well, actually, maybe the twin Strategies of Convenience and Inconvenience work for just about everyone. But that’s the exception.)

    So how do people of the Four Tendencies profiles respond to the question, “Do you find it easy to complete your own to-do list? What about someone else’s to-do list?”

    Upholders complete their own to-do lists as easily as they complete to-do lists that others gave them

    Questioners more easily complete a to-do list they wrote themselves

    Obligers more easily complete a to-do list that someone else gave them and is holding them accountable for

    Rebels usually ignore a to-do list, or they may put a Rebel spin on it

    People often ask me, “Okay, though, I’m a Rebel. So how do I put that Rebel spin on a to-do list? Or how else can I get things done?”

    Good question.

    It’s helpful to remember that the minute that Rebels see a list of things they are “supposed” to do, they feel that Rebel spirit of resistance. For them, making a to-do list may make them less likely to complete a task.

    They might be better served by doing tasks spontaneously, whenever they feel like doing them. One Rebel told me, “I keep a running to-do list, and when I feel like tackling some chore, I’ll do it, but only when I’m in the mood.

    Another Rebel turned the prospect of doing routine, scheduled tasks into a challenging game:

    Instead of writing a to-do list, I write each task on a separate piece of paper. I fold up all the pieces and put them in a bowl, then select one folded paper and do whatever task is written on it. I don’t select another paper until that task is completed. This makes for a fun game of chance, and looking at the little folded papers feels less daunting then looking at a list of tasks.

    Another Rebel was able to use a to-do list by making a simple change in vocabulary, by using a “could-do” list: “‘To-do’ lists almost never get done by me, because as soon as I have to do something, it’s the last thing I want to do. A ‘could-do’ list, however, reminds me that I can choose whether or not I complete the task.”

    As for Questioners — Questioners need to make sure they see the efficiency and justification for every item on their to-do lists. Then they will follow through.

    Obligers need to build in outer accountability for anything on their to-do lists — even items like “read for fun,” “practice guitar,” or “keep my New Year’s resolution.” This is crucial, Obligers! Always, outer accountability.

    Upholders tend to enjoy using to-do lists, and find them easy to use.
    ot;}”>

    When we understand ourselves, and how our Tendency shapes our perspective on the world, we can adapt our circumstances to suit our own nature — and when we understand how other people’s Tendencies shape their perspectives, we can engage with them more effectively.

    If you keep telling yourself — or someone else — to use a to-do list, and that method isn’t working, it’s time to try something new. There are so many different ways to build the lives we want, when we do it in the way that’s right for us.

    And what works for an Upholder, or a Questioner, or an Obliger, or a Rebel, are often quite different.

    Don’t know your Tendency? Take the free quiz here. Soon I’ll hit the one-million mark for the number of people who have taken it.

    My book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves on September 12.  Important: if you want FREE access  to my five videos about the Four Tendencies (videos: overview; at work; in romance; with children; in health-care), pre-order the book now and get your bonus videos. After September 11, there will be a (hefty) charge for the video set.

    How do you feel about to-do lists? Do you use them, or have you adapted this idea in a way that suits your Tendency?

    It’s funny to remember…years ago, as I was groping for an understanding of the framework that became the Four Tendencies, it was a glance at my own to-do list that gave me the key insight that the response to expectation was the core theme.

    The post How Do You Feel About “To-Do” Lists–Helpful or Not? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:06:02 on 2017/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , productivity, , , ,   

    Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. 

    Update: I’m excited because my new book, The Four Tendencies, hits the shelves in just 34 days. So close, and yet so far!

    Elizabeth and I are considering planning a meet-up with listeners and readers on Sunday, September 17, around 6:00 p.m. Would you be interested in coming? What would be a good neighborhood or spot? Weigh in on the Better app, under Events — that makes it much easier to coordinate responses. We’re trying to figure out if this would be a good idea. If you’re already a member of the app, click here to go directly to the event to RSVP.

    Pre-orders give a big boost to a book, so to thank readers who pre-order, I worked with a terrific production team to create a series of videos about the Four Tendencies. After the book goes on sale, I’ll charge for these videos, but until then, you can get access to them for free if you pre-order. Find all the info here. There’s an overview video, then subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.

    Try This at Home: Remember that September is the other January. In my book Happier at Home, I describe my happiness project that stretched from September to May — a school year, which is another kind of year for me.

    September, for many people, marks a fresh start and a new beginning, so it’s good to think about changes to make with this clean slate.

    Elizabeth vows to start grilling — not expecting Adam to grill, but to grill herself. I’m planning to start “Weekly Adventures” with Eleanor.

    In my book Better Than Before, I talk about using the “Strategy of the Clean Slate” as a way to harness new beginnings to help yourself make important changes. The clean slate is a powerful catalyst for me.

    1pix

    Happiness Hack: I love an office-supplies hack! Elizabeth ordered personalized post-it notes — easy, inexpensive, and seem special — specifically for “Happier in Hollywood” for her and Sarah to use. She ordered hers from Zazzle.com. Post a photo of your personalized post-it notes on #happier2017 on Instagram, and tag us @lizcraft and @gretchenrubin.

    Happiness Stumbling Block: What will “they” think?

    Here’s the video I mention, of the twelve-minute talk that I gave about drift, and here’s the quiz “Are you drifting?

    Gretchen’s Demerit: I’m a dedicated hair twister, and I’ve been twisting my hair more than usual.

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s young son Jack participated enthusiastically on a hike. Elizabeth’s fantasy is to do family hikes on the weekend — so now her fantasy self and real self are colliding, thanks to Jack.


    Free Resources:

    1. To get the pre-order bonus, you can find info here, or at happiercast.com/4tbonus. You’ll get the overview video as well as subject videos on using the Four Tendencies at work, with spouses and sweethearts, with children and students, and in health-care settings.  Free now; after the book comes out, there will be a charge for the video series.
    2.  Want to join my group of Super-Fans? From time to time, I’ll offer you a little bonus, or ask for a small favor (nothing onerous, I promise). Sign up here. Super-Fans, I so appreciate your support and enthusiasm.

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    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:37:20 on 2017/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , productivity, , , ,   

    Do You Face These Common Problems in Happiness and Habits? Here’s Your Answer! 

    For years, I’ve been reading, writing, and talking to people about their happiness and good habits. My preoccupation is: how can we make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative?

    The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better Than Before, and now The Four Tendencies — all, in their own way, address this fundamental question.

    And as I’ve talked to people, certain challenges keep coming up, over and over.

    For years, I was so puzzled by them, I couldn’t stop thinking about them and trying to figure out the answers. Perhaps some sound familiar to you:

    • People can rely on me, so why can’t I rely on myself?
    • Why do people tell me that I ask too many questions?
    • How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask?
    • Why do people just do whatever they’re told to do, like lemmings, without demanding good reasons?
    • Why can’t I make myself do anything?
    • Why won’t you change what you’re doing, after I’ve explained the serious consequences of failing to change?
    • Why do people keep telling me I’m uptight?
    • Why do I have writer’s block?
    • How can I deal with someone who keeps telling me what to do?
    • How can I stop my teenager from dropping out of school?
    • How can my team become more effective, with less wasted time and conflict?
    • Why is everything an argument with my child?
    • I’m deeply committed to doing this thing (working on a novel, exercising regularly), so why can’t I do it?
    • Why can’t other people just get their own s!$* done?
    • Why can’t I convince my patients to take their prescriptions?
    • Why does my mother keep emailing me articles?
    • My child is so smart and does well on tests, so why does he refuse to do his homework?
    • How can I help my spouse to lose weight? To exercise?
    • Why can’t I start my side hustle?
    • Why am I always the one asked to pick up the extra work around here?
    • Why is it taking me so long to make this decision?
    • Why can’t my sweetheart be more spontaneous?
    • Why does this person refuse to answer my questions?
    • Why do my co-workers refuse to act with common courtesy — how hard is it to put your mug in the office dishwasher?
    • Why can’t I keep my promises to myself?
    • Why does this employee keep challenging every decision I make?
    • My spouse will do anything to help a client, so why can’t I get any help?

    Why You Act, Why You Don’t

    Perhaps it seems unlikely, but it’s true — the Four Tendencies framework sheds light on all these questions.

    With every single one of these questions, I have an answer that I think can help, using the Four Tendencies.

    To take just one example, I received this email about a teacher who used her knowledge of the Four Tendencies to change her way of working with a Rebel — in a way that allowed that Rebel to succeed:

    I’m a teacher at our local county jail, mostly GED and high school diploma courses. Recently I had a student who was getting in her own way—arguing with the guards and not completing assignments. I believed her when she said that she really wanted to get her GED—yet she wasn’t making progress.

    It dawned on me that she is a Rebel. I shared your theory with her, and it really helped her see herself in a new, more positive way. I stopped asking her to do homework and let her decide each day how she wanted to study: computer software, group lesson, independently, or not at all. As I write this, she has passed five of the five tests, and thus completed her high school equivalency.

    When you know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you understand yourself much better — why you act, why you don’t act, why you feel the way you do.

    And as the example above demonstrates, when you understand other people’s Tendencies, you gain great perspective on why they act, why they don’t act, and why they feel the way they do.

    To a degree that astonishes me, simple tweaks in language and circumstances can allow people to do a much better job in dealing with themselves and others.

    I certainly use the Tendencies myself. I’m married to a Questioner, and I’ve learned that I always need to explain the reason if I want him to do something. Even just yesterday. I was filling out a tiresome form that asked for his work address. I called him and asked, “What’s your work address?” He answered, “Why ?”

    Now, if he’d asked me a similar question, I would’ve just answered. I wouldn’t ask why. But my husband wasn’t going to meet even the smallest expectation — tell me your work address — without knowing why.

    That used to bug me. Why wouldn’t he just do what I asked? Why did he slow down the process? Now I don’t get annoyed with him, because I understand his nature.

    Managing yourself, and others, is much easier when you know what to do — and why.

     

    Want to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take the quick Quiz here.

    Want to learn more about the framework? Order my book The Four Tendencies. All is revealed!

    Want to talk about the Four Tendencies with other people? Join the discussion on my free Better app.

     

    The post Do You Face These Common Problems in Happiness and Habits? Here’s Your Answer! appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 18:07:04 on 2017/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , productivity, , ,   

    Podcast 120: Very Special Episode of Listener Questions about the Four Tendencies. 

    Update: Congratulations to our beloved producer, Kristen Meinzer — her hilarious, addictive podcast By the Book got picked up! She and her co-host comedian Jolenta Greenberg choose a different popular self-help book and report what it’s like to live “by the book” — for their pilot, they lived by The Secret, next up, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Check it out, subscribe!

    Every tenth episode, we do a “Very Special Episode” that’s different from our usual structure. For this VSE, we discuss listener questions about the Four Tendencies.

    Want to take the Quiz, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? It’s here.

    Want to listen to the episodes dedicated to each Tendency?

    Upholder is episode 35 — “Are you like Gretchen and Hermione?”

    Questioner is episode 36 — “Do you always ask why?”

    Obliger is episode 37 — “Can you meet a work deadline, but can’t go running on your own?

    Rebel is episode 38 — “Do you hate being told what to do?” Note: we weren’t able to interview a Rebel as part of that episode; if you want to hear from a Rebel, check out this interview with the brilliant Chris Guillebeau (bestselling author and host of the podcast Side Hustle School) about his perspective as a Rebel. Start listening at 25:15.

    My book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves in September. As I mention (often!), if you’re inclined to buy the book, it’s a big help to me if you pre-order it. Pre-orders build buzz among booksellers, the media, and other readers; it makes a very big difference to the fate of a book.

    Questions we discuss in this episode:

    “How can a doctor quickly figure out someone’s Tendency?”

    “How can I as an Upholder parent better understand my Rebel child?”

    “I’m an Obliger who works for a Questioner. How can I feel less frustration?”

    “As a Rebel, how can I tell myself to eat healthfully and exercise?”

    “I’m an Obliger, and I’m resisting the new office policy that we show a badge. Is this Obliger-rebellion?”

    “An Obliger friend keeps busting through her budget — because she owes it to other people to spend. What’s up?”

    “I’ve realized that my Obliger Tendency is affecting my dating life, for instance, by being too accommodating. How do I create a balance?”

    If you’re intrigued by the Four Tendencies, and want to join the lively discussion on the Better app, sign up! It’s free. You can start or join an accountability group (Obligers, I know many of you want to do that), ask questions, have discussions about your own Tendency or dealing with someone else’s Tendency.

    Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth wanted to start hiking on the weekends with friends; it hasn’t happened.

    Gretchen’s Gold Star: Gold star to everyone who has provided me with their perspectives, examples, and questions about the Four Tendencies. I have a lot more insight into other people — and myself.

     

    Resources related to the FourTendencies:

    1.  Try the Better app — it’s free, fun, and informative.
    2.  Take the Quiz to learn your Tendency.
    3. Buy a Tendency mug — complete with the Tendency’s motto! So fun. (Scroll down.)

    1pix

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out ThirdLove, the lingerie brand that uses real women’s measurements to design better-fitting bras. Try one of their bestselling bras for free, for 30 days, by visiting ThirdLove.com/happier.

    Also check out Audible. Audible has an unmatched selection of audio-books, original audio shows, news, comedy, and more. Get a free audio-book, with a thirty-day trial, by going to audible.com/happier.

     

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” Check out these great shows: Side Hustle School and Radical Candor and Happier in Hollywood.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 120: Very Special Episode of Listener Questions about the Four Tendencies. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:29:01 on 2017/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , productivity, ,   

    I Give My Own Response to the “Ask Amy” Advice Column in the Washington Post. 

    I’m always on the watch for anything out in the world that illustrates my Four Tendencies framework.

    Many thoughtful readers and podcast listeners know this, and they send me links to anything Four Tendencies-ish.

    I very much appreciated it when a reader sent me the link to this question in the Washington Post’s “Ask Amy” column.

    To me, it’s a great example of an Obliger misdiagnosing the problem — to my mind, the writer’s problem is not “I’m lazy,” it’s “I need accountability.”

    And “motivation!” Arrrrgh. Here’s a post I wrote, “Warning! Don’t expect to be motivated by motivation” — and I note that Obligers tend to be the folks who worry about motivation the most (to no avail, as illustrated below).

    And the advice Amy gives is a great example of how people give advice — some helpful, but some not helpful — when they don’t understand the dynamics of the Tendency. Amy suggests many accountability strategies that could work, but without really understanding, in my view, why they would work better than other strategies, and why they’d work for this particular person, but wouldn’t work for someone else (e.g., a Rebel).

    What do you think?

    The question:

     Dear Amy: How do you help a lazy person to become more healthily active, when the lazy person is yourself? I’ve dealt with depression all my life and think I’ve made a lot of headway, (with the help of therapy) over the years. I’ve reached the point where there are things I can imagine doing and enjoying that will require some self-discipline and energy to achieve, such as saving money, or keeping my home cleaner and prettier. But inertia and daydreaming take over, and another day goes by, and another, and another. At work, by the way, I’m a great employee. I’m diligent and hard-working; I enjoy making my bosses happy with my efforts. I suspect that part of my problem is that I still lack motivation to make myself happy. Maybe my situation is a bit extreme, but I’m sure many of your readers struggle with finding the energy or the motivation to overcome one’s own laziness.

    –Trying to Be My Own Magic Wand

    The answer (which demonstrates that Amy is probably also an Obliger):

    Trying to Be My Own Magic Wand: I give you major props for figuring out and describing your challenge, and for understanding that you hold the key to positive change.

    Here are some ideas for small things you can determine to do, which will lead you in a positive direction:

    Break down your desired efforts into very small and achievable components, such as “open and categorize today’s mail,” “clean the inside of the car” or (on a weekend) “pack up one box for donation.” Make a list and check off each item after completion. (Checking boxes off a list is surprisingly satisfying.)

    Join a group. For me, singing with a local choir once a week helped to shake loose the inertia in the rest of my life.

    Use a “buddy” to inspire and hold you accountable. Walking with a friend right after work a few times a week will give you more energy to face the challenge at home.

    There’s an app for that: A fitness wristband and/or fitness app will help you to see your progress in real terms.

    Flylady.net is a favorite starting point for many people seeking transformation through baby steps. Flylady says to start by cleaning and shining your kitchen sink.

    Make your bed. Even if your bedroom is a mess, and even if you don’t achieve much else, your bed will be a pristine and clean space each day.

    You are very good at working hard to please others. So plan to have company over for coffee or a meal. Knowing that someone will be in your home will inspire (force) you to tidy, clean and prepare.

    This is good advice, but what I like about the Four Tendencies framework is that it explains why measures like this would work for this person — but not necessarily for other people. Amy is an Obliger, giving advice to an Obliger, so for the most part, the advice is fitting. But what if this question came from a Rebel?

    What do you think?

    I have to say, I do love reading advice columns. How about you?

    If you’re intrigued by the Four Tendencies framework, you can pre-order my book called (with a stunning lack of originality) The Four Tendencies.

    I very much appreciate pre-orders — they really do make a difference for authors, by creating buzz among booksellers, the media, and readers. So if you’re be interested in the book, and you have the time and inclination, it really does give the book a boost if you pre-order. (Note that this message is tailored to try to appeal to all Four Tendencies.)

    The post I Give My Own Response to the “Ask Amy” Advice Column in the Washington Post. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 23:44:24 on 2017/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , productivity, , , , studying, , ,   

    Podcast 112: Pick a Uniform, Time Yourself, and a Deep Dive into a Conflict with a Boss. 

    Update: There’s an official launch date of May 18 for Happier in Hollywood, the fantastic new podcast that Elizabeth is doing with her longtime writing partner and friend, Sarah Fain. Of course I’m biased, but it’s so good.

    Try This at Home: Pick a uniform.

    Here are the two articles I mention about wearing a uniform: “Why I wear the same thing to work everyday” by Matilda Kahl, and the follow-up article, “Saatch & Saatchi has a Dress Like Matilda day.” So fun to see this uniform in action! (The photo above shows people at the “Dress Like Matilda” day.)

    We talked about Kim Scott, co-host of the podcast Radical Candor and author of the bestselling book Radical Candor, who wears a uniform of an orange sweater and jeans.

    1pix

    I also mention the article “Obama’s Way,” the interview by Michael Lewis where President Obama talks about paring down his decisions about choosing suits.

    Happiness Hack: Clare in Seattle suggests timing yourself to see how long a task actually takes.

    Deep Dive: We return to Cindy’s listener question, which we discussed in episode 108: “My boss quit smoking, and now wants to join me in my precious solo lunchtime walks.” Listeners raised so many excellent points.

    If you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, it’s here–find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

    Speaking of Kim Scott, because so many listeners suggested using “radical candor,” we actually called her to ask  how to use radical candor in this context. For more info on Radical Candor, check out the podcast. And here’s a photo of the “Flintstone House.” It’s pretty kooky.

    1pix

    DCIM100GOPRO

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Listener Question: Tara asked for study tips, because she’s a mother, working full-time, and studying for online course.

    Demerit: Elizabeth’s glasses were scratched and hard to see through — for years. But now she has new glasses! Demerit becomes gold star.

    Gold Star: I give a gold star to Eleanor, who used a cute video of baby sloths to calm herself while getting a shot.

    New feature: I’m starting a new feature; each week, at the end of the podcast, I’ll list “Two Resources for You.”

    1. Check out Elizabeth’s terrific young-adult novel, Flower.
    2. The Better app, which is all about the Four Tendencies, is now free! It used to cost $9.99/month, but I decided to make it free.

    If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here. Remember, it really helps us if you do rate or review the podcast — it helps other listeners discover us.

    I do weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

    Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial,  including postage and a digital scale — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

    Also check out Little Passports. Check out “Science Expeditions” — the new educational subscription with a science theme that kids and parents will love. To save 40% on your first month’s subscription, enter the coupon code HAPPY.

    Visit Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 15% off your first Framebridge order. Shipping is free.

    We love hearing from listeners:

     

    To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

    If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

    Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

    How to Subscribe

    If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

    Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

    Want a new podcast to listen to, with the same vibe as Happier? The Onward Project is the family of podcasts that I’ve launched, for podcasts that are about “your life–made better.” The first shows are Side Hustle School and Radical Candor. Elizabeth’s show with her writing partner, Sarah Fain, will be Happier in Hollywood, so stay tuned for that.

    HAPPIER listening!

    The post Podcast 112: Pick a Uniform, Time Yourself, and a Deep Dive into a Conflict with a Boss. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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