Podcast #4: One-Sentence Journals, Marathoners vs. Sprinters, & Parking-Lot Snacks

My sister Elizabeth Craft and I are having so much fun doing our new podcast together,  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Did I mention that my book about habits, Better Than Before, was published yesterday? Oh right, maybe I did. Well, because I’m going on a book tour, Elizabeth and I hurried to record the first seven episodes before I left town.

As part of my tour, though, I’ll be in L.A., so she and I will get to record a few episodes in the same room — which will be great. It’s much easier for conversation to flow when you can see the other person.

Also, if we can manage to pull it off, we’re going to record a Very Special Episode. Stay tuned for that!

People who’ve read Better Than Before may be especially curious to hear the voice of my sister the sage. She’s a major character in the book; one of my favorite habit-changing undertakings was when I gave her the transformative birthday present. (You can listen to her talk about that gift, here.)

Here’s what we discuss in today’s episode:

Try This at Home: Keep a one-sentence journal. Elizabeth mentions her own one-sentence journal, with her “serial killer handwriting.” Voila! If you’d like to buy your own Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal, go here. ElizabethOneSentenceJournal

Know Yourself Better: Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter, when working?

Listener Question: “I’ve heard it takes 30 days to form a habit, good or bad. Is this true?” Good question! If you want read a longer discussion than we can include in the podcast, check out Better Than Before.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Potato chips in the parking lot. The book she mentions is The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: “The things that go wrong often make the best memories.”

Bonus: You get to hear a blooper.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier 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).

Each week, we give  a “Try This at Home” suggestion, for some easy habit you can try, as part of your ordinary routine, to boost your happiness—something like setting an alarm to signal your bedtime, or using the one-minute rule, to help yourself stay on top of small nagging tasks.

We also suggest questions to help you “Know Yourself Better”—like “Whom do you envy?” and “Are you a Marathoner or a Sprinter in your work style?”—and explore “Happiness Stumbling Blocks,” those small, seemingly insignificant parts of daily life that drag us down—everything from the problem of the Evil Donut-Bringer to the fact that working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.

We “Grill the Guest,” consider “Listener Questions,” and finally, we get even more personal, and each of us either gives ourselves a “Demerit” for a mistake we made that week, that affected our happiness, or awards a “Gold Star” to someone or something that deserves recognition.

We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

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! Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want 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.

Tell us what you think! Drop us a line at @gretchenrubin, @elizabethcraft, Facebook, podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or call 774-277-9336. Or just add your comment to this post.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. 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.)

Happy listening! Or I should say, HAPPIER listening!


  • Leslie Honcoop

    When I came home yesterday, your book was in my mailbox! It was The Day I Get Gretchen’s New Book, as much as it was St. Patrick’s Day to me! I haven’t started reading because I have this weird habit of holding really special things away a little bit, afraid the good will pass too soon…Like not wearing your favorite blouse because you’re afraid you’ll wear it out. However, I will follow the 7th of the 13 Personal Commandments: Spend out. 🙂 Thank you for writing!!

    • gretchenrubin


      I know EXACTLY what you mean about “saving.”

  • emd04

    Great podcast ladies! That was the first time I’ve listened to you and I loved it! I’m definitely a new fan.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! thanks!

  • Abby

    I have been listening and loving. So bite sized and perfect ideas to implement perfectly. Looking forward to seeing you on your tour in MA!

    • Abby

      implement ^immediately.

    • gretchenrubin


  • Mia

    I am really enjoying the podcasts – I only wish you did more than one a week. They are the perfect length for the quick walk I take to get out of my cubicle before I eat lunch – so five a week would be perfect 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks! That’s so nice to hear.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Greatly enjoyed your podcast! Once Sentence Journal–I am on year four of my “Happiness Project One Sentence Journal” — I love the format. Each day I can look back at what I was doing on this day last year, and it really does give me so many great memories.

    I have let go of my pages and pages of writing a day, as my life has become calmer and I have learned to be less anxious and unhappy. In fact I have just had a huge cleanout, destroying a lot of those old journals full of rants.

    The one sentence format truly encourages you to remember remarkable events, sights, and occasions, and not to ruminate endlessly about miseries. Very positive change for me. I am sure I will be keeping this one long – term, and I will probably buy another soon, hoping for another five years to record. I have taken a smidgen of space to record my weight each morning and to count down five years worth of anti cancer meds I must take — wonderful to see where I was last year, whether I am holding steady, how many doses left to go and so forth.

    I started the one-sentence effort, Gretchen, when you included it on your blog page, and THAT is how I found out it was such an improved approach. Thank you for this!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that it struck a chord with you!

  • Rachel

    Love the podcast, Gretchen! Your sister has a very funny Penny Marshall-ness about her that I simply adore. You two are a great combo. One teensy complaint (complaint is really too strong of word): For big fans (like myself) who have read your books and blog, it’s a little repetitive. I’m hoping for some brand new tips, stories, etc. Either way, great podcast. I’ll keep listening!

  • Priyanka

    I love the marathoner versus abstainer distinction! So, so true. The trouble arises when people view the other style negatively (e.g., when sprinters assume marathoners are “slow” or when marathoners assume sprinters do slipshod work.) Until you spoke about this distinction, I know that I found sprinters a little disorganized.

    • Theresa Welch

      Priyanka — so agree and loved that they made the distinction between sprinters and procrastinators. I for one am not sure where I fall there… At times the adrenaline of sprinting is there and other times I think its just panic at procrastinating…

      • Priyanka

        Haha – love it! How do you figure out when its adrenaline versus when its sprinting is a good question!

  • Megan

    Podcasts are so great, but would you guys ever consider doing a podcast video? I’ve seen a couple bloggers do this – record a video of their podcast conversation. Sounds odd, but it’s really fun and “behind the scenes”. It would be especially neat to watch, as you guys are sisters, and maybe share the same mannerisms..? Plus I miss your videos. 🙂
    I suppose part of the appeal of the podcast is that you don’t have to worry about apperances/outfits/hair because you’re not seen. But anyway, just a thought. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      It would be so fun—except that I live in NYC and Elizabeth lives in LA!

      • Megan

        I’m not completely certain, as I’m not tech savvy, but I think the one I watch (from the blog #wycwyc – what you can, when you can) uses Skype. Somehow it’s set up so we see what they see, and it switches back and forth as each of them speaks. Sounds confusing, but it works and is fun to watch. 🙂
        (Actually, it’s a lot like an episode of Web Therapy!)

  • Jessica tan

    I was disappointed about elizabeth getting a demerit for eating bag of ” pot chips” . This was so scorned upon that I briefly wondered if they were “POT” chips?! If that’s the best you can do for a demerit – then you both really are golden !

    • gretchenrubin

      “Pop” chips – it’s a brand of potato chips. I don’t think she gave herself the demerit so much for the chips themselves, but for the out-of-control way she ate them. She was trying to make herself feel better, but she ended up feeling worse.

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  • Jenya

    Buried in the middle of this podcast is (in my opinion) one of the most important things you’ve said about marathoners vs sprinters — procrastinators are not actually sprinters!

    I thought I was a sprinter for years because I could churn out good writing under deadline, but it made me anxious every day I did it. After a while, I realized that waiting for adrenaline to kick in was my way of dealing with perfectionism. If you’re in a rush, you can’t worry about being perfect anymore.

    The only strategy that’s helped me is to just take the first step right away. Once I do that, I get a sense of how hard the project actually is and how long it will take me. Now I’m amazed to remember how many things I didn’t even crack open until an hour or two before the deadline.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that you found that observation useful!

      If you want to read more about it, I write about it in Better Than Before, in the chapter about the Strategy of Distinctions.

      • Jenya

        Thanks for the tip! I just started reading the book.

  • Lucia

    Listener question from Eugene, Oregon
    Which usually creates more happiness: investing your time and resources in a concentrated, focused area or spreading them out in a variety of goal areas?
    Do you generally find more happiness doing one thing big and really noticing a difference or improving the quality of several areas somewhat? I often grapple with how do I get the most satisfaction out of limited time and $. Thanks! Lucia

    • gretchenrubin

      Great questions!

  • I had to tell you that I listened to this and I loved it….especially that I am a runner and you used the marathoner vs sprinter analogy….and I am for sure a marathoner!

  • Jamie L

    I’ve been keeping a “One Sentence Journal” since I listened to the podcast (so just a couple weeks now) but what a huge difference! I couldn’t maintain a “regular” journal more than a day or two. But with this method, I haven’t “forgotten” to do it once and I can easily capture the day and my thoughts in a sentence. I actually look forward to wrapping up my day with my journal now.

  • Aleta Goin

    I have struggled with journaling ever since I was a child. I love the romantic notion of writing long, philosophical essays on the worth of the universe. I hate the time committment involved and find it unrealistic for my life. I’ve tried digital journals, 3-pages of free writing as advocated by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, photo journals, leather journals, blank books, you name it. I am absolutely loving the One Sentence Journal idea. I started one based on the Evernote journal template provided by Michael Hyatt from his blog. I have found this journal to be satisfying and easy. I simply write a few sentences that capture the highlights of my day. Then I add a photo of something that I love that I took with my phone. For example, today’s entry was about some of the cute things that my 2.5 yr old daughter said to me. I had snapped a photo the evening before of the drawings she and my husband did with sidewalk chalk in the driveway, so I loaded that into the entry directly from my phone. Evernote syncs through my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, so it’s extremely convenient and satisfying. Awesome idea! Thank you!

    I will also be trying the Power Hour this weekend. Have a number of projects at home that I would like to get done, and a focused hour per week to work on them will make a huge difference.

  • Rachel C

    Hi Gretchen, loved the idea about a one sentence journal. hv a question for you, my husband comes and goes due to work and I find that when he is gone I tend to remember the unpleasant times we had together, rather than the pleasant time. When I talk to him about this, he says to just put it out of my mind and carry on in the present. I think the one sentence diary can help me with this, but I dont want to simply brush aside the unpleasantness. Look forward to your thoughts.

    • Alexandria Densmore Hall

      Good question, what was the response?

  • Nazo

    I got it!

  • I just started listening to your podcasts maybe about 2 weeks ago and am cranking through them. I just love them. I am always trying to be happier so your tips are helping greatly. I love this one-sentence journal idea. I have always felt guilty about not journaling – it feels like a chore, I never have enough to say or everything seems like it isn’t important enough to journal about. But, I still wanted to do it. One sentence is enough! I find I capture the day and it makes me happy that I have documented the day whether monumental or not. Thank you!

  • Ive been using the one sentence diary online and its really changed the way I live my life. I have long sentences. 🙂

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  • Connie

    I know I´m late but I just found your beautiful podcast last week so today was #4 on my ears and I loved it. You doing great and I can´t wait to listen to #5. 🙂 Looking forward to it and all the other things “provided” here on your website.