Podcast 56: Schedule Time to Worry, Beware of Loopholes, and Dealing with a Troublesome Writers’ Accountability Group.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: Elizabeth is with me in the studio, because she’s in New York City shooting a TV pilot. So glamorous! But she’s so busy, I hardly get to see her.

In less exciting news, Jamie and I have a new duvet cover. (Note, when I took this photo, we were one decorative pillowcase short, now we’ve fixed that, too. Victory.) If you missed the kerfuffle related to the duvet cover, listen to episode 52.

Try This at Home: Schedule time to worry.  See above for Johnny Cash’s to-do list.

Strategy for Habit Change: We discuss the hilarious Strategy of Loophole-Spotting. I love all ten hilarious, popular categories of loopholes. We also mention the Evil Donut-Bringer. Which is your favorite loophole?

Listener Question: “I’m an Obliger, and I started a writing group. But some people stopped turning in their pages, and now others have stopped submitting.” If you want a starter kit for launching an accountability group, it’s here. We’re talking about Obligers, which is one of the Four Tendencies.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I narrowly missed getting a demerit for not observing Leap Day — but in the end, I did make a festive plan for my daughters and me. To read about our last Leap Day, which was more elaborate, read here.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s iPad Pro is changing her life. Any suggestions for the perfect tote bag?

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #56

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

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  • Monica F

    I started scheduling time to worry (unintentionally) when I was burnt out at my last job just so I could make it through the day but it turned into a happiness habit! Since I live in LA, I use sitting in traffic on the way home as my opportunity to call my family and friends to vent or just take some time to worry in my head. Once I’m home, that’s the worry cutoff! It goes along with my tendency to discuss things to the extreme–like you mentioned in the last episode. Now, instead, I give myself a short window to discuss or worry and as a result, I use the time in person with family and friends to focus on being present and enjoying the moment! Another big piece of this habit is making sure you are smart about boundaries with people who are constantly talking about work outside of work. Keeping things in their place leads to better balance!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear that this try-this-at-home works so well for you.

  • Jason A

    thanks for another great podcast. As someone who writes and is self employed, I often have to do work in the evenings, therefore the worrying never seems to end! How do you manage all the different projects (and the tech that goes with it!) without being a constant worrier?? Best, Jason

  • Dana

    Great podcast! I wonder if you or anyone else invokes an 11th Loophole: the “It won’t be perfect” Loophole. “I can’t practice today; I only have 15 minutes” or “I might mess up if I cook and that would waste money” or (if it’s raining) “running on the treadmill isn’t as good as running outside”, etc. It relates to a lot of the ideas you discuss, but I wonder if it’s its own Loophole?

    • Stella Jervis

      Yes, so true! I do this a lot, especially with cooking. It’s hard to justify the effort if you know the outcome might not be so hot.

    • gretchenrubin

      Interesting! I think it might be a version of “Questionable assumption” – “There’s no point in writing today, if I can only work for 15 minutes” – but you’re right, it’s so popular that maybe it deserves its own slot.

      • Dana

        This might have been the Loophole you almost invoked for Leap Day.

        • gretchenrubin

          Yes – or my old favorite, False Choice. “I’ve been traveling so much, I don’t have time to figure out a plan for Leap Day.”

    • Readerly

      That’s my #1 go-to loophole and I heartily endorse its inclusion!

  • Stella Jervis

    I’m wondering if perhaps we could start an online writing accountability group on Facebook? I’m having a hard time finding fellow writers who don’t want to be critiqued, and I just want someone to cheer me on to get the work done. I’m in the middle of a novel project and I really, really need help to stay on track. Writing groups in the past have me hand in pages, but then the critiques derail me because I just want to start over instead of finish. Anybody interested?

  • Jamie

    Question about questioners. I am a questioner and I hate to be criticized. Is this a questioner thing, does everyone feel this way, or is it just not tendency-based at all?

    • gretchenrubin

      Questioners seemed to hate to have their DECISIONS criticized – or questioned.
      But don’t know about general criticism. Questioners, weigh in!

      Speaking as an Upholder, Upholders hate to be criticized, because we hate to do anything wrong or fail to meet expetations.

      • Rachel

        Jamie I am a questioner and l don’t mind criticism as long as it’s constructive and they tell me WHY! If they show me how this criticism will help improve my practice then l am all ears, but unsupported criticism feels negative and ruffles my feathers a bit. I suppose in some ways l feel it isn’t credible if they can’t give me the how and they why.

  • Rachel

    Gretchen and Elizabeth, just listened to this podcast. In response to worrying. I get anxious about a lot of things, mostly due to the stupidly high expectations l set myself, and l find playing out the worst case scenario helpful. Most times when you play it out in your head it really isn’t as bad as the level of anxiety would suggest. I find for me this alleviates some of the stress and allows me to be more productive than l would have if l had continued down anxiety avenue! It doesn’t always work but it’s useful to try.

  • Lauren Grainger

    Hi Gretchen & Elizabeth, I could not have received the try this at home tip of planning to worry at a better time! I’ve had a long term relationship with my long (by long I mean down to my lower back), curly hair for nearly 10 years. After years of trimming (never cutting) my hair, I decided to cut it off on Wednesday (yesterday). Worry consumed me after making the appointment and seeing my sister’s horrified face when I told her I was going to cut it to collar bone length. I turned on the podcast yesterday and heard the try this at home. I decided to schedule the worry session for the car ride to the appointment aka the point of no return/cancelation. Ultimately, I got in the chair and chopped 8 inches off! I needn’t have worried at all because I absolutely love it! Thanks for the tip, it 100% helped me go through with the hair cut.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! and congrats on the haircut!

  • Julie Holunga

    Thanks for this tip, a great tactic to try! One thought is how to avoid the 3am worries, even if you’ve set aside the time during the day to do your worrying? How do you convince yourself its not the ‘right’ time to worry, enough so to fall back asleep?

    • gretchenrubin

      Writing things down works VERY well for me.

    • Victoria

      One tactic that sometimes works for me at 3am is a variation on one of Gretchen’s tips, about pretending you’re your own “manager”. So I pretend there’s a crowd of people queuing up outside to bother me with worries, and I say something like “I’m afraid Victoria has been very busy answering your questions all day, and now she needs her sleep. She does not deal with anyone between the hours of 10pm and 7am. Please come back in the morning”! It’s worth a try…

  • Carla

    I didn’t understand the idea of scheduling time to worry until you gave your example about waiting to worry about a project until next month when you were going to start working on it. I can’t envision making 7 – 7:30 every day my “worry time”; I don’t feel like I can control my emotions in that way. But I can see myself delaying worry for things in the future. It will reassure me that I haven’t forgotten about some large, looming future event, but today is the time to worry about today’s problems.

  • Kate

    Curious to know if anyone ever feels guilt about being the “evil donut bringer” like I do…?! 🙂 When Liz suggested taking the Dean and Deluca basket to work, that’s the first thing I thought of! I love to bake but I’ve learned not to bring things to work because everyone whines and complains (as they’re eating the baked goods, natch) that they wish we hadn’t brought it! Hard habit for me to break, because I love to make a batch of cookies, eat a few, and then get rid of the rest! For some reason I think with me and fellow “donut bringers” (like the hotel basket example) that there’s a sense of wastefulness if it’s not enjoyed. SOMEONE should enjoy it, even if it’s not me, when in reality, most people probably won’t enjoy it. For myself, I’m learning to do those “mug desserts” where you can make just one, or just put the cookies out of sight in the freezer and bake them two at a time! 😛 At the same time it goes against my nature because I love to give gifts. Clearly cookies are the wrong gift… hence, I loved the tidbit of info on this in the podcast. It’s weird to view yourself on the other end of someone’s bad habits, when in reality, it’s THEIR choice and THEIR habit to worry about!

    • gretchenrubin

      The question of the “evil donut-bringer” is surprisingly complicated – it sure hits a lot of emotions.

  • Barbie

    I have been feeling very smug about avoiding the “Concern for Others” loophole….I can “say no to birthday cake” and go to a potluck or restaurant and eat nothing with no problem, then today the line dance class that I teach put on a surprise birthday celebration for me and the treats they served were raw veggies and tiny pieces of toast with hummus because they knew that I had a very strict eating plan….they sent me to the front of the line and I put food on my plate and ate and thanked them for their thoughtful treats….Gretchen, you were right, that there are a few times when “concern for others” is a valid reason to change a habit—I normally don’t eat at that time of day, but today I did.

  • little addictions

    Wow! I often feel better after listening to your podcast, but today was remarkable because you may have provided a missing piece to my tendencies puzzle! I consider myself an Upholder with Questioner/Rebel sub-tendencies. The only tendency I’m confident I don’t have is Obliger. 😉 My girlfriend (an Obliger) was sure I’d be a rebel because I’m independent and don’t always go along with the crowd. However, I don’t have trouble honoring commitments to myself. While I don’t always say, “Yes” to others, when I do, I can be counted on to fulfill my promise. When I heard Gretchen talk about the Concern for Others loophole (minute 17ish) and the test she took about her concern for other people, I whooped with delight because I’m exactly the same. My girlfriend views my behavior as somewhat selfish (Elizabeth? 😉 ), but I think that by taking care of myself first, I can be a better friend, mother, partner, etc. I’d love to know if this lack of consideration for others is part of the Upholder nature or whether Gretchen and I are freaks? I’m actually extremely sensitive and empathetic, I just don’t feel the need to be conventional because it’s what everyone else is doing. I’d love your thoughts! Thanks for another great podcast!

  • Britt

    As a chronic worrier about all the things, and as a chronic over scheduler, I really liked the idea of scheduling time for it. Last night I decided to try it and told myself to just get through the day and then take 30 min before bed to worry… and maybe try to plan out how to fit in doing all the things I was worried about getting done. I sat down to make a to-do list, but it got really overwhelming because there is just so much in my life right now. So, instead, I just wrote a “to worry about” list … and decided to go through with a fresh mindset over coffee this morning to highlight and transfer to a to-do list just the things I can realistically deal with and accomplish today.

  • Melissa

    I had to listen to this podcast several times for it to really register – that’s me, not you. I find I have a hard time listening when it’s something I could actually benefit from.
    Loopholes are everywhere in my life, I wonder if it ties into my tendency of being an Obliger? Anyway, I feel like I should print this loophole list out and try to see how many I can catch myself in per day! Great podcast, I really love listening.

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