Podcast 77: Go On an “Errand Date,” Deal with the Nasty Areas of Your House, and Handling Sentimental Items.

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

Update: A listener updates us on her theme for the year: “More Music.”

Try This at Home: Go on an “errand date.”

Happiness Hack: For people sharing a space, Erin suggests a hack that she used in college: each roommate had a bin,  so when anyone wanted to clean up, stuff just went in the bins.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Dealing with the nasty, smelly, sticky areas of our home. I write more about this in Happier at Home.

Listener Question: Elena asks about how to deal with possessions that have a lot of sentimental value.  Again, a big subject in Happier at Home. Here’s the link to the post I mention, about 7 Reasons I Disagree with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth never got around to sending a package to her niece Eleanor at summer camp.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I managed to give away our beautiful, beloved play kitchen.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page about the podcast. To join the conversation, tune in Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

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

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #77

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HAPPIER listening!

  • Sydney

    All throughout my childhood and teenage years my dad and I had errand dates weekly. I’d ride along while we went to drop off our recycling, mail anything that needed to go out, and (the highlight) grocery shop. Then we’d put away grocries together while listening to music. My dad loves music and knows a lot about different artists and bands, so I would get a lesson. When I went off to college we’d go on errand dates whenever I was home for breaks. Now I’m married and have my own home and grocery list, but my parents live near by, and my dad and I STILL go grocery shopping together every now and again. We each bring our own lists and have our own carts, but we wander around the store together. The treat in this errand date has always been quality time with just Dad. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, and I will always cherish our errand dates.

    • santaclams

      That is such an awesome tradition with your dad!

    • Nicole

      How lovely.

  • Liz G

    Loved this episode! Last night I was suddenly inspired to clean the yuckiness from my stove vent (which hides smells that can permeate a home) and the inside of my dishwasher. Next up – my bathroom walls. Hack: I love my denim apron (in my signature navy color). Wrapped in this butcher style apron, I feel empowered to tackle anything without sacrificing my outfit or needing to change into work clothes. Oooh, another hack: Caldrea cleaners in Lavendar and Sea Salt Neroli. Pricey but a true fragrance treat – turns yucky into pleasant!
    My husband & I make an errand date to pick up our wine shipments during the weekday. We both play hooky from work, drive up after school drop off, pick up wine and have a nice lunch out then back by the time school is out! We also make Sunday trips to the farmers market a treat. We pick up oysters for parties, have breakfast at Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke stand – and chill with vendors Mike and Sally.
    Finally, the Sept school year theme worked amazingly well! Changed my life! My theme was “financial order”. I kept a giant 3 ring binder and put every financial task or project in transparent sleeves. My goal was to focus on getting our finances in order. For many years, I’ve been focusing entirely on my senior parents’ financial needs and our family’s needs were woefully neglected. I kept the list of my financial to do’s in my phone Notes and tried to tackle one or two steps every morning – talk about boomerang tasks.
    Hack: when a list gets too long (in this case more than 20 projects), create a Phase 2 list and just focus on the most important Phase 1 efforts first. I used scheduling, working with a friend, power hours and boot camp method to great success. When I completed an effort, I moved it to a Completed Financial Order binder so my in-progress paperwork was manageable. Also separated efforts for mom and dad’s stuff from mine and here’s the kicker – as an obliger, I had to force myself to focus on my tasks first not secondary to my parents’ stuff. Surprisingly both theirs and mine got done!
    Seemed the commitment to spend the school year on a specific goal opened up the universe for help and so much changed over the course of the year. I am indeed SO MUCH HAPPIER!
    This Sept’s theme will be “Creativity”. With all this freed up energy and time, I can resume some very fun hobbies which have been on hold.. Thank you for this awesome idea of an annual theme starting in Sept!!!
    Keep up the great work! I’m addicted to your podcast!

    • gretchenrubin

      Wow! So much accomplishment! I’m getting a vicarious thrill from it!

      • Liz G

        Thank you so much! I’m completely energized with a new outlook on life!

    • santaclams

      Wow, Liz G! I relate to just about all of your post, especially the non-desire (also an Obliger) to tackle my own financial projects. My goal for this month of the Habits group I’m in is to work for 5 minutes a day on financial stuff. Love your binder concept. I love the idea of the theme for the school year, and that yours this year is Creativity. Yeh!

  • Mimi Gregor

    Every Friday, I go to the local farmer’s market, plus make a few other stops. When my husband is free to accompany me — and if I do not have TOO many stops to make — I ask him to join me. Sometimes there are garage sales on our route, and we stop to treasure hunt. And we end our errand date by having lunch at an eatery at the farmer’s market: Cajun Kate’s, which has the best oyster po’ boy EVER. We banter with the owners, and have a really good time before heading home and back to our regular routines. It’s a really nice, low-impact, low-expectation sort of “date”, which is probably why it’s more of a source of happiness than something you plan ahead and look forward to only to have it turn out to be underwhelming.

  • Sally_Jones

    My husband and I do this all the time when we go out, for the most part if we don’t end up at Target or Home Depot then it wasn’t a good date in our book 🙂 (there are obviously exceptions) It is perfect because we can be silly and do things that are fun but not necessarily kid appropriate, also it gives us a chance to shop for things for the kids so they don’t know about them so shopping for Santa or the Easter Bunny or even birthdays is so easy because it is part of our dates.

  • Megan

    Gretchen! Omigosh! I got out of my blog-checking habit in the last little while and in the meantime you were on OPRAH?!?! I stumbled across some clips on Youtube, and there you were chit chatting side by side with Oprah! Wow, that’s awesome! Congrats! 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes it was SO FUN. What an experience.

  • Nicole

    RE letting go of things with sentimental value: I remind myself that it is not the objects I am attached to, but the memories they evoke. So I find a way to preserve the memories and that allows me to let go of the objects. For example, out of all the baby clothes and toys my three kids grew out of, I kept one pair of tiny leather shoes, which they all wore in succession (thrifty mom 🙂 ) as they learnt to walk. If I look at those tiny shoes I can recall my children’s early days. Meanwhile, everything else they had outgrown, clothes, high-chair, baby bed etc., was donated to a charity and I was able to wave it off, secure in the knowledge that the memories would not depart with the material objects.

  • Karen

    I always enjoy it when I have an errand date with one of both of my children. They are both boys, 18 and 20 years old, and it seems we don’t spend much time together anymore. I am always happy when there is some kind of errand that they need my help with because we get to spend some quality time together while getting these chores out of the way.

  • Oh my, I loved this episode! My husband and I have joked for years that half our dates are at Home Depot getting stuff for the house or the home projects we are currently doing. We’ll even leave the kids home and walk the isles holding hands. Ice cream stop on the way home sometimes. And Karen talked about errand dates with her kids. I have so many fond memories of doing errands with my kids. Okay, I still am doing errands with them. Some of the best conversations I have with my kids are in the car while driving to errands. Sometimes when my girlfriend and I are out for the night we will run an errand on the way home and then window shop a little.

    You also mentioned doing chores with others. My husband and I often do house projects or outside projects together. I have also canned jam, made jewelry, cleaned house, made cards, and cooked with others. All were fun and I would like to add more of this to my life.

    Keep up the great podcasts. Love to listen.,

  • Loved you episode, my memories almost flashed in front of my eyes. Omorfio!! Lovely episode. Keep up the good work

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  • Michelle Potter

    My family loves errand dates, we do this all the time!! 🙂 As a mom of 8, I usually grab one or two kids for special time when I have some errand to run, even something as small as running up to the corner store. Often, my husband and I make a date of having dinner and then doing the weekly grocery shopping (no kids! or just the baby). Actually, any errand longer than 5 minutes tends to include getting a bite to eat. Getting haircuts, grab some lunch. After a doctor visit (especially if anyone got shots), it’s ice cream on the way home. And you can’t go to the hardware store on a Saturday without stopping at that fabulous barbecue food truck!

  • Rebecca

    I live overseas and visit my friends and family once or twice a year. I have found that there are two major ways that I spend time with people, intentionally catching up in a single meet (ie a dinner together) or through going about daily activities. My close friends and families will often apologize if our time turns into errand dates, but I love them because it helps me to feel more connected to their everyday life. Errand dates also help to have casual conversation that isn’t focused on trying to cram all of the highlights of the last year into a couple of hours and these casual conversations typically end up being much more meaningful and memorable. Lastly, I feel like I can see more people if they are willing to go on errands with me because my opportunities to have lunch or dinner out are finite.

  • Heidi Wood

    I started listen https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0c850f9b0f9b5ea4bd167754945aac7bac0b3e14b758b159a2413643a7d220ae.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/11d96949c9d7200021e35d5740ad2bf47b3346c631e19c17d4139b3c06214869.jpg ing to your podcast last year and get so much out of it. I’m listening in chronilogical order and just heard episode 77 about the errand or chore date with a friend or spouse. I told my best friend, as we have agreed to meet 1 day a week to do either errands or chores. We have found this works especially well for those really big things you want to have taken care of, but can’t seem to make yourself do. Some of the things we have done on chore dates are putting away her Christmas decorations, unpacking moving boxes, and cleaning off my desk. One thing that really helps with the feeling of satisfaction and productivity is to take a before and after photo. The first is my desk at 3:21pm (BEFORE) and the second is the after. I couldn’t have done it without her, and wanted to quit when I had about 15 items left to make decisions on. Luckily, she refused to leave until I powered through and finished.