Gretchen Rubin

Try to do one nagging task each day, or even better, avoid having a nagging task.

One of the boxes on my Resolutions Chart reads “Nagging task.” I try to cross one nagging task off my list each day. This doesn’t sound like much, but just doing one a day means that over the course of a few weeks, I get quite a bit accomplished.

Just as important, I’ve tried to take steps to reduce the total number of nagging tasks that I have.

For example, because I’m an underbuyer, I tend to buy one bottle of saline solution at a time, even though I use the stuff twice each day. Now I’m pushing myself to buy several bottles at a time. I know I’ll need it before too long, and by buying it all at once, I spare myself a task later.

Also, I found a great solution to the nagging task of buying and wrapping kids’ birthday presents. I took three minutes to place an online order for seven boxed sets of Roald Dahl and Edward Eager paperbacks. Wonderful books, suitable for boys and girls of a wide range of ages, easy to store and carry, easy for the family to re-gift if the child already has the book, no need to wrap—just pop it into a gift-bag (gift-bags are easier to use than paper—easier, more fun, and can be reused).

One common nagging task was to put things away. I recently realized that some objects have a natural home; if something keeps showing up in the same wrong place, maybe THAT should be the place to put it away.

Instead of keeping the Big Man’s overnight bag with the rest of the suitcases, far from our bedroom, I moved it to the top shelf of his closet, where he can get to it more easily. I moved the photo-album-maintenance box from my office to a shelf by the TV, because I only use the box while watching TV.

These sounds like petty considerations in the face of the transcendent goal of happiness, but as Samuel Johnson said, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery, and as much happiness as possible.”

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Another of my resolutions is to "Read more, read better," and to get ideas for books to read, I like to check out Maud Newton. I always find a lot of great reading-related material there.

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