Gretchen Rubin

Podcast 159: Do Something Badly, Tips for Dealing with Renovation Upheaval, and an Interview about Work Life with Adam Grant.


Update: In episode 155, we talked about "Choosing a signature scent." Many listeners got in touch to urge people not to wear perfumes and scents.

One solution? Choose a signature scent that's not something that you wear, but a scent that you find out in the world. A reader wrote to us about how the smell of lavender always reminded her of her grandmother, because her grandmother loves that fragrance so much -- it was her grandmother's signature scent.

Try This at Home: Do something badly. Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (Side note: this quotation is often attributed to G. K. Chesterton, but I couldn't track down an official citation.)

Elizabeth and Sarah talk about the aim to "suck at something" on Happier in Hollywood, episode 4.

Happiness Hack: To fight clutter, Ruth suggests putting everything that's out of place into a basket and taking the basket into an uncluttered room to sort through its content. Seeing the items in this way makes it much easier to deal with them.

Interview: We talk to Wharton professor, organizational psychologist, and bestselling writer Adam Grant about his new podcast with TED about work: WorkLife with Adam Grant.

Spoiler alert: Adam is an Upholder.

His Try This at Home/Try This at Work: Schedule a weekly meeting with your sweetheart.

Listener Questioner: Anne, who has just moved into her first house, asks if Elizabeth has any tips for dealing with the upheaval of a renovation.

Some strategies we discuss:

  • Throw out the idea of an end date.
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
  • Embrace the "season of sacrifice."
  • If it's possible, consider having one overflow room, so clutter is contained.
  • To make it easier to get rid of trash, schedule a trash pick-up.
  • Use this transition time to deploy the "Strategy of the Clean Slate" to change an important habit -- this is a very powerful strategy for habit change, but one that's rarely available to us.
  • Remember, your renovation will last longer and cost more than you expect.

Demerit: I got crabby and made the (supposedly terrifying) "mean face" when we were traveling to Quebec City. Travel brings out the worst in me.

Gold Star: Elizabeth gives Adam a gold star for doing all the paperwork necessary to buy her a new used car.


We always ask our listeners to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast, and a listener suggested that I frame these requests in terms that will resonate best with each of the Four Tendencies. Great idea. Upholders, go ahead and put it on calendar and get it done; Questioners, we're making this request because this kind of feedback really does encourage new listeners to  discover our show; Obligers, we're counting on you, and we see when people do rate, review, and subscribe; Rebels, do whatever you want to do -- we just wanted to let you know that if you did feel like doing it, you’d be a great supporter.

I do a weekly live show on Facebook called: “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live.” Usually, I do it on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

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