Podcast 266: Beware the Myths of Spring Cleaning, Rusty O’Kelley Explains How to Ace a Job Interview, and a Reminder about REAL ID.


For our upcoming Very Special Episode 270, in honor of graduation season, we’re asking for advice for graduates: what’s the best advice you ever received, the worst advice, what you wish you could tell your younger self? So please send along your advice. Back in episode 125, when Eliza was graduating from high school, we discussed advice for a college-bound child. Here, we’re asking more broadly for advice for graduates.

This at Home

Beware of the myths of spring cleaning.

As I was working on my book Outer Order, Inner Calm, I realized how often people get derailed by the myths of cluttering. We’ve talked about these ideas before, but it’s useful to revisit them during this spring-cleaning time.

  1. “I need to get organized.” No! Don’t get organized is your first step. Ask yourself, “Do I need this? Do I want this? Do I love this?” If something doesn’t pass that test, we can get rid of it, so we don’t need to organize it.
  2. “I need to be hyper-organized.”
  3. “I need some inventive storage containers.”
  4. “I need to find the perfect recipient for everything I’m getting rid of.”
  5. “I can’t get rid of anything that I might possibly need one day.” Under-buyers often battle with this myth.
  6. “I might get that gizmo fixed.” Face it. If you’ve had something for more than six months, and it’s still not repaired, it’s clutter.
  7. “I might lose a ton of weight and then I’d fit into these clothes again.” When that day comes, you’ll probably want new clothes.
  8. “I need to keep this as a memento of a happy time or person I love.” I’m a huge believer in mementos; remembering happy times in the past gives you a big happiness boost in the present. But ask yourself: do I need to keep all these t-shirts to remind me of college, or can I keep a few? Mementos work best when they’re carefully chosen—and when they don’t take up much room.
  9. “I need to keep this, because the person who gave it to me might visit my house and be hurt when it’s not on display.”
  10. Yay, it’s free, I should take it!” 

Happiness Hack

On the theme of spring cleaning: Host a clothing swap party, where guests bring clothes that they’re not wearing (and that are clean and in good condition), and everyone swaps. And the rest goes to a thrift store.

Happiness stumbling block

Interviewing for a job.

We talk to my old friend Jack “Rusty” O’Kelley III about how to make a great impression during a job interview.

Rusty works at Russell Reynolds Associates, which is one of the five largest executive recruiting firms in the world. Rusty co-leads the Board and CEO practice for the firm, so he deals with people who are applying for those positions, and as he says, the tips are universal and apply whether you’re applying to be a cashier or a CEO.

  1. Remember, the people interviewing you need to fill a particular role, so you need to show you have relevant experience.
  2. Prepare. A lot. When you prepare, you show you care.
  3. Explain why you want this job with this company.
  4. Don’t talk too much. Ask questions, show intellectual curiosity. Be crisp in your responses.
  5. The length of the resume can vary, depending on your experience, but it shouldn’t be too long, and the older information should be condensed.
  6. People can remember three ideas, so present three big themes about yourself, and show how those themes are relevant to the position. No one remembers eight points.
  7. Practice doing an interview. It makes you more comfortable, it helps you clarify your answers.
  8. If you’re nervous before the interview, take a walk around the block beforehand to help yourself calm down and reflect.
  9. Right before the interview, do a Google search to make sure that you haven’t missed some big announcement or news event.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth’s demerit is also a public service announcement. Here in the United States, we all need REAL ID! [Note from the present day: Boy, we’re not worried about this anymore.]

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to our mother and her fellow book club members. She was one of the founding members of a group that has been meeting since 1985. Extraordinary.


  • We don’t talk about COVID-19 in this episode, but if you’d like to check out the resources I’ve created for coping during this crisis, click here.
  • If you’re cleaning or de-cluttering, you can listen to the audiobook of Outer Order, Inner Calm while you work. Available on Apple Books, Audible, and more.
  • I’m often asked about my favorite works of children’s literature and young adult literature, so I made a list of my 81 favorites. You can download the PDF at gretchenrubin.com/resources. These days, many people are looking for great books for their children who are at home, and I highly recommend every single one of these books.




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