346: Keep Lists in the Way That’s Right for You. Avoid a Routine. Celebrate Something Surprising.


For the Happier Podcast Book Club, we’ll talk to Kate Bowler about her terrific new memoir, No Cure for Being Human (AmazonBookshop) in upcoming episode 349. Send us your questions and comments to podcast@gretchenrubin.com, or leave a comment here.

I have many exciting announcements coming up, and Super-Fans will be the first to know. From time to time, I give Super-Fans bonus material and behind-the-scenes content, or ask for advice or help. If you’d like to volunteer, you can sign up here. Super-Fans, I so appreciate your enthusiasm and support. 

We’re going to do a Very Special Episode on apps. We want to know what apps people use to become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. Let us know about your favorite apps for our upcoming round-up. What APP makes you hAPPy?

Try This at Home 

Keep a to-do list in the way that’s right for you.

Back in episode 82, we talked about making a “to-do” list or a “could-do” list. Now, I’ve created a “Tackle Box” with five sticky pads–each with a different kind of to-do list, so that people can use the kind of list that’s right for them.

The tackle box

The tackle box

  • “To-do” Sticky Pad: If the classic to-do list works for you, terrific. I love to-do lists myself, and find them very helpful. That’s no surprise: Upholders tend to do well with a to-do list.
  • “To-day” Sticky Pad: Questioners are often drawn to the efficiency of deciding what to do today. This kind of list is also useful for anyone who feels overwhelmed; if we can’t bear to contemplate the complete to-do list, we can focus on a to-day list.
  • “Ta-da” Sticky Pad: In episode 134,  Elizabeth and I suggested making a ta-da list. These lists work really well for Obligers, who are often pleasantly surprised and energized to see how much they’ve done. Plus, giving ourselves credit for what we’ve already accomplished often make it easier to keep going.
  • “Could do…if I feel like it” Sticky Pad: A Rebel told me that the minute she made a to-do list, she wanted to resist it (in fact, the very term “to-do list” is not Rebel-friendly). A “could do…if I feel like it” reminds Rebels, and all of us, that we can choose what we want to do.
  • “To Doodle” Sticky Pad: This pad is meant for anyone who want to get away from the list or grid format, and instead make a drawing, write a lengthy note, etc.

Get it? To-do, ta-da; to-do, could-do; to-do, to-day; to-do, to doodle.

Learn more about the Tackle Box, and if you want to order one, get 10% off by using promo code HAPPIERTODO at checkout.

Happiness Hack

Elizabeth’s writing partner, co-host of the Happier in Hollywood podcast, and longtime friend Sarah Fain suggests, “Don’t settle into a routine.”

If you want to hear more about Sarah’s recent move from Los Angeles to Ojai, stay tuned for an upcoming bonus episode on October 15, 2021.

Deep Dive

Unconventional Celebrations. In episode 341, we talked about the Try-This-at-Home suggestion to “Find something unconventional to celebrate,” because we were inspired by our listener’s tradition of celebrating “Garbage Eve.” 

We received many excellent responses:

  • Dishwasher Disco
  • Grocery Date Night
  • Latte and Life Admin Hour – we mention “Power Hour” and the benefit of healthy treats
  • Cheetah Time (this idea is credited to Dr. Jazmine, @themompsychologist on Instagram)
  • Laundry Party

Listener Question

An over-buyer listener asks for suggestions from other over-buyers: “How do you reduce over-buying?” To learn more about over-buyers and under-buyers, or take the quiz, read here. If you have great suggestions and solutions, send them our way.

Elizabeth Demerit: Elizabeth had an idea but didn’t write it down, and now she can’t remember it.  (This demerit applies to me as well.)

Gretchen Gold Star: I give a big gold star to Elizabeth, because she and Adam are making their wills. Which has been on her to-do list for years.


To learn more about my “Four Tendencies” personality framework, check out my dedicated hub. There, you can take the quiz to find out whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, watch interviews, and find tips for using the Four Tendencies at work, with families, sweethearts, and children, and to build the habits you want to master. 

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