398: Rest Your Senses, Give People Time to Themselves, and Find Tranquility by Tuesday


A listener mentioned how much she and her husband enjoyed using the One-Sentence Journal.

Try This at Home

Rest your senses. We talk about #Rest22in22 — this is a different kind of rest.

Happiness Hack

I found this hack in the wonderful 1931 novel The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff. (Amazon, Bookshop). On a family vacation, have an organized family activity every other day, and on the days between, let family members have their own adventures.


Laura Vanderkam helps people spend more time on what matters, and less on what doesn’t. She’s the author of several time management and productivity books. My favorites include 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Amazon, Bookshop) and I Know How She Does It (Amazon, Bookshop).

She’s the host of the bite-sized daily podcast Before Breakfast, where she shares productivity advice, and co-host of Best of Both Worlds, which is about “work/life balance, career development, parenting, time management, productivity, and making time for fun”

She has a new book, Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters, which shares strategies that have been proven to help busy people feel like life is more sustainable and joyful.

We talk about issues such as:

  • We can focus on making time for the things we want to do — not just sheer “productivity”
  • People often make the mistake of not planning things in their life that they’re genuinely looking forward to
  • Adult life can feel very much the same, day to day, so, each week, plan “one big adventure, one little adventure” — just something out of the ordinary, like celebrating a minor holiday
  • Do “effortful before effortless” — i.e., with leisure, first, do an activity that requires active engagement (reading, doing a puzzle) before turning to passive engagement (TV, scrolling)
  • We say we have no time to do the things we want to do, but we have more time than we think
  • Many things that “come up” are foreseeable. I quote a saying that Elizabeth once told me: “Your lack of planning is not my emergency.”
  • Laura did a study with 150 people who applied her nine rules (or “suggestions”), and their time satisfaction scores rose. One big challenge: life never goes as planned.
  • Personally, for Laura, “effortful before effortless” is the hardest rule to follow — it’s all too easy to get sucked into social media.

Laura’s Tendency: Upholder.

Laura’s Try This at Home: When we work at home, we often have little chunks of time that are hard to use efficiently. Use that time for effortful fun — read, stretch, and play the piano.

Demerits & Gold Stars

  • Elizabeth’s Demerit:  She didn’t buy her family’s Thanksgiving plane tickets early enough.
  • Gretchen’s Gold Star: I give a gold star to Winstead’s diner. In an ever-changing world, it doesn’t change.


  • In my book Happier at Home, I explored the factors that matter for home — such as possessions, marriage, time, parenthood, body, and neighborhood. To read a sample chapter, head here.
  • Want to subscribe to my free, daily “Moment of Happiness” newsletter? I share a quotation related to happiness or good habits—the design also makes it easy to screenshot and share. Sign up here. There, you can also read and download some of my favorite quotations.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: My First Popsicle: An Anthology of Food and Feelings by Zosia Mamet (Amazon, Bookshop)
  • Gretchen: The Bend for Home by Dermot Healy (Amazon)

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