Avoid Avoidance, “Planned Maintenance,” a Cooking Hack, and Books on How Things Work


A listener mentions the Five-Senses Journal. 

Five Senses Journal Mockup

Try This at Home

Avoid avoidance. 

We mention the Four Tendencies personality framework. If you don’t know whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, you can take the quick, free quiz here.

We also mention the value of giving ourselves healthy treats.

Happiness Hack

To cut meat, vegetables, and more, a listener suggests using scissors instead of a knife and fork; it’s much faster.

Four Tendencies Tip

The business world distinguishes between “planned downtime” and “unplanned downtime,” and “planned maintenance” and “unplanned maintenance.”

In our own lives, if we don’t plan for maintenance, our systems may fail in ways that are disruptive, expensive, more work—or they may even become emergencies.

Even if you agree that planned maintenance or downtime is better than unplanned, you may still struggle to make time for it. It can feel disruptive, non-productive—it’s often easier to keep charging forward.

Tapping into your Tendency may help you take that time.

Treat yourself like a factory!

Listener Answers

In episode 478, we suggested reading a book that sheds a light on how things work, as a way to make life more interesting.

We got so many great suggestions!


  • The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts—From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to Be as They Are by Henry Petroski (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies by J. B. West (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew by Maggie Bullock (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood by Rose George (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You by Clive Wynne (Amazon, Bookshop
  • If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell (Amazon, Bookshop
  • How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Way Things Work by David Macaulay (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall by Alexandra Lange (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar (Amazon, Bookshop
  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Amazon, Bookshop
  • An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed Yong (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment by Maxine Bedat (Amazon, Bookshop
  • How Things Work by several authors (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business by Matt Lee (Amazon, Bookshop
  • The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower (Amazon, Bookshop


Demerits & Gold Stars

Gretchen’s Demerit: I’ve been very indecisive lately.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: She gives a gold star to her doctors, who are so attentive.


If you want to learn more about your own complement of senses—including which of the five senses you neglect most—you can take my free, short quiz, “What’s Your Neglected Sense?

What We’re Reading

  • Elizabeth: The Manor House by Gilly Macmillan (Amazon, Bookshop
  • Gretchen: Molly: A Memoir of a Marriage Cut Short and the Secrets Left Behind by Blake Butler (Amazon, Bookshop

Transcript coming soon. 

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