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Mar 30, 2019

Outer order contributes to inner calm.

And for most of us, a rigid, one-size-fits-all solution doesn't work.

The fact is, when we tailor our approach to suit our own particular challenges and habits, we're then able to create the order that will make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

My guest on today's show - Gretchen Rubin - has found that getting control of our stuff makes us feel more in control of our lives.

By getting rid of things we don't use, don't need, or don't love, we free our minds (and our shelves) for what we truly value. With a sense of fun, and a clear idea of what's realistic for most people, Gretchen suggests dozens of manageable steps for creating a more serene, orderly environment—one that helps us to create the lives we want.

Gretchen is the author of several books, including the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers: Better Than Before: A Day by Day Journal The Happiness Project Happier at Home

And most recently: Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.

She has an enormous readership, both in print and online, and her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages.

She makes frequent TV appearances and is in much demand as a speaker. On her weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Rubin started her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What inspired Gretchen to write her book...7:40

  • Began with The Happiness Project (link)
  • Disproportinate connection between outer order and inner calm (clutter blind)
  • Getting control of our "stuff" makes us feel in control of our lives
  • Empowers you to tackle the big projects we might otherwise avoid

-If there has been scientific research to substantiate Gretchen's findings...9:00

  • Yes, but there's a problem:
    • People want to know what's "best" way to clear clutter, when to do certain tasks
    • People are different; they have strengths where others have weaknesses
    • Some people thrive in a little bit of clutter
    • No one size fits all approach

-The criteria one can use to decide what goes and what stays...11:15

  • "Don't get organized"; Start by getting rid of things
  • Marie Kondo's guidance (does this spark joy?) is slightly lofty in its aspirations
  • Three questions to ask:
    • Do I need this?
    • Do I love this?
    • Do I (or will I) use this?
  • Be realistic about what "someday" means in the context of if and when you'll use something
  • Ask yourself, "Have I thought about getting rid of this more than 3 times?"
  • We often overestimate what we can do in a short time, and underestimate what we can do in a longer period of time

-Whether decluttering is the same as minimalism...18:20

  • Minimalism as we know it is a bit extreme in Gretchen's view
  • There are simplicity lovers and abundance lovers
  • It all goes back to there's no one size fits all approach

-How to mentally "let go" of things...20:25

  • The "fantasy self"
  • Be honest with yourself: will you really use that thing?
  • It frees up mental guilt, as well as space for other goals and desires
  • Nostalgia, past self
  • The best way to clear clutter is to not buy stuff in the first place
  • Have a box of clutter, put a date on it, then throw it away after one year without looking inside it
  • Imagine someone else enjoying the stuff
  • Give away or recycle when possible
  • "You created the donation to the landfill when you bought it"
  • "Store it at the store"

-Best practices in shopping online and offline to avoid unnecessary clutter...30:07

  • There are under buyers and over buyers
  • Always shop as a guest; helps cut down on impulse buying
  • Unsubscribe to all promotional newsletters
  • Don't subscribe in the first place
  • Force yourself to hold things in your arms whenever possible
  • Break the impulse by intentionally making things inconvenient
  • Don't touch, don't taste
  • Book: Why We Buy
  • Set limits and check with a partner (spouses) before purchasing
  • Make lists

-What a "clutter magnet" is, and why it's important...39:25

  • Identify the spot where clutter tends to accumulate; make a point to keep it clean every day
  • It's easier to maintain once you take it back to "clear"
  • It will spark joy

-How to train children to declutter their personal spaces...43:15

  • Don't think of yourself as the potter who's molding the clay
  • Help them to be honest about what they need, or use
  • Everything sparks joy for children

-Whether or not it's important to make your bed every morning...48:00

  • Establishing a bit of order in the environment is a morale boost
  • Your bed is much closer to you than a chair; you may feel in better order
  • Christian Gratitude Journal

-Whether or not it's wise to find others to do your decluttering for you...53:25

  • Difficult due to the personal nature of your own stuff
  • Maybe to help stay on task, help with the heavy lifting
  • If you have to ask if it looks good, it probably doesn't

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

-Book: "Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness" by Gretchen Rubin

-Book: Why We Buy

-Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo 

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Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Gretchen or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!