Little Things Can Make a Big Difference


            Happiness books and books on de-cluttering are all the rage right now. The latest book from Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) combines the two. In spite of the trendiness of her topics, there are some useful bits of advice in Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness. Rubin offers a lot of suggestions for little actions that can make a big difference in our daily lives. The book offers the added bonus of being a quick read.

            After exploring how outer order creates a sense of inner calm, Rubin explores five facets of creating outer order: making choices, creating order, knowing yourself and others, cultivating helpful habits, and—my favorite—adding beauty. Here’s a sampling of the wisdom in this book:

·      Abandon those unfinished projects that are cluttering up your drawers and closets. (This inspired me to get rid of the big basket of pine cones and floral arranging materials that I thought I might use for a Christmas decoration someday.)

·      “If you can decide whether to keep an item of clothing, ask yourself, ‘If I ran into my ex on the street, would I be happy if I were wearing this?’”

·      “Remember: if you can’t retrieve it, you won’t use it.” (That inspired me to throw out a couple of file folders of magazine articles on travel destinations. As I thumbed through them, I realized that I didn’t even remember that I had saved them.)

·      Create a mystery box to house orphaned charging and computer cables, random screws, and the other odd stuff we all accumulate. Date the box and put it aside; if you haven’t opened the box a year from now, get rid of it.

·      Don’t be lured by the “siren call” of inventive storage containers. Too often, they just encourage us to keep possessions that we will pack away and never use.

·      “Office supplies aren’t useful if they aren’t used.” (Oh boy, did this one hit home. I love office supplies, but really, how many scratch pads and pens can I use in this lifetime?)

·      “Do any task that can be finished in less than one minute without delay.” Hang the coat, file the statement, put the hair dryer in the drawer.

·      “It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.”

·      “Add a touch of luxury.”