What's Your System
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My System: Gretchen Rubin on Her “Power Hour”

Gretchen Rubin in NYC at her book launch party. (Photo: Leslie Fandrich)

Who: Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.

System:  At 6 a.m. Gretchen has a “power hour” of solitude and focus where she can write, catch up on emails, tweet, before her day “officially starts.”

”At 7 a.m. I have to get my children up, get them fed, get them to school. So, I have this precious early morning hour when everything is quiet and I don’t have any distractions. It’s just for me.”

What prompted the idea? “I realized that our family mornings were hectic and unpleasant, because I was racing around trying to get too much accomplished at once. It finally dawned on me that if I got up an hour early, I’d be able to get a good start on my day.”

Do you consider yourself a morning person?  ”I think some people are larks and some people are owls and you really have to know where you are. And so for an owl I don’t think that would work at all to get up early, to fight their nature. But for me it just comes very naturally.”

How often do you do this? ”Every single day, including weekends and vacation. And the thing is, even if I couldn’t do any work at all for the rest of the day, it’s surprising how much I get done in one hour, when I persist every day.”

Are there other things, or the way you set up your space, to get you in the mood for that solid hour? “No I just get up and go. I do drink coffee and diet soda.”

Wait, both? “I have one in my left hand, one in my right hand, and I’m double fisting it.”

Are you serious? ”It’s not that I’m sleepy. I wake up naturally, because I go to bed on time, which is important. It’s just, like, my way to start the day. It’s like my little treat. I don’t eat breakfast until like eight.”

Let me just confirm: You literally have both of them on the table in front of you at the same time? ”Yes. I go to the kitchen and I make myself you know the coffee, I grab the can and then I head to my desk. I like having something hot, and I like having something tepid. I drink all my soda tepid.”

Tepid soda. Wow, your systems just keep on coming… Yeah, I have weird idiosyncrasies.

Do you ever have any time later in the day where your energy and focus comes back or is it just that early morning power hour? “I wish that it did. A lot of times I’ll have periods where I can really focus but I still feel life buzzing around me, which is nice in a way too—everybody’s up and everybody’s working and everybody’s around and that’s pleasant in its own way, but it’s a different kind of energy.  Sometimes I work in a library so I have people all around me, so I like that too, but it’s not like that perfect, early morning solitude.”

You can get Gretchen’s latest book here (don’t worry, not every tip includes something hot and something tepid.)

Here’s to happy, productive, caffeinated mornings.




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