Identify the problem
— Gretchen Rubin
In Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, she lists twelve personal commandments. I tend to think of these as rules for adulthood. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about number eight on her list: Identify the problem.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I mean, if you are unhappy with something or feeling frustrated, you already know what the problem is, right?
Not so much. At least, not for me.
For example, as I was getting ready to walk out the door recently, I found myself in the all-too-common situation of rushing around looking for my keys and sunglasses. I hate that! More stress, more tension, making myself late, just because my stupid keys are missing.
(Please, please tell me that I’m not the only one who does this!)
I managed to find my keys and make it to my appointment on time. Thank goodness. Afterwards, I had a conversation with myself.
Self: Barb, you recently read The Happiness Project. Learn from it! Identify the problem. Where are the keys?
Barb: I don’t know where they are once I get home. I have a particular place set aside to put the keys when I walk in the door. But I rarely put the keys there.
Self: Why don’t you put the keys in that location?
Barb: The spot for keys is near the door, but not on the way in or out. When I walk in the door carrying things (groceries, the mail, kids’ backpacks, my laptop — you get the idea), I rarely go even a few steps out of my way to put the keys in that out-of-my-path spot.
Self: What would solve this problem?
Barb: Move the spot for key storage! Doh!
It sounds so simple. In fact, I feel sort of ridiculous admitting it. But the fact is that I had never identified the problem. Once I realized that the spot for keys was inconvenient, I started keeping the keys in a different place. I chose the spot in the kitchen where I charge my cell phone. Even though it’s farther from the door, it’s more convenient for me on the way into the house. And on my way out, I can grab my phone and my keys and be on my way.
And guess what? I rarely lose my keys in the house anymore.
Now, if only I could find my sunglasses… 😀
my husband has the same difficulty with his keys. so many hours of my life have been lost looking for his keys (and cell phone and wallet. though if his wallet is missing, chances are it’s in the washing machine). we have a basket by our front door where he leaves his keys, wallet and cell phone. since he’s starting using that basket, he only loses his cell phone once a month and his keys once a week! it’s a huge improvement!
I’ve got to read this book!
My most recent career was to help people more efficient on the job. The objective was to identify the problem. It’s such a habit I have a hard time turning it off when I come home. I just wish I could not find my keys and sunglasses!