Put on Your Shoes

How to be happier.
Sept. 3 2009 6:29 AM

Put on Your Shoes

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too . Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in—no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project. (I'm actually posting this on Thursday this week, because I'll be away from my computer on Friday.)


One of my favorite advocates for the strategy of working for happiness by taking manageable, concrete steps every day is the FlyLady . "Baby steps, baby steps" is her mantra.


The FlyLady (Marla Cilley) writes for a very particular audience, with a big emphasis on household chores and clutter. But her principles—and many of her suggestions—apply everywhere.

One of my favorites is her admonition to put on your shoes . In Sink Reflections , she writes, "You act differently when you have clothes and shoes on. ... With shoes on those feet of yours, your mind says, 'OK, it’s time to go to work.’ You have no excuse for not taking the trash out or putting that box of give-away stuff into the car. You are literally ready for anything."

When I was in law school, my roommate told me about a study that showed that graduate students who put on their shoes each morning were markedly more efficient than those who padded around in their stocking feet. That was years ago, and I haven’t been able to find the study—and she may not have reported it accurately. (Does anyone know the reference?) Nevertheless, I've never forgotten it.

It’s absolutely true for me. I’m far more productive and energetic when I have my shoes on—and this is true even for getting writing done, when I’m sitting down.

Of course, for many people, wearing shoes is non-optional (so you get a gold star for keeping this resolution every day!) Also, like all great truths, the opposite is also true – so for some people, not wearing shoes may be the better choice. My father-in-law, for example, goes around in his stocking feet, even at work. The key is to know yourself.

I’ve heard that wearing shoes in the house tracks in a tremendous amount of dirt, so from a clutter-clearing standpoint, you’re better off leaving your shoes at the door. A lot of my friends have trained their children to take off their shoes in the house, and adults keep their shoes on.

But I know for myself, and judging by my unscientific poll of a lot of people I know, putting on shoes makes you feel ready for action. If you’re a shoes-optional freelancer, telecommuter, homemaker, or part-timer, consider wearing your shoes when you're trying to be productive.

What do you think? Does wearing shoes affect your energy or productivity?

* I haven’t posted this link before, because it makes me feel sheepish and also like a big self-promoter, but I have to say a huge THANK YOU to the brilliant Colleen Wainwright, a/k/a the Communicatrix , for her amazingly generous post about The Happiness Project book. It's hard to know what to say when someone does something so nice for you.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Sept. 21 2014 11:00 AM Sometimes You Just Need to Print Your Photos the Old-Fashioned Way 
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.