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.)

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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.

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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.

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