I lived by an 80s lifestyle book for a week

‘Looking, Working, Living Terrific 24 Hours A Day’ is basically a manual for having your shit together


This year I received the book “Looking, Working, Living Terrific 24 Hours A Day” By Emily Cho. This book was written in 1982 and I thought it would be interesting to see if I could actually live by this book for a week and what lessons I would take away from it.

I also wanted to know if the ideas Cho presented would be as outdated as the book. Here’s what happened.

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Day 1

I was reading through the book on the first day and I highlighted important quotes and bookmarked pages that would need to come back to. I immediately noticed that this book wasn’t entirely aimed towards a 20 year old college student. Cho basically assumes that the reader is working some type of corporate job and has, or will soon have, a husband and children (yes, that was plural).

My very single, very childless life working a minimum wage job kind of made it hard to relate to some of the lifestyle advice she gave. Also I am pretty glad that I’m working a job that requires uniforms because the style advice she gives is extremely outdated and it would be embarrassing to follow in modern day America.

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The first thing noticed was that she put a handy dandy morning routine in the book. Which I followed fairly loosely. I missed the run on the first day but I did do all the hygienic stuff and I started what would be the worst part of this experience, cleaning up after myself every day.

I’m pretty messy so I decided to organize my room a little bit every day and let me tell you, it was a chore.

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Day 2

The morning of Day 2 I decided to try to organize my life a little bit. I work at a movie theater plus I have 3 online internships this summer so that require me to be somewhat organized. Cho suggested the 4 Ds. You make a list of everything you have to do for the week and decide if you need to do it now, don’t do it, do it fast or do it easy. I decided to try to try it out.

This was the first time I actually wrote out everything I needed to do on paper. Having it in front of me like that actually helped me feel less stressed about everything I needed to get done. I completed all of the “do it nows” pretty quickly. Everything on the list I had to do so I decided to omit the “don’t do it” option and added my own “do it later” option.

I ran today! It was hot AF in Atlanta, I just ran around my neighborhood which ended up being 20 minutes. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I actually felt pretty good about being healthy for the first time this summer.

Day 3

The pain from my Day 2 run hit me like a train collision on Day 3. I never realized you needed your leg muscles for so many things. Whether I was sitting, standing, going upstairs, going downstairs, or sitting in one position for too long, it hurt. The catastrophe that was my room improved a bit, I made an effort to hang up all my clothes which took FOREVER.

I went for a run pretty late that day, it was so hot and so awful but I was finally putting my workout playlist on my phone to use so I couldn’t complain too much.

Me on Day 3, unconvinced that I was going to make it through the week

Me on Day 3, unconvinced that I was going to make it through the week

Day 4

Remember how I made a list of my tasks for the week on Day 1? Well all of the “do it laters” turned into “I procrastinated a tad too much.” Day 3 I went to see “Finding Dory” which I don’t regret, but I do regret that I didn’t do anything for my internships on Day 3. I had an 8 a.m. deadline for one of my articles on Day 4 so I woke up at 5 a.m. wrote like my life depended on it and submitted the finished article at 7:53.

I was exhausted that entire day and napped through most of it. I realized around 7 p.m. that I didn’t go for my morning run and forced myself to go on a walk with my parents. It was pretty good exercise, at least according to my fitbit, and it got me out of the house for the first time that day.

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Day 5

I realized on this day, after reading through the book again, that Emily Cho’s version of living terrific basically meant getting and keeping your shit together, which I don’t excel at. But I think on this day, I realized I had a problem and I finally wanted to learn how to fix it.

Day 5 I got my work uniform together the night before, like Cho suggests, and I wasn’t worried about finding all the pieces the next morning. I did my run, showered, ate breakfast and had time to draft some of my articles before I left for work. I felt very energized on Day 5 and even wore earrings to work for the first time because Cho encourages accessorizing.

Day 6

My room was finally coming together, I could see the floor on Day 6. Organizing my room was seriously the worst part of the routine, I can’t even describe to you how much I hate cleaning. I’m sorry Emily Cho that I’m not wife/mother material quite yet. I decided to permanently move the runs to the afternoon just because I like having breakfast first but then I do the morning routine as she outlines it.

My legs don’t hurt anymore, it’s a miracle! My body is actually getting used to being fit, strange. I even start looking forward to the runs because I feel like that compensates for my saturated fat intake.

I even began seeing neighbors I never knew I had.

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Day 7

I underestimated how much time it would take me to research locations for a study abroad article I was working on. It was on my list under one of the “do it laters” of course, so that ended up taking me most of the day. I finished it before deadline thankfully. My room is finally clean! It was a long time coming and it sucked but I did it.

Cho encourages rewarding yourself for accomplishments so I rewarded myself with a strawberry mango smoothie.

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Do I think 80s ideas of what living terrific means still hold up for today? Yes, just probably more so for women out of college and starting their careers. The fashion advice will probably never be relevant ever again but I like how Cho believed that women should value their health, their work and their self image.

Cho’s final words of advice encourage women to give their all everyday instead of striving to be everything the world expects of them and I think that’s pretty terrific.

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