Have you ever felt like Sisyphus, doing the same task over. and over. and over again with no end in sight? Dishes get cleaned. Then they get dirty. Then they get cleaned again. Then they get dirty. Same goes for the floor, the countertops, the clothes. You get it.I get it. We all get it.
Well, the good news is that there *is* a way to make repetitive tasks seem not quite so boring, soul-sucking, or repetitive. I’ve spent the past few years finding ways to make tasks feel less repetitive and more (dare I say it?) *fun*. Yes, yes, I really did just say fun.
Before I get into my tried and true ways to enjoy yourself while doing chores, there are two very important ground rules that you must enforce when it comes to making chores fun:
- The person who is doing the chore gets to determine the most enjoyable way to do it.
- If anyone dares to make fun of someone else’s enjoyable way of doing the chore, the person doing the chore gets to stop doing the chore and pass the baton (or mop, dishrag, or sponge) to the critic. This will ensure a peaceful, clean, and fun chore-doing household.
Now, without further ado, here is how to make repetitive tasks fun:
Get jammin – Crank up the volume to your favorite tunes and really let loose. This is the time when you shelve your inner critic and sing and dance and most importantly, feel, like you are the most talented candidate on the next American Idol. Pick some energizing songs , and if the mood strikes you, change the lyrics to lighten your mood (“Nasty! Nasty grime. Don’t mean a thing….”).
Get guilty – Indulge your guilty side and give yourself permission to watch something fun on TV while you do the laundry or chop veggies. Maybe you really want to watch an HGTV show or Monday Night Football but feel somewhat guilty doing so. Well, allow yourself to watch that show only while you are folding the laundry. No laundry no show. This might just make laundry day one of your favorite days of the week.
Get competitive – Are you ever so slightly Type A? Turn your drudgery into a competition. Time yourself – Can you beat your own record? Compete with friends, spouses, or kids – winner gets something cool (First pick of chores the next week? Favorite dessert? Control over the weekend family activity?)
Get philosophical – Stream a podcast, Ted Talk, or audio book or just contemplate life. Either way you’ll feel smarter at the end of the chore. Not bad for time spent scrubbing the shower.
Get sporty – Did you know there are people who have found ways to turn vacuuming into an aerobic workout? Seriously. Put on your gym shoes and your headband and start doing some squats or lunges while you pick up toys and move furniture. Turn vacuuming into a cardio activity. When you’re done, you’ll get to check two items off your list: Chores and Exercise.
Get real – Enjoy the present and use your senses to turn a tedious experience into something sensational. Can you feel the warm sun on your skin while you weed? Can you hear a bird singing? Is the water you sip every few minutes a nice, cool relief? Focus on the details and you may be surprised by how much there is to experience.
Get problem-solving – Doing something “boring” interestingly often leads to an “Aha!” moment. So, next time you have a complicated problem to mull over, save it for when you are doing a chore. You’ll have time to think about many, many different ways to solve it. And, if you don’t solve it then, maybe by the time you take a shower the answer will come to you. Did I mention vacuuming is a great chore for this?
Get talking – Have someone to talk to? Maybe a relative who you haven’t been in touch with for a while or a “Chatty Kathy” who always seems to call you at the wrong time? Take the initiative, put on your ear buds, and call them when you have brain power and time to spare. Kathy will never know you are cleaning the toilets while you chat with her (just don’t drop your phone in or flush!).
Get repetitive -If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Make a punch card for yourself. Every X times you vacuum the house, you earn something “free.” For example, maybe every 4th time you vacuum, you treat yourself to a $4 latte. You could even “level up” by making the reward better for the harder/less pleasant chores (scrub showers 4 times, get a manicure).
Get flexible – Manage your chores so that you do them on a time and day where you can be the most efficient and have the most fun. For example, some people like to have a MEGA LAUNDRY DAY where they wash, dry, and fold all their laundry. Other people like to do a load every other day. Figure out which one you like (and which method will actually result in getting the dried clothes back into the dresser), then stick with that plan. If the plan gets boring, switch it up!
Get thankful – Sure, this sounds like something your mother would say, but really, how lucky are you that you have all these conveniences? Dishes to eat off of (no sand in your dinner – hooray!). Clean clothes to wear (now you won’t smell like B.O)! A dog or cat that you get to cuddle. Take the time to look at your mess-creating things and really relearn to appreciate everything you have. And if you cannot bring yourself to appreciate your stuff, give other people the chance to. Bring your unloved items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or have a yard sale and turn them into cash. Then, you’ll never have to clean them up again. Now, that is something to be thankful for!