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What are your tricks for making everyday chores exciting?

How do you get motivated for the everyday tasks in your life?

I hate cleaning, so I don't do enough of it. Yesterday, I bought fresh flowers, and seeing them stuck in my messy, cluttered apartment made me want to clean--so I did, finally, and I enjoyed doing it. The flowers were like a magic potion for my motivation, and now I'm wondering if other things like this exist?

Does anyone else have small, specific things that help them accomplish the banal tasks of everyday life (going to the gym, running errands, leaving a warm bed on a cold morning, etc) with brio?
posted by sallybrown to Society & Culture (48 answers total) 105 users marked this as a favorite
 
With regard to cleaning: I like to smoke a joint, turn all the radios in the house to NPR (this is usually the weekend, so it's shows like Radiolab, This American Life, etc.) so it's like a loud surround sound. It's one of my favorite parts of the week, to be honest.

There is no hack for getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning. It is the sine qua non of life's suffering.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:42 PM on February 5, 2010 [19 favorites]


http://www.chorewars.com/
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:44 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I find the majority of the problem is with willpower; once you get over that initial internal barrier then the chores themselves don't seem that bad at all. I guess you could say the same idea applies to paid work; you have the motivation of money that makes you get on with the job at hand. So perhaps have some sort of reward ready (ie, delay watching a tv show until you have done something.

And that leads me on to the other idea: mentally breaking up the task into smaller parts makes you see it as less work (in my experience, at least).

Personally, I always find a good song helps; in this way, you can occupy your mind so the chores seem like they are taking less time. Maybe this is because you can accurately identify a period of time because of the song's length, and thus it makes you realise that the chores don't take as long as you'd otherwise think they would.

Another thing to bear in mind. You say you "hate" cleaning. Not many people love it, though.
posted by jhighmore at 4:44 PM on February 5, 2010


I find that watching Hoarders inspires me to clean the house.

If I go to the gym, I know that I can watch horrible reality TV while on the treadmill and no one will give me grief because of it.
posted by Lucinda at 4:45 PM on February 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh yes, Hoarders.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:47 PM on February 5, 2010


Red Bull, orange juice, and Tito's vodka.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2010


There is no hack for getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning. It is the sine qua non of life's suffering.

I used to live in an old house without proper heating in Seattle, where I was cold almost every minute of every day the whole time I lived there. But especially when I got out of bed in the mornings.

My hack was to allow myself to take blastingly hot, decadently long showers as soon as I got up. After the shower, even before I got dressed I was warmer than I had been when I was in my bed. This worked very well.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:58 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a shitton of ticky boxes. (A combination of Remember The Milk and Joe's Goals is what I use.)

And a lot of running to do lists. I like to cross things off and mark things as definitively completed. (At least until they pop up again on RtM, where I just set different levels of reminders to do things.)
posted by sperose at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


have company over a lot? knowing that someone else is going to want to eat from clean plates (and stand in front of a bathroom mirror not speckled with toothpaste) is what gets me cleaning. also, putting on weezer helps.
posted by janepanic at 5:02 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hated unloaded the dishwasher until I became temporarily hooked on a particular kind of noodle that nuked in four minutes. You know how long it takes to unload a dishwasher? Four minutes. Once I realised how ridiculously little I was kicking over, I stopped kicking.

It won't work for everything, but if you time some of your tasks, you might get the same 'I am whinging about nothing' epiphany, and have those particular tasks become less onerous.
posted by kmennie at 5:03 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


My bird.

He sits on my shoulder and as I'm wiping down the counters, or spot cleaning the floor he leans over and goes "Pew pew pew!" "Pew Pew PEW!" like he's helping me clean... with lasers.

Incidentally, he is the primary cause for spot cleaning the floor.
I like to harass both him and the cat with the vacuum cleaner, that is my primary incentive for running the vacuum. I enjoy driving the animals before me and hearing the lamentations of their women.

As to you general question, I think you could work off of a carrot/stick set up and just strike up bargains with yourself. i.e. some reward or treat for cleaning all day (deep dish pizza is my carrot of choice) or working full days all weekend, or whatever odious thing you have to do. A very minor reward, a baby carrot, if you will is all it should take if, as you say, you enjoy doing it once you start. A little rationalizing to get you started is just fine.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:04 PM on February 5, 2010 [41 favorites]


kmennie's dishwasher story made me think of another thing.

Are there tasks where you really only hate a particular part of them? I don't know why, but I find it really drudging to put away the utensils from the dishwasher. But I don't mind the rest of it. If someone else will put away the utensils, I don't put off unloading the dishwasher at all.
posted by Ashley801 at 5:09 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re the gym: I have an iPhone, and buy TV shows on iTunes that I let myself watch only while exercising. Maybe not "exciting," but it gets the job done.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:11 PM on February 5, 2010


Your favorite music, cranked up LOUD so you can't hear the phone ring, the doorbell, or your own heartbeat.
posted by smick at 5:12 PM on February 5, 2010


THE RADIO. Very much. Or at least radio shows - you can stream CBC, BBC, NPR works or get a bunch of episodes of "The Ongoing History of New Music"

I find talk radio (not "talk radio" but just not music) is somehow more interesting the work to than music.
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on February 5, 2010


I love running errands! In particular, I like it when they take me to a part of the city that I haven't seen before. I got myself to go to the DMV at 8 am one day (that's ridiculously early by my workday standards... I work in software) by browsing Yelp beforehand for lunch spots in the neighborhood. Can you reward yourself with coffee, lunch, or just a few minutes in some public spot after you've completed your errands? Making it destination-specific is what motivates me to make the trip, so it helps if you have distinctive neighborhoods.

Seconding the ChoreWars recommendation. Although I love it, my boyfriend doesn't believe in using many web apps for everyday life, so we've dropped it in our apartment.
posted by tantivy at 5:27 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


HACK UR MOODZ!

I'll second the radio idea, but with specific targeting of the mood you're trying to achieve.

I have a playlist on my iTunes that is full of music that is especially chosen to be up-tempo and invigorating. I set that playlist going and I find very quickly that the tempo of my activity is increased dramatically. I play that music when I need to do housework, cleaning or just feel a little down.

If I'm reading academic journals or texts, I have a playlist of music that is entirely instrumental so I'm not distracted by lyrics and can focus on the words I'm reading. The music is mellow and doesn't have strange tempo or anything, so it doesn't intrude on my thinking, but instead provides a nice background.

If I want to take a nap, I have a playlist for that, too. Mostly soothing nature tracks - jungle rainstorms, flowing brooks, waves at the beach, etc.

Humans are pretty susceptible to music. By picking the specific music you play, you can do some intentional moodcrafting.
posted by darkstar at 5:38 PM on February 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


There is a psychological principle called "chunking" that's relevant here. In graduate school, when my (very small) apartment became hopelessly cluttered, I would play "put away three things". Usually, there would be such a noticeable difference after putting away three things that I would decide to put away three more. If the clutter wasn't divisible by three, well, some things just stayed out until I got my next burst of energy. Or a date. That was always good for making sure my apartment was presentable.

I hate -- HATE! -- doing repetitive tasks, and yet things like cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc. all fall into that category. The way I manage to get through them is to focus on how pleased I'll be when it's all done. There will be nothing hanging over my head, I can be self-indulgent without a shred of guilt, etc. For a goal-oriented person, that's usually all it takes.
posted by DrGail at 5:58 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


This sounds really dumb, but I hum the Indiana Jones theme or the Imperial March during my boring chores (if it's something public, like grocery shopping, I do it very quietly). If I'm at home I also jump around a little like an action hero. It makes the chores seem...not exciting, exactly, but silly and fun, and it distracts me from thinking about how dull it is. Making it lighthearted takes the drudgery out of it.

Honestly, it sounds dumb, but try it.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


For cleaning the damn house: I put loud music on: Bach's cello suites if it's cold and rainy (like today); conjunto or mariachi if it's hot. I start cooking something I don't have to pay attention to, like a big braise, or onion soup, or bread. Checking on these breaks up the task of cleaning. Then I start on one room, from the top, taking one corner as a beginning point, and work down and through. I have been known to do this wearing thrift-shop lingerie to add that extra oomph, and usually sip a beer or a big glass of sherry throughout. If the work lasts longer then the Bach or my personal limit for conjunto, I put on soul, and sing along with the backup singers (you get to make up some dance move too here; 60s/early 70s Aretha is myfavorite). At the end when I'm tipsy and tired, I get a shower and we get the food I've cooked, which has made the house smell good.

For cleaning the kitchen: NPR, particularly Feldman's "Whaddya know," and an attitude akin to those who espouse genocide, or a character in Apocalypse Now. It helps to talk to the dirt as if it's your mortal enemy. "You thought you'd beat me, motherfucker?!?! You're not thinking now!"

For paying bills/ cleaning out the closet: I have put on all the clothes unworn for a year, just layer over layer (easier for those who don't keep a huge closet), and read out all the charges in an accent not my own as I go through everything. Which can sound like this: You just never fit, brown sweater, did you? To the guillotine! And here's that one credit card raising my APR! Scheisse!

For getting out of bed in the morning, I got nothing, except knowing that it's easier to face with a less-cluttered closet, a clean kitchen and a neat (maybe even clean) apartment.
posted by goofyfoot at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2010 [16 favorites]


I make lists so I can enjoy the [small] satisfaction of crossing something off once it's done. It also allows me to see all the little components of my chores broken down, thereby lessening their impact. Your prize at the end of the list is a clean house and a completed list.

It's the small things!

Lutoslawski makes a good point about joints and music. They always make cleaning more enjoyable. Sing along too, it's distracting.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2010


Putting up a new shelf or painting really gets me motivated.

Also, I recently discovered a whole bunch of radio theater podcasts!
posted by amtho at 6:11 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


When watching TV, I get up during commercial breaks and speed-clean the hell out of one spot. You can empty a dishwasher or scrub the pots soaking in the sink or clear a tabletop in the few minutes the ads are running, especially with the deadline of wanting to get back to the sofa before the show starts back up.

I know this advice doesn't port well to a world with on-demand, digital hubs and DVRs but it's such an ingrained habit with me that I get antsy watching shows without breaks aso I hit pause every 15-20 minutes and clean anyway.
posted by jamaro at 6:18 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are your tricks for making everyday chores exciting?
Chores are not exciting.

How do you get motivated for the everyday tasks in your life?
With the things I think of as everyday tasks - washing up and doing laundry and raking leaves - I just enjoy the time by myself and repetitive motions. When you are doing something puritanical like washing windows, no one can expect you to talk to people. It's socially acceptable hermit time. I find getting stuff done very soothing. (Although cleaning up after other people unless I invited them to my house and got them drunk, makes me want to main and kill.) And also I taught my dog to put laundry in the machine (front loader) so that's something we can do together.

Re the flowers, would it help you to think of keeping things in order a way to be ready for anything? If your house is always organized, you can do anything anytime you want to - you can cook without having to clean the oven and scrape stuff off the cookie pan, you can take a long, hot bath without having to descunge the tub first, you can do yoga on the floor without having to vacuum first, etc.

If you are not the kind of person who just naturally doesn't make messes and keeps things organized, you should dream of the day you can afford to pay someone to do those things for you. There is no way on earth I can get myself motivated to ask for a raise or write my self-evaluation at work, for instance, and if I could pay someone to do those things for me, I would sell a kidney to raise the cash. As it is, I just grit my teeth and force myself to do it, and then spend the next four days complaining to my friends about how awful it was.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:23 PM on February 5, 2010


And also I taught my dog to put laundry in the machine (front loader) so that's something we can do together.

Wait, what?
posted by cozenedindigo at 6:44 PM on February 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sometimes, I get all flylady and set a timer for 15 minutes and just get to work the whole time. Sometimes I do the same with 5 songs.

I didn't link to flylady's website, but it is nutso.
posted by Duffington at 7:00 PM on February 5, 2010


because it is nutso
posted by Duffington at 7:01 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always hated washing dishes, but now that I listen to podcasts while doing them, I could wash dishes all night long!
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:12 PM on February 5, 2010


Flylady IS nutso, but I'll take that plunge and link to her because she seems to help a lot of people with this. Personally I fell off her program on day 2 or 3, when she insisted that you shower, dress, and put on shoes every day before starting the day. Dude. The best part of working from home is that you don't have to do that.

My trick is, ages ago I bought a white board, which I post beside the front door. I use it to track a lot of stuff (groceries I need to buy, how many eggs my chickens have laid).

When my cabin gets really bad and I can sense I'm falling off the wagon cleaning-wise, I'll look around and identify each specific problem. (Next Actions, in David Allen/GTD-speak.) I end up with a list on the white board like:

* Wash dishes
* Sweep and mop kitchen floor
* Pick up dirty laundry, put in hamper

I break it down to tasks that can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Sometimes I'll assign a treat for completion of all tasks, and sometimes I'll just give myself a generous time limit ("by the time I go to bed Friday night" or whatever). Somehow it's easier to knock an item off a list that's staring you in the face like that.
posted by ErikaB at 8:24 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


podcasts all the way. I now really look forward to chores that allow for me to listen to my ever growing queue of podcasts.
posted by mmascolino at 8:31 PM on February 5, 2010


These are all wonderful! (Apart from the nightmares I'll have about Flylady forcing me to shine my sink every night...AAHH!) I don't have a radio, but I'm absolutely going to get one--from a store in a new part of the city, so I can explore.

Keep them coming!
posted by sallybrown at 8:34 PM on February 5, 2010


For cleaning the kitchen: NPR, particularly Feldman's "Whaddya know," and an attitude akin to those who espouse genocide, or a character in Apocalypse Now. It helps to talk to the dirt as if it's your mortal enemy. "You thought you'd beat me, motherfucker?!?! You're not thinking now!"

I can't believe I'm sharing this, but this is what I do, except sometimes I address whatever it is I'm working with as if I were its commander. Like when cooking pasta, as I'm about to take it off the stove and pour it into the strainer: "alright boys, it's time to make the big jump!" Sometimes I make up up-beat disparaging songs that insult whatever it is I'm cleaning up. It's fun to combine cute melodies with really malicious sentiments, but that might just be me.

On days when I'm less inclined towards personification I usually listen to language tapes.
posted by invitapriore at 8:35 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Radio, definitely. The only time I enjoy doing the dishes is if there's something good on CBC, especially the 6pm news.

I have an odd mental game I play when doing the dishes, where I put all the utensils in at the start, and then try to wash them one or two at a time in between washing the other dishes, and try to work it so that I finish both the utensils and the other dishes at the same time. If it is a particularly large load of dishes I also take great satisfaction in building precarious towers of washed dishes as they build up in my too-small dish tray.

For most once-in-a-while chores I have a little to-do list called 'one per day', and I do one thing on that list per day. Any little thing I want to get done that isn't urgent gets jotted on there, like dust my desk, call a company about a broken appliance, clean out the fridge, fix a squeaky door. It's amazing how many little things I've gotten accomplished because of this, and the rest of my to-do feels less cluttered without all those little non-urgent things.
posted by oulipian at 8:57 PM on February 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nthing flylady, mostly for the 15 minute timer aspect, and shining your sink. Shining your sink is just one, small, doable task that lets you get that sense of accomplishment for a job well done. (It doesn't have to be shining your sink, either, just pick something small like that.) That in itself is usually motivation to keep going. And if it's not, then just setting a timer for 15 minutes (or less!) works really well. You would be AMAZED at how much you can get done in that time.

And watching Hoarders is definitely good motivation.
posted by wwartorff at 8:58 PM on February 5, 2010


I open the windows, if it's not too hot, turn on lots of lights if it's dark, and crank up Pig Radio.
posted by zinfandel at 9:19 PM on February 5, 2010


Meditate - be zen while you work. Unfortunately, this makes everything take a lot longer.
posted by xammerboy at 9:53 PM on February 5, 2010


Pick a show all your friends watch (Lost would be good right now), and send out an invite for a season-long get together at your house. I did this for Mad Men, and the house looked great by Sunday night each week.
posted by miniminimarket at 10:49 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Audiobooks and/or podcasts. But fiction books in particular are good, because you get involved in the story and then want to have the physical work time to find out what happens next. This also works for time on the treadmill or stationary bike. And if you live in Ontario, you can download your audiobooks for free from the library.
posted by Zinger at 6:56 AM on February 6, 2010


I find the promise of breakfast to be all the motivation I need to get out of bed. Maybe you could find some morning food that inspires you. Smoothies, bacon, I don't know, just something to look forward to each morning. Thanks for asking this question; it is nice to hear all the positive suggestions for enjoying what most people assume must be unpleasant by definition.
posted by stubborn at 8:27 AM on February 6, 2010


When it's time to get out of bed, stretch. Arms, legs, back... and squeeze or flex what you can't stretch. Doing this delivers blood to the muscles, and takes away some of the relaxed, cozy melted-into-the-bedclothes feeling. You still won't like getting up, but at least you'll feel able to.

Come up with a lot of varied ideas for one task, because a lot of them won't work. If you decide you'll do one load of laundry a day and your resolve lasts only 3 days, you won't feel defeated... you just move on to the next idea.

Sometimes, a less 'logical' approach works better than the most sensible or most efficient. What if you don't mind buying food, but you hate carrying in all the bags and putting the stuff away? Maybe you'd enjoy it more if you went a few times a week, bringing home a smaller haul each time. Totally inefficient, but it involves less loathing. Try setting aside the right or best way, and coming up with a quirky way.

Another thing that works for me (sometimes): instead of thinking about what I have to do, I think about the results I want. Nice clean sweaters? Drop off the dry cleaning. Ugh, don't want to. But...nice clean sweaters.... You need to keep bringing yourself back to something positive.
posted by wryly at 11:58 AM on February 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Re a radio: I have a wi-fi radio in the kitchen, and it does wonders to motivate me to clean. I like listening to BBC Radio 7 shows, but you could listen to Japanese Top 40, or the NPR stream, or podcasts, or whatever it takes to get you in there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:03 PM on February 6, 2010


I quit playing video games regularly years ago, because I have a personality that doesn't know when to stop. My life got a lot more productive when I just went cold turkey, honestly.

I have an exercise bike I never used.

A few months ago, I started letting myself play as many video games as I want, everyday when I wake up, as long as my pulse stays above 120 bpm. After 20 minutes, I make that requirement harder, and harder, and harder still; I usually average 30-45 minutes a morning.

I'm in better shape than I've been in years, and I don't feel the least bit guilty about playing video games.

Before that, the best way I found to get outta bed was make a playlist of my favorite tunes, and have the computer in the next room start playing them at a decent volume about five minutes before I wanted to get up.
posted by talldean at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2010


Music really is the best way to not hate cleaning. Get a good playlist or Pandora station or yes, NPR or whatever going and go to town. I remind myself that the house will smell really great when I'm done too--not just because it's clean but I've inadvertently gotten into a habit where once I'm done cleaning I relax and warm some fragrance oil in a home oil diffuser. You know. Skinner box-type rewards crap. Surprising how effective it can be.

And cleaning in a way that taxes you the least is also pretty major. I was terrible at cleaning--not just in motivation either; my methods were just totally ineffective frankly--until I got serious and buckled down and did some research and reorganization to find the easiest, most effective way to clean our specific space given our quirks and habits, etc. This meant finding a cleaner I could stand--I hate bleach and hated the idea of spending a ton of $$ on premixed cleaners when the housecleaner we had growing up showed us how cheap homemade ones are--and the RIGHT kind of wipes and mops and whatnot for our surfaces. And disposable gloves--I used to get squicked out easily, and hated how my skin felt after a thorough cleaning; now I don't have an excuse. Tools that actually work and don't wear you out--I finally found a freaking portable hand-vac that WORKS and doesn't weigh too much, g'ah (thanks to AskMefi, actually!). It makes all the difference; the idea of lugging our heavy dinosaur of a hand-me-down vacuum used to put me off completely. So the pet hair that plagued our lives is no big deal now. Etc. It might be worth it to make it all easier on yourself in the first place.

And putting all your thoughtfully chosen tools in smart locations--tucked away but in the rooms I'd use them (sounds obvious, but duh), all together. So I'm not fishing around for the dust pan in one room and trying to remember where the broom is in another and the vacuum filters in the garage etc. Carve out specific spaces, homes for this stuff where you need them. Then it's a breeze and you can't worm your way out of that fleeting moment of "well, the floor here does need a scrub..." It's not some big orchestrated event. It's all right there.

Speaking of, it's totally worth it to buy a zillion spray bottles or whatever and put them everywhere you find yourself needing one. Ditto paper towels and small lined garbage bins. Which reminds me of the obvious but SO TRUE tip (or approach really) of taking the time and mental legwork to make places for everything. Go through how you go about your space, the spots you find yourself shedding items haphazardly--keys, scarf, remotes, shoes, whatever--and make contained spaces for those things. We've got a curio that's the first thing you encounter when you come in and walk through the kitchen; it has a counter that goes long down the main hallway. It now has one of those sorted file holder things for mail, a cute little vintage box for keys, wallet etc., and a pretty, shallow round tray for magazines and larger mail as well as mittens. There is a pull-out box in our shelved headboard for remotes, pens, etc. Cleaning is a million times easier when you've already designated distinct spots where everything belongs.

And another big motivator: we got married recently and for some reason now people wanna socialize more. The constant looming possibility of an unexpected guest keeps the place much tidier than it was.

Sorry if this has all been stating the obvious. I'm in my 20s and admittedly growing up my mother didn't make us do real substantial housework, just the fake sort of "gives your kid structure" stuff like making the bed or whatever.

My guy and I BOTH hate grocery shopping. We used to be those crazy people you'd see shopping only once a month or so, with an overloaded cart of $250 worth of groceries at 10 p.m. on a Thursday (I know, you probably hate those people...). We get motivated now by being somewhat calm and logical--reminding ourselves aloud, to each other, how the dread and 2 hour hassle of it is so much worse than just going weekly and being in and out and done--and also, I admit it, doing more of that Skinner box rewards crap (god, we're like our own children to ourselves). There's a little tamale stand as well as a stand for fresh, incredible tortillas connected to one of the markets we go to--we pick up a couple hot tamales or tortillas and just die and go to heaven. They also are the only affordable place to get bottled Mexican coke. But we're only allowed to grab any of these awesome things if we're going shopping anyway, so. For the more generic national chain grocery store, we have a little ritual where we both pick out a treat to share with the other person, and it's a surprise. They're next to the best local cupcake bakery in the city, so occasionally we'll get a cupcake afterward. Silly stuff like that. (Yes, it's a wonder we can fit into our clothes.)

And this is stating the obvious but it has literally been the sole motivator these snowed-in weeks: the best way to get yourself out of a warm bed is to have a delicious breakfast in mind. Something hot that's your favorite. It's sad it takes that for me, but it does. If my "breakfast" of leftover homemade peanut stir-fry didn't exist I might still be stuck in bed right now...

Cats on the other hand are the worst motivation for leaving bed. Like evil furry little sirens beckoning you with their call to laziness.
posted by ifjuly at 12:49 PM on February 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


For cleaning:

One of Flylady’s slogans: Done is better than perfect. This has been the most freeing concept I’ve ever encountered. I was raised that every cleaning task had to be done to perfection and all associated tasks completed as well or I hadn’t done the job. Which meant that every task was a long, drawn-out drag to complete: “washing the dishes” actually meant putting away all the crap on the kitchen counters, wiping the counters, sweeping the floor, etc. Which made doing the dishes a big, horrible chore that I avoided like the plague which only made it worse for the next day...

Now I just tell myself “done is better than perfect” and if all I have the motivation to do is wash the dishes, I only wash the dishes and just leave the dirty counters and floor if I don’t feel like doing them. Maybe I’ll get back to it later (the next time I’m waiting for a cup of tea in the microwave) or maybe I won’t wipe them off until the next day before I cook supper. Who cares? At least the dishes are done and out of the way!

Today I cleaned the mirrors and counters in both bathrooms and the outer part of the toilets. I didn’t get around to cleaning the bowl and I didn't feel like doing the tub or floors so I didn’t. The bathrooms still look a hell of a lot better than they did!

Another version of chunking: This weekend I have nothing on my agenda except a bunch of books I want to read, and oh, yeah, I probably should do something about the disgusting pit of filth my apartment has become. So I decided that for 10 minutes of every hour I’m awake, I’ll get up and “create a bit of order” in some part of the room. This works out to 2 hours and 40 minutes of cleaning on Saturday and again on Sunday, but even though I can see a ton of progress already today, I really don’t feel like I’ve done any drudge work at all.

For the gym:

The only type of exercise I really, truly enjoy is swimming. So I found a gym with a nice pool and a whirlpool, and I find I actually look forward to going to the gym now. A nice peaceful swim and a 15 minute soak in the whirlpool is a fabulous way to start the day.

Also, the one thing I hated about the gym last year was dragging my clothes, swimsuit and shower shit back and forth from home. I recently forked over the dough to rent a permanent locker at my gym (which includes laundry service) and now I don’t have to drag all that crap around with me. Makes it SO much easier to get myself out the door in the morning.

Getting up:

I get up reeeeally early so I can have a couple of hours to myself before my husband gets up and before I have to get ready for work. I use the time for journaling, net surfing, reading or whatever. I don’t mind getting up when I know I’m going to have a couple hours of quiet free time to do things I enjoy.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


we have "parties" as i like to call them for cleaning the house. a party means we clean the house while listening to ray charles and drinking mimosas. it's quite effective.
posted by brittafilter at 1:48 PM on February 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed is that I promise I can lie down again once I'm showered and fully dressed. Generally I wake up enough not to need to, but occasionally I do have a bit of a doze, but I don't actually sleep. Something about having my shoes on.

But the thing to remember is that very few people enjoy doing chores. Most people have tricks and mind games to help them do things they don't otherwise enjoy. The common thread in most of these seems to be to work with yourself (eg. bribery, making it easy, making it fun, focussing on the positives) than against yourself (eg. blackmail, guilt, requiring perfection).

I do a lot of chores on the phone. Works for just about everything except vacuuming. I don't vacuum very often.

Oh, and time yourself when you do them. Somehow a chore won't seem as bad if you know that it'll only take ten minutes.
posted by kjs4 at 10:27 PM on February 7, 2010


Late to the party as usual, but I do have one tip for 'leaving a warm bed on a cold morning': Put your socks at the foot of the bed, under the sheets. Not so they're touching your feet, but right near the end. They'll be warm in the morning and reaching for them with your toes fires up your circulation.

And an obvious one: Wait for the furnace to kick in before removing the covers.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:43 PM on February 11, 2010


I have a cheap electric heater next to my bed that I can lean over and turn on in the morning, hit snooze once and my room is warm by the time I get out of bed. I've been doing it for years and now hate when I'm staying somewhere that I can't do that.
posted by whoaali at 12:25 AM on February 12, 2010


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