The technique to makes chores more enjoyable

We all have chores, tasks, or habits we should do but hate doing. So, we push them off as long as possible, push through, or do them with a little annoyance or resentment.

For me, doing the dishes and folding the laundry are my least favourite household tasks. I used to avoid doing my dishes as long as possible until every plate, pan, and fork was in the sink and I could not put them off any longer. Then, I would roll my eyes and look at my pile of dishes with great annoyance and then rush through cleaning my dishes.

But, your daily chores don’t have to suck. They can be enjoyable, or at least more enjoyable.

I have a suggestion that might just change the game for you.

Many of these pesky tasks can be transformed into habits or made more manageable with habit-building techniques. But, what I’ve noticed is that these tasks are some of the most resistant to habit building techniques because of our mindset.

These chores tend to be cleaning or home maintenance tasks that we actively dislike or find tedious. It’s hard to commit to building a habit when you dread the task. And while mindset shifts can help, they often have limited impact if you’re not fully invested. Or, if they do work at first, they eventually fade.

One technique that works in a pinch is saying “I get to…” Ex. “I get to wash my dishes.” You have dishes to wash and washing them is a privilege. Although it’s a subtle shift of language it can help you reframe in the moment.

the technique to make chores more enjoyable

The more long-term solution is to merge mindset shifts with experience shaping to eventually prime yourself for habit change.

Here’s how it works. Pick a task and ask one simple question: how can I make this as joyful as possible today OR how can I enjoy my experience of doing X today. Let’s stick with the dishes example. I’d ask “how can I make doing the dishes as enjoyable as possible today” or “how I can I enjoy my experience of washing my dishes. today”

Then, you brainstorm a list of things you can do:

  • listen to your favourite music/ curate a bomb dishwashing playlist
  • listen to an audiobook
  • create a watch later playlist on youtube and ONLY watch those videos while dishwashing
  • watch a show, movie or podcast (again ONLY play this when dishwashing)
  • call a friend/family OR listen to messages from your friend/family at this time
  • give yourself a treat after and leave this treat on your counter by your dishes while you wash them
  • give yourself something to look forward to after and leave an item for that thing by your dishes ex. going for a shower after your dishes so leaving your clothes on a nearby chair

why chores suck

Many of us dislike these cleaning and maintenance tasks because we grew up in homes that framed them as chores or drudgery. Cleaning may not have been treated as fun, enjoyable, or with any semblance of positivity attached to it. Your experience shaped your mindset. And, you can’t create a new mindset out of thin air— you need new experiences to shape your mindset. Creating enjoyable experiences can do just that and help you routinize these tasks.

When it comes to these tasks, just keep an eye on what you’re enjoying most right now. And, you can do that by asking yourself the joy question each time and making sure your question has the “today” in it. Our interests and what is most enjoyable right now changes. For a while, I was into Superstore and watched that during dishes and laundry time. Other times it was holiday movies, or listening to my friend’s whatsapp messages. Making sure to check-in keeps things fresh.

expand and iterate

At this point, you may consider some habit building techniques. With chores, time, location, or preceding events will be your most likely cues. To read more about habit prompts you can check out this blog post here. Preceding events will probably be the easiest of the three context cues to implement your tasks into your routine. Preceding event habits are exactly like they sound. You do Y habit after X task. As an example, after I finish my dinner I’ll clean my dishes. Or, after I put my dishes in the sink after dinner I’ll clean my dishes.

Something that happens less often, like folding laundry, can easily be prompted by your location. As an example, putting all your laundry on your couch or bed. You cannot miss your growing pile of laundry and putting it in a place that obstructs your day (ex. you can’t watch TV or hangout on your couch or go to bed) is likely enough to shape your behaviour. However, attaching this to a routine will likely yield more positive results.

Although we talked household chores, this technique can be applied widely to any task or chore that you’d like to enjoy more. I already love running but applied the joy principle to turn the dial up from like to love. You can use it for grocery shopping, homework, hobbies, anything you simply wany to enjoy more.

Thanks for reading!

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