Few of us actually enjoy doing chores. Even happiness guru Gretchen Rubin admits that one of her “pigeons of discontent” is having to do errands.
But, chores and errands are an inevitable part of responsible adult life. Even if you still refuse to consider yourself a “responsible adult,” you have to admit that stepping over mounds of dirty laundry and running out of clean plates to eat from can eventually get tiring.
So, how do you make this inescapable part of your life a little less awful?
Sure, you can bone up on the latest productivity tools or learn how to put together a really killer to-do list. But let’s face it: actually doing the chores is still gonna suck. Which is why I like to play these little games to try to distract myself from how much I hate what I’m doing:
The Amazing Race: Chore Edition
Are you the competitive type? Get out a timer and see how quickly you can wash those dishes, fold that laundry or dust the entire house. Then try to beat your record next time. (Just be careful not to get so wrapped up in speed that half the dishes wind up on the floor in pieces. That does not count toward your record.)
Better yet, get bonus points for delegating the work and try to get other members of your family into the competitive spirit. Can your husband wash the car faster than you can wash the dog? Can your son clean up his room (properly, not stashing everything in the closet) faster than your daughter can clean up hers? Up the ante with prizes like “winner gets to choose where we go out to eat.”
Pump Up the Jams
Nothing can make an unpleasant task more fun than some quality tunes. If you’re in an “I-hate-this-why-me” sort of mood, scream along with something horribly emo and allow yourself to feel the therapeutic effects of venting teen-style. If you can’t help but feel pumped every time you hear some quality jock jams, make yourself a playlist containing stadium song greats like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Get Ready for This” and pretend that instead of sweeping the floors, you’re playing the final minutes of the NCAA tournament.
Dance around like a fool for some bonus calorie-burning points. Put on a jersey, even, if it helps get you there. The neighbors are probably going to think you’re weird anyway, so why not run with it?
I’ll Give You a Cookie if You Pick Up the Dry Cleaning
Never underestimate the effectiveness of bribes, even self-assigned ones. Promise yourself that if you can get this particularly yucky project or errand over with, you can have [fill in a particularly tempting thing here]. Maybe it’s an hour of watching your favorite guilty-pleasure reality show. Maybe it’s a favorite drink or snack that normally doesn’t fall within your diet. Maybe it’s a well-deserved nap. The rarer the treat, the more effective its bribing power.
(Don’t) Take It Out on a Customer Service Rep
Granted, this one actually combines two things people loathe (chores and dealing with customer service on the phone), but bear with me. As long as you’re going to be stuck on hold for 20 minutes listening to crappy elevator music, you might as well get some stuff done around the house, right? Put the call on speakerphone and use your mounting frustration to infuse your chores with extra energy—especially once the rep actually comes on the line and starts giving you a hard time.
You’ll probably have a more effective call since you’ll be channeling your anger into your chores instead of directing it at poor Joe in Idaho (who’s really just doing his job). And you’d be amazed how vigorously you can Swiffer a floor when you’re arguing over cell phone charges. Plus, at the end of it all, you’re rewarded by having knocked two dreaded things off your list in one fell swoop. Not too shabby.
What tricks do you have to get unpleasant tasks over with?