Chores are tasks you don’t want to do. If you wanted to do them, you wouldn’t call them chores. Rather, you would refer to them as opportunities or entertainment or fun.
Even though you don’t want to do chores, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them to help your life run more smoothly. If you’re someone who lets dirty laundry and dishes pile up, avoids mowing the yard until the neighbors complain, or hasn’t cleaned out your car since 2005, maybe it’s time to learn why and overcome these obstacles:
- Temptation. When a comfortable couch and favorite television show are calling your name, it can be hard to ignore these temptations. You want to participate in the short-term benefits of watching tv, instead of holding out for the long-term benefits of doing chores. Find a way to reduce or delay the immediate distraction (like getting a DVR and recording your favorite show), so you can focus on the long-term benefits first and the short-term benefits when you’re done with your chores.
- Associated stressor. You may not be putting off a chore because you don’t want to do it, but rather because you don’t want to do something tangentially related to the chore. For instance, if you know you haven’t recently balanced your checkbook, you might put off paying your bills. Consider scheduling a regular coffee date with your friend where the two of you meet, hang out for awhile, but then vow to balance your checkbooks before you can go home. Being accountable to someone else often helps you overcome this obstacle.
- On the road. Working long hours can often mean you don’t have much time at home to take care of chores like laundry, dusting, and scrubbing your toilet. The upside is that you don’t have much time to mess up your home, but the downside is that some chores still need to be completed (like laundry). If this sounds like you, outsourcing some of these chores might work best for you. Take advantage of a fluff-n-fold that will do your laundry, start using a dry cleaner that picks up clothes instead of requiring drop offs, have a cleaning service come in twice a month to scrub your floors, countertops, and bathrooms, and hire a professional errand runner to do other odds and ends.
- Inertia. Humans are creatures of habit. If you haven’t been great at doing your chores in the past, it’s unlikely you’re going to wake up one morning a changed man. Overcome this obstacle by creating a schedule of the things you need to do and when you need to do them. Then, try your best to stick to the schedule. When your system falls to pieces, start again the next day. Consider hiring a professional nagger (there really are such things) or asking a friend to help encourage you. Simply acknowledging that inertia has the upper hand often can be all you need to get moving.
Looking at this list, I see myself in a lot of these obstacles (especially inertia). What strategies do you use to overcome these four obstacles?