Question: How do you make boring activities fun?
Lots of us have trouble engaging with boring everyday chores—those never-ending tasks that hold our lives together. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Use these 9 simple strategies to turn dreary into fun.
1.) Add music and dance. I admit it—the inspiration for this post was this morning’s laundry folding session. Ear buds and a great play list found me dancing around the laundry room while folding sheets, shirts and more. Other tasks that lend itself to adding music include doing dinner dishes (why not blast Radio Paradise and dance together?) and carpooling to school with the kids. Put some tunes on and sing your way to school!
2.) Chunk it up. The overwhelming nature of big projects can make them feel particularly unapproachable. To make them easier and more rewarding, chunk them into smaller tasks. Clean one drawer in your dresser a week; sort bills for taxes one day then record each pile separately over time; rework your website one or two pages at a time.
3.) Race the clock. This is a particularly good trick for those with ADHD who benefit from the additional adrenaline boost of a race. Set your timer for 10 or 15 minutes, then do something you hate as fast as possible. This is a great trick for picking up the house. Make it even easier by using bins for storage rather than little spaces. The large muscle gestures needed to toss stuff into bins add to the ‘fun’ factor.
4.) Go ahead—reward yourself! I save this one for particularly big or physical projects…those “I know I really have to do this, but really don’t want to” tasks such as planting bushes in the spring. As part of my project I make sure to leave time for my reward after planning, that might be a long soak in a hot bath. You might celebrate completing a long exam period with a special candlelight dinner out or a party…anything that is out of the ordinary for you, but special.
5.) Do it as partners. Done the right way, partnering around tasks can provide a sense of companionship and accomplishment. In our house that means a nightly kitchen routine in which my husband cleans all the dishes and I’m responsible for putting away the food and cleaning the counters. Our well-defined, discreet tasks mean we have equal status (no one person is in charge, dictating to the other!) and we can be efficient. As an added bonus, we get to talk to each other…or crank up the tunes and dance around the kitchen (see #1!) Other tasks that lend themselves to partnering include prepping for a party and shopping for holiday gifts.
6.) Do it with friends. Go ahead, egg each other on! Want to lose 5 pounds? Get a group of friends to set weight-loss goals and follow your progress together. Need to keep exercising? Register for a class with a friend so you are both more likely to go. You might even have time for coffee afterwards (see #4, “rewards”!)
7.) Make it a special ritual. Some everyday tasks can be made more fun by increasing their importance as part of your relationship. Don’t love getting out of bed in the morning? Create a ritual around making and delivering coffee to your partner (with an “I love you,” of course—it’s a happy way to start the day!) Couples also use this idea to improve the sometimes contentious task of coordinating chores —by doing it on their morning walk with their dogs, or over drinks or coffee once a week.
8.) Use nature as an ally. Do you know that physical movement improves focus? Coordinating tasks while walking the dogs, mentioned above, is an example of using nature to make something more fun, as well as more productive. Setting aside an hour on a particularly beautiful spring day can turn the chore of weeding into a pleasure.
9.) Listen to a story. Perhaps nothing helps you pass the time more quickly than getting engrossed in a good story. Put an audiobook on your headset when you clean out the garage, or on the radio for that 9-hour drive (assuming you don’t find it too distracting!) Pay bills electronically while you are watching a movie. Before you know it, you’re done!