Nobody really likes chores, but they have to get done. Instead of tackling my chores and projects like a full meal, I prefer to break them up into tiny bite-sized snacks and do them throughout the day. So, instead of watching a goofy YouTube video, I'll procrastinate by tidying up the house or starting work on a side project.
We've talked about doing chores in bulk before, but some of us like to spread out the pain and suffering. I realised this works perfectly for me along with the idea that it's good to stand up once an hour to counteract the negative effects of sitting all day.
Divide Up Chores Into Tiny Projects
My apartment is by no means a mansion, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get dirty over a short period of time. Like most people, I'm not a fan of cleaning, which is why I just make mental notes throughout the day to work on smaller things. So, once every couple of hours, my phone sounds a subtle alarm, and I have to stand up and go do a chore that takes less than five minutes. These include a mix of standard and somewhat unusual chores:
- Clean the bathroom: We've talked before about the five daily routine to keep you bathroom clean and I use this same basic setup. I don't do it daily though, usually every other day.
- Kitchen scrub down: I'm horrible at remembering to do the dishes right after I cook, so I usually have to catch up with it later. While I'm at it I'll wipe down anything else in the kitchen, or if I've somehow kept it clean, I'll take out the trash.
- Declutter bookshelves: For one reason or another my bookshelves are also my defacto landing spot for every piece of junk I have laying around. So, more often than not, I've placed some random item on top of them that need to go back to their proper space.
- Tackle a random project: Sometimes my house is clean enough, and that means I just need to do something random with my five minutes. In these cases, I'll make a quick run through of old clothes in my closet that can go to Goodwill, force myself to take a few items out of the junk closet, or even just take on that one random, but tiny repair I've been putting off.
Obviously what you can do in your own home or office is different, but the point is that when you break all those annoying household chores apart, they're a heck of a lot more doable, they don't require as much effort, and the benefit is you'll keep a relatively tidy house with almost no effort. Photo by Joel Bez.
"Waste" Time on Side Projects
We've talked before about procrastination projects, and it's something that really does help in the long run. The basic idea is that you need to walk away from work (and everything else) sometimes, but that doesn't mean you have can't be productive when you do it. Make writer Saul Griffith explains this as breaking focus fatigue:
I gave up on trying to do exactly what I was meant to be doing in favour of always doing something. Frankly, I'm not sure we're designed to focus on only one thing for eight or 10 hours in a row. I've always found that it's useful to have something else to be doing when you're too burnt out to face the next thing on your list. That way, flipping back and forth between the two projects prevents focus fatigue.
Personally, I used to struggle a lot by forcing myself through longer projects in marathon sessions. I can't do that anymore (and honestly it probably didn't work as well I remember it working), and have since adapted the 15 minute rule where I waste time on a side project for at least 15 minutes a day. These bite-sized snacks keep my brain moving, even when the projects themselves fail. Photo by nicolas will.
Obviously these smaller chunks don't work for everything. Certain chores require longer blocks of time, and often a project simply can't be completed in just a few minutes. But the point is to decrease your overall workload for a week, even if some of that workload is just taking a break. The idea is to always do something that's productive in some way, even if you're neglecting everything else.