If you follow productivity guru Tim Ferriss, you might be familiar with his mindset-changing question “What would this look like if it were easy?”
As he explains in his book Tribe of Mentors:
What would this look like if it were easy? is such a lovely and deceptively leveraged question. It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, creating unnecessary hardship in the process.
But what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain? Sometimes, we find incredible results with ease instead of stress. Sometimes, we “solve” the problem by completely reframing it.
At Money.com, Nina Semczuk explains how she incorporated this question into her workflow and added a second question of her own: “What would this look like if it were fun?”
Here’s how Semczuk turned an oil change and tire rotation into something she actually looked forward to doing:
To make my car maintenance errand “easy,” I picked the most wide-open day, even though it was one I usually try to avoid planning chores for: Saturday.
Then to make the errand “fun,” I considered how I like to spend time. My ideal weekend kicks off early and outdoors. How could I add that to the required chore? Solution: I found a nearby town with a Mavis service station located near one of my favourite bike paths. Then I called up a friend I hadn’t seen in almost a year to make a biking date. Now the tedious to-do had an incentive: I would see an old friend and revisit my beloved rail trail at the same time.
A lot of us already incorporate some of this mindset into our own lives—listening to podcasts while we do the dishes, watching a movie while we tackle Mount Laundry, and so on. And sure, some tasks are hard to turn into enjoyable experiences (the only thing I can come up with for “getting my passport renewal photos taken” is “wearing my favourite shirt,” which will probably become my least-favourite shirt once I see how terrible the passport photos look).
Plus, when you’re combining errands with, say, children, you need to come up with a way to make the task fun for everybody.
But I really like the way Semczuk asks herself what her ideal weekend might look like—get up early, get outdoors—and then incorporates her car maintenance task around that priority.
That may be the real secret here; it isn’t as much about what you do during your chores (because let’s be honest, 90% of the time it’ll be “listen to podcasts”) as it is about the way you schedule your chores around the life you want to be living.
Because you’ll never get to the end of your task list and say “finally, now I can start spending my weekends outside, with the people I care about.”
So you might as well prioritise that stuff first, and schedule the tasks and chores to support those priorities.
And, in the process, ask yourself there’s any way to make those tasks a little more fun.