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Cheerful Chores: Adding Joy To The Jobs You Hate

At the risk of sounding like a Negative Nancy, there are loads of things in life that just plain suck. Washing dishes that you’ve left overnight, and that have become one with the grime on them sucks. Weeding the garden sucks. Ironing sucks. But they’re all things that need to get done, and so we do them – even if we’re grumbling the whole time. The thing is, that none of these things need to suck – or at least, they have the potential to suck a whole lot less. We just need to try adding joy to them.

We’ve been spending so much more time at home lately – which means we’ve been making more mess, using more dishes, and cluttering up our dining-table-cum-office-space a lot more than usual. This means that we also spend more time doing the chores that we previously only did once a week, and washing dishes we shouldn’t have needed if we’d eaten out. So how can we spend all this extra time doing the things we don’t enjoy doing, while also not hating our lives entirely?

According to the founder of the blog The Aesthetics of Joy, Ingrid Fetell Lee , there are a few ways of making chores you despise feel slightly more delightful – and even adding joy to them.

  1. Use a timer. Fetell Lee writes that often, “what seems like a big, looming task actually turns out to be inconsequential when we look at it”. Unpacking the dishwasher or hanging up the laundry may seem like a massive, daunting task – until you time it and realise that it takes all of 5 minutes to complete. Knowing exactly how long a task will take you make make it a whole lot easier to avoid procrastinating. Timing yourself is also a great way to challenge yourself. Set a timer for 30 minutes and race against the clock! That will guarantee that you get it done quickly, and can spend more time relaxing after!
  2. Add joyful music. This one should go without saying, but any task is more enjoyable when taken up alongside a good soundtrack. Hate vacuuming or cooking? grab some wireless headphones and drown out the boredom with some beats that make you feel motivated and energised. If you break out into dance half way through, that’s ok too!
  3. Use your nose. Making use of products that smell good can make a dull task feel slightly less terrible. Pick cleaning products that smell great to you, and it won’t be so horrible having to use them. Fetell Lee recommends sprinkling lavender oil over your sheets after you make your bed, or adding essential oils to your cleaning regime. “Doing this can turn cleaning into a form of aromatherapy. Lavender is a good choice because it’s been shown in research to reduce anxiety. Citrus scents might actually help you keep a space cleaner longer — one study found that people were less likely to litter or make a mess in spaces where a citrus scent is present.”
  4. indulge in guilty pleasures. Reward yourself for doing the chores you hate by allowing yourself to do something you like at the same time. Watch some trashy reality TV while you fold the laundry, or listen to a silly podcast while you iron. Completing your task while doing something indulgent not only balances the two out, but also adds joy.
  5. Invent a ritual. Any one of these points could become part of your ritual, but to really put the cherry on top of your chores, find a way to turn them into celebrations. Light a candle when you’ve completed all your vacuuming, or make a well-deserved cup of coffee after finishing the laundry. If you’re gardening, bring some flowers in with you to keep in a vase as a reminder of your accomplishment.
  6. Surround yourself with things that spark joy. We’re getting into KonMari territory here, but this is perhaps one of the most important points of all. having to clean things you don’t really want or even like can feel like a massive waste of time and effort. Taking care of things you appreciate, on the other hand, can feel a lot more meaningful, while also adding joy. Not to mention, being in a space that feels good will make any task easier.”Having items you truly love can also give you something to focus on while doing unpleasant tasks,” writes Fetell Lee. For example, it’s a lot less dull washing your dishes while looking at your healthy pot plants than it is when you’re staring at a blank white wall.

Finally, Fetell Lee suggests that we let things slide from time to time, instead of striving for perfection.

“You can have perfectly clean floors all the time, but is that something that’s going to matter to you when you’re 80? If so, by all means, scrub away. But for most of us, sacrificing a bit of perfection in our chores can be a conduit to spending more time lingering over a delicious meal, enjoying a sunset or working on a rewarding project.”

The gist of all this is that while chores may never be fun, we have the power to make them a little more enjoyable. Never again will you have to complain about having to wash the dishes, because you’ll know it’ll only take you six minutes, and ironing will be a breeze if you’re also bingeing the Real Housewives.

Now, go and clean your house.

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