“Duty tasks?” you ask. By this, I’m talking about the things that you don’t necessarily want to do, but have to do; the things that we often put off/dread/complain about/resent.
Hitting the ironing pile. Driving somewhere far away on your own. Washing up. Going to a forced-family event. Fixing the bathroom cabinet. Urghhh!
Years ago, I had a job that had absolutely broken the wheel of work-life balance. Saturdays were my only work-free day and I massively resented the fact that I’d have to spent my Saturday morning cleaning the bathroom. It caused huge rows between myself and Mr. G, and immense feelings of misery and resentment. Although a lot of this was down to the fact that I’d given my life to a job, this wasn’t helped by the fact that I chose to focus on how angry/sad I felt before, during and after completing my chores.
So when I heard Tony Robbins talking to me from an audio-book, telling me to find a way to enjoy household chores, I thought it was worth a try.
I considered the ‘duty tasks’ that I’d been putting off, and asked myself, could I find a way to appreciate them? Happily, I realised that this was possible, in one of two ways:
Option A: Change your perspective. Tony talks a lot about the 6 Human Needs – Growth, Love and Connection, Uncertainty (Variety), Certainty, Significance and Contribution. Can you approach the task in question, thinking about how you are meeting these needs?
Example: You’ve got a mountain of ironing to do. It’s going to take hours. Luckily, you’re OK about this, because you know that this is a certain/safe action – you’ve ironed many times before, so your brain can rest a little. Are you ironing for more that just you? If so, you’re hitting love and connection (because you’re showing kindness to someone by doing this for them); you’re contributing to someone else’s life and a harmonious home life; you’re proving yourself significant because this person needs and relies on your help with this. You’re meeting 4 Human Needs!
Still not doing it for you? Why not try option B alongside your new perspective.
Option B: Combine the ‘duty task’ with something more enjoyable or useful. Depending on what the task is, it might be fairly easy to incorporate another action that isn’t half as hideous.
Example: So, telling yourself that you’re Saint Joan of the Ironing Pile apparently isn’t cutting it. Can you watch a movie as you go? Even better – and less risky when it comes to third-degree burns – why not listen to a podcast/TED talk/favourite playlist/audio book? If you’re wanting to get into mindfulness, there’s nothing to stop you trying 10 minutes silent ironing, and really focusing on what you’re doing: the sounds, touch, smell, feel… whatever it takes to turn something monotonous into something fun.
In our day-to-day lives, few of us can escape these ‘duty tasks.’ Potentially, they can take up a lot of time. So really, it’s down to a simple choice: do you want to spend a chunk of your week feeling angry, annoyed, bitter or upset because of all the stuff you’ve got to do? Or would you prefer to spend the minutes and hours doing, thinking and feeling good things?
Learn to change the way you approach your jobs list, and you might just find that the chores you used to dread become perfect moments of ‘me time’ and opportunities for escape.
Do you look forward to long drives and mammoth housework sessions? Or are you still dread-filled at the thought of cleaning the loo and stressing out that you forgot to Polish the telly? Why not spend a couple of minutes changing your perspective? Be sure to tell me how this goes in the comments below: