Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't like it? Change it.

I've been talking this past week about learning to like tasks you dislike. Some things just have to get done, despite the fact that we don't like doing them.

In those cases in my life, I try to make peace with the task. I try to learn to like what I hate.

So far we've talked about carefully examining and admitting the benefits and costs of doing the task vs. avoiding it (see here).  We've talked about creating a compelling vision for why you want to stay on top of this task (see here).  And now we're going to talk about changing the task itself in some way.

Or at least changing the way you do it. We want to find a way to do it that makes it less dread-worthy.

For example, folding laundry is probably my least favorite household chore. I'd rather scrub a toilet than fold and put away a load of clothes. And no one in my family - no one - likes matching socks when they come out of the dryer.

I have a big front-load washer. So when I do laundry I combine all the family's clothes together. Everybody's socks get mixed up. And sometimes spread out across loads. Plus, once in a while, it seems the dryer eats a sock - always just one in the pair - where do those go??

And how long do you hold onto the one left while waiting to see if the other re-surfaces? Three weeks? Two months? A year?

Recently we solved the dreaded sock problem. We bought mid-sized mesh laundry bags, one per person, and put one in each bedroom by the hampers. We now put our worn socks directly into the mesh bags. On laundry day we zip up the bags and throw them in the machine. They emerge clean and with all the matching pairs together in one place, already sorted by owner.

This was a simple, inexpensive fix that makes doing laundry quicker and easier. Plus each person can match their own bag of socks; no one is overwhelmed with a basket full to match.

So if you can't change the task (or delegate it) and it has to be done, what can you change about the way you do the task?

How can you streamline it?

Can you make it easier, or quicker somehow?

Sometimes small tweaks make a big difference in the overall experience. Do you have everything you need to do the task in one place? Do you have a good space or system for doing this task? Can you find someone who does the task well and pick up some tips from them?  Step three in learning to love what you hate is rethinking your approach to the task. What can you change to ease the toil?

Easier and/or quicker = less of a pain. And less of a pain means less reason to hate it.

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  1. Rachel! You've given me a solution for the dreaded sock dilemma at my house. Mesh laundry bags are the answer! Thank you! I can't wait to implement this and put away the dreaded sock matching dilemma around here!

    1. So happy to have helped deliver another family from the sock debacle!

  2. Oh my word! That is genius! We just keep buying new socks and watching the mountain of lost socks grow!
    Doing this asap!

  3. Ha! I'm laughing at the notion of me ever being called "genius" on anything to do with laundry. :)

  4. Oh, I love that idea!! As we speak I am folding laundry that I've put off and I have at least 5 socks with no match. Lately, the hubby's solution has been to fold the socks together- but that doesn't work because I always miss a pair and wind up with a pair of wet dirty socks in the clean laundry...ugh! Definitely getting 5 mesh bags!

  5. "CHANGE is possible. Focus is required"

    That phrase on your blog put a smile on my face with 'focus' being my one word.



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