Tips to "Better" Tasks You Don't Want to Do

There are some activities in our lives that are important, but not necessarily enjoyable. In order to support your value of health, you may need to visit the dentist and eat kale (just kidding about the kale- but I am actually drinking kale in a green smoothie right now and enjoying it!).  If having a clean house is important to you, there are chores involved. For tasks you cannot bag or barter, here are some tips to "better" them instead of avoiding them:

  • Connect with a task: This is actually something to do with tasks you love and those you don't (viewing a Hawaiian sunset or washing the dishes). It helps you to be present and get the most out of life. Try this: As you do an activity, pretend it's the first time you've ever done it. Engage all of your senses, paying attention to what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. If thoughts come up about everything else you have to do or how stressed or frustrated you are (or in the case of the sunset, thoughts about how you need to enjoy this and how you don't want it to end), let them be, and bring your attention back to what you are doing. Not only does this practice encourage presence, but we often realize that the tasks we've been avoiding aren't that bad. Then such tasks are no longer obstacles to making important changes in your life.
  • Shrink the change: Having difficulty even getting started cleaning your house, exercising, or writing your book? Try the "5-Minute Room Rescue" by Marla Cilley: Set a timer for 5 minutes and go to the worst room in your house and start cleaning (or exercising or writing). Stop when the timer buzzes. Chances are, you will want to keep going but you do not have to.
  • Add value: Bring a value to a task or situation. A value of mine is learning and I try to bring it to many situations - I listen to audio books on long car drives and read on my iPhone as I stand in the Costco line. Next time you attend a PTA meeting or family reunion, or go to work or even a dental cleaning, how you can you be guided by your values (like contribution, self improvement, connecting with others, beauty, lifting people up)? The same old activity can take on a new meaning, purpose & feeling when we approach it in a different way.

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Photo of Maui sunset by Geoff Captain.