You get home from work. Exhausted, you stumble into the kitchen and make dinner. With dinner on the table, you sit down across from your spouse. Talking through bites of warm chicken, you recount the stressors of earlier. Your spouse listens quietly, weighing in when it seems appropriate. Naturally, as you finish your side of the conversation, your spouse returns the serve, recapping their day to you.
Dinner ends and, while your spouse does the dishes, you think about that final chore still on your to-do list. The one thing that you’ve been putting off for far too long. It’s not like you haven’t been aware of it though. Your spouse has been hinting at it more and more with each passing day. When was the last time…? Oh, it has been a while, hasn’t it?
You hear the sink turn off. Whistling, your spouse comes into the room with a look of suggestion on their face. They sidle up next to you on the couch, not saying anything, but implying it. You sigh to yourself. Let’s get this over with. You look over to the table next to you. On it sits a plant with yellowed, drooping leaves. You grab it, stand up, and make your way into the now clean kitchen. It’s time for a watering.
There’s a better way
Were you expecting something else? Get your head out of the gutter! This is an article solely about chores. Anyhow, it’s not like watering a plant is that difficult. But after a long, grueling day, the last thing you want to do is exert more effort. And the frequency! That thing requires so much attention. It’s so needy! Every few days it stares at you, drooping, moping about like a sad puppy. You had no idea the kind of commitment you were making when agreeing to be its parent.
Sure, it was your idea in the first place. But c’mon, your spouse could water it every once and awhile, right? Be they’re no help. Instead, they just remind you every time you “forget” to water it. And so, you once again find yourself this evening repeating yet another chore on top of your long day of chores. Doing but another task.
It doesn’t need to be this way though! If only you knew better. If you only knew that I’ve had this similar problem as well. A problem that I’ve since solved and am happier because of it. Mostly because I no longer need to deal with this annoying chore. And no, the answer isn’t to throw the plant away. In fact, there’s a way to keep your plant alive and protect your evenings from chore-overload.
Make a change
The answer’s right in front of you: change when you do it! If you don’t like doing something at night, do it in the morning or afternoon instead. I enjoy keeping plants in our home, but hate watering them in the evening. After dinner’s done, the dishes are cleaned, and our daughter’s in bed, the last thing I want to do is expend more effort.
For some reason though – maybe because I was tired and didn’t want to think about it, or because I didn’t have the self-awareness – it took a year of doing this poor routine before I finally realized my error. I didn’t need to water the plants at night! It was simply a habit that formed unintentionally.
There was no reason for it. The plants (multiple, mind you) operated the same whether I watered them at night or in the morning. And so, I made a change. As of this writing, when it’s now time to water my plants, I do so in the AM when I’m full of energy and enthusiasm. Problem solved.
Optimize tasks based on energy
What mandatory chores do you have in your life? Are there any that, upon reflection, you actually don’t mind, you just find them intolerable at the time you do them? Consider changing when you do them then. By adjusting the time of the chore, you can take advantage of your natural energy levels. Plus, you can optimize your previous chore time for what you really want to do – like relax.
I used to overload my evenings with tasks, to-dos, and chores. I still do it to some extent, but I try really hard to keep my nights as low-intensity as possible. It doesn’t always work out that way, but at least I’m trying. Consider the old saying by Mark Twain:
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
By moving those annoying chores from the evening to the morning, I’ve been able to get them off my plate (pun intended) while still full of energy. In turn, this has allowed me to navigate through the rest of my day a little easier. I still do some chores in the evening. Sometimes it’s inevitable. However, moving some of the more annoying ones to earlier in the day has been wonderful and is something I recommend you do as well.
Moving forward with one less evening chore
Look at the chores you do now. For the ones you dislike, consider why that is. Is it because of the task itself? Or maybe, just maybe, is it because you’re doing it at a time that isn’t ideal for you? If it’s the former, I get it. Some chores are just the worst (like mopping). However, if it’s the latter, you can do something about it.
Experiment with doing that chore at a different time. Try it in the afternoon, the morning, or after lunch. Test out when it feels most congruent with the rest of your day. For instance, I now water the plants when I’m opening up our home in the morning (ie. the curtains, windows, etc.). So for me, it’s a natural time where I’m already moving about.
For you, maybe that means unloading the dishwasher after lunch. Or starting the laundry before bed. Either way, by matching the chore with your energy level, you will remove some of the discomfort. In its place, you will find it to be, if not enjoyable, at least more manageable. Now go water the plants. They’re looking a little sad.