When Blowing Off Responsibility is Okay
I like to have a relatively clean, organized home. But I despise spending my free time cleaning and organizing my home. Seems I have a bit of a conundrum and one that I expect is pretty common. As one of the YFFL guest bloggers put it in her post about getting stuff done – her motto is “just f’ing do it!” This philosophy works for me most of the time, but there are chores on my to-do list that pop up every once in a while that just make me cringe.
I’ve had one of these cringe-worthy chores pop up on my to-do list recently. This particular task is to clean out all of the kitchen cupboards and throw away anything expired and reorganize things so they look neat and are easy to locate. Sounds like a pretty average chore with a pretty reasonable expectation right? I mean, I only plan on doing this thing once a year!
So I’m trying to talk myself into actually doing this task today. It’s only noon on Sunday as I sit here writing this and I realize that miraculously we’ve got the entire afternoon at home. Honestly, there’s no way in hell I want to dedicate a significant portion of it cleaning out my kitchen cupboards! I battle back and forth in my mind about whether or not to do this chore today. There is plenty of time today to get this job done. I’ve even reasoned with myself that if I set my mind to it, I can likely get this complete in an hour or a little more. Ugg….the thought of dedicating even an hour of my precious weekend time to this task is just so unappealing right now!
In fact, I’ve been bumping this task out on the to-do list trajectory for two weeks now. Shuffling it from weekend to weekend in my to do list, sometimes because there was just physically too much to do and this is a low priority item in the grand scheme of my life, and sometimes because I just could not motivate myself to do it!
I have two choices here in my mind. Suck it up and get it done or just say “screw it” for yet another weekend and deal with it later when the mess gets unbearable. It’s the age old debate for me. Is this my OCD coming through - my obsession with checking everything off my list at the detriment of my own happiness? Or is ignoring this task just plain old procrastination on a responsibility that just comes with owning a home?
My debate today is around blowing off responsibility and you and I both know that this debate applies to so much in our lives these days as responsibilities only seem to grow in number as we blast full steam through life with kids and careers. What was the last responsibility you blew off? I bet you can think of at least one in the last few days (or hours!)
Today as I sit here staring at all of the cabinets that need cleaning and reorganizing, I realize – I need to take my own advice! In many of the YFFL guidebooks I talk about breaking up tasks into more manageable pieces so that they can be completed without feeling overwhelming. This philosophy is relevant for me when it comes to certain household chores (the ones I really really hate doing!) If I despise the thought of spending one straight hour on this task to get it done, so much so that me, a typical non-procrastinator, has pushed it off for two weeks straight, maybe I should break the job up and go about completing it over a period of time? Is this taking my formula to the extreme? Probably. But man, it’s way easier to digest cleaning out and organizing just one cabinet today and then having the rest of my afternoon to do something fun! So, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll tackle one cabinet today and one tomorrow and one the next day and so on and so on until they are all cleaned out and organized.
If you are really struggling to motivate yourself to do something and are bumping a certain responsibility back day after day, not really wanting to dedicate any of your precious time to it, perhaps a formula tweak where you take this one task that feels a tad overwhelming right now, and break it up into smaller more digestible tasks could be your solution too.
Win-win right? I guess the lesson I just refreshed in my own mind is that when some part of my formula doesn’t come easily, it’s time to take a look at why it’s no longer working and see if there’s anything I can do to change the formula so that I’m still managing the responsibility if it’s deemed important enough, but I can get through it without hating every minute! Next time this procrastination comes about for me, I’m going to remind myself that small, manageable pieces of an “unfun” responsibility will help me get the job done with far less resentment! In fact, I think I’m concluding that when it comes to the less important parts of my formula (like housework), perhaps the two choices are actually – break it down so that I don’t hate every minute spent doing it, or just say “screw it”, this “should-do” is no longer a part of my formula! I can always add it back in later right?
Let me know what responsibilities you have in your life that you struggle with and how you break them down into more tolerable chunks so you can actually motivate yourself to do them or when you decided to just eliminate that “should” from your formula all together!