3 Efficient Steps to Make Boring ( But Essential ) Habits Effortless
Doing laundry is my Disneyland. It can be yours too!
If you ask my flatmates what I do all day ( excluding work ), you’ll hear two things, “doing laundry” and “boiling eggs”.
While eating a lot of eggs makes sense because I am bulking up for my self-guided fitness challenge, doing laundry is one of the activities we want to sort out but feels boring even to start.
Not only laundry, cleaning your room for WFH, ordering groceries, taking out the trash, etc., are similar jobs that we need to do regularly but forget until the last moment.
Lucky for my flatmates, I take care of these minor but mandatory duties because I’ve found a way to make them less boring.
Here are three steps that I follow, and if you can customise them to your liking, you’ll get mental clarity because of the slowly building organisation mindset.
#1. Forget about finding the time.
For example, consider you don’t have — or want — the house help to do your laundry because you are cautious about the washing instructions and want to take care of your clothes because someone else wouldn’t be serious enough.
In such a case, time-blocking is an effective method to ensure you get started at the right time.
After waking up in the morning, I do laundry the first thing after freshening up as it frees up my mind that I’ve accomplished an important goal. Similarly, you can set the exact time to do an activity and then design your day around it.
#2. Organising is low-key adventurous.
You can make any job enjoyable without compromising productivity if it satisfies the following two conditions:
- It requires soft focus, i.e., you can multitask.
- You can pair it with a soul-grooving activity.
Cleaning your workspace is necessary because it helps you focus.
But when your bed and workstation are inches apart, the effect of cleaning is evident in your mood.
To ensure tidying up becomes enjoyable, pair it with an activity you enjoy from the core of your heart.
For example, after the morning post-workout shower ( with music ), I resume my playlist and do all the activities that elevate my mind to the organised-cum-ready-to-go state. That includes setting the bed, drying clothes that I washed in the morning, setting back the dry clothes from the previous day in the cupboard, taking out the trash, and pardon me for repeating this: boiling eggs.
There is a concept of power hour in the productivity dictionary. It means you set a time to finish all the activities that meet certain specifications:
- They don’t take long: 10 minutes max.
- They are similar: You can complete them together.
- They are essential: Postponing will only fester the mental load.
A power hour is not time-sensitive. It doesn’t have to be complete 60 minutes.
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
— Parkinson’s Law by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, The Economist, 1955
If you apply Parkinson’s Law and set the time that feels justified, you can get it done and move on with your day with a fresh mind.
For example, Monica Geller from Friends has made me nuts about hygiene, but I found it hard to make the behaviour effortless.
Once I found that multiple sub-activities can be clubbed and finished in a shorter time than anticipated, batch processing revealed two-fold benefits: time saver and energy saver.
If you’re like me, working near the bed ( or sometimes on top of it), being in a clean and organised room will boost your focus. It’s because now your mind is wholly occupied by the task at hand, not by the cluttered environment in the background — unless you’re a rare breed whose brain shines in chaos. In the latter case, I envy you.
To reduce the time it takes to get into deep focus, batch process the daily errands that would otherwise deplete your brainpower.
To save mental energy, I wish I had read James Clear’s Atomic Habits before creating my custom ritual to ace a new habit. Still, since I have already found my way to enjoy my habit development journey, James’ wisdom was the icing on my cake.
I’m not saying his book has nothing novel to add. Instead, it is practice-intensive. You must apply the techniques as you go. Otherwise, you’ll forget them.
If we don’t practice repetition, we forget faster than we remember.
While doing laundry might be something you hate to do regularly, you know its value when you look at your cupboard and see nothing.
To ensure you develop a healthy routine to master the boring ( but essential habits ), here is the summary of three points I shared above:
- Time-blocking. Release the mental pressure to find the time.
- Pair it with an activity you already enjoy. Examples are music, dancing, YouTube motivational videos, video game streaming, standup comedy, memes marathon, Netflix, a phone call with parents, etc. I tried porn also, but it was a huge distraction.
- Batch-process. Set aside around 10 minutes to organise your environment for a distraction-free experience. A clean space develops a peaceful mind.
“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.”
— Marie Kondo
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Sanjeev is a mentor, writer, and fitness enthusiast from India. He writes about lifelong learning, health, and positive psychology. When he’s not engaging with students or writing articles, he’s sweating in a workout, PC gaming or playing 8-ball pool. You can also find him on Twitter and Instagram.