Disclaimer: I'm not referring to difficulties with productivity due to major life transitions (i.e. pregnancy complications, postpartum time and other extenuating circumstances). I believe we need to be patient with ourselves during those transitions so that we can launch back into life when the time comes.
For years, an internal battle took place in my heart surrounding productivity. It was hard for me to consider why some tasks and chores were getting done and others were not. I felt like I was spinning my wheels without much to show for it especially while raising young children.
I considered why it was so difficult to be productive around the house:
I had a daily to-do list but I was thrown off by interruptions (young children).
I thought that getting stuff done was easier for everyone else than it was for me.
I was easily distracted (by my phone – I wish I could blame it on my young children).
I was not decisive about which tasks to tackle first.
There were many ways I sabotaged my productivity. However, it turns out that ultimately, my lack of productivity was due to the fact that I lacked the conviction that these tasks are worthwhile and necessary to me, my family and our home life.
That is difficult for me to admit but I have proof that it came down to a lack of conviction.
I was not convicted that having a solid laundry routine was worthwhile or necessary. This was evident by the overflowing laundry baskets and my inability to see a whole load through from start to finish. We were pulling out clothes from a laundry basket of clean clothes and my three-year-old was constantly yelling that he didn’t have any clean underwear in his drawer (it was in the clean laundry basket!). Someday I can blame that on him but at this point in his life, that is totally my problem. Parenting is so humbling.
I was doing laundry constantly and it felt chaotic. I knew something needed to change but I still wasn’t convinced that merely having a laundry system was worthwhile and necessary. I wanted to do something more exciting like going to a playdate or volunteering for that thing at that place or going for a walk – anything sounded better than doing laundry.
Then, I read this encouragement from author Charles Duhigg: “Make a chore into a meaningful decision and self-motivation will emerge.”
I tried it – I turned laundry into a meaningful decision and I was motivated.
I told myself, “If I do this laundry and put it away, we will have clean clothes. If we have clean clothes, we can get ready for the day. If we can get ready for the day, we can conquer the day. If we can conquer the day, we can conquer the world. Therefore, if I do this laundry, we can conquer the world.”
Too much of a leap? Probably. But I found I was more motivated to do laundry when I made it less about laundry itself and more about the freedom we'd gain by having it under control. Having a system for these foundational, basic chores eliminated stress and worry and allowed me to conquer other unexpected things through out the day.
I experienced a shift in mindset. Rather than believing that these everyday tasks and chores were mundane and pointless, I turned them into meaningful decisions I make each day and fruit was borne immediately.
I found that by completing these chores, my family and I slowly restored order in our home. Now we experience greater freedom to take on whatever life throws at us because we have a firm foundation of routine and order to stand upon. I am convicted that these tasks are worthwhile and necessary to me, my family and my home.
Do you lack productivity and the conviction that an everyday task is worthwhile and necessary? If so, try turning the seemingly mundane task into a meaningful decision today. Your work is worth it.
P.S. Would you be interested in a how-to post about laundry or other household tasks? If yes, click the "like" button below. I'm gauging interest for future posts. I'm not an expert but I'd love to share what works for me. Thanks for reading!
Update - I wrote a series on laundry and what has worked for me and my family. Read the series: Once-a-Week Laundry Links.