I think one of the big problems in keeping up on daily housework is the sheer never-endingness of it. You clean something and a day or two later, you have to clean it again. And again. The sheer repetition of it just grinds you down after a while. That’s what we call housework burnout.
And let’s face it, gratitude for those day-to-day small tasks is almost non-existent. No one ever says “Thank you” for the 30th time you’ve cleaned the kitchen this month. No one ever gets excited about another load of laundry that is washed for them, even if it’s the 10th load you’ve washed this week. It’s just human nature to not notice when things are going right. Unfortunately, it’s also human nature to gripe when things are going wrong.
For me, the source of burnout is when I try to make a big change and I end up failing. Again. I am such a creature of habit that changing my ways is a monumental task for me, and each new attempt I make is like rolling a boulder uphill.
But the alternative is to allow yourself to just marinate in your bad habits, and that’s not a good thing either. So, how to get that boulder rolling back up the hill again?
Tip #1 – Back to the drawing board. Part of it is to acknowledge that your previous attempt was unsuccessful and try to determine why. Look at it from all angles and see where you ran into difficulties. Did you pick too ambitious a goal? Maybe you got distracted with other things. Did you get discouraged and just give up? Now look at how you can restructure things to work around that problem.
Tip #2 – Try something new. I always get excited when I’ve got something new and different to try. Read new books or ask your friends which techniques have worked for them. Maybe even try taking a break from a goal that’s too difficult and work on something related, but somewhat easier. It’s a lot easier to feel motivated when you’ve had some success in one area.
Tip #3 – Enlist a coach or an accountability partner. Sometimes working on a goal with a friend or relative can give you some extra motivation. However, this can backfire as well, so you need to choose your partner carefully. If you pick someone who is flaky or not committed to making a permanent change, that could really mess you up.
One tactic might be to find someone who is already successful at the goal you are working towards and ask them to help you. Or you might consider working with a personal trainer or a life coach. I had a life coach for about 2 years and it was amazing. It’s nice to have an hour a week or so to just focus on yourself and have someone hold you accountable for your progress.
Tip #4 – Check your timing. You never want to start a new change program when you have major distractions going on, such as a new job, a baby, or a crisis like a seriously ill loved one. Also pick your best time of day. If you are one of these bright chirpy morning birds, that’s when you want to do your housework. For me, I’m more of a night owl. I’d rather do mine after dinner in the evening.
On the other hand, the holidays can be a surprisingly good time to start. Even though there is a lot going on and it can be stressful, getting your household routines on automatic pilot can be so helpful in dealing with all the holiday chaos. Flylady does this every year, she calls it “Cruising through the Holidays” and she has a series of holiday-related activities that she breaks down into small 15 minute daily tasks.
Tip #5 – Depend on systems, not willpower. Don’t blame yourself too much if you’ve failed at a task. So many people think that willpower is the answer to everything, when in most cases, we are more influenced by our surroundings than our willpower. Simplify things to make it easier – use your storage properly, put like things together, keep your cleaning supplies handy, make lists, build daily routines. Those are going to be more helpful to you than depending on your willpower.
Instead concentrate on building skills, identifying specific small changes that will boost your abilities. Try surrounding yourself with friends who want to help you change rather than accomplices who will sabotage your change.
If you have friends or relatives who like to overeat, shop too much, or sneer at your home improvement goals, then it may be time to get some new friends, or at least have a conversation about how their behaviors are not supporting your heartfelt attempts at change. They might not realize it.
Tip #6 – Reward yourself. Small frequent rewards help a lot, even if it’s something silly like stickers, or a check mark on a calendar. Sometimes little things like that can be great motivators to defeat your burnout.
On the other hand, fear of loss can be a good motivator too. Give a friend $20 to hold and they can’t give it back to you until you’ve stuck with your goal for 5 days in a row. Yikes! But you can see how something like that could make you take your change more seriously and make an intense and lasting commitment. If you aren’t willing to gamble a few bucks on yourself, you might not be as serious about change as you believed.
So, devote an evening or two to analyzing your previous efforts, identifying changes you can make. Then you can put together your new anti-burnout plan. And start rolling that boulder back up the hill….