I feel blessed to be able to work from home and be with my kids all day. It's a great life, even though it's not all fun and games. I normally have a pretty good routine for housework and other necessary but unlovely chores.
But some days? I just don't want to do my life. Yet my life must be done. I don't know if you've noticed this, but moms can't take vacation days or go on strike. And sometimes that lack of potential escape gets me down. When I feel lethargic, apathetic, or am tempted to procrastinate, I turn to a tried-and-true method of self-motivation, a little process I call "A Chapter and a Chore."
Step One: I find a book that looks juicy and compelling--one that I know I won't want to put down, one that will tempt me to shove saltines and DVDs at my children so that I can just keep reading. Some days it might be a romance or a fantasy; other days it might be a mystery or a horror novel. Or one of my favorite writers might have recently released a book I've been dying to read. I might find it at the library, on my overloaded shelves, or at the Kindle bookstore.
Step Two: I make a list of the chores I'm dreading. It might include decluttering the kitchen island or ironing or even (some days) writing. I love writing, but some days Resistance gets me by the throat, and I don't want to get my writing done. I can't explain it, but there it is.
Step Three: I read a chapter of the juicy book I found in Step One.
Step Four: I force myself to stop reading. This is the hardest step, but I MUST put the book down at the chapter's end.
Step Five: I do one chore on my list, or one part of a chore--depending on the length and complexity of the chore. I might iron one shirt, or declutter for 15 minutes, or write 1,000 words. I cross that task off my list once it's done.
Step Six: I go back to Step Three and repeat it and the following steps as necessary.
That's it. On days when my energy is low and my list is long, I am amazed at how much more I am able to cross off my list than if I had forced myself to plod through without any kind of carrot.
But the beauty of this process--other than accomplishing loathed tasks in a timely fashion--is that my mood lifts. I'm reading a fun book! I think about what's going to happen next while I'm doing my chores (unless I'm writing), and the chores seem to get done faster, because I can't wait to get back to the book.
You might think it would be better to do a chore first, but I find that once I've read a chapter and am excited to continue reading, I'm far more motivated to do that chore quickly and efficiently. It feels like an indulgence, and that helps me keep the martyr complex at bay.
Try it! Maybe you work all day, and when you get home, the laundry or the dishes or yard work seem too much to bear. Or maybe you've set a goal to write 5,000 words, and suddenly that seems horribly daunting. Or your two-year-old has dumped out all the toys from all the bins yet again and can't be expected to sort them all alone.
I'm betting A Chapter and a Chore might just get you through those moments with grace and ease. Or maybe it's just me. So if you DO try my method, let me know in a comment.
Now. My guest room needs cleaning, and I just downloaded the new J.K. Rowling novel. Time to get going!