I’ll hazard to guess if you’re here reading this blog post that sometimes, every once in a while, on occasion, you don’t feel like doing chores around your house.
What? You mean you’re a normal human being?
There is no shame in acknowledging that we are not motivated to do all the things all the time. Or even some of the things some of the time.
We moms know especially well the certain burnout that comes with the endless list of our mothering and homemaking responsibilities.
So it’s perfectly natural that you may frequently not feel like washing your dishes or sweeping your floors or picking up your kids’ messes for the kabillionth time.
Nevertheless, those things still need to get done, so I’m going to equip you with a few tools you can use to hack your brain into doing your tasks anyway. Yep! We’re going to trick you into feeling motivated!
What You Need to Understand About Motivation
Before we start tricking your brain into decluttering the top of your dresser (that’s right, I see your little piles of stuff), we need to understand what motivation is and where it comes from.
Once we have that squared away, it becomes much easier to catalyze our productivity. Once you know the formula, you can start making your own motivation instead of waiting for it to happen by chance.
So here’s the low-down.
Motivation is not the springboard to success. It’s not your starting point.
You can’t just sit around and wait to feel motivated before you do something because motivation is actually the result of success.
So, if you want to feel motivated, you need to produce a small win for yourself.
By building off of a few small successes, you can then leverage motivation to build momentum.
Now that we understand we have to create motivation, here are some tricks you can use to help get yourself rolling and start generating that motivation!
11 Ways to Hack Your Motivation When You Just Don’t Feel Like Chores
Here are a few tricks I use when I need to make a dent in my to-do list and I’d really rather just not.
By no means should you have to use all of these every single time! Think of this as a toolbox you can draw from based on the need. Some days, certain tricks may work better for you than others.
Some of these tools are mutually exclusive, but many of them can be used in tandem to multiply the effects!
Do a two minute task
In my opinion, one of the best ways to get motivated for housework is to start with something so easy, so simple, so quick, that it’s practically easier to do it than not.
Pick a really small, fast task that will only take you a minute or two to do.
Chances are, once you’ve done that, you’ll figure that since you’re up anyway, you might as well knock out this other tiny little task, too, and before you know it, you’re on a roll!
Remember how we just need that small success to create a little motivation? This is exactly that.
OR, you can…
Eat the frog
Don’t worry, there’s no actual amphibian consumption required for this one.
Basically, Mark Twain is credited with having said that if you start your day by eating a live frog, then the worst part of your day is behind you, and if you have to eat two frogs, eat the bigger one first. (According to my research, though, that’s probably not actually from Twain. Sorry).
The principle is this: start by knocking out the task you’re dreading the most. Once you’ve done that, it’s all downhill from there! And, even if you get nothing else accomplished, at least you’ve killed the big bad wolf.
Sometimes, this works well for me, but other times, the two minute task is more effective. Know yourself! If one trick fails, try something else.
Choose an incentive
Who didn’t love adding stickers to some form of achievement chart as a kid, or digging in the treasure chest for a prize at the dentist’s office after sitting impeccably still through 37 minutes of psychological torture?
I don’t know about you, but even as an adult, incentives still work pretty well for me, especially if they’re edible or involve the word “Target.”
When you really don’t feel like doing something, offer yourself a reward. It doesn’t have to be big (like a shopping spree) to be effective, and actually, the most effective incentives have immediate payoff, even if they’re tiny. It also doesn’t always have to have calories…
Maybe you tell yourself, “If I just load the dishwasher and get it running, I can sit and read a chapter of my book,” or “Once I clean the bathroom, I’ll have this tasty cake truffle I’ve been eyeing all morning.”
Maybe you hold off starting another pot of coffee until you’ve tidied your bedroom, or you do a facemask after finishing post-dinner cleanup.
Whatever works for you.
Pair a task you don’t like with something you do like
Sometimes you can even have your dessert with your vegetables.
Some tasks are prime for pairing with an activity you enjoy.
If you’re dreading ironing your husband’s 5000 dress shirts, turn on a tv show you like.
Listen to a podcast while you mop the house, or play some music while you pick up kids’ toys (wondering why on earth you ever bought them to begin with).
But a word of caution… Give yourself a time limit on choosing your entertainment. If it takes you 12 minutes to find a podcast or choose a YouTube video, you could already be finishing whatever chore you had to do to begin with. (Been there done that…)
Move your body
It’s the first law of motion that an moving body stays moving and a body sitting on its butt stays sitting on its butt.
If you’re kicked back on the couch thinking about the to-dos you want not to-do, you’re more likely to stay there.
But if you get up and start moving around your house, you’re already a step closer to productivity. You will feel more like getting things done if you’re moving around.
At first, don’t even worry about whatever task you’re avoiding. Get up to do something else, like walk around your house, take the kiddos outside, have a living room dance party, anything!
Then once you’re moving, revist the whole chores thing. You’ll be a lot more ammenable to it.
When you look around at alllllll the things you have to do, it can be really overwhelming.
Take a couple of minutes to create a list of the tasks you need to accomplish that day and determine which ones take priority.
If you know you can’t do all of the things on your list in that day, then designate which tasks can wait for another day. It’s a huge motivation damper to start your day already knowing you can’t finish your work.
Once you actually start cleaning, don’t get distracted by jobs that didn’t make the cut.
I’m horrible at that part. I might carry clean onesies into the nursery to put away, notice the window sill is dusty, and before you know it, I’m washing windows in the basement.
Make your list, set your priorities, and note down any other tasks you’re distracted by for another day.
Set a timer
If you’re at all competitive, there’s just something about setting a timer that can kick you into high gear.
If you’re dragging your feet on housework, set a timer for an amount of your choice (shorter times–30 mins or less–are better), and race to see how much you accomplish before it goes off.
Pair this trick with your reward when the timer rings and you’ve got a power combo!
Pull off the monster mask
In the good old Scooby Doo toons, every episode or movie always ends with the team unmasking the villain, and of course, the disguise was always far scarier than the poor shmuck underneath.
Most of your chores are the pitiful little guy under the mask. We build them up in our heads to be big and daunting, imagining them taking up our whole day, when really, many of them take far less time to complete than we realize.
Cleaning the bathroom, for instance. Seriously, how long does it really take you to wipe off the counter and toilet, swish the brush around the bowl, and maybe even sweep the floor?
3 minutes? 5 minutes?
Stare your chores straight in the face and pull the scary mask off by being realistic about how much time it will actually take you to complete a job.
A good way to do this is by looking at your to-do list and writing down reasonable time estimates next to each task. For added impact, start a stopwatch when you begin a task and time just how long it actually takes you to do. Probably way less time than you were expecting, especially if you focus!
Create a daily cleaning routine
Another way to bolster your motivation is just by making your regular housework a habit.
The more routine your daily tasks are, the less your brain will fight completing them.
If you need help creating a daily cleaning routine, be sure to download my free cleaning routine designer!! I also have a huge post all about how to keep house, along with several others on productivity and cleaning strategies (see the homemaking category).
Open all the blinds/curtains
I absolutely love to start my day by opening up all of the blinds and curtains in my house to let in as much natural light as possible. Even on cloudy or rainy days!
Not only does it bring an organic surge of energy, but it also illuminates the dust and dirt hanging out on all of my home’s surfaces.
Bring in the fresh air (weather permitting)
In addition to letting in the natural light, if the weather permits, open up your doors and windows as well to bring in the fresh air!
Fresh air just has this magical property that lifts my mood and brings me so much joy and motivation.
And as a bonus, it makes the housework a lot more enjoyable!
Now I want to hear from you!
Do you have any little tricks to motivate yourself? Which chores do you have the hardest time wanting to do?
Tell me about it in the comments below!