Household chores have a way of piling up, don’t they? Work and other obligations take up most of our days, so when we do have free time, the last thing we want to do is even more work. Yet, as we all know, routine maintenance supports a functional household — and improves our mental health.
My clients with ADHD have shared with me all the ways that chores get sidelined, interrupted, and avoided due to ADHD. The never-ending nature of chores makes getting started and staying motivated nearly impossible. Distractions and competing priorities keep chores in a perpetually incomplete state. And no matter the issue, problems vanquishing household chores almost always lead to feelings of frustration and incompetence.
The only way to help you start, persist, and finish those pesky household chores (and do it all again) is to come up with a system that works for you. That may require you to take a step back and reassess your current approach to chores. Here are five steps to help you rethink chores, get motivated to clean, and follow an upkeep process that fits your life.
1. Identify all the household chores that are important to you. Think of the bare minimum that you need to feel good in your living space. Is it a dining table clear of clutter? No clothes on the floor? Take the time to write out a list of realistic to-dos that matter to you, even if they are challenging to complete.
2. Break down all chores into their smallest steps to reduce overwhelm. A multi-step chore like “doing laundry,” for example, turns into sort clothes; wash clothes; dry clothes; dump dry clothes into basket; bring basket to the bedroom; and so on. Smaller steps are easier to tackle and allow you to be more realistic about what you can accomplish.
3. Set times for completing chores (and tasks) in a way that fits with your lifestyle. Is it best to schedule a block of time to work through all the chores on your list? Or would it be better to do one or two small chores daily? Would you be more productive first thing in the morning or at end of your day? Can you do the first two steps of a chore today, and the rest tomorrow? The key here is to be honest with yourself about reasonable ways to incorporate household chores into your daily life.
4. Identify your sore spots and obstacles to starting chores. What makes starting a particular chore difficult for you?
5. Help yourself stay on track while doing chores.
6. Take time to notice your accomplishments. Once you’ve completed a chore, take in how the area looks and feels. Grab a picture of your space and print a copy to remind yourself of how good it feels to successfully manage your home. With each step of a chore, share your progress with a friend or family member who will cheer you on. Reflect on the strategies that were most helpful to you in the process so you can continue to use them in the future.
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