Let Your Passions Help You With Your Chores, or An Ode to Podcasts

It’s 3:30 p.m — almost the end of a long, exhausting (if fun) day. The kids are winding down for a rare, quiet moment with a book, or a toy, or a show on TV, and I know it’s time to start thinking about dinner. We have friends coming over, and while I don’t like to stress about “making things perfect” for guests, I do like to tidy up a bit.

I glance around to assess the house, only to get a peek at the kitchen sink and see the whole day’s dishes piled up — I like to clean as I go, but today I just never seemed to get to them. The dish pile matches the pile of crumbs under the kitchen table and the pile of laundry on my bed that’s still in a bit of a boxy shape from when I dumped it out of the basket this morning.

I see all that, and yet, what do I honestly feel like doing? Probably something along the lines of flopping on the couch to close my eyes for just a few minutes, or better yet, pulling out my glasses and Kindle to do a bit of reading.

It seems my motivation to be productive is sapped. There are things I know I need to do, but they seem impossible. And while rest is indeed valuable, sometimes — whether in the late afternoon or when the kids have finally gone to bed — there are chores to be done, no matter how lacking my motivation may be.

Sound familiar at all? (Please tell me I’m not the only one who would usually rather hide in the pantry with a piece of chocolate than wash the dishes.)

What I’ve been finding lately though is that all I really need is a catalyst to spark my motivation, because once I accomplish something, one thing leads to another. I found this to be true when I was pulling myself out of a funk a few months ago, and I find it to be true when comes to undesirable housework.

The answer is so easy that it sounds cliché, but it’s as simple as this: finding something that distracts me, energizes me a bit, and keeps me going.

For you, maybe that means going for a quick run before you start your housework, or putting on some upbeat music. I’m not much of a runner, but I hear those endorphins are powerful, and I’ve definitely got some Spotify playlists designed to be played at a particular time of day that needs a little boost.

For me, and I think for many others, the best tool I’ve found to motivate me to get up and do the work that needs to be done is the wonderful world of podcasts. At first I began listening to podcasts when I was driving or on the treadmill, but then I began to see how powerful they are for me at home as well.

As an extrovert, I think that popping in my ear buds and turning on a conversation between two people energizes me the way spending quality time with people does. And listening to a podcast definitely distracts me as I begin the task at hand. My mind isn’t focused on how mundane it is to rinse the millionth fork of the day; it’s captivated by something that is entertaining, inspiring, encouraging, or educational (or all of the above!).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, as someone to whom keeping up with housework doesn’t come naturally, podcasts have changed my homemaking life.

There’s just something about listening to a podcast that actually — I can’t believe I’m saying this — makes me want to do more housework (my mom’s jaw just hit the floor), just so I can keep listening. Multi-tasking isn’t always actually that productive for me, but this is one area where I can fill my mind and soul while also doing things that need to be done.

Everyone’s tastes are different, but here are a few of my favorites right now:

The real lesson is that, like anything, you have to find what works for you. If you haven’t found a motivator for getting things done yet, I encourage you to try out a few podcasts. And now that podcasts are so prevalent, it seems like you can find one to inspire and encourage you in the area of any number of passions or preferences that you might have (my husband listens to shows such as the Baseball Tonight podcast, Serial, and How Stuff Work).

So pop in an ear bud or two, find a podcast that speaks to your heart and before you know, your floors and sink will shine and you’ll be surprised at how much laundry gets folded.

Editor’s note: This post was previously published on October 1, 2015.

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