Anatomy of a Chore: How to Motivate Yourself

Mohkam_MoppingWe all have tasks we need to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if you completely dismiss my advice and never cook your own food or you outsource your apartment cleaning. At some point, you will have a chore, task, or errand that needs doing. Many of these chores can save you plenty of money to spend on what actually matters.

How do you handle chores? Do you whine? Do you procrastinate? Do you get stressed? Admittedly, I have done all of these at one point or another. There is no doubt that the idea of a chore is awful! In fact, almost every time, I find that the idea of the chore is much worse than the actual chore itself. Here is how chores usually play out for me:


  • Before the Chore: Oh hey look, my TV is right here and watching something (ANYTHING!) would be easier than doing that stupid chore.
  • During the Chore: Ok, this isn’t so bad. I can get into a groove and get through this.
  • After the Chore: Look at what I just accomplished! Man, that feels good.

You will notice that in the end, my feeling towards chores is actually positive. Somehow, my pre-chore self always forgets that aspect. And when I am done with chores, watching TV or just relaxing is more enjoyable than if I still have a task hanging over my head.

So how should you use this to motivate yourself to be more productive and accomplish your tasks?

  1. After accomplishing a task or chore, make sure to take a few seconds to feel good about a job well done. Cultivate that positive feeling and association with being productive.
  2. Before starting a chore, remind yourself of how you will feel once the task is done.
  3. Before starting a chore, remind yourself that actually doing the chore is not as bad as you are expecting.

For multiple chores and tasks, lists are great as well. Many of my colleagues talk about the power of crossing items off a list. I think that is a great way to accomplish the “feel good about a job well done” part as well. Being thoughtful about your chores only takes a few seconds, but I have found that it can increase productivity at work and at home.

How do you motivate yourself to accomplish tasks and knock out chores?

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12 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Chore: How to Motivate Yourself

  1. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life January 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I always put off cleaning my apartment, but I always feel better afterward. Though I do have to admit that once I become financially free, I’m hiring a housekeeper 😉
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    • Mr NYBudget January 11, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      It’s good to know your priorities! I don’t mind cleaning so much, but I used to THINK I minded it quite a bit. But yeah, if you really, truly hate it, then it’s great to be able to choose what you spend your money on.

  2. Kristin January 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I turn on some music and zone out. Once I dig into them, I actually…dare I say…kind of enjoy doing chores. Instead of constantly being stimulated by TV/Internet/technology, I’m left alone with my thoughts, and it’s kinda meditative. Is that weird? That’s probably weird.
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    • Mr NYBudget January 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Not weird at all! I bet it’s much easier for you to actually START chores than most because you realize you enjoy them! It’s a great point though, that you bring up. These days, we don’t get a whole lot of quiet time to unwind and chores can be kinda meditative!

  3. Fig @ Figuring Money Out January 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I hate chores and always put off cleaning. Everything I need to do always seems like so much work before I do it, then it’s easy to get done, and I feel sooo much better after I’ve done the cleaning.
    Fig @ Figuring Money Out recently posted: Do I Need Life Insurance?My Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Exactly! Now you just have to remember that feeling the next time you are trying to motivate yourself to do a chore!

  4. Liz January 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I usually keep a list of everything that needs to get done. When I get something done I cross it off my list. I love watching my list shrink and being able to see everything I’ve accomplished.

    • Mr NYBudget January 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Absolutely – crossing tasks off a list is incredibly satisfying!

  5. romona@monasez January 15, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I motivate myself by just telling myself to do things. Its a very simple and effective strategy.
    romona@monasez recently posted: Real Estate Investing for Beginners: No Money StrategiesMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I wish I had that kind of inner motivation. Unfortunately, procrastination has been a problem for me in the past.

  6. Broke Millennial January 16, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I’m a list maker and LOVE crossing tasks off so that’s one way I motivate myself. I also carry around my laptop and stream TV shows so I get entertained while I clean. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll “procrasticlean” aka procrastinate other work by cleaning.
    Broke Millennial recently posted: Q&A with ‘The Economy of You’ author Kimberly PalmerMy Profile

    • Mr NYBudget January 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

      That’s a great tip! I have actually started listening to podcasts while I clean as well. Productive cleaning is IN for 2014!

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