In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin outlines her secrets of adulthood. I like a lot of her thoughts, especially “What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you–and vice versa” (in fact, I think I’ve blogged about that here before!). And today, I have one I’d like to unofficially add to the list:

Many of the things we dread and put off don’t actually take that long to do.

Emptying the dishwasher was the first task that made me realize this truth. (My mom, who spent my entire childhood and adolescence trying to get me to do this chore will probably not believe her eyes.) Andy does the dishes in our household, but I’m responsible for putting things away when they’re clean. When the dishwasher and dish drainer are full of clean dishes, he doesn’t do the dishes because he doesn’t have anywhere to put them. And then a vicious cycle begins where I get frustrated that the kitchen is messy and then become unfairly frustrated at him, when really, if I were to just do my job, he would do his readily! I’ll leave clean dishes in the dishwasher for days sometimes, opening it when I need a particular item that I know is in there and then conscientiously locking it back so we know they’re clean. I tell myself, “Oh, I don’t have time to empty that right now.” But when you get right down to it, emptying the dishwasher takes about 4.2 minutes. (I should time it some day. But it’s not very long at all.) By the time I get around to doing it, I’ve spent far more time being anxious over doing than it takes to actually do it. And how stupid is that?!

Other tasks that might be good fodder for the list of things that don’t take as long as you think they will include:

  • making the bed
  • flossing your teeth
  • setting the table
  • making a grocery list
  • getting gas (assuming a gas station is convenient along your route)

These are small tasks, sure, but when you write them on your to-do list and hem and haw over when is the best time to do them, they’re all of a sudden inflated into much bigger deals.

What are some tasks you unnecessarily put off that don’t take very long to do?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman