How to Have Fun at a Task You Hate. Really?

ScreamingI don’t know about you, but I hate, hate, hate cleaning my bathroom! Particularly the toilet – it’s smelly, dirty, yucky and I don’t want to do it. I try to figure out a way to get someone else in my family to do it for me – barter, bribes, threats of bodily injury – but in the end, the duty usually falls to me.

My typical way of dealing with this chore is to put it off, use another bathroom, pretend it’s not that bad, distract myself with another episode of “House of Cards” or come up with another reason why I am just too busy to deal with the bathroom. I mean, do you really think that Claire Underwood would have to clean her toilet?

This game I play with myself continues until I can’t take the yuckiness, anymore, and I FORCE myself to do it. Then I suffer. I mean really suffer. I drag my feet, I mumble under my breath, I come up with really creative swear words to express the injustice I feel as I scrub away — with every movement a confirmation that this particular form of suffering is unfair, and definitely, unjust.

I whine, “Why do I have to do this, anyway? I am not the only one who messes up the bathroom, you know.” I find that I cycle these thoughts throughout my entire stint in bathroom servitude; and the more I think these thoughts, the angrier I get. Once it’s over, however, I sigh, feeling the sweet lightness of freedom. I forget about the pain and suffering, I even forget about the bad words. I expect this feeling of lightness, of ease, to last but it never does. In an instant, it’s gone because somebody else messed up the bathroom — AGAIN!

So one of my favorite coaches of all time, Wendy Hart, asks, “How can you make this fun?” “Fun?,” I say to myself. “Wendy, are you crazy?, Who would ever think that it is fun to clean the bathroom? Bathroom servitude IS never fun. It’s servitude, Wendy — akin to slavery? Hello? It sucks and I hate it.” By the way, Wendy is not aware that I am talking to a make believe version of her in my head right now. Wendy continues, “Try to have fun and see what happens.” I shake my head in disbelief, first at the realization that I am listening to an imaginary Wendy, and secondly, because I don’t believe anyone could ever enjoy cleaning the bathroom. But Wendy, being Wendy, makes me want to give it a shot and what follows is quite surprising.

Being an expert on avoidance, I decide that before I tackle the bathroom, and have fun doing it, I need to do a little bit of research on fun which leads me to the idea of play. You see, more information is good and the more time it takes, the better. Since my research is related to cleaning the bathroom – it counts as progress, sort of.

In an article titled, “Work hard, play harder: Fun at work boosts creativity,”* Stuart Brown*, MD, and Director of the National Institute of Play is quoted as saying, “All sorts of creative new connections are made when you’re playing that otherwise would never be made.” So I think that if play = fun, then having fun = creative new connections. Basically, I have an MD saying that I can be more creative if I “play” when I clean my bathroom.

“Yeah, I think that’s not working for me either.”

As I do more research, I follow the rabbit hole from play to playful habits to rules about playful habits to rules about thinking about the rules regarding playful habits all the way down to the realization that my bathroom is still waiting for me. Beckoning me, once more, to suffer.

So, what’s the bottom line? I want to have fun at a task I hate. The only way to find out if this idea works is to test it. I mean if I can have fun cleaning the bathroom, what other possibilities can exist for me? Stay tuned to find out what my test revealed, next week. 🙂

PS Do you think writing a blog post about my intention to clean my bathroom this week would actually get me to do it????

* “Work hard, play harder: Fun at work boosts creativity,” Laura Tarkan, September 15, 2012

You can check out Stuart Brown’s Ted Talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_brown_says_play_is_more_than_fun_it_s_vital.html

 

 

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