Can Finally Doing Your Chores Help You Write More?

Can Finally Doing Your Chores Help You Write More?

I was an untidy child.

Where my brother relied on a ruler to line up his toy cars, I lived with jumbled abandon. Thank heavens our mother was teetotal, or the ghastly state of my bedroom would surely have driven her to drink.

I can’t remember when it was — or what prompted it, for that matter — but at some point I changed. Always one for extremes, I went from being super scruffy to annoyingly tidy. It turns out being too much of a neat freak is just as counterproductive. Maybe even more so.

I spent countless hours scrubbing every nook and cranny of my home with a toothbrush and all I got for my effort was a fleeting sense of accomplishment (and washerwoman hands). Not pretty or productive.

I eventually let go of my compulsive behavior and found a happy medium. Now I focus on doing the right thing at the right time. But what does this have to do with writing more?

Why mornings (and evenings) matter

What do your mornings look like? Do you fly out the door with wet hair and a slice of toast clenched between your teeth?

If that sounds like you, you’re either a snooze-button junkie or you’re doing stuff in the morning that you could be doing the night before. Both can make for a stressful start to your day. Rushed mornings can also mean you come home to a pile of dirty dishes, an unmade bed, or other tasks you didn’t get around to doing.

Living like this drains your energy and saps your creativity. Is it any wonder you’re not writing more? Or at all, for that matter?

Think about what you can do in the evenings or on the weekend that will give you more time in the morning: ironing a shirt, polishing shoes, packing lunch, etc.. Using this approach will not only give you a sense of accomplishment; you’ll also feel more relaxed knowing you have less to tackle in the mornings.

The indisputable benefits of being a neat freak

Chores suck, I get it, but the alternative is worse. If you get into the habit of not just staying on top of your chores, but actually doing them at the right time, your life will transform itself.

You’ll be more creative. It will help you overcome that bout of writer’s block you’ve been struggling with.

Messy surroundings leave you uninspired and unable to focus. The opposite is also true. Without the distraction of clutter your mind is free to create.

You’ll have more time for the things that matter.

You can put all that extra time you used to spend doing last-minute chores to much better use. You could write 500 words for your new novel, pitch that magazine, outline a blog post, schedule your editorial calendar for the rest of the year. The list goes on.

It will free you up to plan for freelance-writing success.

Whether you are already a free agent or if intend to quit your cubicle in the not-too-distant future, the sooner you start planning for your imminent success, the sooner it will happen.

Time is elastic

We’ve all experienced how five minutes can feel like a week or how an hour can fly by in a nanosecond. When you focus on doing things at the right time, you’ll get them done sooner. Conversely, leaving your chores until the last minute invariably means they’ll take longer.

Why? Your head isn’t in it.

Doing something the night before won’t make it more fun, but you’ll be focused on the task at hand and ultimately more efficient. Leave it until the morning and your mind will be elsewhere (the office, the traffic, your inbox, etc.).

Doing the things you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do them is boring and nerdy.

Obviously you’d rather be [fill in the blank], but at least give it a try before you count it out. You can thank me (in vegan cupcakes) later.

How do you plan your daily chores so you still have time to write?

Filed Under: Craft


  • Ashri Mishra says:

    I read your blog. It’s very useful for me.

  • Duke Stewart says:

    I’m slowly becoming a chores-first kind of person, even though it’s been a struggle to reach this point. When I was working from home (which I intend to do again), I’d work in 50-minute blocks and take 10 each hour to do something around the house. I’d occasionally go over but as long as both the chores and my work were getting done, then fine. I agree, Angela, that you have to clear everything else around you in order to stay inspired. I get frustrated when our house is messy and even looking around, I’m struggling to complete this comment. In fact, I’ll finish now and attend to some dishes that are nagging me!

    • Angela Horn says:

      Ha ha ha. Hope you got to all those chores Duke! I know people do work in messy surroundings, but honestly, I’m not sure how they manage? I know writers often use housework as an excuse to procrastinate (guilty!), but surely messy surroundings stifle one’s creative juices?! 🙂

  • Jaana Hatton says:

    I’m with you with the concept of keeping you surroundings orderly; it does affect the mind. What’s more, I tend to “write” my stories in my head while I’m doing mindless tasks such as vacuuming. Twice the benefit!

  • Ha ha ha . . . good point, and definitely something I could be better about. It would certainly free my mind.

    • Angela Horn says:

      Yip, it’s one of those things where it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you actually try it. Let us know if you give it a go and how it works out for you Shannon! 🙂

  • Part of getting myself organized is reading the newspaper in the morning — I like to know how the world is going. I could get a few extra sparks of creative energy if I didn’t do that — it’s probably “just a habit” — but that’s my one exception. Otherwise, the energy of morning, which includes the dreams of the night before, is the richest time to write.

    • Angela Horn says:

      Hey Ann,

      I totally agree, morning energy is rich with creativity. Although I’m not a night owl, so of course I’d say that! Ha ha.

      On the subject of your morning newspaper habit I’d challenge you to replace it with something more uplifting. I’m a huge proponent of not reading (watching etc.) the news, because for the most part it’s not that positive. However, if you like the space your morning read provides, then something like this is a great option:

      Just my opinion obviously! 😉

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