How to be disorganized & unproductive, #1: don’t enjoy your job

This is the sixth and final part to a six part series here on Simple Mom.

Photo by Konstantin Sutyagin

Now stick with me on this one, because you’ll probably roll your eyes at the computer screen at first. In fact, this was the only key to disorganization and unproductivity that no one guessed when I first asked. But I really do think this is the most significant key in this series, because if it’s there, the other five keys are only intensified in their strength.

The number one key to a disorganized and unproductive home is to not have any fun on the job.

I hear your thoughts now, because they’ve played in my head. What’s fun about doing the dishes over and over and over and over and over again? What’s fun about being the only one who sees the crusted jelly on the kitchen table?

The answer to those questions lie in the questions themselves. They’re the wrong questions to ask, because the answer to those questions is a resounding “Nothing’s fun about it!”

The right question to ask yourself is this…

“This job has to be done. How can I make it enjoyable?”

You Choose Your Attitude

If you’ve ever worked outside the home, or if you still do while managing your home, then you know first-hand that there are always downsides to every job. Even your dream job has a negative side to it. For awhile, I thought it would be fun to run and bed and breakfast with my husband. It’s so quaint and cozy, you get to provide a comfortable place for people’s vacations, and you get to practically live like you’re on vacation. Not so much. You have to wake up early every morning to make breakfast for strangers. You get to wash a lot of linens and dust a lot of furniture. You get to balance accounts and deal with reservations and marketing in hopes of making a profit. I’m sure it’s a fun job, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that deflates the aura of that job for me.

Photo by Annalisa Antonini

Being a work-from-home mom is one of my dream jobs, so I’m ecstatic that I get to do it. There are indeed negatives, like the eternal dishes, not getting a ton of adult interaction, and being sticky for most of the day. Oh, and let’s not forget the less-than-stellar pay rate. But for me, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

A Few Benefits of the “Home Manager” Vocation:

You work directly for the most important people in your life. You’re not working for “the Man.”

You choose your priorities. No one is telling you that you have to fill out TPS reports, and you don’t have eight bosses to report to. The responsibility and privilege of planning your job is yours.

• Along those lines, you can cater to your preferences, gift mix, and skill set. How to find the career you were made for? Make the career you have – a home manager – be the ideal job crafted for you. Are you inately a planner? Then go for it! Are you more of a spontaneous, fly by the seat of your pants kind-of home manager? Embrace that preference, and make it work for you instead of against you. Basically, your job works for you, not the other way around.

Photo by Lee

There are a lot of freedoms. You can wear what you want, listen to whatever music you want, be as silly as you want, as creative as you want. Who else gets to finger paint at work? Okay, maybe a preschool or art teacher – but not many other people.

You’re the first-hand recipient of your kids’ milestones and memories. The first steps, the writing her first letters, the singing of that hilarious song – you’re there for it.

Make the Painful Stuff Fun

Yeah, but all those wonderful things don’t make the dishes do themselves, you’re probably thinking. True – you need to do them. But who says you can’t make them fun? We procrastinate the things we don’t enjoy doing. The solution to not procrastinating is to make the things you have to do more enjoyable.

Listen to your favorite music while you do your least favorite chore. Or play the podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to while you do the monotonous, brainless stuff.

Divide up the work in manageable chunks of time, so you’re not too overwhelmed.

Make it a game with your kids, and race to see who can put something up the fastest. Hide some pennies under the mess, and make a game out of who can find the most pennies. But the rule is – when you pick something up, you have to put it away.

Mop with old socks on your feet. Your kids will probably want to help.

Just be silly. Hop like a kangaroo while you dust. Sing into the spray bottle while you clean. Twirl and gallop while you vacuum.

Try to find the inherent joy in the chores that have been labeled as tedious. I actually enjoy doing the laundry. I hate doing the dishes, however, so I dwell on the idea that I’m taking care of the possessions God has given me. I get to be the one to put up the dishes wherever I want, and it’s a joy to have a kitchen full of well-organized, stacked dishes.

Smile. It sounds corny, I know, but it does make a difference. You’ll feel better, you’ll talk in a more pleasing tone, and your kids will love seeing their mama happy.

Photo by Edan Fiterman

Take pride in your work. You’re the queen of your castle! Enjoy the place you manage, and aim to make it pleasing for everyone living there.

• When you feel down about your job, take a moment to journal a list of things for which you’re thankful. You can even get the kids involved in this, and write your list on a big piece of butcher paper taped to the wall. My mood instantly improves whenever I do this.

When you truly enjoy your job, so much falls into place. You tend not to procrastinate as much, you find the best ways to manage your time, and you find the inherent joy in doing something well, even if it’s not perfect. This is why the number one antidote to a disorganized, unproductive day at home is to find joy in your work.

What do you like most about your job as a home manager? What’s your favorite perk? Have any fun tips on making the tedious stuff more enjoyable? I’d love to hear your experiences of having a changed attitude about your job. Let’s encourage each other!

This concludes the series on how to have a disorganized, unproductive day at home. My goal has been to encourage, motivate, inspire, and lift your spirit – not to make you feel hopeless, overwhelmed, or defeated before you even start the day. Your comments and thoughts have been wonderful – I’ve gained so much from your feedback and your ideas about this topic. I’ve created a button for this series on my sidebar, so that you can go back and re-read the articles and comments when you need a burst of encouragement. Here’s to a balanced life, so that we are more organized and productive at home! Many, many blessings to you.

Start the series How to be Disorganized & Unproductive at Home from the beginning:
Introduction | Key #6 | Key #5 | Key #4 | Key #3 | Key #2 | Key #1

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  2. Cornélie says:

    Playing with colors…that’s why I became an art teacher!…:-)
    I don’t work anymore and miss it! 🙁
    This post really speaks to me! It depend so much on ” how I feel ” while I am working at home, just putting the radio on helps!I have not energy left if I am depressed…

  3. I really love this one. It’s so true. It makes me cringe when my friends talk about “doing chores”. We’re grown women and homemakers – we can either look at it as painful and annoying and laced with guilt or we can find the pleasure in a well – kept home full of love. I have actually been thinking of a post of my own that once you find a way to be happy with the work done at home, there is less guilt about it. So the laundry didn’t get folded today. No guilt. My home is not a chore. It’s a place I am blessed with to be able to comfortably raise my family and enjoy my days. I take pleasure in making it a haven for us. And on days I don’t, or can’t. No biggie. But by enjoying it and appreciating it, there are that many fewer days of things not getting done.

  4. @Cornélie – Have you found ways to incorporate art into being at home? I’d love to hear how!

    @Emily – That sounds like a great post. Write it, sister!

  5. So true. I’ve been trying to teach this to my oldest kiddo. We “play off each other” emotionally – so I try to encourage him to think positively.

    Avlor’s last blog post…Children are strange…

  6. I listen to This American Life on my ipod while I clean up in the evening and OMG, it’s one of the highpoints of my day.

  7. What a perfect ending to a great series.
    You have gotten my day off just right!
    Thank You!

  8. I just wan you know my favourite piece advice that you have given me. The idea of just doing small snatches of work and then something. else. This has been helping me to accomplish more. Thanks Cherrie

  9. This series has been an EXCELLENT one. And today gave me a few more reasons to love my job. 🙂 Thanks!

    Sarah Bray’s last blog post…What to do with injured and orphaned wildlife

  10. This was a great post .. I used to hate doing dishes until I wasn’t able to do them for 8 days. Our water and power was out for 8 days following a freak blizzard in our area. Ever since, I’ve looked at cleaning chores in a different light. The only thing worse than doing the dishes is not being able to do them!

  11. My grandma had a metal trivet that now rests next to my sink. The faded paint reads,

    Thank God for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell. While others may go hungry, we’re eating very well.

    Sometimes it all about perspective, isn’t it?

  12. I was so surprised to see this as the final post, but it makes perfect sense. I am not a full time home manager, but I think this advice holds true whatever your job.

    I am almost done with law school and it was a big realization for me that I do not have to go work at a big corporate firm for 80 hours a week. I might make less doing public service but I will be so much happier and fulfilled and have more time with my family.

    Lucie’s last blog post…Love and Marriage – Do You Need One to Have the Other?

  13. I’m a single woman with a full time job and no kids but I still have to do the dishes. I can’t justify the expense of professional cleaning, so I do it myself even though I hate it and am really bad at it. (Really I don’t understand it, I just seem to push the dirt around.) So, I can really appreciate this post. I think your attitude is so important in so many areas of your life.

  14. @Mary – What wonderful perspective. You’ll remember that forever, I bet.

    @Renae – That’s a great quote!

  15. well phew, you got me crying…gosh I love my job and I forgot how much I did.
    Things had begun to be monotoneous(spelling bad sorry), and being on an assembly line is not my idea of fun job. I needed to shake off the cobwebs and remember the joy of being a mom who has the opportunities to spend so much time with her kids and work in my home.
    thank you for bringing the importance and significance back into focus regarding my life and job as a wife, mom and refuge maker for my home!

  16. @Renee – thanks for sharing … “grandma” stories like that touch me deeply.

  17. I’ve really enjoyed this series and today’s post is just great. Thanks for putting this together.

    threeundertwo’s last blog post…Vintage Thingies Thursday: Thornton W Burgess books

  18. this was a great series — something i wish i had 6 years ago when i started staying home with my then-1yr old (now in second grade). today i dropped my other daughter off at kindergarten and am ready to make yet another adjustment to our schedule: me being at home working on my photo business while the girls are in school. i think it will be great for all of us since i can work in the morning and care for them in the afternoons.

    and i just want to say to anyone who is knee-deep in toddlers right now that it does get better. i just put in a loooonnnng six years of mommying, but now i have girls who are helpful around the house and even pick up their toys every night. not every day is easy, but not every one is hard either.

    i’m not sure if i’ll be at home for the future, but i am going to stay at home for at least the next year, because i told my husband i have earned it. and the quiet in the house today is awesome!

    make art every day’s last blog post…Audrey’s first day of kindergarten.

  19. Thanks for a great series. This last one really hit home. This morning I wearily pulled my eyes open when I heard my daughter calling, “Mommy! I’m awake!” (my usual wake-up call), but instead of rushing right to her room, I gave myself just a moment to pray that today I would remember that she, my child, is the most important part of my job, that we would enjoy our day together, and that I wouldn’t let the little things drag me down. Then I got up and read this post – such perfect timing! I also wrote down my MITs for the first time, and had the first (and biggest) one done by 9AM! It feels great!

    To Make Art Every Day: Thanks for the encouragement! I have only one toddler right now, and a baby on the way, but even one toddler makes me feel “knee deep” most days.

    Holly’s last blog post…Kid-Friendly Summer: VBS

  20. I absolutely loved this series, and this post most of all. I am so thankful to have found your blog as you INSPIRE me. Thank you!!

    Prairie Chick’s last blog post…Thankful Thursday

  21. Just what I needed to hear today — thank you 😉

    that girl’s last blog post…Messing Up His Hair

  22. Thank you for crafting this series, it was superb.
    I think the best part about my job is that I get to decide how I want to craft each day. I also appreciate the suggestion of doing the work in small chunks of time. I generally try not to multitask because it puts me in to that mental state of perfection. Instead, I focus on one thing at a time, solicit some help, finish the task and move on to the next task of rolling around like monkeys.

  23. Thanks for the wonderful series. Today’s was great timing – I like the idea of being a home manager and love the reminder about SMILING. It’s so true. Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy too!

  24. Oh…Simple Mom…you really touched my heart with this one. It actually brought tears to my eyes. You see, I’m not a “spring chicken” and I still like maintaining a home.

    I’ve learned in order to continue to enjoy doing this job, that I have to keep things really, really simple and make new little, little changes here and there.

    I love being a mom, and it has helped me grow in so many ways . I thank God for giving me my two sons, and allowing me to be a mother and a wife.

    I found out that it is so very important to continue to maintain a home even when going through difficulties (most importantly then), because it has helped to keep me and my family grounded and together.

    I wrote a poem about homemaking, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it (it’s kind of rough around the edges) called, Ode to Moms.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share. I loved this series, Simple Mom, it reinforced my beliefs in the importance of maintaining a home.

    SavvySuzy’s last blog post….“The Party’s Over…

  25. I just wanted to add that the internet (I also love decorating magazines too) has been one of the new ways that has added so much more fun and joy to the job of maintaining a home. And finding about how other moms (such as you and the other moms here and other places) are handling their job…has helped to invigorate the whole idea of homemaking for me…and I sincerely Appreciate that.

    Thank you again for having this forum & allowing me to share.

    Suzy 🙂

  26. Thanks so much for this series! It has been so helpful and encouraging. My favorite perk – comfy clothes and great company (most days – LOL)! My favorite part is being there for everything – this week it was hearing my daughter (three) singing “…heaven cries holy, holy, holy” as we ran errands in the car. Being around for all the little joys is the best!

  27. Your question “who else gets to finger paint at work?” really made me laugh. Your answer made me laugh even more. I taught art for 8 years before I left to stay home with my kids. I got to the point where I HATED cleaning up dirty art room tables after other peoples little ones. I loved teaching, but I hated the mess. Now, it’s almost a joy to wipe up after my own kids. I know that they had a nutritious meal or a lot of fun doing something when there’s a big mess to clean up off the table. And I focus on what they are learning, not just from the activity, but also from watching me joyfully clean!

    Jennifer’s last blog post…That’s the way the cookie crumbles

  28. Such a good reminder that we choose to be happy.

    Lisa- Domestic Accident’s last blog post…Know when to walk away and know when to run

  29. Great series, really what I needed this week. Hoping to print it off and peruse it should I perchance to find a few moments to myself.
    Also finding your blog was a real God-send! Looking forward to checking it all out!

    Aimee’s last blog post…Riz en Folie: One Giant Leap for Montreal

  30. Your so right!!! Thanks 🙂

  31. SING!! Even if you’re afraid of your neighbors hearing, consider your home your car at high (even if 30 in a 25, Simple Mom!!) speeds. Sing, and follow the dwarves’ advice & “whistle while you work.” Andrew Bird is an amazing up-&-coming artist who takes a new look at whistling in music and it’s fun to match… er… attempt to match. I love you, Simple Mom.

  32. Thanks for this post! It was just what I needed today.

    Jane Anne’s last blog post…Thursday Thanks Tank #52

  33. I was thinking of making this series a simple little (free, of course!) PDF download for you to print and put in your notebooks. Is that something you all are interested in?

  34. I agree fully and learned a long time ago that mundane tasks can be fun and finding some reason to enjoy them is one of the best ways to ensure that they even get done! 🙂

    And another great point, some are like exercise, saving hours of gym time.

    Marc Beharry’s last blog post…First Step Day Care & Learning Center: Baton Rouge, LA

  35. you know I could just take the titles to these series and tape them on my kids foreheads…my pillow as I make my bed, the garbage can lid, my wedding ring, and my cell phone it would help! lol
    I love the cleaning list you have helps me with regrouping my head!

    Anne’s last blog post…Nasty fun killers

  36. You hit this one right on – it does all start with our attitude. And as home managers, our attitude has a huge impact on everyone else’s attitude too. As the old saying goes, “If momma’s not happy, then no one else is.” I ask myself: What do I want to teach my little ones – good work ethic/attitude or a begrudging spirit? I need to *show* them what I want them to learn.

    Two other things I’ve learned – usually when I am NOT enjoying my job, it’s when I’m trying to do too much. It’s my queue to stop, breathe, cut my to-do list back to bare essentials, and add something meaningful like “play in the sandbox” or “have a tea party.” 😉

    Also, when I feel grouchy about the not-fun housekeeping or bill-paying tasks, I remind myself that I would have to do these things whether or not I work outside the home. As a SAHM at least I still have the time, freedom and flexibility to make my kids the priority and really enjoy them. Realizing that I have that gift makes it so much easier to do the monotonous stuff!

    We are all so blessed to be able to take care of these precious little pumpkins! If they make messes, then it means they are healthy enough to run around and play – another blessing! I love this series – thank you!

    • You’re right! I would have to do these things even if I worked outside the home. I guess I felt like I had more of a partner doing those tasks before. But, it’s true…Thanks for your epiphany!

  37. Thank you for this encouraging series! Lately I’ve been a little restless, missing my former job as a college Spanish teacher, and finally I’ve decided I need to just incorporate what I miss into the life I really love. Staying home is what I always wanted to do! So I’m going to try to speak Spanish for an hour every day with my 15-mo old daughter (it’s really funny to hear her try to repeat everything I say, especially in Spanish)!

  38. This series was fantastic, I have gotten a lot from it. My perspective on some of the jobs that I hate has changed when I see them through my daughter’s eyes. She LOVES to vacuum (aka vackyroom), do the dishes, fold laundry, etc. because she LOVES to pretend she is the mommy. How can I feel bad when she wants to be just like me?!?

    Darcy’s last blog post…CDH Awareness Trademark

  39. Thanks for the series. We have a 4 month old at home, so it’s encouraging to hear some advice and encouragement from more experienced moms.

  40. I’m a big believer in the ability to add fun to things. For me, it usually involves Prince and dancing. Cleaning the toilet? Play some Prince. Changing the sheets? Play some Prince. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s as close as I’ve found.

    Sara at On Simplicity’s last blog post…Putting Simplicity to the Test

  41. I always think of “love your job” for my husband, but I’m a Mom and that’s my job. I need to love it just as much as a “real” job! I love listening to the ipod tunes while I clean!

    Great post and series!

    Marie’s last blog post…Scrabble Tile Pendant Tutorial & Giveaway

  42. I’m wondering how other moms get these tasks done during the day. I have maybe an hour during my son’s nap…sometimes I get two or more hours if he takes 2 naps. He’s 14 months and not a real big help in the cleaning department yet. 🙂 I fold, he unfolds….I pack, he unpacks… And, he’s a real light sleeper – and I’m heavy handed in the kitchen. So, I find that many of my tasks are saved till after he’s gone to bed. Sometimes I feel resentful that I am still doing “my job” at night while my husband puts his feet up after his. He helps too – don’t get me wrong – and I do like for things to be done so he doesn’t have to put in a lot extra – but sometimes I feel a bit competitive….that I am doing much more work than he is. I want to relax in the evenings too! Are there any tips for getting tasks done during the day WITH kids who are not really able to help yet and need constant supervision? And, how do other couples with infants or toddlers split up the house chores, if at all – and which ones??? ….hmmm, or is it all on the “house manager”? Something about being responsible for ALL the house tasks – either their getting done or delegation of, makes me feel like I’m stuck in the 1950’s.

  43. Hi Tsh, I’m not a mum yet but discovered your blog via the thesis theme site.

    I have found your site so inspiring and encouraging. I am getting married very soon and I want to set up good routines for when I’m running our home. I also want to be a stay at home mum but recently I have struggled with whole amount of work that takes to run a house, but reading this series and other things, I’ve come to realise that this is a job of honour, a job that should be valued and a job that I should wake up every day and thank God for.

    Thank you for putting things into perspective. I can’t change my circumstances but I can change my attitude and everyday I will choose to be positive.

    Thank you for sharing.

  44. Leann Cooper says:

    Wow, I loved this series. I wish I had had someone like you around when my kids were younger. I’m still a work-from-home mom now that they are teenagers, and these are lovely encouraging words. Thanks!

  45. Hi Tsh, I loved your series on this, but why is the name \”how to be disorganized?\” I would think it\’s \”why you\’re disorganized,\” because youre coming up with reasons why we procrastinate or not do the work in the first place, right? It was just confusing everytime I opened each series on my web. I loved everything else about the series! It\’s really so easy to become disorganized and unproductive without even knowing it! Thanks! Will definitely become a supporter of this blog!

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