The One Hour Work Day

Please don’t take the title literally. It’s more about making boring tasks more interesting.

My mother was not much of a housekeeper, and both parents were lax when it came to chores, so I learned only the basics of housecleaning. Also, I hated it.

Once, I had a party at my apartment. I couldn’t find the time or energy to clean up some piles of junk in my living room. So I covered them with black plastic tablecloths and called them decor. Luckily, it was a pirate themed party. I added some skulls and, voilá .

A few years ago, I had the luxury of taking some time off. For about three months, I had no work or school. I spent a lot of time playing video games. But I also spent a lot of time cleaning. And I found I really enjoyed it. I liked having an uncluttered house, and I didn’t hate housework when it wasn’t on top of the rest of my duties (when it wasn’t second shift work), but just a part of my day.

That couldn’t last, of course, and I work now. But since I generally work part time, most of the housework falls to me. And since I do have to complete paid labor most days, I’m back to hating housework.

Also, most of my paid labor consists of grading.

How do I make it bearable? I’ve developed a one-hour work day.

I work on each task for just one hour, then move on to another. I set the alarm on my phone and work until it rings. It’s amazing what you can do in that amount of time. “Oh, no, the kitchen is a mess!” Oh, look, you can clean it in an hour.

Because I work from home, I can alternate between housework, paid work, and fun times. So I might spend an hour cleaning, an hour grading, and then an hour video gaming.  When the alarm rings, I move on (unless I have, say, two papers left to grade, or am in the middle of a boss fight).

The beauty is that an hour breaks down into many handy increments: “I only have 45 minutes left!” “I only have ten minutes left!”

And this means my day is much more interesting than if I had just spent all day completing one task.

[Editor’s note: If even shorter chunks of cleaning are more your thing, try our own pileofmonkeys’ Unfuck Your Habitat, or check out the weekly Ask UfYH column.]

What techniques do you use to get through drudgery?

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Natasha

History. Hindi cinema. Hugging cats.

2 thoughts on “The One Hour Work Day”

  1. I did that in college! One hour per subject (give or take a few minutes), with breaks for down time and/or cooking/cleaning. Weekends were a bit more relaxed but also more prone to “marathon” work; I’d turn on a boring movie when I had a big paper or project and get up for a quick break during commercials. And I’d usually have a pot of soup on, which I’d get up to stir fairly often.

    I need to get back in that habit again, mostly so grad school won’t be so immediately overwhelming.

  2. I use a very similair same trick to get through my daily work load! I work for an hour, take a ten minute fun time break, and then work for another hour until I “quit” for the day around dinner time. This has been very helpful as I am a HUGE procrastinator when I don’t structure my time as such. :)

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