Life is full of socks. Baskets piling high with socks, socks, and more socks. Just asked my eight-year-old. It’s his job to sort, pair, and put away our family socks. This task brings him to tears, but don’t tell him I told you.
As I was coaching him on how to get the sock chore done, I was thinking of principles and practices that I use in my adult life because we all have sock chores, those mundane chores that need to get done so we can move on to more enjoyable, rewarding, or important work. (Not that sock work isn’t important, but that’s another post.)
1. Start with your mental game, as we say in sports. Dig deep to find motivation based on your highest values and principles. Sorting socks, writing a blog post, or running a meeting can be a service to others, a way to grow in discipline, or a way to become more skilled. When we can tie mundane tasks to the bigger picture of our highest hopes and aspirations, we want to serve our loved ones and community, be perceived as good workers, and become trust-worthy and pleasing to others.
2. Use practical tools to get the job done. Use a timer. For children, it can be set for as short a time as two minutes for a two-year-old and steadily increase the time to tolerance. Most adults can bang out a lot of work given only twenty minutes of concentrated effort. Then it’s time to take a break.
3. Play background music to give the mind something to enjoy. The more mundane the task, the more upbeat and sing-along you can go. The more focus the task needs, avoid music with vocals because the human voice can be distracting. For socks, we’ll listen to Springsteen. For studies, classical music.