I have a confession. I have never liked laundry.
Do I wash in cold or hot water?
Liquid, powder or detergent packs?
Do I separate whites from darks or throw them all in together?
When do I dry my clothes in the dryer and when do I hang them to air dry? Dryer sheets or dryer balls?
Will fabric softener ruin my workout clothes?
And how did my Mom always get our laundry to smell sooooo darn good?
With so many questions running through my head about laundry, I assumed I didn’t enjoy doing laundry because I really just never understood how to do laundry.
So I set out to learn how to do laundry. I actually Googled things like:
- “What is the best laundry detergent?”
- “Should I use fabric softener?”
- “Should I wash my clothes in hot water or cold water?”
I put all my new found knowledge to work and thought “yes!” I will finally get a handle on my laundry and I’ll no longer dread it!
I still didn’t love laundry. I knew how to get my laundry clean, but I loathed doing it. I hated laundry for the fact that it stole my weekends and my free time. What secret was I missing? What was the “quick fix” solution that would instantly turn laundry into something I didn’t mind doing?
With two young children, a husband that won’t wear anything more than once without washing it, and an entire family that was active and in sports, the reality was that laundry would be a part of my life forever. All the hacks and quick fixes in the world wouldn’t overcome that truth.
I needed a new approach.
I’d created other fantastic habits in my life over the years, like brushing my teeth, taking a shower every day, exercising, and drinking water. What if I took the same approach with my laundry?
So, I gave it a try. Here was my plan for attacking my laundry:
- Do one load of laundry every day.
- Add it to my other morning tasks: wake up, make the bed, get myself dressed, get my girls dressed, collect all the laundry from all the hampers and then head downstairs, get my girls started on breakfast and then start a load of laundry.
- On the way out the door to school, I’d hang any clothes that needed air dried and put the rest in the dryer.
- Right after lunch time, when the girls have their free time (they’re both only in school during the mornings), I’d put the clean clothes all in one basket, fold them and then put them away. Right away. No sitting in piles folded for days waiting to be put away.
I had my doubts, but I’ve been at this routine for a couple of months now. And guess what?
Even though I do one load every day, I no longer loathe doing laundry.
I started thinking about why this simple change led to such a huge breakthrough and it dawned on me.
Here’s what made it successful:
- I “stacked” the task on top of other things I was already doing throughout my day.
- I created a daily habit. Doing one load of laundry per day was a much more manageable, less overwhelming task than trying to do 7 loads crammed into the weekend.
- I focused on the process rather than the outcome. I didn’t set out to do the laundry as quick as I could or try to find a “hack” to help get it done.
- The “results” keep me motivated. I enjoy the daily task much more than the alternative.
So here is my big revelation.
Your laundry is just like exercise. (Or any habit you’re trying to create, for that matter.)
Like I did with my laundry, we tend to focus on the “what” or the “how” first:
- Should I be lifting weights or doing cardio?
- What is the fastest way to lose weight?
- How do I get a six pack?
You do your research and when you come across the solution you think will finally do it for you, you go for it.
But at some point you don’t reach your goals or get the results you expected, so it must be because the solution was wrong, right? Maybe not.
Having all the answers to our problems doesn’t actually solve them.
Just like having the answer to “What is the best laundry detergent?” didn’t actually help me eliminate the task of doing laundry, and having the answer to “How do I get a six pack?” doesn’t mean you’ll earn a six pack, either.
Having the answer to the “what” or “how” is a great stepping stone, but it’s just that. A stepping stone. You can’t get from one stepping stone to the next unless you do something about it. You have to take action. Consistently.
The most important step to any goal, and the most overlooked one, is the action of a daily habit.
What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in awhile.
If you want to lose weight or have more confidence, form the daily habit of getting in some sort of exercise every day.
It doesn’t matter so much if you walk, swim, run, bike or do CrossFit. The “what” or “how” – the solution – has much less of a final impact than the daily habit.
Forming this habit will generate momentum and the consistency will get you the results.
Forget the quick fixes and the hacks. They don’t last. And resorting to them just ends up leaving you frustrated and confused.
So try this! Pick a goal you want to achieve and start with setting a goal based around a daily habit, rather than the final outcome. For example. “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day.”
You get to choose the “how.”
If it’s accountability you need, you might look into personal training. If you are motivated by a group, we run amazing group CrossFit classes. If you enjoy exercise as some alone time, start by walking every day or going for a jog. But either way, mix it up! It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, you’re just focusing on building the habit right now.
It’s deceptively simple. The consistency will breed the momentum. The results will keep you going.
Commit to this goal daily for 90 days and allow the process to work before you look for another solution.
The daily habit will carry you towards your goals, even if the path you pick isn’t the most perfect.