What if undesirable tasks came with prizes? – djm2

rustic kitchen, with old crate coffee station, part of What if undesirable tasks came with prizes? / funkyjunkinteriors.net
The morning started off like any other… I woke up, snuggled the cats by my feet, (ok, one was leaning against my chin… love that!), then puttered into the kitchen, rubbing my eyes, hopeful to fire up the perfect brew in short order.

But when I entered the kitchen, it wasn’t its usual clean and pretty self.

messy kitchen counters / funkyjunkinteriors.net
The sink was full of dirty dishes, and the counters were loaded with newly purchased groceries from the night before. 

That moment of reality hit me like a train. 

“Why didn’t I deal with this yesterday?”, I muttered to myself.

Oh yes, I remember why now. We had just returned from a late evening of seeing Star Wars, (loved it!) and grocery shopping (loved not so much). I was just too tired to deal with finishing up. Once 11:30pm struck, I. Was. Done.

I actually really pride myself on a spotless kitchen. I’m one of those people that can live through a relatively messy home, but when it comes to the kitchen, all bets are off. I refuse to start a new meal unless the countertops are bare, and the sink only holds hot, sudsy water, so I can clean up as I go. My kitchen is too small to do anything but.

You small, clean kitchen types know what I speak of.

clean, white dishes / funkyjunkinteriors.net

As I got to the task of cleaning up (before my beloved coffee), it made me reflect on how profound this message is in other areas in my life.

Case in point…

With my aging self, I have to do things differently for me personally. I don’t like spending time on ME, because other things are always higher up on the list.

Until you shut down of course. Then everything stops. Ever notice health ranks all?

I have to schedule time in for just me, whether that’s time for an extra doctor visit, or a fun bike ride adventure to gain some sanity, go to bed earlier for more rest, or stock my home with better food.

Those aren’t just things. They are things I NEED for ME. And ultimately, others also reap the benefits.

So I can either choose to take care of me, or land in higher maintenance mode, needing more time for me than ever before. Plus, have lousier health.

But if I reward myself with better care, I stay fixed, and am capable of doing anything I wish!

Quite the pay off, wouldn’t you say?

Did you ever notice there’s a HUGE reward behind every effort we make?

Think of the one standing thing that you want out of a given task. What is it?

If I take better care of me = I can travel.

If I encourage my son to do more =  he can be more.

If I take care of my home =  it works longer, stronger and harder for us.

Did you catch sight of something?

bathroom before
covering popcorn ceiling with planks in bathroom
salvaged farmhouse bathroom makeover, with vintage moulding and a planked ceiling / funkyjunkinteriors.net
salvaged farmhouse bathroom makeover, with vintage moulding, towel ladder and a planked ceiling / funkyjunkinteriors.net
farmhouse bathroom makeover

We get really nice prizes! 🙂

So, say you wish you had a clean bathroom. What part of the day would make you really, super appreciate it most? Up the ante! Push! Make it really good!

Then, put it out there…

What you want and when / “Guess what… you can have a spotless bathroom, with everything gleaming ‘first thing in the am…’

Why / Think about it! No more moving all those things off the counter so you can do your own thing. No more scrunching your face when you TRY and see through a water stained mirror. It would be sparkling clean! Wouldn’t you adore that?

What’s my reward? / … in trade for you doing a quick cleanup right before you head to bed. That’s it!”

I do get that I’m talking to adults that understand when we make an effort, we get to reap the benefits.

But… if you think of it as a reward, prize, or a gift, do you think that just may entice you a little more through the rougher tasks?

I’ve used this same technique with the farmhouse bathroom you saw up above. I knew what I wanted, but didn’t want to hire out. So I taught myself to plank a ceiling, and frame a window in a way I truly loved.

I got my dream bathroom! That would have cost HUNDREDS of dollars to be accomplished by hiring another.

What if undesirable tasks came with prizes? An inspiring story and quote on the HUGE rewards we recieve when we work on our to do lists / funkyjunkinteriors.netYou know your abilities. And you know what you want. And there will be some tradeoffs, because it’s impossible to have it all.

But if you’re anything like me, you tend to get overwhelmed with ALL THE TASKS that await you, so it’s easier to flick on Fixer Upper and watch Jo and Chip do it. Or scroll on FB and say hello to a few dozen folks instead of (ahem) going for your walk. You get the idea.

So let’s flat out be more realistic.


You get to choose!

rustic kitchen, with old crate coffee station / funkyjunkinteriors.net

Now all that’s left is to get busy to make it happen.

And the promise of a spotless kitchen awaiting my morning brew most certainly does it for me!

What prize can you reward yourself with today, for a job well done?

Daily Junk Mail : Messages That Matter - click to read them all here! funkyjunkinteriors.net

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Categories: Daily Junk Mail, Inspiration, Junk Drawer, Personal
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27 thoughts on “What if undesirable tasks came with prizes? – djm2

  1. Thank you Donna for this post. It spoke volumes to me. I have been a reader of your website for several years and you have been such an inspiration. I feel like such a newbie at writing to someone on a computer. I procrastinate and struggle at times to focus on a task at hand. Usually those are the tasks that need to be done, but not the ones that I want to do. And sometimes I feel like the ones I want to do are the ones I need to do. When I complete a project, it is a joyful feeling and I want to experience that feeling again. It propels me. And I have learned from you to do what I can and feel good about it, even if the results are a little outside the box. I am in a new spot in life. My husband and I raised five sons, whom we homeschooled. They are busy in college and working fulltime and my youngest is in the service and is stationed at your favorite destination – Hawaii. I so enjoyed your photos from there. It let me see some of what he sees. Thank you for that. But now that my sons are independent(they still like to eat my cooking)I have more time for myself. And I’m spreading my wings and trying new things. I have learned so much and look forward to more. My dad was a master carpenter and I can tell I am his daughter. I love the smell of sawdust and wood,wood,wood! I love sticks, branches and anything unusual and industrial. It makes me feel closer to him when I make things since he has passed on. Thank you for filling my soul with hope and ideas!

  2. Interesting approach! I certainly needed something as I walked into the kitchen and saw last night’s dirty dishes that weren’t put in the dishwasher. I realized it last night as I Just got into bed so I knew it would be my first task this am. Walking into a clean kitchen is definitely its own reward. Great post! PS I love your house…it has such high personality reflecting your ideas and taste.

  3. Yes! I like the way you think!
    We moved into our new home a few months ago. There are still things to organize and label, while my mending pile grows taller, my projects pile grows wider, well… you get the picture. Meanwhile, daily tasks march through my day continuously – laundry, cleaning, meals, horse care and training, and yes, grocery shopping.
    But when I think of the rewards I will gain when I’ve completed my tasks… now that is motivating! Clean house and clothes, higher quality food to eat, a place for everything and everything in it’s place, well-cared for and trained horses, and best of all – claiming time to exercise and practice my music. Win, win!

  4. Great post, Donna!
    I agree completely! The only problem I have is…i haven’t been able to do much. In 2005 a few tragedies hit. In 2007 I found out that I have MS in 2009 my grandmother and 3 senior cat died (cats put to sleep) and the doctors found a tumor in my dads eye. We took care of the tumor, or so I thought. 2013 turns out he he had pancreatic cancer and died. Donna, I took care of everyone, what they needed what they wanted, I did it all, including taking care of my husband and helping my mother-in-law. I have shut down. I can barely walk, taking showers has been dangerous (I fall almost everytime) I now have a shower bench and a cane. Still, I miss being everything to everyone ? I miss my spotless apartment. We had 4 cats in here and anytime people would just stop by they would say “you have four cats?!” It was ocd clean in here. I would bake pies, cookies and cake all fall (favorite season) I would also clean as I went (grandma taught me) it goes on and on. I think the depression made everything 10 X worse. I want to get back to my life but I don’t know if I can…

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m really sorry for your current health conditions. Depression is most certainly a real thing, so I truly hope you have a good doctor by your side, seeing you through this.

      My advice is merely a kick in the right direction for those capable, but needing a little reminder and encouragement.

      I have a few old injuries that keep me from doing everything I once did. It’s so hard to change, but sometimes we must, to accommodate the new ‘us’. Lower expectations are something I have to reteach myself each day.

      While you heal, I hope you extend the same grace to yourself. So please don’t allow my advice to make you feel worse. A little each day goes a LONG way!

      • Donna, you didnt make me feel bad at all, I’m sorry if I made it sound that way. I should’ve said, that’s what I want to do, but can’t. I’m in my own self imposed prison. I love reading everything that you graciously share with us. I’m so, so sorry, I really didn’t mean it that way.

        • Hi Michelle,

          I can so identify with what you are saying. In the past 10 years we’ve been through family breakdown and divorce, coming out, caring for aging parents who died (one had Alzheimer’s, which is the cruelest of fates), an adult child with addiction problems, an adult child with mental health problems, financial ruin and losing our home, then last year my wife was diagnosed with MS as well, and became unable to work yet does not qualify for any financial aid. Depression and anxiety have filled all the empty spaces and turned our lives to immovable sludge. It’s just so hard, I really can relate and my heart goes out to you.

          All that to say that even in those circumstances, things have gradually begun to turn around for us. I’ve recently done a ten week counselling stint that helped a lot. We’re following the Dave Ramsey financial plan, and although it’s still hard to make ends meet, at least we are feeling some hope and things are not getting worse. The huge thing I’m learning is patience. It helps to get out in the forest and become aware of the much slower and larger rhythms of nature – that is soul-restoring for me. My wife finds the same on shore walks (even though she can only do these sporadically, very slowly with a cane.) Another soul-restorer is creativity. We made almost all of our Christmas gifts this year, and I felt more in the Christmas spirit than I have for years. I also spent a fraction of what I usually do, so win-win!

          I wish you all the best as you start to find some beauty and landmarks on your new, much more challenging road. xo

          • Hi Jan,
            My heart goes out to you too. I know I’m not the only person with problems, but I really do become inspired to try and change things, for instance, the day I read this, I said she’s right! I’m going to start now. I stood up and fell back down, and that was the beginning of my tantrum/pity party. I Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot. My cousin emailed this to me and I’d like to share it with you and your wife http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35065905.

  5. I am taking on my house this year. I just put in a new shower upstairs. I am taking it slowly because I find that if I try to get it all done at once I get discouraged when I cant finish what I started in one day. It does make you feel so much better in the end. If I could tell people anything it would be to declutter NOW. I have waited until I am older and wiser but not as strong, not as energy filled, not as able to do it all on my own. Do it when you can do it at your pace. Not that I am Old Old but I don’t like ladders like I used too and taking heavy boxes down ladders is not my favorite thing. It is a reward to know you have cleaned out a spot and that someone else is going to enjoy what you had. Have a wonderful week.

    • Gail, I one million percent agree with you! Declutter NOW. Don’t wait. I’m in my 50’s and it’s harder now than it was 10 years ago! Go at your own pace, but keep going.

      And please find some help with the heavy lifting! You don’t need a new injury on your hands…

      I’ll try to take the same advice… I did say ‘try’. 🙂

      Reclaiming back your house is huge. I’m doing the same this year. Actually, since I started last September, it’s come a long way already. I even have space to paint here and there! Imagine… 🙂

      The pay off is massive on this one. Best of luck!

  6. I am a organized neat freak so for me to clean it’s basically just dusting, sweeping and mopping but that in itself is a pain in the butt to me anymore..!! I used to clean all the time. Rearrange furniture all the time, I don’t know I guess I could blame it on my age, I’m not that old, I’m just a procrastinator anymore and I’m lazy. So what do I get out of that…. Nothing..!!
    I cleaned up today and it looks like I didn’t do anything..!!!

    • Oh dear Tammy, sounds like you need a little lift. For me, that means a few new vignettes to make things feel a little different. It can be as simple as a new funky container on a side table with fresh flowers from outside… maybe twigs added.

      I challenge you to experiment with a little new something today. Warning… it’s a little contagious… you may even find yourself in creation mode on a regular basis! It’s very uplifting to find the thing that makes you sing.

      p.s. I’m jealous of your clean house! 🙂

  7. Okay so I’m in the middle of a bathroom remodel. Got to a great stopping point in the project and decided to treat myself to a little break from the farm. Off to San Antonio it’s been great until allergies kicked in and now I have swollen eyes. LOL – so my vacation has turned into getting better so I can drive home and continue to work on that bathroom project. I guess next time I’ll keep my reward closer to home. I do think though rewards are motivating!

  8. Love your words of wisdom..we all have them in our head but it takes a conversation like yours to get those thoughts moving into actions.
    I keep pushing to get all the work done so I can play with my art work; that is my reward! Putting the work first is the problem some days!
    Since I have retired, I have picked up a bad habit; it can wait until tomorrow.
    My push is to stop thinking that way and get it done as it pops into my head. Then the reward will come. Thanks …love your Daily Junk Mail tied to projects.

    • Hey Eloise!

      You don’t have to be retired to pull the tomorrow act! I do that all the time, now that I work from home full time. And it’s dangerous. When the tomorrows end up with late deadlines, that’s when I kick myself, and start listing urgent things so I don’t forget! 🙂

      Lists work really well with me. I have a daily list on a clipboard with check boxes, so I can SEE some sort of accomplishment through those little check marks. It does help!

      Now to remember to look at the list… 🙂

      I hope you are enjoying your retirement! That should be on your list too!

  9. It’s tough that the people who live in my house don’t participate in the maintenance of the clean and it falls back to me to keep cleaning up all the time. Dishes appear on the freshly cleaned kitchen counter, not into the dishwasher, you know the type… I start feeling like Cinderella and get pretty angry.

    And. Without a clean space to do what I enjoy, I spend most of my time cleaning up and losing my momentum to create. So. My new approach will be clean up enough to have a space to work and to reward myself with a time to create. So that I can have the energy to keep cleaning.

    Thanks for the encouragement in this post!

    • Hey Kathy, I can totally relate. In all honesty, it’s much harder for me to delegate work to others and ‘wait’ for their help. But I know in the longrun, that’s the ticket to freedom.

      My mom once said to me, “teach them, otherwise you’ll have to do it all the time.”

      I’m afraid she’s right… and it’s my default to do it all myself. But I know that isn’t the best way by far.

      Here’s to us learning how to ‘delegate with cooperation!’ 🙂

  10. Thanks Donna this is so true,i love these little talks. Your blog is really wonderful and i love the things you do.

  11. This message has really thumped me on the head. If I would just take a few minutes to pick things up as I am getting ready for bed, I would be so happy the next morning.
    I love the bathroom re-do, looks great.

  12. I’m almost certain you get your boy-child involved, but he’s not usually mentioned. Be sure to use his strength and abilities. I know his payoffs sound more like movies, time with his friends and special food rewards!

    When my wife and I clean, our reward is money! It sounds like this: “I made twenty-three cents cleaning under the couch!”

  13. I didn’t have time to read this timely post the other day so took five minutes now. One of my most hated jobs (I’ve put off for a year) is the walk-in closet. Due to weight gain over the years, I have about three sizes lurking in there. So yesterday, I forced myself to drag out all my slacks, tried them on, removed the too tight ones and luckily found three that still fit – yeah!! There’s my “gift”!! that you talked about! 🙂

    Looking on it as a gift, propels one to do more. I’m weeding more today and eventually, my reward will be a closet that doesn’t depress me and put me in a bad mood. Regarding your kitchen mess, Last night, I was so tempted to just leave everything until this morning but forced myself to clean up – it really didn’t take much time and is a much nicer way to start the day!! I think your way of looking at these nasty jobs is dead on – it’s all about attitude and the way we look at things. When my home is tidy and clean, it’s much more calming to me than living in chaos.

  14. Excellent post! There’s a small sign on my refrigerator that says “Do something today that your future self will thank you for”. I’d like to add one thing: be sure to express gratitude to yourself for the rewards – out loud. It’s a great source of positive reinforcement.

  15. Hi Donna,

    Your bathroom looks fantastic, I love the paint colour. I was wondering what colour and brand the paint is. thanks for all the great inspiration

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