Productivity at home and challenging chores

January is clearly over, so Bloganuary is over as well, but I did like this blog prompt even if I didn’t post about it on time! Day 12’s Bloganuary prompt was: What chore do you find the most challenging to do?

On the day that I started writing this post (January 12th of course), I was just settling down from completing a day FULL of chores! I thought this was PERFECT for me to have as a post because of my position as a neurodiverse occupational therapist. Not only do I help others build strategies to be productive and complete their house chores, but I also NEED strategies to complete my own.

Something I wanted to highlight when writing this, is that it is OK to find chores difficult to keep up with! We are in a time where social media shows chore completing as an aesthetic task, like the two people in the picture here. My tik tok “for you page” is full of gorgeous girls cleaning their aesthetic homes easily in one short video. It looks cute and easy, and yet that is not always the way things will get done …. ESPECIALLY if you have trouble with things like organization, task initiation, anxiety about completing tasks etc.

Hi! My name is Kristina, and I am convinced I have undiagnosed autism. Does this really matter in this conversation? Yes and no. No it doesn’t because I don’t want people looking at this as an “excuse” and deciding that I am blaming neurodiversity for having a difficult time with cleaning. As an occupational therapist, I know that a lot of people with diagnoses experience challenges with completing various productive tasks, which is why I want to add that into the conversation.

For many with known neurodiversity (and some without), executive functioning plays a large role in having difficulties completing tasks like cleaning, laundry and organization.

Executive Function can be broken into 12 skills; self restraint, working memory, emotion control, focus, task initiation, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, defining and achieving goals, flexibility, observation and stress tolerance. If you think about the various chores you may need to do to take care of your home, you can probably imagine how having trouble with executive functioning skills (aka executive DYSfunction) can affect your productivity. For example, planning and prioritization comes into play when you are deciding what is the most important task to start with, and which can wait for another time. You may have trouble with time management; for example, my fiance tends to start many tasks without being able to keep track of time and then we have to leave with things half done. Another challenge with chores may be task initiation – for me this can be a challenge, where I really have to work hard to START a task – this doesn’t mean I am lazy as I am not choosing to not do something, but can’t get started. Flexibility can also be a challenge, as perhaps your plan was to wash the bathroom, the kitchen and fold laundry, but as you start the bathroom, you don’t have the sponge you need – someone able to be flexible may jump to cleaning the kitchen first and then heading to the store, where an individual with executive dysfunction may get stuck on the order and not complete anything.

The other reason I wanted to introduce the concept of neurodiversity around chores, is because of my biggest struggle – SENSORY CHALLENGES. A lot of chores tend to have you exposed to some very difficult sensations such as dust, wet food (GROSS), wet hair (EVEN GROSSER), strong smells etc. Finding strategies to work through these sensations, or finding ways to adapt your tasks can be key to “hack” your life and keep your home clean. Alternatively, making adaptations to how you envision a clean home/changing routines and expectations may be necessary!

So, after my little explanation about neurodiversity and productivity in chores, one of the biggest challenges for me when it comes to chores is washing the bathroom and the kitchen sink. The unknown of how long it is going to take is a huge factor for me, as it is hard to see the end goal, as well as the sensory challenges of wet sleeves from washing, wet hair from the shower drain and wet food in the sink. I also reaaaaaally don’t like doing laundry purely because I have to fold it after and there is no predicted time of when I will fold the laundry as my dryer takes way longer than the number on the screen.

To help with my chore challenges, I like to use different strategies/life hacks. I use my favourite clown family (Lunette and Molly) from the Big Comfy Couch, as inspiration. Clean ups for me often are tasks paired together, and turn into a game. I’ll put on my noise cancelling headphones, throw on a good playlist and try to beat the clock for how fast I can complete my tasks. I’ll run, dance and sing to keep my adrenaline pumping to keep engaged in the task. I also use a similar model to Lunette where she looks at her mess takes a deep breath and gets cleaning – I often count myself down to get moving, (literally 3,2,1 GO) both in cleaning tasks, and in getting out of the car to move from car to next location.

I also try to change my expectations of chores – my parents always had a big Saturday morning clean up, in which we vacuumed, dusted, did laundry – the works. That gave me so much anxiety as I got older because there were so many tasks to be done all at once to have an appropriately clean home. Now, I make a big list on our whiteboard, and my fiancee and I try to do as much as possible. I’m working on task prioritization, so that there are at least the most important tasks done like clearing the kitchen counter of dishes, cleaning the cat litter, clearing surfaces and vacuuming. This way, I still have the satisfaction of looking at a clean space, but I am not pressured to finish everything all at once.

And no one ever tells you that when you become an adult the laundry never stops!!

Do you have any chore challenges and life hacks that help you through the adulting struggle ?


Published by maiiflowerr

Pronouns She/Her/they/them. I'm a millennial just trying to make a difference in the world, and create space for people to accept themselves and live their best lives. My fiancee, Sydney, and I are mothers to our two goofy cats, and the queens of creative adventures. I am an Occupational therapist, a dancer and a yoga instructor with a passion for supporting people and creating community.

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