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Shame yourself into chores

Tips & Tools

We have a habit of leaving little tasks undone for far too long. It’s not the big things – we’re good with big things – it’s the little stuff that I notice every single day and yet never take ten minutes out of my day to correct. Somehow they seem too small to bother with, yet too in-your-face to ignore completely.

For instance, we had some leftover hardwood floor dust on one wall in the living room, way up high where I couldn’t reach it even when teetering on the arm of the couch. A Swiffer duster or a broom was all I needed to grab it. Yet, for nearly year, there it sat. Staring me down, daring me to come wipe it off.

Another case in point – our lovely reproduction doorbell. We bought this doorbell a few months after we bought the house. We LOOOOOOVVVVEEED the doorbell. We couldn’t wait to put it on the door. Yet, two years later, there it sat in it’s cardboard box just waiting to see the light of day.

But look, now it’s up! And the briiinnnnngggg noise it makes? It’s lovely.

Doorbell, exterior side

Doorbell, interior side

We had a party at our house this past weekend, which finally gave us the motivation we needed to do some of those little chores. Like the doorbell, and all that silly dusting, mopping, and vacuuming that the rest of the world does regularly. The house is slightly less hazardous to our health today, but I give it 3-4 days before we’re sucking up 2′ tall dustballs again.

The thing is, it feels great to have those little things taken care of. And they only took a few minutes here and there. So there has to be a way (other than regular house parties) to shame ourselves into taking care of the little annoyances when we notice them. Why spend 365 days getting mad at a dust cloud?

Enter the “DaysAgo” digital counter. It’s meant for food items (like the scary Tupperware in your fridge) but has many other applications. I think one of them could be the “how long have I been staring at this nasty @#?!# in my house” timer.

It counts the “days since” for you, all the way up to 99. When the timer hits, say, 30 days you know you better take care of the chore before it sucks up any more of your mental energy.

Days Ago Timer

They’re 2 for $10 – get ’em today at

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

ben had this to say on 04.02.07:

inviting guests over is our best motivation to clean – plus there is the added benefit of the actual party. maybe all we need is a big reward to get the job done?

Amy had this to say on 04.03.07:

That could have been our post! We plan parties and get togethers just so the little things get done. Our school/play room still doesn’t have any moulding on the ceiling and it’s been a year (and it’s sitting in the garage).

The days ago trick might work but then again I would probably ignore it after a few days too, lol.

Kristin had this to say on 04.04.07:

Oh no no, that DaysAgo thing would piss me off. I’d end up chucking it at a wall. It would be like the “reminder” on my Outlook, always popping up to tell me to update New Products on the work website. And then I ignore it for three weeks, and it has to tell me “3 weeks overdue.” Ugh, I hate that thing.

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