Twenty Minutes of Drudgery

Memorial Union, Iowa State University

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home, uses the practice of suffering for 15 minutes a day. The idea is that by scheduling 15 minutes a day to perform some nagging or dreaded task, we can increase our happiness in the long term, because we eventually eliminate the source of negative dread we previously had by not doing said task.

I like the idea. Like most things I eventually adopt as part of my wellness practice, at first I thought it sounded stupid. Isn't life filled with enough moments, however ridiculous, that feel like suffering even if they aren't that bad?

But, the more I thought about it the more I realized the stuff that haunts my heart, that contributes to my own sense of worthlessness, nearly all falls into the category of backlogged tasks and to-dos that I never quite can muster energy or space for, like:

  • Make Emergency Go Bags
  • Frame and hang art and photos
  • Organize Benjamin's school memories
  • Print digital photos into books
  • Photograph and upload dresses to etsy
  • Contact a couple of places about some financial nonsense (which has been on the list since 2009 and will probably take all of 15 minutes)
I am not the kind of person who can accomplish something in 15 minutes a day; it takes 10 minutes for me to focus my eyes on the task. But, maybe 20 minutes of drudgery a day for a couple of months would help elevate some of this weight.


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  2. n my house we call it "gaining on it". It means doing above and beyond the normal task, doing something that needs to be done. This week it meant actually taking rummage to the donation place, clearing out a space that needed clearing.
    Other times it might mean organizing that spice rack or finally hauling stuff to the attic, but it's an accomplishment and helps clear the decks.


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