Chore avoidance technique No. 37

Student life is taken up with a series of exciting opportunities and new ideas. It’s all about the classes, homework, networking, writing, researching, friendships, relationships, events on campus, and all the clubs and sports and opportunities you can cram into your days. You’ve got four years for all the fun and personal development you can possibly cram into that time.

And, of course, there’s all the time-demanding stuff that’s way less fun as well—the stuff that comes with being a grown-up person in the world.

As much as possible, minimize the time you spend on the boring stuff

The tip I’m sharing is absolutely ridiculous. Silly enough that I don’t think I’ve never seen it on any advice blog. It’s something that saved me an enormous amount of mental space. It gave me back all the time I would have otherwise spent dreading this task, convincing myself it really did need to get done, doing it, and then feeling grumpy about having done it.

This is something you’re told to do once a week. Plan things right, and you can get away with once a month.

All the time you spend trying to force yourself to do something unpleasant is time you aren’t doing something else. Chores are part of life, of course, and increasingly during the college years you’ll have to dive into tasks that are just part of life in the real world—dealing with picking a cell phone plan or renewing your driver’s license or paying rent. For some people, grocery shopping is the most-dreaded task. For others it’s vacuuming or putting gas in the car. We’ve all got our own least-favorite routine activity—that thing we dread beyond all rational impact the time and effort should have on our moods. But the thing is, we’re not entirely rational creatures. So if the thought of scheduling an annual checkup at the doctor’s office, taking out the garbage, or unloading the dishwasher sends you into a spiral of existential angst, then being told that it’s not really that big a deal won’t help too much.

I have two particular "dreads." The first is forms. I hate forms. If you put a piece of bureaucratic paperwork in front of me I forget how to spell my name and suddenly my handwriting looks like I’m holding the pen between my toes. I don’t know why. I have no story of form-related childhood trauma or other reasonable explanation. But put an errand on my “to do” list that includes filling out a form and I will spend hours on end avoiding and dreading the task with every fiber of my being.

I haven’t found a time-saving strategy, “hack,” or functional avoidance technique for this particular chore hatred yet. If you have any suggestions, please drop me a line.

But I started this post with the promise of sharing a time-saving strategy that’s widely applicable to college students. Ready? It’s an awesome one…


Have a month’s supply of socks and underwear.

My laundry hanging out to dry from a balcony in Barcelona.

My laundry hanging out to dry from a balcony in Barcelona.

I hate doing laundry. Particularly as a freshman in college, laundry was my absolute most-dreaded task. I hated everything about it—I hated carrying my dirty laundry through the halls. I hated the basement with the machines. I hated that people would leave their laundry sitting in the machines for hours, and that impatient users would take laundry out of machines. I hated the feeling that I wasn’t sure I was doing the laundry right—that there were all these options and different soaps to buy when really all I wanted was to make my clothes clean.

Hence this remarkable and effortless time saver. Most things in your closet can go a wear or three without needing a wash. Own a month’s worth of socks and underwear, and you’re all set for a magical thirty day laundry-free window.

I did laundry once a month for my entire college career. This actually became quite a celebrated fact in my life, and for Christmas every year I would get a box of socks and underwear from my folks. It was effortless. It was ridiculous. It was the perfect system.

So, friends and readers, stock up on the necessaries of your wardrobe. Try to ditch the energy-sapping chores that can ruin a whole day. Create systems and habits that help you avoid these tasks.

And buy more underwear and socks.


What’s your least favorite chore? What ridiculous strategies have you adopted to avoid them? Any other excellent laundry avoidance techniques? Stories and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

PS today's topic reminds me of the fabulous Hyperbole and a Half's blog post "This is Why I'll Never Be an Adult." If you've never come across this gem before, please do yourself the favor and read it immediately. Even before shopping for undergarments.