The Chore Chart

There’s a phrase from my childhood that lives in my mind rent free: Anything worth doing is worth doing right.


Usually when this phrase pushes through the ongoing chatter in my brain, I immediately think of my childhood chore chart. I am the oldest of four girls, and my mother created the chore chart for us, which included super fun things like vacuuming, dusting, and watering the plants. Mom expected chores to be completed before we watched TV or went on a bike ride, or any other fun childhood activity. What a drag!


None of the chores were challenging, and none of them should have taken longer than about 15 minutes to complete. But they were unappealing, and each chore stood in the way of getting to do the fun stuff! It was tempting to rush through a chore just to be done with it. (I especially hated vacuuming, which we did with a 1970s canister style beast of a machine. What was your least favorite chore growing up?)



I learned something valuable about doing chores: The best way to make a 15 minute task take twice as long is to take a shortcut.


I knew how to do each chore because I was taught how to do it properly, and I knew that Mom would check my work. And yet, often, I would rush through the work taking shortcuts, expecting that my effort would be acceptable. Here’s the thing, though. Mom knew that it took at least fifteen minutes to complete the vacuuming. When I showed up after only 5 minutes of mindlessly running the vacuum over our avocado green wall-to-wall carpet, she would send me back to redo it. “Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” she would say. After ten minutes of righteous indignation and pointless debate, that 15 minute task easily became a thirty minute grudge match. Often, taking shortcuts kept me from getting to the fun stuff.


What’s on your chore chart today? What is an unappealing task you need to accomplish? If you were to take a shortcut, is there a chance you’d have to go back and redo it at some point? Take this advice from ten year old me: Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Do it right the first time, and get on with the fun stuff!


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