Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and my favorite chore

Most of us aren't fans of chores. So "favorite chore" sounds like an oxymoron and it's even surprising that billionaires do any chores at all. 

So what is this chore and why?!

Ta da! 

It is dishwashing.

Jeff Bezos joked in a 2014 interview, "I do the dishes every night. I'm pretty convinced it's the sexiest thing I do". Bill Gates similarly revealed on a Reddit AMA the same year, "I do the dishes every night." and further explained that it helps him clear his mind. 

I also stumbled on the magic of dishwashing on my own. It has been the perfect chore for me in the morning or whenever I'm feeling sluggish for a few reasons. 

(1) It's physical and gets me moving. But not too physical, like a workout, that my mind resists. Moving the body and doing physical things like scrubbing plates and touching warm water is one of the simplest and fastest ways to get more grounded, mindful, and energetic, especially in our increasingly sedentary and screen-dominated lives. 

(2) It's very mechanical and simple, but still requires presence. It's like solving a series of "mini-puzzles" in sorting and playing Tetris. I'm engaged but never get stuck on any of the puzzles. 

(3) It gives me a quick win. The final clean sink is a very tangible and satisfying outcome. The reducing number dishes in the sink through the progress act as a live and visual progress bar. 

Creating more flow in your tasks and chores

All these are essential characteristics of a "flowy task". Good games and social media apps are engineered in this way to get you into a state of total engagement. You can also design and incorporate two simple aspects into every task or chore you do to make them more flowy and engaging - 

First, break down the task into simple and mechanical chunks. Broad and abstract tasks like "do taxes" or "write a blog post" are overwhelming to start on. "Write a blog post about flowy chores" or "assemble all your W2s and statements" is much more concrete and tractable. So instead of rushing to get started, take the time to prune and break down big tasks into thoughtful chunks. 

Second, incorporate some tangible and satisfying win after every chunk and also some visual progress bar through the milestone. You can produce a tangible output like a nice folder with labeled statements. You can share the progress with friends or colleagues. You can reward yourself with a nice break or a treat. 


[1] Cooking and tidying up the house are similar, but may have more friction if you are cooking something new or don't have a place to put away something.