How to make errands fun

by dominicq2 min read17th Jun 20213 comments

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Despite being a believer in outsourcing all tasks that cost less than my aspirational hourly rate, I regularly have to do such tasks when they're impractical to outsource. This is almost always, as the most outsourceable tasks are those that repeat often, but cannot be automated. Doing legwork to do paperwork always happens for unique paperwork.

I'm going through a continuous phase where I just can't accept that I actually have to go to the bank and wait in a queue and listen to terrible music. So I want to offer myself (and others who may read this) some nudges towards making life more bearable when running non-repetitive but boring errands.

Make it physical training!

People make neat compartments for things that are physical training, and things that are not physical training. But way back before you could pay to come into an air-conditioned room and move metal around, there were no such compartments. You moved. That was it. So maybe you jump on your bike and ride to the bank. Or you see a nice tree on your way back, and you climb it. Or you jump a couple of fences and shorten the distance. Or you just take a long walk.

Make it rest from physical training!

Having compartments for physical movement isn't all bad because they allow you to go all in one one particular skill or muscle group. Nobody gets a good deadlift from just walking to the bank. So maybe, instead of having compartments for rest days and non-rest days, you just have errand days where you can't make it to the gym and you go: "Oh, I guess today is rest day."

Make it errand-related learning!

Is there some learning experience that you could benefit from? Bureaucracy is actually a great training tool for figuring out people and their motivations. A bank teller isn't just a REST API that you have to use in person: it's a unique human, with a unique set of motivations, desires, quirks, mannerisms, and more. If you become interested in seeing the person, and not the interface, an entire world opens up. See Everything is fertile.

Make it non-errand-related learning!

Did you know that they make audiobooks?

Make it an opportunity to socialize!

Go with a friend! "Hey, wanna keep me company while I do X and then go get ice cream?" Or you go with several friends, and arrive to the bank with your entourage. Just don't make the errand the entirety of the meeting: reward your friends' patience and go do something more fun afterwards.

Make it stop!

Like, just suffer. Maybe if you experience enough spiritual pain, you will finally find a way not to do the errand any more.

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I was quite tickled by the combo of "make it physical training" and "make it a rest from physical training!".

Maybe if you experience enough spiritual pain, you will finally find a way not to do the errand any more.

Next level lottery advertising:

If you win, you won't have to go to the bank anymore.

“All Nature is but art, unknown to thee
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood; 
All partial evil, universal good.”

  • Alexander Pope