#1258 The Cleanup Game

How to Drop Into Flow (-> Bored to Awesome)

Big news at the Johnson house: We recently got a new robot vacuum cleaner. (Hah.)

Given the 18,000+ reviews on the one we wound up getting, I realize we’re late to the party on this one but it’s still been fun to play with our new robot that is now affectionately named “Robo.”


The new place out here in the country has concrete floors. It collects an astonishing amount of dust. Mr. Robo has been very helpful in keeping the house clean.

“Thank you, Robo!!”

Note: We actually DO thank Robo nearly every time he cleans. Only, we thank him (or is it her?) and all the people who were involved in creating him.

Seriously. Nearly every time.

“Thank you, Robo and all the people who worked so hard to create you! We take you as granted not for granted!”


That’s not quite what I want to talk about Today.

Today I want to talk about a little game Emerson and I have been playing lately.

It’s called “The Cleanup Game.” (👈 Very creative, I know. lol)

Context: Emerson and Eleanor have a little play room. In the middle of the room there’s a circular rug on which they have all their Legos. Around that rug they often have a TON of other things they’ve been playing with strewn around the room so there’s little space left on the floor.


Mr. Robo can’t do his job in such an environment.


We’ve gotta do some clean up to give the little guy some space to operate.


As you know very well if you’re a parent, the cleaning up part is often not quite as fun as the playing part.

That is, unless you can make the cleaning up a game as well. 🤓

Enter: Applying some Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow wisdom to create The Cleanup Game.

Recall that Csikszentmihalyi tells us that when the challenge is way lower than our skill, we get bored. (And, when the challenge is too high for our current skill level, we get anxious.)

We get into the “Flow channel” when the challenge meets our skill.

(Important note: The sub-title to his book is “The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” So, mastering the process of getting into this “optimal” state often is a Wise idea!)


Why is cleaning up perceived to be so boring? Because, in essence, the challenge is so low.


If you want to make it fun, all you have to do is dial up the challenge.

The super-simple way we do that?

Me: “Let’s see how fast we can clean this up. I bet you we can do it in less than three minutes. Whaddya think? LET’S GO!!”

E: “OK!!!”


Joyful Flow.

That’s Today’s +1.

Wanna play The Cleanup Game with us?

And/or apply those basic principles to ANY “boring” thing in your life?

Note for parents: It works for all YOUR “boring” stuff, too. 🤓

See how fast you can do the admin at work or how kind you can be with customer service reps. Or how perfectly you can mow the lawn. Whatever.

When challenge meets skill we drop into the moment and experience the optimal state of Flow.

Let’s do that.

In more and more moments of our lives.


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