Probably heard of the phrase habit bundling. It is a classic technique in behavioral science where people bundle together one habit they don’t want to do and one habit that they do like. You’re washing the dishes. You don’t like that. You pair it with a podcast, something you like.
Well, I have another idea, not grounded in behavioral science, but grounded in my own lived experience: how to deal with not washing your hands so much when you have OCD, if you have contamination OCD like I do.
When you’ve got to do a bunch of things, you do them in a series. You start with the least contaminating stuff—opening mail, picking up stuff around the house, et cetera—and move to the most contaminating. Maybe I have to load the dishwasher, and I don’t like touching people’s used utensils. Then I take out the trash, then I scoop the cat poop, and then I wash my hands one time instead of washing them 20 times.
Essentially, what you’re doing is task bundling. You are bundling together these tasks that you consider contaminating, and you bundle them so that you can, at least, wash your hands fewer times throughout the day.
Look, this isn’t a solve. This isn’t a cure, and therapists will tell you that you really should go to therapy and get ERP, or exposure and response prevention therapy. That’s 100 percent true, but when you’re just trying to cope day to day, this is essentially a technique I find really helpful.