Using technology to track and tackle chores
First, my necessary preamble: On this blog, I talk a lot about the seeming contradictions in my experience as a twenty-first century "liberated" woman. I identify with many feminist principles--I want equal pay and not to be held to an unrealistic standard for beauty that demands a certain kind of perfection--but I also want a clean house and cute dresses. Many in my generation, I believe, are trying to hold the two impulses together, and I want to share both: the progressive and nostalgic leanings, the serious and the superficial.
Today, the topic falls somewhere in between. I do think it's important to keep a clean home--it is inviting to guests and keeps us healthier--but, as we've established, I don't much enjoy it. And I have the hardest time tracking when to do what chores. Dishes? Easy. Do them after you use them? Making the bed? Every day. Done. But what about dusting? Wiping down baseboards? Mopping? These not-everyday chores tend to build up, and I put them off and forget to do them.
Now, I know many people are not as app-happy as I am, and a pen and paper could work just as well for tracking many of the things apps do. But I hate keeping up with paper and managing its associated clutter, and, whereas I can lose scraps of paper or leave them in the wrong places, I always have my phone on me, which makes electronic lists a winner in my book.
There are many to-do lists apps out there, and I have tried several, but I prefer Wunderlist for several reasons:
- sleek, easy to read interface (for both phone and desktop, which I find often is not the case for apps)
- ability to share a list
- ability to assign others tasks
- ability to establish recurring tasks
- automatic saving of completed tasks, making it easy to re-add those tasks to a list in the future
What chore charts and paper lists can't do is easily set strange recurring timetables (I wipe baseboards every other week, and I wash our door mats once a month) and reproduce a different combination of a completed list. For grocery shopping, we scan our completed items and re-add ingredients and staples when we need them again.
Dan and I split up our chores and assign certain tasks to each other. An email can be sent whenever a chore is assigned as a friendly reminder. And the overdue and current to-do items always show up in the app's inbox. Until you check the box to complete the task, angry red numbers with an expired date will mock you until you do the chore.
You can add as many lists as your heart desires, and I have other lists always running (e.g., blog post ideas, work items, movies to watch).
Deadlines hold me accountable, and breaking my lofty aspirations into small, frequent projects make me far more likely to stick to them. An app like Wunderlist won't do the work for me, but it will prompt me, and external nudges are never a bad thing.
Any other great system (tech or non-tech) for tracking and tackling chores that I should know about? Or is it easier just to be resigned to dirty floors?