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Strategize Organize LLC
Newsletter Volume 8, Issue 6
One Household, Lots of To-Dos and Too Much Frustration

There are many tasks in a household.  For example, there are maintenance tasks (tasks that happen regularly), such as...

  • taking out the trash
  • loading and emptying the dishwasher
  • vacuuming
  • cleaning the bathroom   
There are also project tasks (tasks with a beginning, middle and end), such as...
  • making travel plans
  • fixing a loose board on a step
  • sorting through a box of slides
  • fixing a light fixture
  • taking toxic cleaners to a hazardous waste site 

If we live with a partner/spouse/friend it can sometimes be hard to navigate the list of to-dos.  Often one person ends up feeling like the parent while the other feels like the child.  This isn't fun or healthy for anyone.  So here's a strategy to help with this dynamic. 

Set the stage.
Get a recipe box (or similar container) and some 3” x 5” index cards. Set up a time for the two of you to meet.  Encourage good will by making this time positively different;  perhaps have a cup of gourmet coffee or a glass of wine.


Now for the fun.
Each person writes one task to be done on each card and dates the card.  Even if one person thinks the task needs to be done and the other doesn't, still write it down. Share each written task with the other person, then add it to the pile. Stop when there are no more tasks. 
"Deal" the cards.
•Lay out all the cards.  Take turns and choose the cards/tasks that you are going to work on that week. Not all cards will be chosen.
•When you choose a card, discuss the time it will take to work on that task. Write that time on the card.  Some tasks have multiple steps, so indicate what part of the task you will work on that week.  For example, if a lamp needs to be fixed, you might decide to research  places in the area that repair lamps.   
•Look at your cards and your partner's cards, and think about your weeks.  Decide if the tasks that you have seem to fit within your week.
•Once you have what seems to be an appropriate amount of tasks for the week, put each person's tasks behind a tab divider with their name.  The tasks that have not been claimed can go behind a tab divider labeled “tasks.”
Keep it going.
The following week, hold your meeting.  Go over your task cards.  The ones that are done can go behind a tab divider labeled “DONE”!  If there are tasks that didn't get done, learn from your experience.  Perhaps some tasks took longer than anticipated.  Try hard not to blame or shame the other person.
•If any more tasks have come up during the week, write them on a card and add them to the task pile. 
•Get out all the task cards and choose what the tasks will be for that week and put the rest behind the "tasks" tab.
•Continue this process.
•This is a commitment of time and energy.   Perhaps you can't meet every week.  How often can you meet? Give it a go and see if the time you put into this process is worth what you get out. 
Final thoughts

One bonus of this strategy is that it makes time and tasks clear.  Perhaps one person has more tasks in a given week. There can be recognition of that and then conversation about what that means.   
You might realize, once you get all the task cards out, that some tasks  just aren't that important; they should get DISCARDED/THROWN AWAY.   And you can give each other high fives for being realistic about time, energy, and expectations!   
*I first learned of this strategy through a class I took with The Institute for Challenging Disorganization.  I would love to give the presenter credit, but unfortunately I don't remember their name. 
I'd love to hear what you think,

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Copyright (C) 2008 Susan Hunsberger Professional Organizer All rights reserved.
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