The Benefits of a Chore List

When the magnet is like this, it is time for me to unload (and flip the magnet). 

On a recent excursion to Iowa to do some biking with my father, I got an idea from the most unlikely of people: my step-aunt Twyla. Erin and I had gone up to bike on Sunday and Monday, July 3rd and 4th.  After our bike ride on the 4th, we were having a small get together at dad and stepmom’s place.

Twyla and my stepmom Marilyn began talking about how having a holiday on a Monday throws them out of whack.  I remember internally rolling my eyes wondering how this could be possible (recall I am an academic with summers off), when she began to describe what she usually does on a Monday.  I seem to recall watering the plants and changing the sheets to be a few on the list.

The more I gave weight to it, the more I thought it made sense.  Creating a list like this would provide me with a schedule of the things I need to get done week-to-week. Also, instead of just getting things done as they come up, it would prevent having days where tasks accumulate and all intersect on the same day.

Creating a List

On the top of several pieces of scratch paper, I put titles such as “Weekly”, “Fortnightly”, “Monthly,” “Quarterly”, etc.  The top half of each paper I devoted to household chores, the bottom half I devoted to personal goals/check-ups.  For example, on the top part of Weekly, I would put things like “take out trash” and “roast coffee” and on the bottom part of the Fortnightly page, I would put something like “haircut.”

I found it completely unnecessary to make a daily list, because these are the chores that are daily and do not need a reminder. Each day, I know I need to do them. Take our dishwasher magnet for example.  It is almost a daily routine of emptying and loading the dishwasher. Sometimes it can stretch to two days.  As you can see, we already have a way of communicating that the dishwasher is OK to empty or load.  

Once I got several things down, I added particulars.  How do I divvy all these things up to the different days of the week?  What things could be done every month, but would be nice if they were done fortnightly? Anything I found that would answer the previous question or something similar, I would put on the more frequent page, because I want to avoid being “thrown out of whack.”  If I have to miss something on a particular day (say, because the 4th of July falls on a Monday), I want it to be completely fine for it to wait until the next cycle.  
Now, on Tuesday evenings, whether we are out of coffee or not, I will roast coffee.  On the occasions where there is no question that the amount of coffee we have will last another week, I will skip roasting.  Roasting coffee is now on my calendar on Tuesdays for another two months, at which point I hope it will be a habit, and I no longer will need the calendar.

Roasting coffee even though there is still some of last roast left.

Implementing the List

Alexa, our Amazon Echo, has been a great help.  On Monday evenings at 8pm, she lets out an alarm that reminds me it is trash day.  I only need to remember if it is also a recycling week or not, which I can ask Alexa if I can’t remember.  
Every other Friday morning, my phone will remind me that it is a haircut morning.  I’m different than most individuals in that I cut my own hair, and have been doing so for as long as I remember.  Going a month without a haircut is not a big deal (neither is 6 to 8 weeks to be honest), so if it is a traveling weekend, or if I happen to be in a hurry on that particular Friday morning, I can skip it.  
On Thursday mornings, the bed now gets stripped and the sheets get put in the washer.  This may sound gross, but Erin and I were never on a bed sheet schedule, and would wait until one or both of us were grossed out by our own sheets before finally changing them.  This is both lazy and unhealthy.  Now, if we’re gone somewhere on a Thursday, or happen to miss a week, we are still doing WAY better than we used to.  
By implementing the list, we are no longer overwhelmed with several things at once.  We also have things added that will now get done in a timely manner rather than waiting until we’re both grossed out.  

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