Cleaning the sink: Organizing chores

Boring question here: How do you organize chores in your community? We have one person appointed ‘household manager’ who has become overwhelmed by the task. We are testing out a set of card decks with the task on one side and name/date of who last did it on the other. I’m curious how other folks have approached this?


Hey Kathe! Great question :slight_smile: I’ve found it works well to create roles (through a collective process) around smaller specific tasks (like cleaner or composter or quartermaster) and then elect folks to those roles for a term. Also important to track whether or not something is getting done. We’ve researched and synthesized a set of practices called Collab that make it easy to create, elect and change those roles over time. If you’d like more info, try these links: Collab Card Deck and free resources.

Yep, allocation and coordination of duties as roles is certainly one way to go (ala Holocracy which sounds very similar to what you describe here) but we are looking for something a bit more collaborative and co-created in this case. Partially as a training exercise and partially to help those of us who are differently abled contribute to the best of their ability.

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Yes, understood :slight_smile: in integrating HO into Collab we made the process for role creation more collaborative, co-generated and co-changeable.

Years ago in a community house I invented the “Anti-Chores” system. I started writing an article about it but never finished :slight_smile:
Basically the idea is this: if you have for example 10 people, you meet for exactly 10 minutes, every week or every other week.
You use a timer. Everyone has exactly one minute, no more no less.
When it’s your turn, you say the things you’ve done for the community.
Some of these things could be cleaning: cleaning the counters, taking trash out, etc.
But it could be also things like: buying a new board game for the house, organizing a movie night, etc.
You only say things you’ve done since the last meeting. You don’t include older things. You don’t mention things you have NOT done, or wish you had done.
If you have not done much, your minute will have a lot of silence. That is fine. You still keep the timer going for the whole minute.
If you don’t have enough time to list everything in a minute, you still stop after the minute is up.
And that’s it. Whether it will work or not, simply depends on whether people agree to do it and to show up at each meeting.

Another process I love that someone else here invented: The One Song Cleanup.
Every day at the same time (ie. 5pm), someone plays one song on some device, for instance a bluetooth speaker. And during that song, everybody takes care of cleaning something. When the song is over, everybody goes back to what they were doing before.
If almost everybody shows up almost every day, you will run out of things to do after just a few weeks.


I like this concept. I reflect on the word responsibility. Response & ability. Understanding needs, identifying and taking action. It is up to us to be responsible, whether it’s here, or there, we have a responsibility to be good humans for other humans and for the earth.

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In my senior cohousing community (single 4-story urban building, 37 residents), we have a list of all of the “chores” to clean and maintain our building, with a task-team set up for each task. Everyone is on at least one task-team to complete a particular chore on a regular basis. There is no particular expectation of time or frequency (or accountability other than the obvious assessment that work hasn’t been done) - people can choose to accomplish their task whenever they choose in order to make sure that the building is clean. Task-teams rotate every 6 months so people can switch around, but most people kind of get in a groove with their own task and want to stay with it (even cleaning common bathrooms!).


I really like what the poster before me said about chore management, I like the idea of doing them when you can rather than having an ultra-strict schedule that gets overseen. Because life is busy so as long as things get done it doesn’t seem necessary to micromanage everyone.

I’m also glad people are thinking about equity re. chores, because the problem with a chore wheel for instance is that everyone has to be abled pretty similarly. But if person A is doing one big chore and person B isn’t capable of that, maybe person B is doing two small chores instead, which are things person B is able to do. Etc.

The thing I also liked about teams is that when people get things done together there’s more motivation, at least for me, to get over there and do it.