Many studies have named cleaning and other household chores as one of the largest stressors within marriages, romantic relationships, families and other kinds of domestic arrangements such as house-sharing/roommates. Even the most harmonious relationships can become strained when chores come up, and it’s easy to see why – different people have very different attitudes to what an acceptable level of cleanliness and order within their domestic environment is, it’s rarely a topic people discuss before setting up house together, and it can be tied up with all sorts of implicit assumptions about gender roles and other contentious subjects.
Trello (which can be downloaded for free from https://trello.com/) is a project management tool used by people and teams all over the world to manage and collaborate on their personal and professional projects. It’s usually thought of as being a tool to plan large-scale creative and professional projects, but it is actually the perfect tool to plan your regular cleaning and household chore rota, not to mention bigger projects such as spring cleaning and decorating. Trello can be very useful to help you keep track of purely solo projects, but it really comes into its own when you are collaborating with others. Read on to find out how to use it for a friction-free way to clean and organize your home as a true team!
A Trello Board is comprised of four basic elements – the board itself, lists, cards and the menu. The board is the space where each project is organized. Each individual task is given its own card, which can be moved between lists, which represent the various different stages of the project. The menu is the control panel where you can manage all the board elements and the accounts of your family members, housemates etc. Cards, representing individual tasks, can be assigned to members of the team.
For example, imagine a simple board to organise This Week’s Chores made up by three housemates – Ellie, Hannah and Ahmed. As this is a simple board, it has only two lists – Tasks To Do and Completed Tasks. The housemates have a brief meeting on Sunday evening to agree all the tasks that will go on the board and make up a card for each task – e.g. the housemates cook and eat together three nights a week, so Cook dinner Wednesday is one card, and Wash dishes Thursday is another. So is Vacuum the living room and Clean the bath.
Once all the tasks have been agreed upon, the housemates then decide who will take responsibility for each task, and assign the relevant card to that person. Each housemate downloads the Trello app to their smartphone so that they can check their own tasks and move them to the Completed list when they are complete, as well as keeping up to date with how the tasks are going at any time. Trello is also very flexible; if Ellie finds out on Tuesday that she is going to be extra-busy this week at work and won’t have time to complete all her chores, she can talk to her housemates and ask them to take over some of her chores this week, and reassign those task cards to them if they agree.
The great strength of using Trello is that it necessitates discussion and buy-in from everyone involved, and for each task and who will do it to be stated transparently, negotiated and eventually agreed upon. It helps tackle the two main ways that resentments build up about household chores by getting rid of implicit assumptions about which tasks are to be done and by whom, and means there is always a clear record of which tasks have been done each week and by whom – entire boards can be archived after you have finished with them, but can still be accessed through the menu. Fast-talkers and excuse-makers beware – if someone feels that another person has not been pulling their weight in the house, they only have to look back in the archives to check out the evidence!