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5 Steps To Get Help Around The House (or with anything!)

Written on 6/24/2008 by Garrett Whelan who writes about cooking for men or anyone trying to kick the fast food habit at

Have you ever gone to passive aggressive notes before? It’s addictive. Tons of letters left by people critically disappointed in the behavior of others, and while it’s funny to read, I can’t help but feel sorry for them. Every note is a plea for change that’s going to go unanswered. Why? Because change is hard.

We all want to mow the lawn or take out the garbage on Tuesday but we forget or life gets in the way. That’s no consolation to the person who eventually has to do the job but it’s the truth. So what can we do to make those we love (or are forced to tolerate) keep up their end of the domestic bargain?

We can make the task as easy as possible. We do that by removing the biggest obstacle for anything getting done. David Allen, creator of GTD, has often remarked at how thought is the antithesis of work. The more we think about doing something, the more excuses we have to not do it. So if you want to get people to do their chores, remove that obstacles. Here are 5 steps I’ve used in the past to do just that:

    1. Think of what tools are needed, and buy them ahead of time. Not having the tools for the job is the easiest excuse. One of my peeves is my roomies leaving water all over the bathroom sink. Once I started buying paper towels and making sure they were right there, people started wiping up after themselves. Which leads me to…









Let me tell you my experience. I was unhappy at being the only one in the house to clean the bathroom and I knew that snide notes weren’t going to help. The problem was that nothing else helped either. We’d all agree to clean it at certain times and then it would just go untouched until my turn came around. It was easier to clean it myself then police everyone.

Then I decided to make it as easy as possible to clean the bathroom. I bought all the supplies, I laid them out in the most convenient place possible and I broke down the cleaning process into 4 ‘micro-chores.’ Then I asked everyone to do one micro-chore a day and initial it on a list I printed. It’s an extra 30 seconds after you shower with no thought involved and our bathroom has been sparkling ever since.

So if you want someone to start picking up the slack, don’t waste your energy confronting them. Use that energy to take all the thought out of the equation. I won’t tell you that the extra steps are fair, but I will tell you that they work. Now it’s up to you..


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