How to Get Your Roommates to Do Chores without Asking
For fuck sake! Why is it SO HARD to sweep the floor or recycle your old mail? I live with 3 boys and asking them to do chores doesn't get me anywhere. Rather than battling & nagging them, I started experimenting. Asking questions like WHY.
WHY: do they leave their keys on the kitchen counter?
BECAUSE: it's convenient and easy to remember.
SOLUTION: i put a key basket by the front door - convenient & easy
WHY: don't they do chore when I ask them?
BECAUSE: they're busy, don't want to do it right now & they forget to do it later AND they hope someone else will do it
SOLUTION: i got a kitchen white board and wrote a list of the chores and a list of the roommates' names. you can choose any chore you want and then you cross off your name. the last person to do the chores gets left with the worst job and everybody knows who is slacking. this works better than a simple to-do list because it attaches public acknowledgement (people care about what other people think) and it gives them a choice (if people have a choice they feel happier about doing it because they choose it for themselves rather than feeling bossed around).
WHY: do they leave open / old / junk mail on the kitchen counter instead of recycling?
BECAUSE: it's not theirs, it's easier to just leave it there
SOLUTION: i labeled a basket "mail" and put it on the kitchen counter - people like labels and pigeon holing things. they're happy because their mail is still on the counter (easy for the them) and i'm happy because now it's organized (a basket of mail is WAY better than random mail sprawling across the counter). i might need to update this basket to say 'new mail' and 'unwanted mail' so they can recycled it on the counter and then a chore for someone would be to take the unwanted mail to the recycling bin. i might also need to get a different basket with multiple compartments and use people's name (once again harnessing the power of people paying attention if they're name is used and if other people can see who isn't picking up their mail - social pressure).
It's all about experimenting & fine-tuning. Instead of fighting people and expecting them to think and behave the way that YOU do, take time to figure out why they behave the way they do. If you understand their behavior, you can alter things that are within your control (your words, your home etc...) so their environment changes and they'll react with new organic behaviors. I made the changes listed about (and many more) and without ever saying a single word to my roommates, their behavior changed & I got the results I desired.
Be a scientist with your life! Experiment until you discover what you're looking for! // Cha