We are replacing breakfast with a daily family stand up meeting
July 11, 2019 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Workplace productivity tools such as Asana, Jira, and Slack are starting to infiltrate family life.
posted by COD (119 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm pretty sure the knee jerk reaction will be that this sounds like a nightmare, but in homes where crappy gender norms invisiblize chores for men and where household projects languish or balloon out of control, these aren't awful tools for taking concrete steps to address those issues. They're just tools.

It doesn't strike me as wildly different from making a to do list or leaving notes on the fridge or making a meal plan or grocery list.
posted by Reyturner at 11:36 AM on July 11 [61 favorites]


My wife and I set up slack to organize things like wishlists and long-term plans for projects/interior design/etc. But we're not running this household like we're CEOs with quarterly meetings.

I'm sure that having a large family complicates things but I feel like setting up time away from screens so you focus on your family/partners/loved ones is the best way to mitigate that lack of communication which might drive someone to set up Asana, Jira, or Slack in the home environment.
posted by Fizz at 11:37 AM on July 11


We used Excel to plan our wedding and for a long time my mom kept our family budget in Quickbooks. Didn't Microsoft's early plans include workplace domination to encourage familiarity to use them at home? And Apple had a similar strategy with getting their product in schools. None of the anecdotes in the article sound particularly dystopian to me.
posted by muddgirl at 11:38 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]


I actually don't see anything immediately wrong with this. Or this
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 11:38 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


I don't think this sounds like a nightmare really. It sounds like the inevitable result of two working parents and increasingly scheduled kids. The calendar on the fridge with notes about doctors appointments and playdates only works when the person who actually has to get the kids to the doctors appointments and playdates is routinely at home looking at the fridge.

When two parents need to coordinate and neither of them are home all day, using productivity tools makes sense. Using productivity tools you already know how to use and have access to across platforms makes even more sense.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:38 AM on July 11 [22 favorites]


An event my family is trying to put together for the end of this month really needs a bug tracker. The problem is there's no one to fix the bugs.
posted by wellred at 11:39 AM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Also I suppose I am biased because I wish I wish I WISH I had learned time/task management in high school, when I was excelling, and not in college when I was barely treading water.
posted by muddgirl at 11:39 AM on July 11 [36 favorites]


I thought of the Calvin example too - except today I guess Calvin would be reporting on Dad's NPS score.
posted by COD at 11:40 AM on July 11 [5 favorites]


How is this any worse than a shared todo app list for groceries, or shared calendars for appointments?
posted by SansPoint at 11:40 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Like Fizz, my household is using Trello to manage remodeling our kitchen.

My wife sends me meeting requests via Outlook all the time, because if she tells me the kid's music lessons were changed from Tuesday to Wednesday next week, I'm not going to remember it, but if it's on my calendar at work I get a popup reminder plus I see it in front of me all week, so it's in my brain now.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:40 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


The tools themselves aren't evil or wrong, it's how you use them. If you're running your family like a corporation, maybe reconsider that. But if you're using these tools to make your life a bit easier so you can plan things, I don't see anything wrong with that.
posted by Fizz at 11:41 AM on July 11 [12 favorites]


If I’m running a family like a business can I fire them all and rehire them as independent contractors?
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 AM on July 11 [91 favorites]


Of course, as anyone who has worked at an office can attest, no amount of productivity software or trendy processes will fix a toxic management culture.
posted by Reyturner at 11:42 AM on July 11 [92 favorites]


There’s a clear argument that these tools make life easier for families whose busyness threshold is above a certain level, such that all the members aren’t together for extended periods in one relaxed environment. But I think there’s also a good argument for trying to un-fill your calendar enough that coordination tools aren’t necessary. But that requires working against the headwinds of modern work, modern schooling, modern leisure times, modern life, etc. and the privilege that you need to have to mount that fight in the first place. I still think it’s worth trying to work toward some sort of compromise situation where optimization isn’t everything and you actively try to spend as much time as possible away from screens.

Fair or not, articles like this one make me want to fall off the grid.
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 AM on July 11 [17 favorites]


Using project management software to manage a family's activities is a really, really clear signal that executive functions are real work. Maybe it will mean that women's contributions to their household will be valued more.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:45 AM on July 11 [81 favorites]


Didn't we all have paper planners in the 90s/2000s, whether we used them or not? What's the difference, except it's way easier to access and facilitates communication?
posted by muddgirl at 11:46 AM on July 11 [18 favorites]


The calendar on the fridge with notes about doctors appointments and playdates only works when the person who actually has to get the kids to the doctors appointments and playdates is routinely at home looking at the fridge.

I was going to say that this is a place where the classic XP "Post-Its on a whiteboard" approach is preferable to digital tooling, but that's actually a really good point.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:47 AM on July 11 [8 favorites]


Was coming in to be all like yeah, y'all gonna think I'm crazy, but this doesn't sound that bad but was beat to it by...*looks upthread*...everyone above.
posted by snwod at 11:51 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


Meh. Muddgirl is right.

When I was growing up in the pre-internet era, I had a poster-paper scheduler that my mom prepared with my sister and I for chores, extra-curricular activities and the like. They were maybe more "fun" than digital tools, because my teacher mum used gold stars and Sesame Street character stickers and the like to decorate it and mark milestones, but essentially, it was the pre-computer version of project management software. Parenting, and running a home, often involves cajoling/nagging and yes, managing individuals to be coordinated. And if you're used to taking direction and coordinating with siblings to get housework done, you'll be better prepared to the same as an adult.
posted by Kurichina at 11:52 AM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I mean, it's not exactly surprising to me. Most of these tools are for generic purposes, like assigning tasks or reminding people about things or enabling quick low-key communication within a small group. It's not surprising to me that when somebody decided to build an app or service to remind people about things they decided that corporations were more willing to pay for their software than people who needed somebody to pick up eggs on the way home.

There’s a clear argument that these tools make life easier for families whose busyness threshold is above a certain level, such that all the members aren’t together for extended periods in one relaxed environment. But I think there’s also a good argument for trying to un-fill your calendar enough that coordination tools aren’t necessary.

My wife and I use a very basic version of one of these (a shared grocery list); it's not that we aren't together for extended periods -- most days we spend hours together -- it's that we both have better things to think about and talk about than that there are only 2 eggs left and it's easier to look and see nothing on a list than it is to engage in a round of communication to establish whether she's gone to the store before I stop on the way home.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:52 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Has there been any work on how using the same digital structure at home that you use at work impacts your psyche? I know with physical architecture we see impacts, for example how classroom design and natural light can impact learning. I thought these parts were interesting from a linguistic/psychology perspective:
Oster, who is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, says she takes a “business-y approach” to other aspects of home life as well. After she and her husband arrive at a decision as parents, it’s not uncommon for one of them to send an email recap, something along the lines of “As per our earlier conversation, we have decided that the children will be enrolled in tennis camp over the summer. Please let me know if you want to follow up on this.” She acknowledges that such a note is “more like an email I think most people send at their jobs,” but says it helps minimize miscommunication and confusion about the many things she and her husband are juggling. . . .

After some reflection, Fjällström has concluded that using Slack with his family made home life feel more like work. “It helped at that point in time because it felt like life was a bit messy … but life is supposed to be a little bit messy.” There are things, he recognizes, that productivity software doesn’t optimize for, such as carving out quality family time and allowing children to “feel all the emotions.”
posted by sallybrown at 11:52 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]


My partner and I have always used google and then apple calendar to organize ourselves from quite early on in our relationship, and we've been together for 12 years. When our kid is old enough, they'll get added in as well. As others have said, it's the same thing as a whiteboard on the fridge.
posted by sfred at 11:54 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


That's interesting. I'm not sure that I was even really aware that Trello was a workplace productivity tool. I've used it to keep track of coursework and tasks for classes, and I use it for basic life-management stuff. It's basically a to-do list, but with some added functionality. And it has some cute functions, like the ability to customize boards with your own pictures and the ability to add stickers, that I think would be appealing to families with kids. I wonder if some of this is that the lines between workplace productivity tools and other tools are sort of blurring in general. And I don't think that's quite the same as trying to apply Agile principles to your family life.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:57 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I don't like it for obvious reasons, but I do use kanban boards for chores and personal projects. Airtable has a REST API, so for the daily chores board I have a cron job set up that moves all the tasks back to the backlog every night. Having a "doing" column is a big benefit over a todo list for me, since it encourages seeing a task through rather than jumping between a bunch of different things impulsively.

Seeing that all written out, it sounds kind of oppressive, but honestly, compared to the disorganization and stress that would otherwise come with ADHD, it's remarkably freeing.
posted by invitapriore at 11:58 AM on July 11 [10 favorites]


A lot of the households I know about with many adults with their own schedules and complicated divisions of labor use trello.

Back when I had roommates, I used a google doc for a chore chart. My husband and I still use a google spreadsheet for larger divided expenses - including mortgage and utilities. This doesn't seem that weird, just maybe a little more organized.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:59 AM on July 11


Thread title made it sound like households were adopting Agile as a household management practice.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:03 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Yeah not really surprised or put-off by this. JIRA et al are tools, which are admittedly built around a specific methodology in some cases (e.g. Agile-specific software), but they're just tools. And if the tool saves you time, and doesn't cost too much, that's a win.

At some point it was considered really weird to use a spreadsheet program to balance your checkbook, or a word processor to type up recipes. But now nobody thinks that; hell, if you do your checkbook by hand on ledger paper, people probably think you're a bit weird. "Why don't you just use Excel?" they'd presumably ask.

When I entered highschool, my school gave each of the incoming freshmen a "DayTimer" style planner. It wasn't a real brand-name DayTimer, but just something they'd drawn up in the print shop with technical pens and a typewriter, then copied and spiral bound (I'm dating myself here—there was a time when a school district or even a big highschool would have its own print shop), but it had the school schedule in it, and had the day broken down according to periods instead of hours. It was great. And supposedly, according to teachers, it decreased forgotten homework assignments by some stupendous amount (I believe it, at least for me, I wouldn't have been able to remember assignments and due dates without it). But that was a straightforward carrying of office 'technology' to the school environment, in a way that wasn't toxic and wasn't really job-training, but worked well. My parents thought it was silly that I had basically a junior version of the same planners they used to manage their (in their minds, far more complex) lives, but it was both effective and a useful skill to learn. There's no reason that JIRA or Slack couldn't be the modern equivalent of that.

It's stupid to introduce technology for technology's sake, but also stupid to not utilize technology when it's appropriate to the problem and available for use, just because it's not traditional.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:06 PM on July 11 [14 favorites]


It's women's work so it shouldn't look like work, apparently.
posted by muddgirl at 12:07 PM on July 11 [40 favorites]


Also, Dropbox gets used a lot to share files in our house. It makes moving files seamlessly from device to device a lot easier. I'm sure I could fuss with setting up a home network but I'm too lazy and the cloud suffices.
posted by Fizz at 12:08 PM on July 11


At some point it was considered really weird to use a spreadsheet program to balance your checkbook, or a word processor to type up recipes. But now nobody thinks that; hell, if you do your checkbook by hand on ledger paper, people probably think you're a bit weird. "Why don't you just use Excel?" they'd presumably ask.


At this point, they'd probably mostly be confused about why you have a checkbook and what you are doing to it.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:12 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


Three years ago I thought it was RIDICULOUS that a coworker proudly showed off his family kanban board for household tasks and chores. Today, I share a Trello board to organize and communicate house tasks with my husband.
posted by xtine at 12:14 PM on July 11


I'm trying to get my inlaws to shift some of our long distance communications away from Facebook and on to Slack. Slack wants me as a customer. Facebook wants me as a product.
posted by ocschwar at 12:15 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


I love spreadsheets and have used Google Docs extensively for large endeavors like moving, getting married and managing house projects. The idea of doing something like that for everyday life, though, gives me hives. Slack is an awful tool as it is - I was unable to snooze notifications while I was on vacation due to insufficient internet, yet it was not so inefficient as to prevent notifications from popping up and making my phone buzz. So I uninstalled it.

To each their own re: using the tools they need to keep their life in order. The older I get and the more experience I have in enterprise software development, the less I want technology driving my life.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:17 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I was going to say that this is a place where the classic XP "Post-Its on a whiteboard" approach is preferable to digital tooling, but that's actually a really good point.

The other part is that a lot of the information is already digital.
Whatever website they use for my kids baseball gives you an .ics link so you can put it on your phone calendar and it is automatically updated if practice times change.

Using post-its would require going to the website, writing down everything on a post-it, then entering into the phone calendar anyway so you get a reminder.

I will say though, that my family has a "master calendar" which is the physical calendar on the kitchen wall.
If it goes on that calendar, it is official. Anything not entered on that calendar doesn't count if it gets forgotten.
posted by madajb at 12:19 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


am reminded of a conversation i overheard in a college town, where an exasperated woman on the phone said “no, buying beer is not something that belongs on the chore chart”
posted by vogon_poet at 12:20 PM on July 11 [13 favorites]


Spouse and I are in Slack with each other all day every day. It's nice. It's like before when we used Yahoo messenger or ICQ.

Also, self-synching calendars and grocery lists and other to-dos are the best.
posted by crush at 12:21 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


Thread title made it sound like households were adopting Agile as a household management practice.

I have to admit I've thought about how organizing family life into Sprints might help get more stuff done. Instead, as empty-nesters, we've done the opposite and organized our lives so that we have minimal obligations and can mostly just wing it without missing anything important.
posted by COD at 12:23 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


The difference between Slack and ICQ is that the Slack client does not retain data. All of your conversation history can and probably will vanish in a poof of cloud failure.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:23 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


It's women's work so it shouldn't look like work, apparently.

This is not yet broadly applicable so maybe it just seems like musing, but as lots of white-collar office work moves into using programs like Slack, where the “room” you’re working in is more about the digital space you inhabit than your actual office (which might be your home, or an office, or a Starbucks, or something else), I do think it will be a change to also be using Slack as your family “room” to manage household tasks.

We’ve had interesting discussions here before about checking email outside work hours, in which some people are very bothered by it and others are not. For me, once I cross my office door I don’t even want to think the word “Outlook” if at all necessary until I’m back in the morning. I want to throw off anything I associate with work—my work clothes, my work phone, my papers, purse, laptop bag, whatever. Some people are completely not bothered by not having a strict division between work life and home life.

We saw a big shift as computers were introduced into people’s workplaces and then homes. Maybe it will be like that? My home laptop doesn’t make me think “oh nooo, work!” just because I use the same tool in my office. But from what I’ve read about some of these platform services, they benefit by having you spend lots of time in the digital “room.” Will it bleed work time and home time together?
posted by sallybrown at 12:26 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


sallybrown: Has there been any work on how using the same digital structure at home that you use at work impacts your psyche?

This is purely personal anecdata, but I'm the sort of person who needs to have One System To Rule It All. The more places I have to look to see what I need to do, the more likely something will fall through the cracks. I'm sure I'm not the only person like this.
posted by SansPoint at 12:27 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


Thread title made it sound like households were adopting Agile as a household management practice.

You joke, but I find making explicit, measurable plans that everyone buys into for the short term and breaking down and defining large projects on the long term with regular scheduled check-ins to see how things are going super useful.

Agile is kind of a punchline, but it's great when everyone knows what they're doing. The only holdouts I've know are people who generally aren't interested in, and don't like being accountable to, anyone else.
posted by Reyturner at 12:33 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Fortunately, I can't get anyone in my actual office to actual shift from constant emails to Slack, so my open channels are all social or activism. Even so I have an absolute dead mental lock on that work channel is on DO NOT DISTURB when my business hours end. It's the only discipline I have in my life.

Also, I love Slack.
posted by crush at 12:35 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I don't use slack or anything with my roommates, but I'm on like eight social slacks, one it's-just-a-hobby-but-it's-still-a-huge-year-long-60-person-project slack, and one work slack.
posted by aubilenon at 12:37 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


If I’m running a family like a business can I fire them all and rehire them as independent contractors?

“Listen, you’re my children and I love you, but you’re all terrible at what you do here and I feel like I should tell you. I’d fire all of you if I could.”
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:38 PM on July 11 [14 favorites]


(Just want to mention, for people who aren't enthusiastic about Trello's kanban-style approach, there's also Freedcamp, which has nice checklist-style task lists. I find them visually much more pleasing and much easier to use. Freedcamp has a robust free level, just like Trello does. I've found Freedcamp to be really nice for managing personal tasks and projects, both collaborative stuff and things I'm just doing by myself.)
posted by kristi at 12:48 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


If I’m running a family like a business can I fire them all and rehire them as independent contractors?

You can get the earned income tax credit with children (based on income and other factors), so you don't want to fire your children but rather want to add additional independent contractor children at tax time to ramp up your EITC and increase your deductions.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:49 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


I've used some of these tools to (try) and manage my own private life and dinky projects so it totally makes sense that couples and families would give them a try. It's kinda like having a calendar on the fridge with all of the family's activities and commitments, only it's more flexible and accessible.

Obviously you can overdo the management part by adding layers of abstraction which is why I love Kanban oriented tools like Trello because their underlying mental models are extremely flexible yet easy to grasp and use.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:49 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Agile is kind of a punchline, but it's great when everyone knows what they're doing. The only holdouts I've know are people who generally aren't interested in, and don't like being accountable to, anyone else.

I actually feel like in a lot of ways, Agile was trying to apply the sorts of things that work for well-run households to small businesses, and large companies are struggling with trying to figure out how to scale Agile because they were the propagators of exactly the practices that Agile was trying to get away from. The point of the standup meeting is not to do it instead of catching up over breakfast. The point of the standup meeting is to do something more like catching up over breakfast than sending 300 emails trying to stay up-to-date with what your coworkers are doing.

Okay, technically I think it's really breakfast + dinner -- breakfast being "what are you doing today" and dinner being "what did you do today". Consolidating that into "what did you do yesterday and what did you do today" seems like a perfectly reasonable update to give your family. If it doesn't help to think of it that way, don't! But I don't think anybody has a perfectly classic breakfast routine with their family and goes "you know what we need is to do a standup instead". If you don't have a routine, if you don't have a good tool for something, and then you see something at work that works, probably it works precisely because it's enabling people to spend less time on the corporate BS, not because it's adding on extra corporate BS.
posted by Sequence at 12:55 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


Kids! It's time for a SPRINT!!!
posted by benzenedream at 12:57 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I don't know how many of you guys have looked into the heavily, heavily gendered world of paper planners these days but any household organization system that can be shared and isn't just housed in the purse of the female-identified person is a win. I'll admit that the Mom Planner aesthetic just gives me hives and that's part of my animosity, but also holy heck do I NOT want to be the only person in the house who can easily access all the events, plans, addresses, phone numbers and lists. Share that shit far and wide using these little handheld computers were all carry everywhere and maybe there can be more than one competent person per household.

We use Google Keep for meal planning, to do lists and shopping lists, Sheets for the budget, and Calendar for events. I'm the person who inflicted Slack on my own workplace several years ago (STOP USING EMAIL OMG) and if I saw a need for it in my home life I'd totally use it. I used Airtable for a recent kitchen remodel.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:59 PM on July 11 [27 favorites]


But I don't think anybody has a perfectly classic breakfast routine with their family and goes "you know what we need is to do a standup instead".

I tried this but my kids are little wiseacres and instead of better communication with my wife about activities I got a lot of breakfast jokes like:
"What day do eggs hate the most?" Fryday.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:00 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


It feels a little demonizing to the tools when the implementation is what could feel super regimented. Anecdotally, my partner – whose actual job is 'planner' – uses a paper planner book and I've often wanted to migrate her to a shared digital system for social stuff and appointments. There are disadvantages to using a different system than what we use for work, namely it makes workday calendar management a little messy, but it's nice to turn off the work calendar after hours.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:01 PM on July 11


I’ve used a combination of Slack, Google Docs, and Hangouts to plan vacations with 5-6 couples living in different cities. I could have done it without those tools, but it would have meant doing it all myself instead of being able to redistribute tasks across the whole group.

11-way video conferences are just as frustrating in friend-world as in work-world, though. Mute your mic when you’re not speaking!
posted by asphericalcow at 1:03 PM on July 11


also to not abuse the edit window— one of the major hurdles of digital tools for social calendars is other people; once you go beyond emailing an iCal event it gets complicated because families use different platforms.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:03 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Ha. We tried Asana as a family management tool a few years ago. But I am as just as much an ornery, unmanageable software engineer at home as I am at work, and I whined about how Asana didn't support the use cases I wanted and if we really needed something like this we should roll our own that wasn't so bloated and weird and project-management-y and slow even though it was clearly not something we'd ever have time to do until we abandoned it and went back to the ad hoc email/spreadsheet/chat situation we'd been using to keep our lives together before.

This is basically an ad for never marrying me I guess
posted by potrzebie at 1:04 PM on July 11 [20 favorites]


Adding some color to muddgirl and jacquilynne's points above:

You know that awesome mom in real life or TV who reminds her family about Timmy's playdate and dear husband's dentist appointment and Sally's soccer practice, and that they're running low on milk? The mom who remembers the babysitter's birthday, and to send both her mother AND her mother-in-law flowers on Mother's Day, and never forgets her drycleaning or when the library books are due?

Fuck that noise.

Full family access to all that info means full family responsibility. You want to know what time to pick up Timmy from his playdate? It's on the damn calendar, don't call me at work. Everyone gets a calendar reminder when it's time to order flowers for mother's day. Any weird late night or dinner work events get cross posted to the family calendar so that everyone can check whether mom is available before making plans, and it doesn't have to be for chores - it's nice to know whether anyone has to work late if you're making reservations for a surprise night out. No more "why didn't you remind me!" or "I thought you were taking care of that." And when you finish the milk, you can add it to the shared grocery list, and if you don't, well you know why you're eating dry cereal this morning. I am no longer the gatekeeper of domestic knowledge, which means I am no longer the gatekeeper of domestic responsibility.

On a less antagonistic note, managing errands across a group gets easier when they're pooled in one place, and you can check off when one of them is done. Bills get paid on time, cars get serviced on time, service people's numbers are searchable and findable, and parents can talk to each other discreetly and efficiently on electronic channels to handle minor domestic bumps, resulting in far fewer "personal moments" interrupting work. I can focus on my job at my job, and on my family at home, and on my friends ... well, whenever I can. When my brain is spinning at night with nagging worries that I forgot something, I can just log in and check, soothing that worry.

I will use any tool I can get my hands on that helps me enjoy my life more.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 1:19 PM on July 11 [35 favorites]


One of our kids is autistic and we are used to doing standup family meetings with visual schedules and using Kimochi wall charts to describe emotions etc. not quite the same thing but really helps kids with anxiety about plans, schedules etc. and to process what is happening. At some stage as our kids are getting older and just with the block and tackle of raising kids these days I can totally see us migrating to one of these tools.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:22 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


I am only sad that one of the platforms is called "asana", but I guess once the engineers used "Ubuntu" then every damn word on Earth was up for grabs.

Also, FOUR KIDS?
posted by allthinky at 1:33 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


But from what I’ve read about some of these platform services, they benefit by having you spend lots of time in the digital “room.”

As far as I can tell, the reason Slack has free accounts is so that lots and lots of people will be familiar with it, and tell their jobs, "Slack is great; I know how to tweak all the settings; let's get one and fork over $9/person/month for it." As a chat app, its got pros and cons; it's comparable to several others on the market. Encouraging free users instead of doing the "hey aren't you ready to buy an account yet" approach can keep people using it enough to get a regular influx of new accounts from unexpected areas.

(Our family has a Slack. I'm on it, and elder daughter. Younger daughter may have an account. My husband doesn't. My father doesn't even have email. But we have it all set up for "in case we ever have the energy to convince the other two online people in the household that we really should have a single point of contact someday.")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:38 PM on July 11


Discord would work as well for most families, with the bonus that your kids are on it already.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:23 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


When I tell people, I'm always surprised how many people don't know that Slack is actually an acronym: Searchable Log of All Content and Knowledge. Slack is just doing for normal life, be it work or home, what gmail did for email, and what email did for snail mail - it makes things easier to use/search, less time intensive, and more useful as a tool. It's really not that different from the remote control or the roomba, IMO - just one more way technology can make life better when used for good.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:28 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


This is reminding me of a book about ethical polyamory which recommended a calendaring system for managing everyone's expectations, emotions and time in a fair and open way. I bet the people who wrote that book would be all over these new collaboration systems.

The book convinced me that I'm not cut out for polyamory.
posted by clawsoon at 2:34 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I planned our wedding with a Trello board and an Excel spreadsheet because those were the tools that was effective for my best ma'am and our transcontinental wedding party were comfortable for tracking all of the to-dos and the dones.

In past relationships I had a shared Google Doc with my partner including things like grocery lists, interesting trip ideas, and funny articles that the other person should read sometime.

My wife wants a paper calendar. She will not use Trello. She will not use the calendar on her smartphone. And I realize for myself that I can't change that. So I have my bullet journal and my gcal and my grocery list app. And we just have a daily and weekly ritual where she asks me what our plans are and I show her the gcal screen and read off the latest highlights in the neighborhood Slack group so she can write it down in her paper calendar

The best process to use is the process that both of you will use.
posted by bl1nk at 2:56 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Also to the other post from ages ago about mental labor, I think an important part of how our household works is that my wife and I give each other complete monopolies on household management. I pay the bills, she puts money in a shared account and bill payment happens she handles laundry. I manage the calendar and make sure we don't get double booked or forget plans. She handles pet care. I handle food and make sure she never runs out of bananas. Basically, to continue torturing the agile analogies, we offer each other a subscription to (domestic chore) as a service.
posted by bl1nk at 3:05 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Slack is just doing for normal life, be it work or home, what gmail did for email

Feeding it into a central server so it can be monetized and shared with authorities?
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:07 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


Personally, it's having a proper issue tracker for domestic purposes that would feel like a Step Too Far for me, although I think proper issue trackers are badly underused for actual work. (I spent too much of my twenties using a work issue tracker for as much social/artistic selfexpression as was commensurate with not getting the work done. Ah, the week we realized you could put the bell character into an issue name.)

potzrbie, my household spent a while thinking we'd get organized as soon as we rebuilt taskwarrior or possibly emacs org-mode to be comfy on smartphones, but that yak never got shaved.
posted by clew at 3:42 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


So I guess it turns out that even if you can't use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house, you can use them to help run yours, which is a consolation prize of sorts.

I'm *half* kidding. It's totally true and not particularly new that management techniques and tools that work for a business context can be helpful for individuals, couples, and households. If it's working for you, rock on. However: having grown up in a church with leadership that primarily seemed to be populated from business management career types, it's easy for me to see how subtle assumptions built into that background would subtly spread into spaces and relationships that are supposed to be nearer to issues of the spirit and heart. And how something similar could happen when tools designed for businesses first are used at home.

Also, if you're concerned about Facebook having your data or Google being creepy, then it might make some sense to be at least half as concerned about Trello or Atlassian or Slack as well unless you've got a contract with them that says they won't mine your data (NARRATOR: No one has that contract). The cloud is someone else's computer. Sure, they have another business model. Now.
posted by wildblueyonder at 4:06 PM on July 11 [9 favorites]


When I was in college, my roommate and I had a LaTeXed chore rota on the fridge. People made fun of us. That is all.

Now that I think about it, I'm wondering why we didn't do what my parents did with their custody agreement, which was that we went to my dad's on weekends where the Friday's date was an odd number. That almost works out to every other week and makes planning ahead trivial.
posted by hoyland at 4:14 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


> People made fun of us

As well they should. LaTeX list environments are definitely not the correct tool for this task. Too much whitespace, awkward handling of short list items, and completely unattractive default bullet symbols. Not to mention that customization of the itemize and enumerate environments is... not structurally encouraged. For these and other reasons, I say 'ha!', sir or madam.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 4:29 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


doctor, doctor, I am concerned that my daughter's MarTech stack isn't developing on schedule. She should be at the 'ninja' level but she's still struggling with basic 'rockstar' concepts. [sotto voce] I'm worried she's not...Agile

jk it's good. it's all good. use these things for something more wholesome than building another gig economy app.

me, I'm old school, I manage my life on Google Sheets
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:54 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Kids! It's time for a SPRINT!!!

Someone dropped this in a work Slack & I think about it regularly, especially when no one is addressing my blocker (no one is ever addressing my blocker).

taquito household right now is two people with hefty executive function issues & very little consciously designed infrastructure set up to manage the flow of just fucking existing as people who, like, generate dishes & laundry & need to be able to find things in the fridge, so I think all this stuff is great. Anything that outsources cognitive load is A++ in my book.
posted by taquito sunrise at 5:07 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Remember, if none of this avails there is always The Wheel.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:20 PM on July 11 [12 favorites]


A few years ago when I was at CES, the smart home was just taking off and I sat through countless demos of a product where the premise was simple:

1. Put a sensor in [whatever] -- the fridge, the pantry, the baby's diaper.
2. The sensor would detect [whatever] -- you're out of milk, you're low on cereal, the baby needs to be changed.
3. A notification would pop up on the phone -- buy milk on your way home, order cereal from Amazon Pantry, go change the baby.

Et voila, housework was streamlined!

The demo would skid to a halt when I said, "So these alerts and calls to action go to all members of a household, right? May I see the admin panel where you add people for these tasks?"

And the nice young man -- it was always a nice young man -- would say, "No. This is a system with one device and one mobile user."

And then I would say, "So how do people who live with multiple adults in a household share the labor equitably with your device?"

And the nice young man would say, with the tiniest hint of trepidation, "You could ... let someone know once you get the alert?"

And then I would say, "So one person is either managing this task 100% of the time, or they're managing someone else to get them to manage the task?"

"It's on your phone," the nice young man would say. "So you don't have to check the milk/check the cereal level/check the baby. The data's pushed to you."

"But until you add multiple users, it's still one person buying milk on your way home/ ordering cereal from Amazon Pantry/changing the baby," I'd persist. "So what's the selling point for someone buying this tech if it means assuming sole responsibility for this chore?"

"Um, well, thanks for the feedback, we'll consider multiple users," the nice young man would say.

Few of those one-person-one-app-one-task products I saw at CES have survived.

And the lesson I retained was this: A hell of a lot of people who make household products don't think about equitable division of household labor. It's a hell of a thing when workplace tools are more advanced in fair division of labor than household ones.
posted by sobell at 5:20 PM on July 11 [46 favorites]


What would Lillian Moller Gilbreth use?

(One of her children titled a book about her Time Out for Happiness, so I am guessing she was solid on unscheduled humane time.)
posted by clew at 6:01 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I feel like this article has a background resonance of America’s peculiarly Calvinist attitude where, if you do something that makes your life easier or more pleasant, it’s “cheating”, because your works have no value unless they hurt you in the process of accomplishing them. I have to wonder if more egalitarian societies ask questions like, “Is it bad for the family if we use professional organizational tools at home?” As if there could be something intrinsically BAD about getting things done more effectively. What kind of society even asks that question?

And yeah, basically the only people who think this sounds like overkill and way too much work are the ones who aren’t stuck doing it, with or without the benefit of tools that make it only take minutes instead of hours.

Anecdotally, as someone with ADHD, I still suck at adding things consistently to calendars (dunno why, maybe because I don’t have very many appointments) but I get a ton of use out of my Alexa devices. Having the auditory component is really helpful, and being able to vocally set timers and add things to lists is a lifesaver. One of my biggest executive dysfunctions is that if I’m in the middle of something and think of a thing I need to do, either I interrupt myself and risk not finishing the task, or I don’t interrupt myself and risk forgetting the thing I needed to do. Being able to just SAY “Alexa, add eggs to shopping list” is a miracle. I was also a master of writing a grocery list and then forgetting to bring it with me. Evernote, and later Google Keep, and finally Alexa have made that a thing of the past.

As for what the companies are going to do with the data entered into these apps...y’know, I just don’t think they’ll do a goddamn thing. Every day produces more data than any company could ever conceivably analyze, and why the fuck would they even care anyway? These tools are all commercial; if they’re looking for profitable data and applications, I’m sure the Fortune 500 companies around the world will be way more valuable for data-mining than The Hanson Family Kitchen Remodel and Homework Calendar.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:54 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


What would Lillian Moller Gilbreth use?

Ha!! I was wondering whether anybody else had read Cheaper By The Dozen! It's a kids' book about the Gilbreth family, written by a couple of their children. The parents were time-and-motion efficiency experts, and they ran their fourteen-person home with lots of love, good humor, and carefully planned organizational routines. This FPP made me think some modern kids will someday be writing a book about the crazy antics of their Agile family.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:21 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of no-true-Scotsman going on in this thread re: those who are not fans of office tools in the home. Maybe, juuuust mayyyybe, there is an aversion to this feature creep because work and home should be separate and distinct. We do not need to have our lives' minutiae scheduled and notified and refined and pointed. That is the language and mindset of commodification, of fungibility, of corporate servitude, and does not belong in a household, full stop. It's like the fucking Borg.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:23 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


grumpybear69, I think there's room for both. I am 100% hearing people who are saying "tools that make peoples' lives easier are generally good, especially if they help promote equitable labor in the home." I am also hearing (and one of the people saying) that I like to keep my work-tools and my home-tools separate. But what that looks like is probably different for different people. I've seen Trello used at work, but I've never used it or administered it, so for me I'm like "oh, Trello kanban board, that sounds like.. pretty reasonable I guess." I actively use and have some admin responsibilities for a Jira instance, though, and.. no.. there does not exist enough incentive in the world to convince me I want to deal with that at home too. I don't need "[task] CHR-321: Empty the garbage." (but like, the idea of a shared todo list is sound, I just don't want to use Jira to do it, because ugh. Work/life." That sounds like Trello to me.. but then, if I were using Trello for work I'd probably feel different.
posted by Alterscape at 8:07 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


grumpybear69, the term of art for that is ``separate spheres''.
posted by clew at 8:49 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


I want to be wrong about this, but as helpful as I think the technology can be, I worry families will just find new stupid ways to gender its use.

West of the Mississippi, I’m the only person on my side of the family who is employed full-time. Currently, I am also the only one who is a full-time student. Since Mom died five years ago, I have also been the only married woman.

Even though almost everyone has been connected through Facebook/mobile, for a long time my retired aunt, retired uncle, part-time employed husband, semi-retired father, and unemployed sister pretty much expected to be their envoy: why check Dad’s Facebook for his birthday when you can text me to ask in the middle of a 60-hour week? Why phone my sister (Or Dad, with whom she lives) and ask why she never thanked you for the birthday gift and whether she’s mad at you, when you can phone me at rush hour and ask if I’ve been over to visit lately? Why speak directly to my husband about some household stuff he could help you with, when you can leave me a voicemail in the middle of class to check his availability?

Like I said, I hope I’m wrong. It’s not the “business” part of the equation that chills my blood so much as the “family” part.
posted by armeowda at 9:04 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


armeowda, it was a real education seeing how older relatives expected me to maintain social media content and responses as an extension of the holiday cards I was supposed to also send out and the get-togethers I was supposed to engineer. You're right that the gendered assumptions can leap to any new medium.

(Sadly, the only cure for it was refusing to fulfill other people's expectations -- I don't even send holiday cards any more -- and being at peace with the consequences. )

I strongly suspect that just as household hints are suddenly freed from the domestic sphere when they're rebranded as lifehacking, and dieting is no longer a solely female concern when it's intermittent fasting for improved physical potential ... so may domestic labors gradually diffuse through the gendered-expectations behavior when it's "domestic deliverables" or whatever Optimize My Life, Fuck Yeah! phrase makes planning a child's carpool circuit seem like part and parcel of the relentless self-optimization cult of late-stage American capitalism.
posted by sobell at 9:41 PM on July 11 [9 favorites]


Yeah the "oh no how dare people treat home life as work" thread sounds like the kind of thing you say when you have the privilege of not treating your home life as work, maybe because someone else is putting in all that work, invisibly, to make your home life not feel like work. It meshes unpleasantly with the invisibility of women's labor.

It's all very nice to wax poetic about quality family time and feeling emotions, about how life is supposed to be a "little bit messy". Hey, guess what, life is a whole lot more than a little bit messy, it's just that someone is constantly, constantly fighting back entropy by washing and sweeping and cleaning and picking up. And keeping track of what items are low and buying them. And scheduling things. And, you know, running the household, which is... *gasp*... work. Even if they don't get paid for it.

Something I particularly appreciated from the article was Tonya and her point about these tools teaching kids time management and responsibility before they start drowning in college.

Something I didn't really appreciate was the guilt-mongering about kids not having play time. Historically kids have been pretty involved in helping keep their households running. The quantities of free time references by the article are a historical aberration limited to very specific locations and social classes. Where's the evidence that said free time is more beneficial to them than, say, being a responsible part of their household with all the benefits to self esteem that entails? Or, you know, the benefit of getting some training in adult skills like time management before being dumped in the actual adult world?
posted by Cozybee at 11:18 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


I recently discovered modular productivity software: Notion, which has been called "the living room of the cozyweb." It's extremely versatile. I now use it to organize my home life and my business life (I'm self-employed) in an integrated way. One of the things I appreciate about it is that it makes a lot of the previously hidden "mental load" of household management more visible and recognizable as real, valuable work.
posted by velvet winter at 1:39 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I hate using Jira for work or open source projects, I can't imagine inflicting it on my partner. But I'm all for using things like spreadsheets and shared calendars. My partner has half-time custody of her kids, and last year wass traveling once or twice per week for work, plus occasional travel on my part, and things required some serious strategery to keep the train on the tracks.

I set up a shared calendar that tracks all the birthdays, shows, recitals, dates that foster kittens need shots, and on and on. It's been really helpful and I'm pretty sure it's staved off a lot of friction for us - if one of us forgets to put an event on the calendar then it's our bad if the other makes plans on top of that. No more "but I mentioned this thing in passing three weeks ago, how could you have scheduled a lady's night the same evening?"

When we're splitting costs for trips or something, we usually use a spreadsheet to balance things out. I've been trying to introduce Slack or anything that gets us away from Apple Messenger and to a tool that 1) is much better for recalling chat history and 2) isn't Apple and isn't phone-based. Still working on that one.
posted by jzb at 4:36 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Discord would work as well for most families, with the bonus that your kids are on it already.

Yeah, what's funny about this for me is that I know a lot of adult gamers who see Discord as a perfectly normal chat app to use in your personal life, and Slack as an evil capitalist productivity app that you only use when someone pays you to. So they're appalled at my family's household Slack, not because it's an app, but because it's the work one, instead of the normal one like their house uses.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:46 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Maybe, juuuust mayyyybe, there is an aversion to this feature creep because work and home should be separate and distinct.

As someone who lives alone, owns my own home, and works full-time, the immediate reaction I had to this sentence was, “Are you kidding me? Do you know how much work it is to keep up a home?”

I think it is genuinely a mistake to separate home from work. Both spheres are work and require tasks to be done. I would love to have the magic elves come to my house and clean it and fill it with groceries, but since I am responsible for all of those tasks, then it is more useful to acknowledge the reality that I have both work things and home things to accomplish, and it is simpler to use the same tools to manage everything.

Right now, it’s 6:45am on a Friday. The things I have to do today are: put the trash on the curb, hit up Costco, finish eight projects at my job, fill a prescription, get the oil changed in the car. I have the next 12 hours to do all these things—go. The idea that I should, much less could, declare that some things aren’t my responsibility because “home life” should look a certain way, is absolutely ridiculous. Everything is work. Some I get paid for, some I pay for. There is NO universe in which I get to say that some things “aren’t my job”.

Because I live alone, this seems like an obvious framing, but clearly there is a whole subset of society that genuinely believes that when they get home, some things aren’t their job to do. If anything, this article should spell out quite clearly that these things are, in fact, their job.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:48 AM on July 12 [17 favorites]


cozybee said: Something I didn't really appreciate was the guilt-mongering about kids not having play time. Historically kids have been pretty involved in helping keep their households running. The quantities of free time references by the article are a historical aberration limited to very specific locations and social classes.

I think some of the argument against extending these tools into home life is built in the argument that those class and gender privileges should become universal: that all children should have more space, that there should be a meaningful space of leisure for everyone.

Some of this seems to argue that the solution to the "second shift" problem is that everyone works the second shift together. Now everyone does the uncompensated labor together after putting a day at work or school unless they are rich enough to afford actual professional domestic services, but then you're right back into reinforcing class/gender/race hierarchies.

And that, in turn, seems to take for granted the ideas that there's no getting around, say, wage stagnation, or existing, socialized expectations about the household. and that neither the actual professionalization of so-called "domestic" work cannot never be "un-gendered" or separated from a hierarchical class system. These tools offer a tactics of survival in the present, so I'm not condemning them. But they aren't a way out of the deeper problems that create a need for their use in the first place.

At the extreme, once the effort towards justice shows that paid professional work is required productive labor, and household management is effectively required productive labor, and emotional regulation and empathy is required productive labor, then what can anyone justly desire or defend other than productive labor?
posted by kewb at 5:13 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The solution to the “second shift” is that everyone does the work together. That’s the point. If it takes a Kanban board and a task list in Outlook to make it clear that home life is work, great. Home life is work, people have been saying that for decades. The biggest obstacle has been getting people to genuinely understand that.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:34 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


Again, the rich don't have to work the second shift at all. They pay someone else to do it. And, for various reasons, the first shift is often a lot longer if you're a PoC or a woman (the old "work twice as hard to get the same recognition" bit).

Yes, the solution tot he second shift is that everyone does it together. But surely part of the point s that then no one person has to do all of it, and that this creates some space for everyone that is outside of "productive labor." Surely one benefit to more evenly distributing a fixed quantity of labor is that it creates blocks of time that do not have to be structured as labor? There is clearly such a thing as leisure time, as some people clearly have plenty of it; what we lack is an equal distribution of leisure time.

Likewise, it is just as much of a problem that most people's second-shift labor is not compensated labor, and first-shift labor takes up more of the day, demands more and more from each laborer, and pays less and less in real wages.

The argument people have against this stuff is that it often does seem to be informed by the idea that "Everything is work." No, it's not, and it shouldn't be. There is certainly more work , and more kinds of work, than people of privilege acknowledge. But work is not everything, and some of the work that exists is simply the work some do to produce and sustain the privilege of others.
posted by kewb at 6:01 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The framing of the post is odd. How do we, post Emotional Labor MeFites not know that Emotional Labor IS labor? Of course PM and task management tools should be part of every equitably managed household. Of course the effective PM and task management service platforms with "free" service levels are going to be used by households. Shit, I'd even do kanban if it'd help everyone feel less resentful about taking out the garbage or emptying the dishwasher.
posted by kalessin at 6:07 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


"I think some of the argument against extending these tools into home life is built in the argument that those class and gender privileges should become universal: that all children should have more space, that there should be a meaningful space of leisure for everyone. "

I do not understand this argument.

Look. Until our beautiful robot revolution happens, it is people who will still need to do the following things (extremely incomplete list): put laundry into machine, take laundry out of machine, place laundry in its correct final destination, put clean dishes onto table, take dirty dishes off of table and move them to dish-cleaning location, clean dishes, wipe spills, sweep dirt tracked in from outside. Schedule appointments, remember appointments, arrange transportation to and from appointments, ensure that appointments do not have time conflicts with other appointments, and include under the category of "appointments" playdates, fun activities, etc, not just doctors. Resources necessary for the functioning of the house need to be acquired, inventory needs to be done to track which resources need to be re-acquired soon and which are currently in surplus and need to be used up before expiring, the resources need to be stored in a conveniently accessible way. A long list of social coordinative activities, like getting updates from teachers about how kids are doing, following up on relevant updates, checking in with relatives A, B, C, etc, needs to happen. Things fall apart, need to be fixed, someone needs to come up with action plans of how to fix each thing (eg, research which repairman to call, call repairman, schedule visit, arrange to be home for visit, OR, research necessary materials and know-how for fix, acquire materials, allot time for fix).

There are people doing this. Maybe they are paid. Maybe they are not paid. Regardless of the pay scheme, they are working. They were working before these apps happened. These apps did not magically create that work for them.

All these apps did was: 1. make it more obvious that these things are, in fact, work 2. make it more possible to share that work with other people 3. make some of that work a lot easier and more convenient, in the same way they did in workplaces

The total amount of leisure time in the system has not changed. Each household still has X amount of average leisure time per person available to distribute between members. Wealthier households usually have a larger X, poorer families have a smaller X.

Apps have not changed that.

What they have enabled is for the amount of leisure time per person to be close to that average X, rather than, say, person A of the household having 4x leisure time, and person B having none.

They've also reduced some of the overhead of certain parts of the workload, a lot of the managerial work that I did not really delve into above, the division of labor, overseeing of work, checking up on the status of the project, etc, which, despite my not mentioning it above, is also work, that takes time and energy, and now has the assistance of an app. The job "remind person A of their responsibility on Tuesday" is eliminated, because now the app is doing that job.

Maybe, for some people, the amount of leisure time starts to feel a bit constrained, once it becomes obvious how much of it the system actually has. Maybe at that point we start petitioning for 6-hour workdays, longer weekends, whatever. Things that actually increase the total amount of leisure time available in the system.

Something that does not increase the total amount of leisure time available: "let's keep work tools out of house-work so that people won't have to work in house-work at home"
posted by Cozybee at 6:15 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


I'm baffled at the bafflement in here. I'm curious about the demographics, honestly. In a household where a) all the adults are full time employed at one or more jobs that are b) not WFH or flexible and c) have one or more children living at home while d) not making enough to throw money at daily problems like cooking, cleaning or errand-running, someone has to do this very regimented, scheduled, unfun, actualfax work. It's work. It's hard work. Tools created to make hard work a little easier is a no brainier.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:29 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


As you note, Cozybee -- and sorry for the capitalization error in my earlier post -- part of the immediate benefit of these tools is that they automate away some of the time and energy on task. It's not quite the "robot revolution," but it's something.

Ultimately, I don't know that we actually disagree on much. All I have been trying to argue, however, clumsily, is that there is more to the knee-jerk, shallow "why are we turning the home into a mirror of the workplace" response than just "privilege doing privilege." Some of it is the (I hope) understandable desire to say that the structure of the workplace and of the demand for constant work are inherently bad in certain ways.

When people ignore the ways this just offloads the unfairness and badness onto others, then it does turn into privilege. And that amplifies the bad, unfair elements, and makes the work that much harder and more difficult. But I can imagine, say, a household where everyone is confident that everyone is doing an equal share of the work is also a household where there is less emotional and self-care labor to do, or at least less "too late, and more of it" labor to do in both the physical and psychological realms. These tools are great for that.

But as soren_lorenson's comment points out, a lot of this is because of existing structures of privilege: wage differences, inflexible "first-shift" work cultures and conditions, and so forth.

That arguably multiplies the kinds of labor we all need to do, and do more equitably, in the present: professional, household, emotional, medical, and perhaps social/political. Justice is work, but it should also be the end of certain kinds of work.
posted by kewb at 6:40 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I think some of the confusion between posts that don’t ultimately conflict, philosophically, is that some of us have or anticipate an issue with using workplace tools in the home, and others find that silly, ultimately. I don’t think anyone in this thread thinks that emotional labor or physical labor done in the home is not work. What I’m wondering (not asserting, but genuinely wondering) is if there is some effect on our emotional and mental lives by using the same tools we use to structure labor in the workplace to structure labor in the home. I’m not judging anyone for using them. I understand the arguments for using them. I’m just also wondering if there might be interesting arguments for there being a downside to using them.
posted by sallybrown at 6:50 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I'm a fairly unstructured person. I hate jobs where I'm scheduled down to the minute. Left to my own devices, my house would not be well-organized (well, it'd be organized in a way that made sense to only me) and mail wouldn't get thrown out in a timely manner. But a trello board for my home keeps big pictured stuff from being lost to time. I do not feel driven by the reminders or general meal plan I've sketched out, though I can definitely see how some people would. To me having the reminders means I'm not worried about it until I need to. My current work place is also respectful of my time, so I don't have negative connotations from using a work tool at home.

It's kind of like working at home: my mom hates it because then she feels like work is encroaching on home. My husband loves it because he is able two separate, he can be more focused on work during work time (not distracted by co-workers), and in the end has more relaxation time because he doesn't have to commute.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:07 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


As someone with a hardware deficiency in the self-organizing department in my mental processing unit, I rely on digital tools from the calendar that sends me a "here's what you're doing" email every morning, a wrist-mounted AI/secretary/computer/communication center that tells me when to get up, move around, eat, breathe, stand up, and sleep, a scale that analyzes my weight, bodyfat, bone density, and other details and sends them to my pocket supercomputer for analysis and recommendation, among other things. When I'm at work, I'm immersed in the Atlassian suite, Slack, and all that Agile humpermabump and Kanban-Japanese-auto-manufacture-scheduling stuff, and it, too, helps me to apply my skills.

That said, in a home environment, while kids need guidance and an introduction to the concept of planning and project management, the notion of further slotting them into the kind of regimented, scheduled, constrained, free-time-free businesslike work schedule that we accept as adults feels a lot like spiritual footbinding. If the goal is to prepare them well in advance for the shitty nothingness of being a devalued cog in a cubicle farm in a job that doesn't matter because bullshit jobs have become our tragic norm, giving a six-year-old a Kanban board and a parent PM just seems perfect.

Sigh.
posted by sonascope at 8:14 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I’m just also wondering if there might be interesting arguments for there being a downside to using them.

What on earth would be the downside?

That people might feel like their home life is a job? Is that actually news to anyone?
posted by Autumnheart at 8:15 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


If the goal is to prepare them well in advance for the shitty nothingness of being a devalued cog in a cubicle farm in a job that doesn't matter because bullshit jobs have become our tragic norm, giving a six-year-old a Kanban board and a parent PM just seems perfect.

This kind of attitude is precisely the problem. If you tell your six-year-old that repetitive, menial, dirty, and/or mid-process jobs are bullshit and not valuable, then how are they going to grow up to recognize that we need to do those jobs anyway and value the very people who fucking do them? Is your six-year-old going to get to go through their whole life never having to mop a floor? Must be nice. Or you could set their expectations--your expectations--that shitty jobs are a part of life and that they serve the overall goal of Getting It Done. Some people get to get out of the shitty jobs, yes, and that's very nice for them, but there's no reason to engender the idea to begin with that having to do certain jobs lowers your value as a person.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:26 AM on July 12 [14 favorites]


What on earth would be the downside?

There is a difference between recognizing the second shift and feeling like you don't leave the first one. I change my clothes when I get home, and when I'd work from home, I'd still wear office clothes and move the work to my desk to indicate I was in work mode. I can understand a productivity app having the same type of symbolism for someone, even if that really just means that I use a different productivity app for work than I do for home and hobbies.

(I also really don't understand people who use their work email for recreational/non-work stuff. Don't you want to be able to ignore that email when you're not at work?)
posted by dinty_moore at 8:29 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Is that actually news to anyone?

I've got some bad news for you about dudes.

I'm lollering over the one size fits all approach to what mental processes children need to thrive. Neurodiversity is a thing.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:31 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


There is a difference between recognizing the second shift and feeling like you don't leave the first one.

Literally the entire point of the second shift is that you don't leave the first one. There's no leaving. The whole idea of "leaving" is perpetuated by people who delegate that work to others. There is no point, for the people doing the work, at which their day is "done". There's a point at which you stop, so that you can eat and rest, but there is no point at which you're done. The work is always there.

When I work from home, I wear the clothes I do housework in, because that housework has to be done too, and I may as well structure my day accordingly so that I can accomplish all the things in a shorter timeframe, in clothes that are appropriate for physical labor. Because wearing two outfits instead of one creates laundry.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:47 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Like, I am sure many of you would be horrified at what I put together for our newly 7-year-old for summertime. We did a goal-setting exercise, then developed a set of benchmarks for the goals, and then put together a daily routine checklist. There's a weekly self-appraisal. It's all analog, but a laminator was involved. We keep a whiteboard for chores and often an hourly schedule for weekends.

But literally no one has ever met my kid and come away thinking, "Now there's a child who is a cog in the meaningless wheel of capitalism." He's a wildly creative child who struggles with executive function and inattentiveness. He asks for hourly schedules because then his expectations are both set and recorded somewhere where he can remind himself what they are. This would be a terrible system for an anxious, empathetic kid who needs to be reassured that it's okay to just be and no one is judging or keeping score on them. But for my kid who last night when I told him, "You're important to me" replied with, "What matters most is that I'm important to myself" (he ain't wrong!) a system that helps him check himself before he wrecks himself and let's him have some ownership of his responsibilities is valuable. Y'all will thank me later.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:48 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]


That people might feel like their home life is a job? Is that actually news to anyone?

The labor I do in my home feels very different from the labor I do in my job. Both are obligatory—but the former I do for myself and my household (cleaning, cooking, daily, weekly, and annual maintenance), and the latter I do for the benefit of my employers and clients (who get the fruits of my labor) as well as myself and my household (who get my paycheck). There is a big emotional difference to me between them. Maybe this is on my mind this week because my building has been having major, major repair issues and as a condo board member, it’s my job to help facilitate the solving of these problems. While that work benefits me because I live in the building, some times it benefits other people significantly more (say, if I’m getting a repair person out to fix my neighbor’s ceiling leak) and it does irk me how much labor I’m doing without pay. All of these things are labor, but that doesn’t make them all the same, nor do I think they have the same value, nor do I necessarily want to do them using the same tools or in the same mindset. And I’m not saying everyone should agree with me or is like me. But it’s not correct to say that people who don’t want to use Slack for household purposes don’t view work in the home as labor.
posted by sallybrown at 8:53 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


if there is some effect on our emotional and mental lives by using the same tools we use to structure labor in the workplace to structure labor in the home

I think it depends on how you regard the tools and your end goals?

When I was pregnant & visiting a friend who had a baby three months prior, she said, "I was freaked out about parenthood until I realized that it's mostly project management and I'm already good at that." I personally found the idea that my career skills were transferrable to other settings to be incredibly comforting.

And, nearly nine years into my parenting gig, I've noticed that the skills I've had to mindfully cultivate for parenting -- most around human interaction -- have been really great for being a manager at work too.

But, I hasten to add: I was raised in a household by parents who did bring home time-management stuff from their day jobs and teach us early, under the approach, "It works for getting things done on the job, why not here?" So I have basically spent my entire life in any situation asking, "Is this thing I'm learning transferrable to other contexts?"

There were some bumps -- my mom still likes to talk about how my dad attempted to impose a "productive" schedule on home life and got completely derailed by the experience of a baby not crying on schedule -- but my parents were bright enough to recognize that a home is not an office and the goal at home was not to optimize Q1 results or anything -- it was to make sure everyone's needs were met and a good many of their wants too.
posted by sobell at 9:06 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


There is no point, for the people doing the work, at which their day is "done".

To me there is a huge difference in home-work and work-work. Like sallybrown, work-work is for a paycheck, home-work is a combination of stuff I enjoy (cooking) and stuff that let's me enjoy my home (cleaning). Home-work happens mostly when I want it to (or at least, can be reasonably flexible) where as work-work happens on someone else's schedule.

I'm pretty able to disconnect work-work from home-work when I'm using the same tools, but I can definitely see how that doesn't work for everyone. I personally do better when I can relocate physically: when I had a job I hated I preferred having a slightly longer commute: getting on the train and putting distance between my office and me let me disconnect better. My sister does the whole get home and shower/change clothes routine to reset.
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:17 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


If you tell your six-year-old that repetitive, menial, dirty, and/or mid-process jobs are bullshit and not valuable, then how are they going to grow up to recognize that we need to do those jobs anyway and value the very people who fucking do them?

As a non-neurotypical guy who's worked in all manner of blue-collar hands-on jobs, I'll be very clear—being a janitor is not a bullshit job. Being a plumber is not a bullshit job. Mopping a floor? Not a bullshit job.

Working in a cubicle farm checking off line items for some middle-manager who's above you doing busywork that's tangled up in an endless chain of middle-managers and do-nothing "upper-level" managers and attending endless meetings in which nothing is achieved? That's a bullshit job, and telling people that their attitude is the problem is the refuge of a thousand years of bad managers. It's meaningful, important work if we accept that ticking off checkboxes for people who are using our checkboxes to tick off their checkboxes is meaningful, important work, and I just don't. Sorry. Hell, I work for a university, as an employee of a state government, and I do a fair amount of work that is a challenging, interesting process that has some benefit for the world...and I still end up with a lot of bullshit work, in a tangle of bureaucratic nothing work that would be completely unnecessary if people would collectively just resist not dirty, difficult, or unfun work, but work that is just nothing numbers bouncing around in nothing projects for nothing managers trying to justify their essential nothingness.

Some bad attitudes come from laziness, but plenty of others come from the realization that the way work is imposed on us in a system that's evolved where we have this absurdly overdeveloped administrative busywork army (that's just increasing as we move forward in the West) layered over actual jobs doing actual things to achieve actual results, but very little of what it does has any bearing on doing those actual jobs properly.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm the only person who's had the direct experience of empty, soulless bullshit work (not "dirty" work, which is infinitely more enjoyable than bullshit work) for dead-eyed managers incapable of remembering their humanity, and maybe all the books, music, movies, television series, comic strips, and other communication media that explore, critique, and satire that kind of work are also wrong, but I'd still be reluctant to train my kid to work in that system before they get mired in it out of a lack of alternatives in a swiftly changing economy. One can introduce structure and focus without bending a task-tracking system designed to keep software developers in line with management ideals into a home-management system. The zen benefit of work done can be taught without a Jira ticket, but that's my take and how my family works. If it doesn't work for you, you do you.
posted by sonascope at 9:22 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


yeah I feel like a lot of adults destroy their kids' work ethic because they can't compartmentalize their feelings about specific shitty jobs they've had.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:43 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


...Dropbox gets used a lot to share files in our house...I'm sure I could fuss with setting up a home network but I'm too lazy and the cloud suffices...

Sigh - I have over 20tb of RAID5 local storage in a NAS device, connected to a 20 port "pro-sumer" business network switch (with multiple wifi access points), and I cannot convince any of my family members to use it to backup their files (photo's / music) in any shape, form nor fashion. The NAS even has server-side apps that synchronize to Dropbox/OneDrive/Box/etc... Per user even... (And, it has client-side apps that work on iOS/Android and even Windows/Mac apps)

Oh well, I can't complain... because ... "it's mine, all mine... my precious..."
posted by jkaczor at 10:22 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


A calendar and a to-do list is one thing. When your day starts off with a scrum? That's just sad. If your home life is so complicated that you need project management tools to run it, you need to simplify.
posted by prepmonkey at 10:45 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Slack and Asana are one shape of workplace technology brought home (and I really love AirTable!), but what really drives home, for me, the notion that office technology can be an enabling force, is calendaring. Scheduling dinner with a friend for next week or the week after? That thing 3 or 6 months, a year (birthdays!) or even two from now that I need to remember? Calendared. Some friends even send even invites, replete with locations set, so we both know where to meet. This all goes Into Google Calendar, where I have 3 different calendars, one for me, one for managing things with my partner, and the imported one for work (the only work thing on my personal phone).

That always-online instant-gratification modern-life Twitter-level engagement that people love to hate, also allows me to schedule time with someone and know that it doesn't conflict for the other party, or that it does, and both of us are able to reschedule without that ungraceful back and forth conversation just to get something that works for us. For people who are also "in the system", that is.

Paper day planners and calendars pre-Internet don't have the online, instant gratification shared-ness that affords me that luxury.

Where it gets dystopian, is people that aren't on the same platform are out of sight and out of mind, and simply fall lower on the friend-totem pole. (To be real: sorry friends on Google Chat, it's not not working out, it's just too inconvenient. Again; dystopian.) Really close friends have survived this, but there are definitely people who (were once) in my life, with whom I wished to nurture a closer relationship with have gotten lost in the shuffle. (<3 to my friends for whom email is still a thing, suitable for longer prose. And for clumbsily scheduling time together.)

While that sucks, my life would be so much more of a mess without it.
posted by fragmede at 10:57 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


If your home life is so complicated that you need project management tools to run it, you need to simplify.

Please don't tell people what they need and don't need.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:57 AM on July 12 [19 favorites]


Running out of toilet paper while on the toilet (because someone - possibly me - forgot to pick it up at the store?)

Does not bring me joy.
posted by fragmede at 10:59 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


This thread and this article, man.

It's funny how social media is perceived as an acceptable personal tool, when so much of it is about professional branding. And the tools that might let me get things done really well and effectively at home as well as keep people organized enough to like, actually hang out together, are perceived as business tools.

The family is the original economic unit, the family breakfast has quite rightly been identified as the prototypical scrum, and the idea that family bliss means some kind of pre-tech utopia where we all play bridge is just so...oppressive to me, like it's not enough to have a clean home, good food, and kids with space for growth, but I've got to make it look effortless and leisurely too or else it's being done wrong. Also I have used Google Hangouts to stay in touch with friends forever and Slack is just an upgrade, I understand.

Also, my life is darn complicated, and my family likes it that way! Sure, it's tiring sometimes. But our calendaring and planning systems let my kids pursue the interests they have and also helps us get forms back in time and birthday presents get purchased in time for the parties. And people who are like oh, woe unto you, you have to use BUSINESS TOOLS to manage that can just...bite me and my shared Trello board. I really don't care if you only communicate via soulful looks in each others' eyes at the end of the day, why do you bemoan my life?

Incidentally, or maybe not, my husband and I work in the same business (he on a very part-time basis) and my eldest son is joining us soon and already training there. So our lines are pretty blurred and...it's great, because even though it's not a business where we are owners, we all like working at our workplace and it's a bonus to us. One goal my husband and I set over the last few years was to find more ways to connect with our kids as they, and their capacities, grew.

And we're fortunate in we've been able to expand our work universe to include our kids, not to force them to contribute economically or get on the capitalist bandwagon, but because making things happen together that aligns with our values is something we wanted to share. And there are tons of ways to do that - volunteering, creative pursuits, sports - but they all take time. Great time does not have to mean sitting on the couch. It is okay to be a busy and active family and for that to take effort.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:26 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


I get it, if you feel like a different person at work, then using your work tools at home probably doesn't feel great. Despite having sat through multiple slide shows of other familys' vacation pictures in my youth (kerrrrrrrrr-chuk goes the projector!) I would be weirded out by sitting through someone's vacation powerpoint slides. But that doesn't mean the tools or the principles they support are bad. (And now I have to sit through people flipping through their instragram accounts, which is not all that different...)

Oh, and just because it hasn't come up - if you are managing a complex medical status, dealing with fertility issues, taking multiple medications, or helping family members with medical-related things, project management tools that integrate with the rest of your work/life stuff are brilliant.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 12:23 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


Paper day planners and calendars pre-Internet don't have the online, instant gratification shared-ness that affords me that luxury.

I do feel you on the pleasure of communal calendaring and follow-ups; I love when I get a birthday party invitation or a podcast recording episode schedule and look, there it is on the family's Google calendar without me having to do anything! But I was just thinking: I have shared calendars for family life and for work things, but I still keep a daily paper planner for stashing my daily to-dos because I like how it feels more private that way.

Like, I'm fine with my coworkers knowing I'm turning in a report to production by Friday but they don't need to see the to-do item for Wednesday reading "Nail the last 2000 words of this fucker or die trying." And nobody needs to see me tracking my period or the number of miles I've biked.

Plus I kind of like the luxury of tactile perspective: Flipping through and seeing all the things I've managed to do gives me momentum on the days when I'm all, What is the POINT even?
posted by sobell at 2:48 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


What on earth would be the downside?

I think there's a sort of aesthetic discomfort that a lot of people have with this. That's not to discount it. Aesthetics, the sort of ineffable way that things feel, can affect us a lot.

Anyway, I like my sort of hobby-job so much that I would prefer my entire life to be exactly like it! But if the aesthetics of my office job were to leech into my home life, it would make it much harder for me to compartmentalize the stressful parts of that job, because my home would remind me of my job.

That doesn't mean that I don't work at home! I used to be a nanny actually so I used to get paid for that kind of stuff. And even then, though, I wouldn't (for example) do certain kinds of cleaning and 100% of the reason was because it reminded me of work.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:51 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Hmm, anyone hear about the Taoist story about the useless tree?

That's pretty much why I'd be hesitant to filter my personal life through Slack or another productivity enhancement application. But I can totally see their appeal and why folks use them.
posted by FJT at 10:13 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


My wife and I use shared Google Docs and/or Keep all the time for planning and organizing and we'd be lost without a shared calendar.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 AM on July 14


Running out of toilet paper while on the toilet (because someone - possibly me - forgot to pick it up at the store?)

I solved that problem, and a greater metaphysical problem with the essence of being with joy and contentment in a cold, heartless universe, with a bidet.
posted by sonascope at 6:59 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


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