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Fair allocation of tasks?

After a quiet and uneventful (and largely unproductive) week things actually started happening in Friday. The emergency switch I've been waiting for three weeks to be installed, and which I was promised on Monday would be "by the end of the week" was installed. They started working on it at about 11:30 on Friday, and when I wondered past at 2:30, it was done, cleaned, and the electricians had gone. At around abouth the same time, I got my computer set up properly on Debian. Yay! It ended up being a really easy and hassle free installation.

Friday night I went to the scout meeting for the troup I'm going to start leading. Good bunch of kids, except one has a (I'm not sure if diagnosed) bad case of ADHD.

Saturday we went to Cardiff to go to the synagogue service. I had an Aliyah. We came home afterwards and had a relaxing afternoon.

Today, we have some household chores to do. This has brought on the thought of what determines a fair allocation of tasks. I will disclaim that this is mostly hypothetical and in no way reflects anything either I or my wife do, don't do or think should be done.

For argument's sake, let's say there is a married couple, both working and earning about the same amounts, and their finances are totally shared. If both partners have the same expectations about what needs doing, the answer is easy. But what if their expectations differ? What if one person sees it as essential that, say the books are kept in strict alphabetical order, while the other either doesn't care or doesn't particularly want them ordered? Should the non-alphabetiser have to do more tasks because the alphabetiser has deemed this a chore which needs doing and considers it part of their share of the tasks?

A more difficult question comes in the form of frequency. If one partner thinks a task should be done every week, while the other partner thinks it should be done fortnightly, what is a fair division and allocation of tasks? What about if one person has much higher standards than the other person? You can then get the situation where both partners are doing more than half the tasks!! To explain, let's say person A thinks there should be 6 tasks done, and person B thinks there should be 10 tasks done. Let's say, for fairness, that person B does the 4 tasks not in person A's list. There are now 6 tasks left to do that both people agree need doing. Person B now nags person A that they're doing all these things and they're not doing anything, so person A does 4 of the 6 while person B does 2 of the 6. Net result: Person A has done two thirds of the housework they see as appropriate, while person B has done three-fifths of the housework they saw as appropriate.

Fair? Not really. Person A loses out. In their view, person B has only done 2 useful tasks compared to their 4, while person B sees only a slight 6/4 discrepancy.

And if anyone thinks that that the answer is that person A should have higher standards, what if person A increases the tasks they think need doing to incorporate tasks such as drinking beer or watching sports on the television?

Silly example? No - that's just the point: just because one person thinks that a task needs doing doesn't mean that the other does; doesn't mean that it does need doing; doesn't mean that it should subtract from the amount of work they should do for communally agreed tasks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and either do the vacuuming or have a beer


Comment from Gillian

You could have a beer WHILE doing the vacuuming. As for putting books in alphabetical order...why would anyone want to?

I respond

That's the point, isn't it - it might seem to you like a totally useless waste of time, but if the other partner thinks it is important then they'll think it needs doing. I might think that doing the vacuuming daily is too often. If Rebecca does (I don't think she does), then it is a problem. If she expects me to help her do it daily, it is more of a problem.

Oh, and as to multitasking...drinking beer should be done while mopping, not vacuuming.

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