'Chore Anarchy': The Viral System That Can Change The Game For Your Cleaning Problems

Thinking about doing household chores probably isn't the most pleasant topic to contemplate throughout your day. If you find someone who genuinely enjoys sorting out piles of dishes in the sink, dusty surfaces, and clutter in every room, then you should probably play the lottery — because your luck would be extraordinary. In reality, it's safe to say that the majority of people dislike clutter and filth in their homes, but finding the time to get all of the chores done, make dinner, and sleep for at least a few hours each night is often an impossible balance. When tense dynamics form with other members of your household, the never-ending list of chores quickly becomes all the more daunting.

If you're looking to eliminate, or at least significantly decrease, interpersonal conflict with other household members over your chores, chore anarchy could be the approach you've been missing out on. The trend, which trades assigned chores and task lists for mutual empathy and cooperation, doesn't just have the potential to be that magic wand you've always wanted to wave over the unfolded laundry — it could also reduce the amount of stress everyone feels over the shared chore workload and generally help you keep up with the tasks your home requires to be in a livable and habitable state. Here's how to implement chore anarchy in your living situation.

Have empathy for yourself and your household

When you live with another person — whether they're a roommate, family member, or romantic partner — one of the biggest topics for bickering is the assignment of various chores and subsequent completion of those obligations. Should those responsibilities and household tasks go unaddressed and accumulate, that's when resentment could start reigning over your interactions. To keep such a disastrous fiasco from occurring, it might sound counterintuitive to seek the solution in anarchy — but according to TikTok user @txwatson, that's exactly what you should do.

In his series of videos on the topic, the author of the concept of chore anarchy reveals that he and his housemate found positive solutions to their bickering over household tasks by tossing out the chore lists and assignment charts completely. They replaced chore assignments with empathetic discussions about the tasks that required handling within their shared home, and together, they reasoned why completing those tasks served a valuable purpose for the civility and livability of their household.

Within the video series, @txwatson also discusses how shame, guilt, and condescension often take center stage when it comes to completing chores. Applying negative sentiments to yourself or others with whom you live does no one any good, but empathy is the anecdote. The anarchy portion is tossing out the chore lists, but the diplomatic component is listening to one another openly and empathetically.

Ask simple questions with genuine curiosity

The execution of chore anarchy is far less chaotic than you might imagine. The premise of the approach is to trade in shame and blame games for calm, gentle conversations with your roommate, partner, or other fellow adults with whom you live. Aligned with many of the same principles as the study of positive psychology — which aims to find ways to help individuals thrive rather than aid them in reaching a point just above merely existing — the technique of simple, kind, and generous question-asking that chore anarchy uses also aims to help the members of your household experience more joyful emotions than negative ones, especially when household duties are the topic of discussion.

First, if it's too stressful to have a conversation about chores at your kitchen table with dishes staring at you from the sink, find a place outside of your home to speak openly and honestly as a united household. Changing scenery can quickly change the atmosphere and interpersonal dynamic, dissipating tension over wet towels on the bathroom floor or shoes strewn about the foyer. In all of your mutual conversations, it's important to keep curiosity, empathy, flexibility, and kindness at the forefront of your mindset, emphasizes The Jed Foundation. Start with the foundational question of asking how the other person is feeling about your shared living space, followed by listening to their response without judgment.

Create open communication about chores

Arguing over who is responsible for each chore can soon be a relic of the past — after practicing the chore anarchy approach for a period of time, you'll likely be pleasantly surprised at how the overall dynamic within your home begins to improve as chores become less a burdensome requirement and more something you do to help each other out and keep your living space comfortable.

A component of the chore anarchy approach is the establishment of ongoing conversations between adult members of the household regarding how everyone is feeling, which chores are most important for each person to have completed, and why it's important to both each individual person and the household as a cohesive unit for the shared home to be at least somewhat tidied and cleaned. This is exactly where the diplomatic skills of genuinely listening and having empathy act as the pillars of chore anarchy and the tossing out of chore lists.

The Center for Empathy in International Affairs reports that utilizing active listening, empathy, and understanding can ease the stress, tension, and vulnerability individuals feel during conflicts. This is key for holding conversations without making anyone feel like they are being shamed, criticized, or attacked. Rather than bringing up feelings of defensiveness by reliving the last time you and your household members argued about chores, focus instead on talking about the importance of each household task, such as how promptly washing dishes keeps insects away.

The positive effects are profound

In the inaugural video of his viral series, TikTok user @txwatson mentions that the empathetic and kindness-based approach inherent within chore anarchy's base philosophy can be exceptionally helpful for people who experience depression. Seeing a sink filled with dirty dishes can instantly send someone into a shameful state, particularly if they were taught as children to associate incomplete chores with personal failure and were consequently shamed for not washing the dishes. Traditional approaches toward dividing household responsibilities can also be harmful to those with emotionally complex backgrounds, which can in turn exacerbate a negative cycle of anxiety and depression, reports Scientific American

Chore anarchy kicks shame to the curb and replaces it with the physical and mental health benefits of cleaning and tidying. By openly discussing how each member of the household feels about the home's current state, which tasks they enjoy and which they strongly dislike, and any obstacles each person is presently experiencing, you can successfully reframe the way you view household chores altogether. Instead of dreading having to fold baskets of laundry, reframe the task as an opportunity to practice mindfulness and to take pride in keeping everyone's clothes clean and neatly put away. Particularly if you're in a content mood when starting a task — as opposed to feeling pressured or forced into completing the assignment — you're more likely to have positive feelings about your work and yourself once you've finished, per World Economic Forum.

Become a role model of positive habits

If your household has a mix of adults and children, you might think that you need to stick with a chore chart — but chore anarchy can actually help you model healthier living techniques. (And even without children, you can aim to be a positive role model for the other members of your household.) The chore anarchy practices of active listening, extending empathy and compassion toward others in your home, and working to understand any obstacles another household member might be experiencing around specific tasks are all ways that adults can become positive role models of healthy interpersonal communication for other members of the family unit.

Better Health Channel explains that through witnessing adults model positive habits, children can learn how to become effective communicators, active listeners, and supportive household contributors. One thing to note: It's important to maintain a developmentally appropriate distinction between the adults and the children within a household while simultaneously creating space in which each family member feels accepted and able to speak freely about their day-to-day relationship with household responsibilities. As chore anarchy is implemented, your household can slowly begin to create a supportive community among yourselves and a safe environment in which the successful completion of chores is celebrated in unity and one person's difficulty handling a task is a supportive group effort.