Invisible work: Tips and strategies?

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Post by fakely mctest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:51 pm

So: timely!  I just ran into a little snag with the BF over scheduling, and I'm going to gently bring it up when I see him tonight and see if we can come up with a solution together.  I have basically one idea, but I'm interested to hear others' thoughts on the topic.

My current issue is this: I'm a Planner and skilled at it because of a particular combination of curiosity and persnicketyness.  I also have limited non-work time in a week.  The guy I'm dating is generally really awesome at remembering things (and also really awesome when it comes to feminist issues), although he's not much of a planner, but I don't mind making reservations or whatever.  Or, if it's a general admission thing, once my friends and I decide to go on whatever date I trust them to take care of their own tickets.  My issue is that, once plans are firmed up, I like to just send an email with the details and then get on with my life.  This is the second time where my BF has texted me the day we're doing something to ask about time & place details (like, he knows we're going to dinner tonight but couldn't find the when/where email).  

I'm pretty sure this scheduling falls under the umbrella of "invisible work."  I've heard people say similar things about remembering birthdays in the context of a marriage or LTR, for example.  And I do find it a touch irksome, honestly.  This is...not the first time this issue has come up in a relationship and I want to have a conversation about it before it becomes a giant issue.  It's not now, but has been in past relationships, the most extreme version of which was a dude I straight up stopped being attracted to after he stood me up too many times because he did not keep track of his own schedule.

Basically, my plan is to mention the scheduling thing (leaving out the past relationships part) and say that my idea is to used a shared Google calendar so that there's one place for this stuff to go, but I also want to ask him what he thinks of that idea and if there's a better solution he can think of.

I don't know if it matters because I don't have experience of planning with people who have ADHD, but my BF does have it.  He takes medication and has done so since his early teen years.

P.S. I super don't want to make this seem like I am 100% bossy and totalitarian and I'm the only one deciding on activities. One of the many things I love about my BF is that he's also curious about the world and makes lots of suggestions too.

P.P.S. We're going to Russian dinner at MBK and if I don't get a pickle juice drink I'm going to be really disappointed. Grin

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Post by Enail on Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:33 pm

No advice, I just had to say GET THE PICKLE JUICE DRINK! AND THEN TELL ME ABOUT IT!!!
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Post by reboot on Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:38 pm

I like the idea of the Google calendar, however be prepared for him to still ask about details and forget to look on the calendar for a while.

Aside from that, if the Russian pickle drink is anything like the Turkish/Kurdish/Iranian drink ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Şalgam ) you absolutely must get it.
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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:44 pm

I don't have any good advice, either, other than "stop doing it", or better, "tell your partner, then stop doing it." Which is... probably not actually good advice.

Warning on the Google calendar front: the Google calendar will become another source of work and stress. I have been there. I have done the calendars, the organizational systems, the everything. It always winds up being more work for me, and not actually leading to the effect I want.

To borrow from child-rearing advice for a moment, what I do with my son for things like this is just tell him, "This is what the problem is. We need a solution. Let's talk it through." And then let him talk and propose things, without an idea of where the conversation is going to go. If his ideas are unrealistic, I'll tell him that. But usually, we come up with a workable idea, and since it's his idea, he has a vested stake in making it work. (Note that these ideas really are his: I'm not trying to trick him into thinking my idea is his.)

And seconding the pickle juice drink. You have to do this.

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Post by fakely mctest on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:23 pm

reboot wrote:I like the idea of the Google calendar, however be prepared for him to still ask about details and forget to look on the calendar for a while.

Aside from that, if the Russian pickle drink is anything like the Turkish/Kurdish/Iranian drink ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Şalgam ) you absolutely must get it.

That drink looks delicious!  Yearrrs ago I dated a guy who was a bartender who would make me these awesome dirty pickle martinis with a cornichon for garnish.  Highly recommended.

Thanks for the advice, guys.  And the enthusiastic approval of my plan to drink pickle juice.

ElizaJane, I was just thinking the calendar might be okay because you can set it up to do push notifications to your phone?  He already said that I didn't have to remind him because he would have eventually figured it out, but I'm not really wired that way.  Like if you text me and say "when time is that thing?" I am going to text you back the time even if I am muttering "let me google that for you," under my breath, but maybe I need to make that clear?

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Post by UristMcBunny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:21 pm

I agree that the google calendar thing might be useful, but it won't actually reduce the amount of invisible work you'll be doing. Actually, it'll increase it. Because - in my experience - I will bet you anything that he will never record anything on the calendar himself, which will just make it your job to always make sure everything is on there and, probably, send him a link to it every time he texts you to ask about plans.

I'm side-eyeing this dude telling you that you don't have to remind him about things, when he's already had to ask you twice now to remind him where/when shit is happening.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:52 pm

I've found a nice low-effort way to do this is Facebook events. You can lock them private to the people you invited and if you have the app on your phone, it reminds you one hour before an event you said you're going to. Work reducing in that if you're already sending an email with date, time, location and event description you're already filling out the same info.

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Post by kleenestar on Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:08 pm

I know folks are saying the Google calendar just makes more work, but with me and my not-very-organized partner it has been a life-saver. We have three calendars: mine, his, and ours. We can each see all three, and we can each edit our own and the joint calendar. When I'm putting things on my own calendar, it's trivial for me to hit the dropdown and make it "joint" so that he knows it's affecting him too - and he does the same.

What makes it work is that he was already using Google Calendar occasionally, so this was building on an existing habit instead of trying to make a new one. I am the primary planner in our relationship and I have to say it's made a lot less work for me (after a few bumpy weeks of transition!).

That said, I think agreeing on a canned response to help him reshape his habits will be key. When he says "where is the event" you could text back "gc," just for example, to remind him that this is his job and not yours. If you have buy-in from both of you it won't be experienced as hostile.

I also like ElizaJane's suggestion of how to handle this - in fact I think you should treat the Google Calendar idea as one possible suggestion, but prioritize something that he thinks will work for him.

Good luck!!
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Post by patrickreynolds on Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:16 pm

ElizaJane wrote:Warning on the Google calendar front: the Google calendar will become another source of work and stress.  I have been there.  I have done the calendars, the organizational systems, the everything.  It always winds up being more work for me, and not actually leading to the effect I want.

To borrow from child-rearing advice for a moment, what I do with my son for things like this is just tell him, "This is what the problem is.  We need a solution.  Let's talk it through."  And then let him talk and propose things, without an idea of where the conversation is going to go.  If his ideas are unrealistic, I'll tell him that.  But usually, we come up with a workable idea, and since it's his idea, he has a vested stake in making it work.  (Note that these ideas really are his: I'm not trying to trick him into thinking my idea is his.)

Coming from a relationship where my partner was controlling, authoritarian and demeaning of my ability to be trusted to manage my own life, this raises flags for me. I am not trying to imply you are any of those things, I'm probably just still traumatized/jaded!

But, perhaps you have already done this, I would be more in favor of talking about it, sharing that it is a source of frustration for you and you don't want it to become a big deal and find a solution that perhaps he suggests, so you know he's bought in and won't ever feel like this was 'your idea'.

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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:49 pm

So, update!  We had a short convo about it at dinner and he seemed really anti-Google calendar for privacy reasons, which I definitely understand since I'm a paper calendar sort myself.  I asked him if the issue was that the email subject lines should be updated since, when I'm scheduling things it's often at the end of an email chain, and I know most people don't keep their inboxes as scrupulously empty as I keep mine or utilize quite so many folders for organizing informational emails.  He said that would help a lot, and that's a really easy thing for me to do.  Hooray!

GJ, that's a really good idea about FB invites and I hope it helps others.  I'm not on FB personally because: luddite. Grin

Sadly, there wasn't a pickle juice cocktail since the menu changes nightly, but there was one with beet juice that was delicious.  And one with pickled muscadine grapes which I'd never had before.  Amazing.


Last edited by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:51 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by kleenestar on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:26 pm

Yay for positive resolution!

"Informative email subject lines" is definitely a habit my husband had to teach me. Razz
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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:57 pm

kleenestar wrote:Yay for positive resolution!

"Informative email subject lines" is definitely a habit my husband had to teach me. Razz

I was relieved it was so easy to deal with and I would love for this to be the solution! I have a tendency to get myself worked up because I'm fretful and I definitely had to ease myself back from an, "oh no this might lead to a breakup" anxiety reaction. A huge portion of my dating life has been populated by dudes who want me to be their personal scheduler and reminder service which...no.

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Post by Conreezy on Sat Oct 18, 2014 3:56 pm

I run into a similar annoyance: Its irksome to me that my wife will set plans for us, but I have to move the day along, constantly reminding her to start getting ready, to decide what to wear, to skip some other trivial thing (like the gym) lest we be disrespectfully late. I have to know how early to leave our home, or another event, and how to get where we're going, no matter which of us is driving.

But, then, I'm very, very forgetful when it comes to those commitments/obligations in the first place. Balance, I guess.

A real issue, however, is getting her to see the invisible work I do around the house. She can call me out on the things she considers a priority without taking into account the chores I've accomplished that are high on my list. Without listing every little thing, and their time duration, and short of going on strike, which wouldn't help anything, how can I make those things visible?

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Post by fakely mctest on Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:48 pm

Conreezy wrote:A real issue, however, is getting her to see the invisible work I do around the house.  She can call me out on the things she considers a priority without taking into account the chores I've accomplished that are high on my list.  Without listing every little thing, and their time duration, and short of going on strike, which wouldn't help anything, how can I make those things visible?

Seems like a case where a conversation is in order. Just a, "Hey, there's something that I've been thinking about in terms of housework," and then state your case. I don't think you have to go so far as to put down time duration, but it actually might not be a bad idea (as basic as it sounds) to come up with a master list of tasks that you guys have to do for the house. Don't break it down by person, just list all the little upkeep stuff as well as the big stuff. I think it will help in terms of making visible what BOTH of you are working with and hopefully will make it easier to keep in mind those tasks that the other person is performing.

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Post by reboot on Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:59 pm

Kleenestar had some great tips on this, so hopefully she will pop in. One of them was making a list of all the work and another was for both of them to explicitly state, "This is work." out loud to make the invisible work visible
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Post by kleenestar on Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:45 pm

Conreezy wrote:A real issue, however, is getting her to see the invisible work I do around the house.  She can call me out on the things she considers a priority without taking into account the chores I've accomplished that are high on my list.  Without listing every little thing, and their time duration, and short of going on strike, which wouldn't help anything, how can I make those things visible?

Hmm, one of two things could be going on here, and my recommendation would be quite different in each case.

One possibility is that, as you suggest, she doesn't see or recognize the work you are doing. In that case, the goal should be to make the work you do visible.

The second possibility is that she disagrees with you on the priorities for what needs to get done - and in that case, it's much harder for me to advise you, because ultimately neither one of you gets to unilaterally make that decision.

From the language you are using, it sounds to me like the problem is that she has "her list" and you have "your list" and you aren't actually on the same page about what your priorities for household work should be. Is that the case? Because if so, that's the place to start - and making the invisible work visible can be a part of it.
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