Since the very beginning, my research hinted at this element of my approach. As I was casually discussing my thesis thoughts with my sister, she commented on what she learned in her own studies. She is currently at the tail end of her psychology degree. We discussed feelings of motivation and comfort and how they are provoked through objects.
Structure is essential for our everyday life. That becomes ever presently clear during this pandemic. We crave order, we crave schedules; and for some reason it feels like we still don’t know how to establish structure for ourselves. As employers, we do it for our employees; as professors, we do it for our students; and as parents, we do it for our children. During my deep dive into understanding our relationship with domestic chores, I found out how people learned to do chores. It was surprisingly nostalgic to hear how they were taught to do chores as children.
Toys would be sorted into categories. Stuffed animals, blocks, dolls, stationary. Even as a teenager, I actually continued this whenever I had to clean my room. It wasn’t fun unless I played music but it definitely makes the job easier. Clothes. Papers. Stationary. Body products.
Dishes are no different. An old family friend was telling me how she was taught to do dishes in categories. She would start with the cutlery. Followed by cups, plates, pots and pans. This clearly implies a size based category, which is exactly how I, as an adult, do my dishes. As a kid, the focus was to ease them into the task by starting with a small surface area to clean. As an adult, I still base it on the size of the surface area but the focus is more towards how fast I can get the sink to feel clean. This is why I start with pots and pans.
Microtasking for tackling chores didn’t seem to be that informative to me when I first saw it. It wasn’t until I read about microtasking as an approach for mental health struggles on Reddit. It’s amazing how we retain information and make connections to things we learned and forgot that we learned. The commonality between these two approaches made it clear for me. The way to tackle overwhelming tasks is by breaking them down.
My goal is to have a collection of tasks broken down into smaller tasks that can be placed on the Labyrinth to give meaning to each of the paths on it. The purpose of having a collection is so people can select the box labeled with the task they want encouragement overcoming.
Each box contains four magnetic brass tiles and a guide. The tiles are engraved with an icon that represents each of the microtasks that make up the main one; and the guide includes information on what these icons mean and how to place the tiles on the board.
The chosen tasks for the collection are based on my findings on chores and mental health. I’m focusing on tasks perceived as small. This perception is precisely what makes them harder to break down at first glance. Recognizing that our Overwhelms can be individual, the design is open to user customization if they want to have a task that is not in the pre-established collection. In the same platform where they would purchase the object, the user can create their own digital drawing for their own four microtasks. These drawings would be engraved in the same manner as the pre-designed tiles.