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Tackling the To-Do List

Every home owner has a to-do list, but most never get around to doing it.  I’ve put together  some tips to keep you on track.

When I first purchased my home, it was 7 zillion miles long. Seriously, I think I had 4 pages front and back in 2 columns per page. My first step in creating the list was just writing every-single-thing down, no matter how large or small… no matter how important or seemingly unimportant it was/is.
Here’s a sampling of my list:

  • replace roof
  • re-plant grass along side of house
  • buy area rug
  • fix rusted front porch railings
  • stop toilet from sometimes running
  • hang hooks
  • new backyard storm door
  • touch up paint in bathroom
  • remove carpet on front porch
  • 2nd coat of paint front door
  • new light switches
  • tile behind bath sink
  • regrade land on side of house
  • replace kitchen countertops
  • new interior doors
  • drawer pulls for vanity

There’s no rhyme or reason to the order of my list, or what’s on it. I’ve put everything on there from purchasing an item, to very small things, to things that will cost me thousands of dollars. The exercise is just to get it down on paper.

After it’s on the paper, you can start to separate things into categories or orders of importance. I usually mark each with a circle, star, or different highlighter color. My four categories are:

  1. high priority (replacing the roof and fixing the railings are obviously a must)
  2. important (regrading land, stopping the toilet from occasionally running)
  3. can wait (this is where most items fit – planting grass, 2nd coat of paint, hanging hooks, removing carpet on porch, touching up paint. The storm door is also in this category, as it’s in much worse shape than the interior doors. While it can wait, it’s a huge pain in my butt right now and I want a new one)
  4. wish list (I would put any decor & hardware purchases in this category, along with tile in bathroom, new interior doors, & kitchen counter tops. These are things I’d like to have, but don’t need)

High Priority

My suggestion is to make plans for the high priority items. Most of the time, they are things you’ll have to pay someone else to do if they are serious. So call the plumber, roofer, or whoever you need. Get quotes, and schedule them in. I got my furnace zoned, my roof re-shingled, and my windows replaced while I was at work (3 separate days). Of course I had to budget for them, but it’s nice to check such a huge item off your list. Coming home to a brand new roof was one of my favorite moments since I’ve lived here. It made such a difference, and happened so quickly!


After the high priority items are scheduled, I typically talk to my dad and my friends about the other items on my list. My dad and I will usually pick one of the important things and schedule it for an upcoming weekend. I have friends that have helped me with everything from replacing the service wire, to hanging ceiling fans & lights, changing outlets, installing tv mounts, putting furniture together, and painting. If you have a friend that can help, it’ll make things a lot easier — and usually cheaper — than hiring out. Find out what their skills are and use them to your advantage. Don’t forget to feed them while they are there, and thank them afterwards. Next time they need help, you can offer up your skills.

Can Wait

Typically my Sundays are full of completing the itty bitty items on my list… usually in the “can wait” category. It helps me to feel like I accomplished something over the weekend. Usually I’m able to cross off 2 or 3 things on a lazy Sunday!

For example, yesterday I installed a GFCI outlet and a new light switch in the bathroom by the sink. Changing the outlets and light switches has been on my list forever, so I try to get a couple done whenever I have 30-45 minutes to spare. I did a count afterwards, and I only have 2 outlets and 4 light switches left to replace in my entire house!

I also pulled out the can of purple paint from my front door, and gave it a 2nd coat. I also painted the back door the same color. It’s been primed since before I moved in but I’ve never gotten around to painting it. So, I killed 2 birds with 1 stone… errrr 2 doors with 1 can of paint.

Wish List

The wish list is my favorite!!! It typically consists of dreaming and researching and creatively making the house my own. I do a lot of this online, with the help of google and Pinterest.

Pinterest is a great way to collect your ideas and get a visual sense of what you want. I’ve divided my pins into boards for pretty much every room of my house, along with a board for the outside, misc decor I like, storage options, and just general rooms I like. My Backyard Reno Ideas board gives me a place to collect all of the great ideas I have for the backyard in one place, so that next year when I finally have the time and money to do it, I’ll have all of the ideas in one place. I also have a Kitchen Redesign Ideas board which holds everything from beautiful kitchens I love to cute kitchen gadgets.

I also love to shop online for decor items. Etsy is a great place to find really unique, reasonably priced handmade items. I’ve purchased everything from hand-embroidered place mats to wall hangings to hand-blown glass pendant lights on Etsy with great results. I’ve also found great deals on decor at o.co and free membership sites that have sales up to 70% off retail prices. Here you can get high-quality items on the cheap. These are a few of my favorites:


It’s also nice to do some shopping in your own area, too. Although putting tile into my bathroom is on the “can wait” list, the last time I was in Home Depot I found a great sale on mosaic tiles which will allow me to do everything for about $40.00. I purchased the tile, and eventually will get them on the wall (haha, maybe next weekend). But, I would have missed that sale if I didn’t have my to-do list in the back of my head while I was shopping.

New mosaic tiles for my bathroom backsplash.

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