Right before we closed on our house, Joseph and I sat down and made what we called Our Master List. He posted a version of it here. In the three months since then the list has received several revisions. On the most recent incarnation we decided to rank projects according to three major factors: cost, labor, priority.
(Some weeks that translates to: How often I've been baby clothes shopping, how lazy we're feeling and can we finish it before "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" comes on?)
A Level One project would be either free or cost under $30 (our allowed monthly house project budget. Not including emergency house repair money.). Things like taking out the bushes in front (free) and painting the front door (paint: $17, hinges: $12 = $29) fell into this category.
Level Two included more labor-intensive projects (cutting down two small-ish trees in the front yard) and things that would be more of an expense (painting the front porch and steps and adding railing).
Lastly, things that were major feats or would require several months of us saving our pennies were designated Level Threes (or Defcon 5): having all the trees in our backyard (and several big pines in the front) taken out (by a professional. We're enthusiastic about this home owner stuff, but our Mammas didn't raise no fools.) and replacing the front walk (it's badly cracked in several places from tree roots not being kept in check and it only extends to one of our driveways, so we'd like to add an additional branch on the other side. Making it a full 'T' shape instead of an upside down 'L'.) I have to reign myself in when I think about projects on this level, I think the idea of doing something "big" makes me feel like the house is more "ours". But, I remind myself that there is no rush and that simply the act of living there (and filling it with our junk) will make it more our own.
Approaching our List this way has helped me feel more confident and less overwhelmed. Though there are still days where I pull into the driveway and freak out a little inside. "This will never come together and be the house in my head!" That's when I rush to the fridge (where we keep our list), seeking out some small project I can tackle that will give me the illusion of control. (I hear you laughing. Don't worry, with a toddler and soon a new baby that illusion is pretty much dead in the water.)
Does anybody else have a specific way they approach their "to-do" list that makes it seem more manageable? Or are you more of a "Jump in and get it done as things present themselves"? I'd be interested to hear any input, considering one of my favorite ways to
procrastinate be productive is to re-write our List.