Thursday, August 22, 2013

List Ranking

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.) 

Though he's always ready to help.

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. 


  1. I definitely know the feeling that it will "never get done" or "never be mine" (living in a rental doesn't help that feeling either)

    I always work in corners. I work in one specific area and do everything I can to get it completely "done" then move on to the next area or corner until all the projects to be completed for that bedroom/bathroom/etc are totally done.

    I don't know if that's applicable for y'all, but it always helps me!


    1. I like the idea of that method, Amanda, because it would always give you an attractive place to rest your eyes. Look, I did that bit, I can do the rest of this!

  2. I barely get a chance to see the to-do list before your dad has checked everything off. Remember the time he decided to replace the porch and the next day I came home and we had no front porch? He's a doer, not a planner. :/

    1. Yes and, sometimes, that's the reason he's my hero.

      Sometimes it makes me hide in the kitchen with you and make this face: 0.o

  3. Every time we buy a new house (it's happened more frequently than it should have), we make a list and label the tasks as high, medium, or low priority. Putting things in those categories is pretty subjective, though. Is it something that is driving me absolutely bonkers but costs $300? That goes into medium priority for us because it's expensive but important to us. I think I like your list organization better, though. It would make me feel better to just get something small done and then feel productive and like we're moving toward a goal. It doesn't help that Chris freaks out over me doing certain things right now because of the pregnancy--like spray painting, using anything that has potentially harmful chemicals (even regular low-voc wall paint). He's a worrier.

    1. Haha, I feel like that is one of the things that has been the biggest struggle for me with this pregnancy. Trying to balance the "I'm pregnant, not an invalid, I can do everything!" spirit with "Oh, no, my body is a temple while I'm growing another human, excuse me while I freak out about that thing I lifted/painted/walked by the other day." It's been kind of nice to have so much to do outside. I never (ever, ever) thought I'd be one of those "I enjoy yard work" people, but it seems to suit pregnancy.

      And after I have this baby I'm sure I'll drop it like it's hot.