The First Step to Getting Things Done: A Smart Process for Prioritizing Your To-Do List

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On today's thread about "A Masterful Trick for Staying Motivated to Complete Home Projects", one of our clever community members shared a process for figuring out the best order to tackle your to-do list in...and let's face it, we all know that getting started is half the battle, so it follows that knowing what to do FIRST definitely will help speed things along.

Take it away, SherryBinNH:

How about this: Put you whole house list on index cards (or some personal equivalent). Include steps to take, notes about issues (like "hire electrician for this" because I don't have a clue about wiring!), materials or tools needed...

Then prioritize. Not necessarily just by "importance", but by logical sequence and/or what will bug you the most! So if painting the walls should precede replacing the carpet, think about doing things in that order — because drips on the old carpet won't matter if it's getting ripped up afterward, but drips on the NEW carpet done first would be a catastrophe.

Or if all those boxes in your kitchen are driving you totally crazy, even if they are in the corner out of the way, then unbox them and make the kitchen more serene and user friendly, before doing something that might take more time, but not impact your emotions as much. (I have to have a clean and organized sleeping place first thing, organized kitchen next — everything else is secondary.)

When we moved, I hired a kid I knew from work and his brother to help haul boxes from the garage (where the movers left them) to the appropriate rooms. (My partner was down from some minor surgery, but couldn't lift weights for a while. And I'm just puny!) College fund enhancement made it a win-win for $10 per hour each.

If you have paint swatches up, I'd say you have a choice — either paint first then move on with other projects requiring blocking the walls, OR admit that you aren't going to do that for a while (a year?) and ignore the current walls for now, putting everything away. If you paint first, you can DIY or hire it done or a combination, but that's the kind of prioritizing you need to evaluate.

It's a little bit like the "measure twice, cut once" school of project planning - spending a little time ahead will save lots in the long run.

Thanks, SherryBinNH !

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux)