Try This One-Hour Walk-Through Exercise and Get Closer to Your Dream Home

published Jan 7, 2020
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The January Cure is a long-standing Apartment Therapy tradition, helping you clean and declutter your home for the year ahead. We tackle one assignment each weekday throughout the entire month. Sign up now if you want to join. (It’s free!)

If you’ve ever worked on a big project (for work, for school, for anything), you know that some days are “doing” days, and some days are “planning” days. That’s true for the Cure, too. And today is definitely a day to make plans.

You see, I can help you clean and declutter all month long, but you’re the expert on what kind of love your home really needs right now. So this is your chance to set those plans in motion, for this month and for the entire year.

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Today’s Assignment: Create a to-do list.

It’s really simple. Today, you’re going to create a list of home projects you want to work on in 2020.

Take an hour (or whatever time you need/can today) to walk through every part of your home. (If you can’t do a physical walk-through, try and visualize your space instead.) Bring a notebook or a note-taking app on your phone, and begin a list. Make sections for each room or area, then jot down any trouble spots you notice—whatever needs cleaning or organizing or repairing.

Here are a few examples of things you might note:

  • Scuffed up walls in the entryway.
  • Overcrowded and dusty bookshelves in the living room.
  • A blown out light bulb in the bathroom.
  • Loose knobs on a kitchen cabinet.
  • Mismatched, worn out sheets on the bed.

If you have trouble identifying what’s “off” in a space, I find that taking photos can give you a fresh perspective. As you walk around, use the camera on your phone to snap wide photos of your rooms and see if the lens revealed any clutter spots or imbalanced spaces.

When you’re done with your walkthrough, it’s time to whittle down the list. Highlight just a few trouble spots in each room (three to five is a great number to shoot for) that you can work on this year. They can be the things you’re most excited to start on, the things that will be the easiest to handle, or the things that will make the biggest impact on your space—or some combination of all of these things. What’s important is that you prioritize your list into a streamlined and focused list of doable projects.

When you have the list pared down, re-write it on a fresh page with just your highlighted trouble spots, but re-frame the language so they become solutions you can take on.

Here are some examples of solutions for your list:

  • Scrub the walls in the entryway, or give it a fresh coat of paint.
  • Sort through books, donate or share the ones you won’t enjoy again. Dust shelves well and replace the rest.
  • Replace light bulb in overhead bathroom fixture.
  • Get out the tools and tighten up cabinet knobs.
  • Search the January white sales for a good deal on fresh new sheets.

This is the list you’ll refer back to throughout the year. It’s a master plan of short- and long-term projects to make your space look and feel better.

As you do this, I have two rules for you: Be kind to yourself and your home, even when it’s hard. And focus on what’s doable and realistic. You might have a full kitchen remodel on your dream wish list, but that might not be in the cards for this year. Instead, focus on something you can get done to make that space feel better for you, like staining the tile grout.

If you feel overwhelmed at any point, keep in mind it doesn’t matter how far you have to go, what matters is that you are getting started! You don’t have to do anything else today except get it all down on paper—we’ll revisit your list next week.

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We’re just getting started! Here are a few ways to participate in the Cure:

The Cure doesn’t just happen in January. If you want to take your efforts to the next level, any time of year, pick up a copy of Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure book.