How to Make Meaningful Progress On Your Home (When You’re Busy, Tired or Both)
When you transition into a new home, it’s fairly common to be “head down, blinders on” until all the boxes are gone and you can function (or at the very least, walk around) in your new home. But eventually, life and school and kids and work resume, whether the house is “done” or not. And thanks to this normal day-to-day busyness, it can be really hard to keep making meaningful progress on your home goals. But little-by-little progress CAN be made, and it CAN have an impact on the bigger picture. Today, I want to share the strategies I use to keep working through my home To Do List…even when I’m busy, tired, or both!
This post was actually inspired by an awesome reader question:
How do you decide which projects to prioritize in a new home and not get stuck in a rut or let the responsibilities of daily ‘living’ get in the way of making progress with unpacking/establishing yourselves in that space?
I feel this particular situation in my soul right now. This time around, we finished un-packing in just under a week and then hit the ground running with some really big, time-intensive DIY projects (hello deck refinishing!)
And then…we kind of stalled out. School started. Sports started. Greg had a bunch of travel. Kids got sick. Rugs were on back order. We made some new friends. And we were just tired from a hellava summer.
As a result, some bigger projects were put on hold until we re-group, recover, and regain some time back. In the meantime, there are other things we are working on. Last week while watching Sunday football, I hung some new blinds and Greg swapped a light fixture. And in just that hour or so, the family room felt a little more complete.
Two months in our new house, and we are far from finished. But we ARE still making meaningful progress little by little. Here are the three main ways I work through the busyness of life to actually move the needle forward on our overall home goals.
NOTE: These strategies work whether you’re still moving in, decorating, renovating, decluttering, organizing, or all of the above!
Strategy 1: Identify Priority Spaces
Yes, it can be overwhelming to be faced with an entire home that needs attention everywhere. But every time we move into a space, it actually becomes pretty clear, pretty fast, which spaces I need to focus on first. Whether it’s the nursery for the baby that’s coming or a dining room for the Thanksgiving I’m scheduled to host, I allow our life and our circumstances to determine where I put my energy first. The trick, however, is staying focused on those priority spaces and not getting distracted by easier, fancier, more enjoyable tasks.
This time around, we want to be able to start hosting in really short order. So I decided to focus on our main entertaining spaces first: the entryway, living room, dining room, kitchen, main bathroom, front yard, and backyard. Although I’ll go into upstairs spaces (e.g., office, master bedroom, laundry room, and hallways) and dream up ideas, I just won’t let myself tackle any projects up there until my priority spaces are further along…or even better: done.
What space needs your attention the most right now? Not necessarily because it’s ugly or unfinished or forgotten about, but what space do you need to look or function better as soon as possible? Don’t over think this and don’t justify working on other spaces because they are easier or more fun. I bet you know in your gut where you need to put your time and attention now. “Pain points” are typically the best motivators. So start…and stay…there until you create some noticeable progress.
Strategy 2: Accomplish 1 Thing Every Weekend
We are still recovering from a very long, very painful summer of uncertainty, hotel living, and stress. And after working on some big, time-intensive DIYs upon first moving in, I was struggling to find the motivation to tackle even a simple drawer project.
So I recently committed to knocking out just one thing every weekend. This one thing can be putting plants into pots, or sorting toys in the playroom, or hanging shades on the windows, or (finally) hemming the dining room curtains. Would I LOVE to knock out more than that? You bet. But amidst the sports games and chatting with neighbors and the fire pits and the errands, sometimes one small task is all that is realistic and feasible. Even I have to remind myself: one is more than none!
Consider making a Master To Do List of everything you want to get done in your home (organized by room is usually the most helpful). Include tasks both big and small. When you have a free moment to knock something out, refer to your list. You might not have the time, energy, or resources for a huge project in that moment. But when easier to-dos are also scribbled on the list, you’ll be more willing to actually do them. Remember: lots of small tasks eventually lead to big (noticeable) progress!
Strategy 3: Set a Deadline
Sometimes, deadlines…when it comes to decorating…create unnecessarily stressful situations. But sometimes they are exactly what you need in order to force yourself to get a space done for good.
I have a tendency to lallygag when it comes to my home projects. But we are only going to be in this house for two years, and I want to make sure we can thoroughly enjoy all the fruits of our labors. So I made some general (realistic) time-bound goals, and I’m so far on track to meet them. I decided I wanted to finish the first floor by Christmas and the second floor by the time school gets out in the Spring. When I want to rest on my laurels or procrastinate on a project, I envision an entire year of using and loving a completed home…and that’s usually enough to spur me into action!
Tired of looking at a closet, guest bedroom, attic, upstairs hallway, basement…anything…and thinking “I really need to get that done.” Then give it a deadline. Put it on your calendar, and make specific goals to get it done on time. Just make sure the schedule you choose is both motivating (guests coming over!) and realistic!
Maintaining momentum on your house goals IS hard. Life is busy and we (all) get tired. But I also know there is no better feeling than tackling nuisance home projects. Whether it’s the overstuffed attic or just new curtains on the windows, there is an immense sense of pride and satisfaction when you finally, actually, really create the beautiful, functional, or tidy space you’ve always wanted. So cling tightly to that excited anticipation; and then use the other strategies listed here to actually go get to work!
6 Comments on “How to Make Meaningful Progress On Your Home (When You’re Busy, Tired or Both)”
Congrats on your progress! And thank you for the reminder to set some goals and keep moving. Challenge is I’m the only one in the house who cares…That’s ok. As you said, one is better than none!
Good points! Enjoy your new home!
Unlike you, I’ve decided that this will be my last home. After the initial spurt of getting settled, during the beginning of the pandemic, things have cooled a bit. I’ve seen how my spaces have evolved and I now can “tighten” and “prettify”.
Super practical, thank you!
Wow, I’m not surprised you’re tired! Thank you for taking the time to write the blog each week and enjoy your new home!
As usual, you’ve posted the perfect article to help me out of a rut! We’ve decluttered, cleaned, and organized our entire upstairs and are loving it! But…the basement! Ugh! It’s become more of a “Grandmomma, crafter, project director, I’m going to sell that (someday!)” cave, than the comfy nest I had invisioned. Time to put your excellent advice to work and prioritize it! I think I’ll aim for completion by… Thanksgiving. Let the organizing begin! 😁
Perfect timing, lol! We are hitting the two month mark in our “new” home, and the task list has become overwhelming. We ended up buying because there were no rentals available in this crazy market, and it (unfortunately) has needed some major TLC. We have been perpetual renters, which meant we just focused on unpacking and settling in, but owning has really made us want to make the space better, and our own. Time to get motivated, and put some of your tips into action- Thank you!
PS: Love your new house, and can’t wait to see what you do with it!!