tutorial: planning a year of house projects, while raising a toddler

I run my life through cycles. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane. ESPECIALLY when we are on year 7 of building this huge house, paycheck to paycheck. As I’ve grown older, I have learned a few things about myself.

Biggest self-insight? There are certain months that I am WAY more productive than other months. September a very productive month. It is sort of a new beginning for me, like I am sure it is for a lot of people, innately, because of school. So in September I set out my New Year’s goals. I generally have good productivity through September and October, but at the beginning of November, and probably also true for a lot of Pacific Northwesterners, I start to hibernate.

I basically write off the entire month and half between November 15 and December 26th.  That’s rest time.

January and February are also naturally productive months for me, so this year, I wrote up a plan for the entire year based off of my New Year’s goals. My strategy this year is to take advantage of the months that I am (we are) productive, and just schedule in down time or very easy projects when it’s a low energy time of year.

House goals I set up in September 2015:

  • Plan garden

    1-DSC00398
    this needs a lot of help
  • Install a closet system in the master closet

    IMG_0620
    before: closet
  • Complete finish work in master bathroom
  • Design and install cabinetry in laundry room
  • Rent out one side of the Portland duplex
  • Finish the front deck

    IMG_0401
    front entrance in progress
  • Finish siding on the house
  • Paint the house exterior

    1-IMG_0389-EFFECTS
    needs a cohesive paint scheme
  • Complete finish work on the fireplace

    1-1-01adcef147384892f1513cf5ea7d1b799a3e585302
    before:  fireplace
  • Design and install high cabinets and benches in the mudroom
  • Plan a few holiday décor projects

It is a pretty hefty list. I’ve created aggressive lists in the past and they ended up just remaining in Excel spreadsheets on my hard drive, gathering digital dust.

All of these projects require extensive work from Bryce who works at least 50 hours a week. He is also on a bike team. I’m on a tri team. And we have a toddler.

Utiliizing the productive energy that I naturally have in September, I worked on creating good habits (Gretchen Rubin’s podcasts helped tremendously), I studied how to set goals, put together a plan, practiced executing, and started tracking progress on milestones.

Then I sat back all December and truly enjoyed the holidays, GUILT FREE, because I had a very realistic, actionable plan for 2016.

The only way I could make this work is by approaching our tasks differently than we ever have before. In the past we would go gangbusters on one project, taking a couple of days off of work, or do it over 4 weekends. This left the house in total disarray, then we were burnt out for months after, or we would get the project 90% complete and live without baseboards or shower doors for years because we were so burnt out.

This year I’m scheduling weekend projects in advance. Every weekend we either have a project, or an event planned, or it’s a rest weekend.

Here’s our methodology:

  1. Set up a spreadsheet with 52 weeks.
  2. We figured out our racing schedules for the year and put those on the calendar first.
  3. Then we added our vacations.
  4. Then we added fun things that we normally would have only planned last minute, like Declan’s 2nd birthday party.
  5. Finally, we sprinkled in our list of house projects.
  6. Then I built in my blog schedule – when we complete these projects, I can write about them.
  7. Bonus: I planned early for projects that I wouldn’t have normally have energy for – for example, in August, when I have lots of energy, I will figure out some holiday DIY projects that I can start on instead of saving them for November when I am stressed, tired and too busy.

So far, week 5 into this program, we are doing well! We installed the master closets, and are now ready to tackle the next projects.

Is house project planning just as hard for you? Do you have any successful tips or tricks to share?

 

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