In the last couple posts, I’ve been talking about two different but related concepts: namely, that I’m getting fat and that my house is also getting fat. Now, of course when I say “I’m getting fat,” you know what I mean. However, when it comes to my house getting fat, you may not have such a clear idea. So, to be clear, let me explain it this way: both of us–my house and I–are exceedingly out of shape.
With me, you can see it in my new bulges and the fact that I get winded while walking and channel surfing. For my house, it’s evidenced by the chipped trim and the dinged-up walls, the old, tired paint and the wobbly cabinet doors. My house–and I, for that matter–aren’t what I’d classify as morbidly obese . . . or even semi-morbidly obese. But, as I mentioned, we’re both out of shape and not that appealing when looked at appraisingly.
And so, work needs to be accomplished–on both fronts. But the problem is time. I don’t have time to exercise for hours on end and I don’t have time to do home maintenance for hours on end. I don’t even have enough extra time to combine the two into some hybrid home-improvement-exercise-regimen. And so, what typically happens, is that I put it all off. I don’t start exercising because I don’t have enough time to do it right. I don’t start doing my little home repairs because I don’t have enough time to do them right. And so everything piles up–the weight and the jobs. And I get a little more depressed each day.
But not too long ago, it hit me: I’d made a critical mistake. I suddenly realized that I don’t need to exercise like the people who are completely and totally committed to becoming fit. If I could just find 15-30 minutes a day walking, I’d see a dramatic improvement. And that led me to conclude that the same is true for my home: if I could just implement a 15-30 minute home improvement regimen two or three times a week, I would see tremendous results in a very short amount of time.
See, the key to any successful exercise program–I’m told–is setting a schedule you can keep. Setting up a grueling, hour-long, daily program sounds like a great idea, but usually, in 3 weeks time (or far less if you’re me), you’ve given up completely.
Instead of those marathon, epic, exercise programs, we’d be better served to put our energy into a smaller program we can actually stick to and keep up with.
The same is true when it comes to a home improvement regimen. And that’s what I’m going to implement in my home for the foreseeable future. I’m going to take a night or two or three every week and I’m going to set aside 15 – 20 minutes each time. My plan is to set this schedule for the same 2 or 3 nights every week and I’m going to set it for a time that will be as painless as possible. For me, that’s going to be right when I get through with work, while my wife’s making dinner.
If you’d like to try this in your own home, do the same thing: pick a couple nights and pick a time that works well and get started. Use this time every night to tackle all the little jobs that would normally pile up over time. And don’t worry about not completing any given task in your allotted 15-20 minutes.
For example, let’s say you’ve got some nail holes that need to be puttied, sanded and then touched-up with paint. Well, take your 15-minute segment on a given night and run around the room with some spackling compound and a putty knife. Fill in all the nail holes and call it a night. Clean your tools up quickly, put them away and carry on with the fun part of your night.
DON’T BE TEMPTED TO KEEP WORKING! Extending your work over the allotted 15-20 minutes sounds effective, but in the end, you’re just going to burn yourself out faster and you’ll end up quitting. So quit on time and plan to start back up the next day.
When the next work day comes, set a timer for another 15-20 minutes and run around that same room with sandpaper. Sand down all those nail holes and vacuum up all the dust you just created. When that’s finished,
put your stuff away and call it a night.
The next time you have your 15-minutes of home improvement time, finish the project by touching up all the spots with paint. Clean up your tools at the end, put them away and go cross that little job off your list.
Keep working around your home like that. One night you can replace that vent cover that’s all dented because of the kids. Another night, you could go around and sand all the chips in your woodwork. 2 nights later, on your next “fix-it” night, go around and do your touch-up painting.
Stick to this schedule week after week and you’ll be amazed at what kind of accomplishments you’ve made in six months. Or a year. In fact, if you implemented a 15-minutes-a-night work-time, 3 nights a week and kept up on it through an entire year, you’ll end up logging almost 40 hours of work on your home. Think about that! Nearly 40 hours of work on your home in a year . . . all done in virtually painless 15 minute chunks! Think of the difference that would make!
Sure, these little fix-it nights aren’t going to get your living room painted or help you accomplish other bigger projects, but they will help you get all the small, obnoxious, time-consuming ones of the way and will help you get on the road to getting your homes back in shape.
I’m starting tonight. Why don’t you think about it, too? I’ll let you know how I’m doing . . . and feel free to post your experiences in the comments here. Good luck!