How to finally finish neglected projects

Just because I write about home maintenance, yard work and related topics doesn’t mean I’ve got my own house in pristine order. I’m as human as the next homeowner.

But I’ve developed a plan, ideally suited for New Year’s resolutions, that can help you and I get going on those projects we’ve neglected in the past year. And I’ve broken it down into five manageable steps:

1. Make a commitment. Pledge that after the holiday bustle fades, you’ll take action.

2. Objectively review your home. Grab a notebook and pen and take an hour or two to assess each area. Pretend you’re a prospective buyer. Write down anything that needs to be repaired, replaced or checked.

3. Make a plan and follow through. Create a priority list of a reasonable number of projects to undertake in the next year. You might do only one a month or one a quarter. Make sure the pace fits your lifestyle and budget.

4. Safety first. When ranking projects, consider putting first those that involve safety and structural integrity.

But don’t overlook a few that will leave you feeling more relaxed and happy, whether it’s decluttering the pantry or planting flowers.

5. Join forces. Share your pledge and plan with friends. Hold each other accountable and decide on incentives. Post “before” and “after” pictures online.

If you could use a little more motivation, I’ve compiled some free resources at www.angieslist.com/pledge.

But remember that however you put your pledge into action, the whole point is to give yourself the gift of a year without the trouble and cost of home emergencies that might have been avoided with routine maintenance.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care; www.angieslist.com.

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