Prioritizing your home and office improvement projects

By understanding the why behind your projects, it’s easier to prioritize them. Synergies between parts of the home are sometimes overlooked. Getting overwhelmed at the project list is a common reason for not getting anything started.

One of the first things I ask a client to do is walk around and talk about what they see as their project.

As we walk around the house or office, I listen to the stream of issues and problems that come up. It’s easy to focus on the mounting list of individual issues: It’s too noisy in this room, this area is too small, everything feels so drab and old. You feel like you might as well just rip everything out and start over. Well, that’s a huge job, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and procrastinate doing anything.

But a little help prioritizing your list can give you a place to start and a step by step guide to get the job done. When you look at your space as fluid and not as individual rooms, as a place that needs to form to your life, not the other way around, it’s easier to see what the real problems are.

Thinking about how you want to live or work in your space – the needs that you have – instead of what is wrong with the current space, can reveal whats really important to make your life better, and suggest solutions that weren’t obvious. So a space that may be “too noisy” might suggest a need for some quiet areas. Then we can look at many more solutions to that instead.

As we go through the space I’m listening, and asking questions. I’m making a list of what the activities are, what the underlying needs might be, and how frequently they are mentioned, giving the issues weight. At the end of the conversation, I have a pretty good idea of what the top 3 things on the list should be. This gives us focus, and something to ideate on.

Then comes the fun part, brainstorming solutions. Now that you have specific prioritized goals, you can ideate possible solutions. Each solution can be judged based on a set of criteria. Setting criteria can also help you prioritize what is important. For example, if timing, and amount of disruption the project might cause are important, that becomes a top criteria in the selection process. If customer satisfaction in your business is a top priority, that becomes your top criteria. Or if family time together is most important, that might be how you pick a solution.

Once a solution is selected there are set steps that happen to start the project and to make it move forward. For my clients I use a simple spread sheet with project activities listed on it including the order of the activity and who’s responsible for it, and what needs to be inlace to make it go smoothly. This helps the client know exactly is coming next.

It’s not surprising that people get overwhelmed with their project list. But applying some discipline can make it easier. Ask your professional designer how they can help prioritize a project. Sometimes it just takes an experienced, objective person to listen to the real underlying needs, to give you a place to start.

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Marissa Schultz