One Small Thing to Do Today for a Better Home All Year Long

published Mar 9, 2022
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Along my journey as a lifestyle editor, I’ve gotten to speak to a lot of people who really love their homes. And you know what they all have in common? It’s not wealth, or DIY skills, or any sort of design cred. They love their homes because they love working on their homes.

Dream homes are built with focus and intention. Knowing what you want and working every day — even in minuscule efforts — to make your space a place you enjoy living.

Credit: Arturs Budkevics/Shutterstock

Create a to-do list for your home.

Grab your notes app (or a pen and notebook) and make a list of the home projects you want to complete.

You can sit in one spot and make your list, but I think it’s helpful to move around your space, if you can. Take 30 minutes or so to travel through every part of your home with your notepad in tow. Make a section for each area — the living room, bedroom, bathroom, outdoors — and jot down anything you’d like to change or fix in that space below each section. You can include some style-related things if you’d like, but try to focus on the problem for this first part of the exercise, instead of the solution. It’s going to help you prioritize the year ahead so you make the biggest impact with your efforts.

Here are a few examples of things you might note:

  • Scuffed up walls in the entryway.
  • Overcrowded and dusty bookshelves in the living room.
  • Dining room feels too empty and plain.
  • A blown out light bulb in the bathroom.
  • Loose knobs on a kitchen cabinet.
  • Mismatched, worn out sheets on the bed.

When you’re done with your walkthrough, I’d like you to whittle down the list to just a few things in each room (three to five is a great number to shoot for) that you can work on. Circle the handful of things you’re most excited to start on, the things that will be the easiest to handle, or the things that will make the biggest impact on your space.

When you have the list pared down, re-write it on a fresh page with just your highlighted trouble spots, but re-frame the language so they become solutions you can take on. This is the list you’ll refer back to throughout the year. It’s a master plan of short- and long-term projects to make your space look and feel better.

Here are some examples of solutions for that same list above:

  • Scrub the walls in the entryway, or give it a fresh coat of paint.
  • Sort and donate books, then clear off and clean off the bookshelf.
  • Hang art in the dining room.
  • Replace light bulb in overhead bathroom fixture.
  • Tighten up cabinet knobs.
  • Sign up for sale alerts for new sheets.

As you do this, I have two rules for you: Be kind to yourself and your home, even when it’s hard. And focus on what’s doable and realistic. You might have a full kitchen remodel on your dream wish list, but that might not be in the cards for this year. Instead, focus on something you can get done to make that space feel better for you, like staining the backsplash grout.

If you feel overwhelmed at any point, keep in mind it doesn’t matter how far you have to go, what matters is that you are getting started! You don’t have to do anything else today except get it all down on paper — we’ll revisit your list next week.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: One Small Thing You Can Do Today to Ensure a Better Home All Year Long