Home Guru

Want To Organize Your Home? Make Lists!

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By Bill Primavera

Many times, I’ve been reminded by bosses, office managers and consultants that the best way to increase business is to better manage my time.

It is usually suggested that I make lists of all my responsibilities and long-term and immediate goals, organize them and set time frames in which they are to be accomplished.

A smile crosses my mind as I think of my wife Margaret, who is constantly making lists: What she will cook for that holiday party and the groceries needed; how she will re-organize her closet; books she wants to read; the guest list for a fundraiser; and items to purchase on her next shopping trip. I tease her about it.

But when I contemplated all the chores that needed to be done in my prior home, especially in the months preceding its sale, I went to my resident expert and asked her if she could organize a list of the tasks at hand, which seemed overwhelming to me taken as a whole.

This is the checklist she came up with almost immediately, proving that list-making comes easily after a lifetime of developing the habit. Feel free to adopt any of it that would help you organize your home, whether you’re staging it for sale or seeking to live a well-maintained home life.

Big Jobs (Leave to the professionals)

  • Roof: Replace
  • Plumbing: New faucets, toilets and sinks
  • Electrical: Additional outlets for computers; new light switches
  • Tree care: Removal of dead trees and limbs; spraying of hemlocks
  • Exterior painting
  • Gutter and drain replacement
  • Window replacement (where needed)

Interior (To do yourself and with handyman help)

  • Remove all wallpaper
  • Spackle and sand
  • Paint walls and ceilings
  • Floors: Sand, stain and seal wood floors where needed
  • Carpets: Clean
  • Tiles in bathroom: Replace cracked tiles; add new grout


  • Install granite countertops
  • Professionally clean cabinets
  • Replace appliances, preferably with brushed steel
  • If not replaced, scrub out refrigerator, oven, microwave
  • Deodorize dishwasher
  • Replace old light fixtures

Living Room

  • Replace draperies with lighter treatments
  • Remove some furniture to open up space

Dining Room

  • Refinish hardwood floors
  • Remove sideboard


  • De-clutter
  • Update all bedding
  • Clean out and organize closets


  • Replace sinks, counters and toilets.


  • Replace all chandelier light bulbs.
  • Replace old lampshades.
  • Clean all windows.


  • Outline and mulch all gardens
  • Plant flowering shrubs for spring
  • Use non-toxic treatment where weeds normally grow
  • Spray Bobbex to keep deer away.
  • Re-seed bare areas of lawn.

Having listed everything above that was on our checklist before we listed our home, do you see the critical omission? There are no real schedules or timetables indicated. With such an extensive list, it would be easy to avoid doing anything at all if a certain commitment isn’t made to scheduling each chore on the calendar.

This can be handled several ways. Let’s say that we intend to put the house on the market in about six months, with the hope of selling it within the next nine months. I can juggle the list according to what is practical to do in each of those preparatory six months, starting from the logical point of a project. For instance, we had a guest room, which had developed a ceiling leak before the roof was replaced. The plaster had bubbled beneath the wallpaper on the side wall, so it made sense that I first had to remove the wallpaper, sand and patch the plaster, reseal the surface and then paint it. So, I gave the project a two-week time frame and checked off each step along the way as I got to my deadline.

What I ultimately did was to create a “most important” to “least important” evaluation, going from numbers 10 to 1, and hitting the low numbers first, but with a designated deadline for each.

Making lists presents a bonding and learning experience for the whole family. Each family member takes responsibility for certain chores and, together, everything is accomplished.

While a publicist and journalist writing as The Home Guru, Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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