The To Do List


Show Notes:


Our brains should be used to solve problems, not trying to remember each item we need to take care of or address in some way.

When you’re trying not to forget something it can consume you. It can take a lot of energy and brain power away from the important things. You have to reserve a certain level of thought to preserving that idea. If you wrote it down your brain could be free of having to remember that task and can focus on other things.

This is why a list is extremely important during your construction process.

So what are the different methods and ways of keeping a list? The first way would be to just write it down. By hand. Maybe you have a small booklet that you carry with you so you can mark down information or ideas.

There are little notebooks made by moleskin that are very useful for sketching and taking down ideas. They make various different versions of the inside so you can get one with lines or no lines, even graph paper if you wanted to go that route. But really you just need something simple. Something small that can be taken with you and used at the spur of the moment to capture that idea.

Be sure whatever you use you keep it by the bed at night as well. Make sure you have access to get your ideas out at night. If you don’t you might spend many a night tossing and turning trying to ensure you don’t forget that one thing.

If you want to go a more digital route you could use something such as the google calendar or your phone calendar. I have found that a to do list is great, but if you don’t schedule when you are going to do the things on that list they often times just get pushed aside.

You need to not only list the items out but you need to schedule them as well. It is very important to do that.

So how do you stay motivated to get everything that you need to get done? I haven’t seen too many people have an issue with this during construction. Everyone is generally excited and eager to get things done. Although there will come a time that your list might become over whelming.

Items and tasks that you just don’t feel like doing. This is where it becomes hard. You have a busy schedule already, even without a major construction project. Add to it the stress of a renovation or building and its even more. The key is to first have your list. The second is to take each item one at a time. Have them preplanned out so when you do have time to tackle the list you can get right into the doing and not the planning to do. You don’t want to give yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of doing that one particular item you know needs to be done.

Productivity is a strange thing. There are tasks that make us think that we are being productive but they don’t really get us anywhere. They are just circle tasks. These tasks run us around and around.

For an example:

If you spend more time organizing your list than actually doing the items on the list that will get you no where. You do want to have an organized list but be careful not to spend all your time shuffling tasks around and not getting any of them done.

The goal is to scratch them off. Don’t wait until the last minute to take care of something. If your contractor has told you that he needs a particular decision by x date, don’t wait until the night before to dedicate some attention to it. You will be able to understand and explore the different options if you have time to work through it and are not rushed to make a decision. Dedicate some time sooner than later.

Another important thing you will need to do during construction is to dedicate a particular time to working on that project. Dedicate a specific time each day or each week where you can just focus on the project. Do it regularly.

Lists are in a constant state of change. They grow and hopefully shrink, how do we stay organized? Like I mentioned earlier, I really like to work off of my calendar. I schedule in the tasks so that I am less likely to push them off until later.

Let’s say you have a list and your overwhelmed. You’re trying to figure out what to do first. That can be daunting task in itself, but at least you have them written down. You know what needs to be done so if you schedule them out you can just step in and start doing them right away. There is no deciding what to do. It’s already on the calendar planned out for you.

There might be several categories to your list. Things that you need to do and things that you need others to do. You need to keep track of both and once you have directed others to do that thing. You need to set a date or some indication next to it that you directed that person to do that thing on this date. Don’t give people open ended dates. If you direct something or ask for something, attach a date to that so you can follow up, but most importantly, you are giving that person a deadline. Everybody needs a deadline to assign priority to a task.

Once you have assigned it to someone, don’t scratch it off just yet. It’s not done yet. You can only remove that item from the list when it is completed. Just because you gave the task to someone else does not always mean that it will get done.

Unfortunately, that person might not have a list and they are trying to remember everything. It might just slip through the cracks. If you have your list you will be reminded of that item and you can bring it up again if you see that it is not getting taken care of close to that deadline date you gave.

This is where I believe the digital stuff has an advantage over the hand written. It is much easier to edit, revise, reorder, change, and track. So something changes or you need to follow up or add more detail to the list. All of that is very simple when you are using an organizational system that is digital.

I’m big on the digital stuff, so I would recommend that you find a system that works for you within the digital world. Some of you might prefer to write it down in a little book. That is fine as well, but be sure that you update the list. Keep it up to date. That is your journal for the project. It has to be current.

I like to use the program called Asana. It is a project management program that allows you to have multiple people working together on one schedule. You can assign tasks to people, they can comment and revise or update the task. It really keeps everything in one place. Really the goal is to remove it from the email. Get out of the email. Things get lost in the email.

People are getting more and more swamped in their inbox. We tend to scan through them and delete. Once we have read it you could flag it or something but typically it gets unhighlighted and just moves on down the chain. Eventually off the screen and buried.

With a group management program like Asana you don’t have that issue. It is a web based program so you can log into the website from anywhere. They also have an app for the iPhone that allows you to see your tasks list on your phone.

I also use it to schedule all the little things I have to do with this show. I put in notes about the newsletter that goes out each week. The social media sharing. The Show notes. The video’s that I am now doing each week on youtube. What topics I might cover next week. I have up coming shows scheduled out several weeks and this helps me manage all of that.

What is going to be on my list during a construction project?

You might be asking, I have a project coming up. What should I expect to be on my list? If you have a project where you’re hiring a professional to work with you and design a space for you, then you will have two sections to your list. These are the things that you’re responsible for.

The first section are Goals and the second is Content.

What are your goals for the project? What do you hope to accomplish?

These are big picture items. Goals are not I would like to have the refrigerator on this wall. Goals are more like I would like to have a kitchen that functions much better than the one I have now. I would like to enjoy being in the kitchen and having a system down, so I am not distracted by trying to find my pots or pans, I can just cook.

The second section is Content.

The content is the stuff we are designing around. Let’s say you have a particular need or desire to have a vegetable sink in your kitchen. You have your main sink the sink that gets used to wash dishes etc.. but you also want to have a vegetable sink. Something dedicated to washing and preparing of your food. That would be content. Content that needs to be designed into the kitchen. It is a fixed known item that you would like to have.

Now it is the job of your Architect to find out why you want that extra sink. Will it be useful or function the way your planning on using your kitchen. Lets say you cook for a lot of people would you need that sink to be little larger than your typical vegetable sink. Will you use it for any other purposes. Do you want to have a disposal in it or will it just be for washing? Could it also serve to be a sink closer to the cook top so you could use it to fill heavy pots or do you want to have a pot filler for that? These are all questions and design ideas that go into helping you to design around your content.

A lot of times people might not know what their content is. What should it be? You might not go into a project knowing what all the content is going to be or even what some of it will be. And that is ok. You might also change some of that content in the early stages of programming. This is the stage of design when you are working very closely with your architect to figure all of this out.

Diving into those questions that will help to develop your content. Maybe you were not sure if you wanted a veggie sink or not, but after getting into the programming of your space you realize that you really do need one or you could live without.

These are all the things that will be discovered during the early programming and schematic design phases of your project.

Your list might be really large during these early stages and ideally as the project moves forward it will diminish, but then it will increase again during the Construction phase.

So let’s look at the construction phase.

There are several ways to handle the actual acquiring of appliances, lighting, fixtures etc… You can have the contractor purchase all the items then they would mark up based on your cost plus contract, because they are spending the time to coordinate, order and temporarily finance the purchase of those items. This is the least likely way to handle it because of the markups.

The other way is for you, the owner, to purchase the items. In this instance you will purchase and save on the markup, but now the coordination, scheduling and everything related to that item is in your hands. You will need to provide the contractor with what is called a cut sheet. It is a sheet that has installation instructions, anything that might be unique to that product that the contractor would need to consider during construction.

You will need to ensure that it arrives on the job site at the appropriate moment. Sometimes items have long lead times and if they are not ordered at the right moment you could miss an opportunity.

Interior designers are really good with this. Ordering, warehousing and then installing. There are entire companies that just warehouse products for construction projects. You have everything shipped to this one warehouse and it gets collected. Then that warehouse would have a delivery and typically install service that would install each item and assemble anything that needs to be assembled.

So that is one thing you will need to consider for your project. Will you be coordinating the ordering of fixtures or will the contractor.

There is also the shopping. Before you know what you can order you have to know want you want to order. Let’s say you are remodeling your kitchen. It is not uncommon for an architect to simply design the location of the sink. They do not actually pick out a sink and put it in the drawings.

The reason for this is it would take a tremendous amount of time to select, present and get approval for each item that goes into a kitchen. Instead what is typically done is the home owner is given a shopping list. Items that they are responsible for, stores locally that can supply them, and when they need to be on the site.

I actually am not a super huge fan of having you go through all of this on your own. It can be overwhelming and a daunting task. I actually prefer to present you with an option that I believe would be the best option for your situation and you can either use that or find something different. An Alternate.

The reason I like to initially select the fixtures is because of the fact that some fixtures work better together than others. Plus there are a number of things that go into each item. There is a particular look we might be trying to achieve and it would be very time consuming to tell you what you need to look for and how it needs to be sized, attached etc… Instead if I select something, then you find an alternate, you are selecting an alternate based off the selection I made previously. You can look at the faucet I selected and determine that the connection to the counter would look better as a 1 hole or a 3 hole. Should the faucet be a 4” spread or an 8” spread. Should it be counter mounted or wall mounted.

All these little details are needed by the contractor. They will need to know how to run the supply lines to that fixture if it is wall mounted or counter mounted. It can get really complicated if that changes during construction so I find it best to select all the fixtures and appliances once, before construction starts.

I hope this episode was helpful and gave you some good ideas for keeping your ideas safe and free from the threat of forgetting. If you’re already are a list keeper or a person that heavily plans out their calendar, I hope you found some interesting information in here as well.

This is probably the most important thing from this episode.

“Just because you delegated the task to someone else, does not necessarily mean that it will get done. Keep that item on your list so you can see it through to completion.”

I hope that you are having great success with the planning and construction of your home. If you want to get in touch with me please reach out to me on twitter or google plus.

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