The garage sconces need to be replaced. The kitchen gooseneck faucet could use a little tightening. What about the patch-and-paint for the drywall behind the dryer? My wife’s been bugging me for a while about the crack in the back door.
These are the misfit projects of a homeowner. A couple of my misfit projects, specifically. Part of a long list that pecks at the back of my head.
Better men than I effortlessly keep up with these little to-dos and still have enough time and energy on the weekends to hit the big projects that really move the needle on home-improvement. And then they haul boats behind their F-150s up north to their lake cabins where they have even more to-dos to do… not to mention fish to catch to beer-batter for the family fish-fry.
Me, I can’t fish. And I have to admit, I’m kind of lazy, too. I need a lot of motivation to get off my butt sometimes. And I’m the worst at little one-off misfit household projects. These are the one’s I let slip way too much.
The sconces, loosey-goosey faucet, repainting that hasty patch job from when my son pulled the anchors holding the curtain-rod out of the wall in his bedroom… misfit projects that land somewhere between weekly chores like cleaning the bathroom and bigger, much more satisfying projects like a kitchen remodel.
Cleaning the bathroom regularly is a must. Not living in a filthy cesspool is enough motivation for that. And large projects have their own strong motivation. They usually come with a significantly better home-life at the end of the rainbow, and you get great credit for things like kitchen remodels from family, friends and mother-in-laws….
Your kitchen’s beautiful! What a difference!
But the little misfit one-off projects?
Meh. I’m just not motivated to deal with the garage sconces right now. Yeah, that faucet’s a little loose when you hit the handle, but it’s not like it’s leaking everywhere. Who cares if the wall in the laundry room needs patching. It’s the laundry room.
These are thankless things that don’t seem to make a noticeable difference in our home life.
Except they do make a difference. And even though I’m lazy, I do care. I actually do want to get these things done… eventually. I know all these little projects, when completed, collectively add up to a significantly better life… or a worse life if I ignore them for too long.
And every time I pass the overgrown brush between the fence and the south face of garage I die a little inside.
Ugh, it’s just out of control. Everything’s just out of control.
I needed a system to take back control. I needed a place to put all the one-off projects bouncing around in my head. I needed something that was much more than a typical throw-away honey-do list. I needed a to-do tracker that combines the urgency of a weekly chore with the kind of credit you get for a large home-improvement project.
So, I created one…
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…
The Half Hour Hank Productivity System™
That’s right. Half Hour Hank. Why’d I pick Hank? Because Half Hour Hero was taken by a woman who just published a cookbook called Half Hour Hero last September. Best to her. It’s a catchy title and I’m sure it’s an awesome cookbook. But darnit, it’s the Time Bank fiasco all over again! Always a hair late. It’s like they’re right in my mind…
… Oh, and yes, that’s a coffee can in the picture above. One of four coffee cans used in this innovative system.
And this is a tri-folded strip of paper with a reminder for me to hang my framed Seinfeld poster that I got from my wife for Christmas in 2016. It’s worth 1 point. I’ll explain.
Combine the coffee cans and tri-fold strips of paper with this Half Hour Hank Productivity System™ spreadsheet and I think we’ve got a pretty powerful little system over here.
Here’s how the magic happens:
When you think of a one-off to-do list item (like hanging a Seinfeld poster), write it down on a little strip of paper. Then, decide about how long it might take you to get that thing done, Half Hour (1 point), Half Afternoon (5 points), Half Day (11 points), or Half Weekend (25 points), and write the number of corresponding points in the lower right-hand corner of that same strip of paper.
When you’ve got a bunch of strips of paper put together with a bunch of random projects on them, plug all the projects into the Half Hour Hank Productivity System™ spreadsheet like so…
When they’re all logged, fold up each strip of paper (I recommend tri-fold. The half-half-fold is acceptable too) and put it into its corresponding coffee can that you’ve already labeled with painter’s tape and a Sharpie. Add projects to the spreadsheet and coffee cans as you think of them.
Tell yourself you’re going to pick at least one Half Hour and one Half Afternoon (2-1/2 hours) project to complete each week (for example), in addition to all your regular chores and all the really big, important projects you have going on. On the more ambitious weeks, or the weeks you have less other things to do, tell yourself you’re going to choose from the Half Day (5-1/2 hours) coffee can or even the Half Weekend (12-1/2 hours) coffee can.
Choose blindly from the coffee cans. Hold yourself accountable for completing whichever misfit project fate happens to choose for you. Schedule it on the Half Hour Hank Productivity System™ spreadsheet for that week…
None of your projects in these coffee cans should be prerequisites for any other project, so it should be fine to randomly pick projects. And leaving it up to fate like this keeps you from pushing off the one-off projects you really don’t want to do.
Here’s the fun part. The spreadsheet tracks the points for completed projects. And you “level up” when you earn enough points. You’re a Zero now, but enough effort and you can soon be a Checkmark Charlie on your way to becoming Bob Villa’s Beard and eventually a Half Hour Hank!
Of course, you can customize any of the things in the green section of your copy of the spreadsheet without blowing it up. Maybe you don’t like the names I came up with or the point values I’ve set up. It’s all customizable….
I guarantee when you earn the 8000 points it takes to become a Half Hour Hank you’ll notice the impact completing all those little one-off projects has made in your life.
Me? I’m still a Lazy Lester. In my defense, I’ve only got 2 coffee cans to work with… the low-pointers. I’m waiting for my wife to get me two more of the little Beaumont Bean coffee cans from Aldi so I can be super productive. Geez, honey.
I hope you like the system! I’m seriously looking into making this an app that does the random picking of projects and schedules things on your calendar. Even though the coffee cans are super-cool, they make my fingers smell like dark-roast.
Let me know what you think in the comments below…