trying to keep my priorities straight

talley_sue_nycNovember 16, 2007

Or, trying to keep my eye on the prize.

Im having a frustrating time right now. Not THAT horrible, but itÂs a little different for me.

IÂm having to STOP myself from organizing, or even decluttering. Even though there are lots of things to deal with on that front.

IÂm struggling really hard not to be distracted away from the main goal.

In our familyÂs home life, there is nothing more important right now than moving into a 3-bedroom apartment. We tried once already, and nobody bid on our apartment (we entered the market right at the slowdown; and we didnÂt feel we could drop our price that much and still afford the place we were buying).

To successfully sell our place, we need to get it ready. We have several small repair issues, etc. And we need to re-do our market research.

But there are many things that are diverting energy into other activities. And there is a finite amount of time that I am home, and a finite amount of energy as well.

Some of those other tasks *look* like they falls under the category of "getting our home ready to go on the market"--stuff like creating an organizational system for the kids backpacks. Decluttering. Installing pullouts and extra shelves in the kitchen cabinets.

But honestly, all that stuff will have to be done later anyway, all over again; I figure the smartest thing is to focus on the repairs, etc., because they will take the longest. But DH has to schedule those, and he wonÂt do many of them at a time. And I canÂt yell at him or issue orders, bcs heÂs my husband, not my employee (not that I yell at my employees).

And heÂs not very good at setting aside the day-to-day in order to make progress on the bigger stuff.

ItÂs just frustrating. Bcs it seems like not much is getting done.

Oh, and, just when I think IÂm ready to make some progress, I discover things are worse than they seem. I went to tackle the missing baseboard in the bathroom (got DS to agree to earn part of his Handyman patch by helping me w/ the miter saw), and discovered that the drywall in that part of the wall is soggy--which means thereÂs a slow leak. And DH has to tackle getting someone to deal w/ it, and thereÂs too much day-to-day (kids projects at school, homework, etc.) for DH to be willing to tackle it at all.

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Talley-Isn't that the way it goes. I have the best of intentions of staying on a schedule and completing projects but it never works that way.
We went to replace the exhaust fan in our bathroom, found mold, and then the nail hole leak in the roof that was causing it.
Went to fix a "clog" in the kids bathtub, the drain pipe came loose (due to botched repair before us) and when we ran the water it flooded our kitchen ceiling and we had to redo it.
Maybe i'm just going to quit tackling the bathrooms first.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 6:54PM
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Talley, it is frustrating because no matter how long your list is, each day there is more to do. But let me share something with you. In our probate or trust cases, there often is a house to sell. People waste time & spend lots of money doing things to it to get it "ready for sale", and don't concentrate on getting it on the market ASAP with fresh paint, clean or new carpets and clean windows. When I see their list it sometimes skips those important items. Believe me, the home inspector will mention the exhaust fan,the baseboard molding or whatever and then you can dutifully fix it. Worry about the big stuff.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:33PM
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You are right, you cannot yell at your husband, but you can quietly manage him - somewhat. If you can help keep him from being distracted and focus him better, you can keep things moving.

At my house, it comes down to putting one project front and center, and then focuing on the next thing that needs to be done within that project. If it is a phone call, I write down the number on a post-it note and place it on his wallet. If it is a missing part, I go out and buy it. Managing other people's time is hard.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 7:19AM
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I'm with graywings on the quiet management, I do things in a similar way. :) We plan to list our place in March and my husband has quite a list of things that need to be done, as he's a very good handyman. I usually pick one thing, or group of things if it's small items, and say "what do we need to do to get this done?" Meaning, let's plan out this project step by step and take it from the top. I think it helps him because he has a tendency to be disorganized and even overwhelmed and I keep him on track. My offer is done in the spirit of wanting to help and support him, not nagging and I am very flexible if he wants to proceed differently. My goal is to just keep moving forward, not get stuck in inertia.

So it depends on how well your husband would respond to these tactics. It seems to work for us. If he is resistant and you are feeling frustrated I would sit down and talk about your concerns. Letting him know how you feel without placing blame helps open the lines of communication, IMO.

Also, if you have set a deadline like we have, and then set smaller deadlines within that timeframe it might help place you both on the same page. From your post I wonder if you have decided when you want to sell or if you just know that eventually you want to. Perhaps an agreed upon schedule would help with the process.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 12:10PM
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I can totally relate. We are finishing a 3 year remodel full of starts & stops and are now on the "finishes" stage which is big in and of itself. Two things I have learned. First, make a physical list and amend and agree on it with DH. The list should be specific things to do that will lead to bigger goals. It sounds simple but my list is my touchstone and I look at it several times a day and amend it as unfortunate new things are discovered. I also keep my list in a looseleaf (Franklin covey) binder so I can exchange and add pages. As simple as this sounds it has make a huge difference in my organization about getting things done. And organization is, in my experience, the key,
The second thing is to hire someone who will work with you and for you in getting everything done. I prefer an hourly person that I can assign specific tasks to and can direct how I want them done, and who I can learn from in how to do things. It costs $$ but the proper comparison, in my view, is how much you save by getting things done sooner and with less stress than even silently beating on each other about finishing them. But in my view it should be someone who you can really direct, who doesn't use their "professionalism" to take conrol of what's done and how. That way I stay in control of the budget, I've found.

My heart goes out to you,

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 10:38PM
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I have to disagree with marge on not fixing items. The home inspector can't pull off baseboard and you can bet the next owner will find it and know it's an old, slow leak. In your market, I think it needs to be fixed as well as an old building can be done.

When we needed to get stuff done, life just stopped. No dance lessons or Scouts. We just couldn't get to all of it and stay focused on getting the house done. I would just have a family sit-down with the list and get everyone to understand that the quicker it gets done, the sooner you get back to real life.

Get the appointments with the fix-it guys made, decide who has to be there to meet them and try and stay sane. I wouldn't worry about organizational stuff like pull-outs unless the cabinets aren't functional without them. You guys have lived this long without them. I don't think they will be a deal breaker, but that plumbing might be.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 12:45AM
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Quiltglo is right about organizational stuff like pullouts not being important--which is why they aren't on the list.

But the stuff that IS on the list is MUCH more visible than a nonworking exhaust fan.

A light fixture that's loosening and it jingles when the upstairs neighbor walks--if that happens while someone is viewing the home, they won't buy our apartment.

A strip of paint above the tub surround that is peeling bcs the contractor who installed the surround left some sort of substance ont he wall, and now the paint won't quite stick--makes the whole bathroom look worn and in need of repair--instead of "recently freshened w/ a great new tub surround."

Ditto the baseboard at the bottom of the kneewall by the tub--makes the whole room look trashy.

Ditto the bad caulk job that's now getting mildewy.

Ditto the rusty medicine cabinet that I haven't replaced yet bcs I'm scared I can't find something that will fit in the old hole. (But I'm going to tackle this one in the next 2 weeks w/ a day off or two)

Ditto the flaking paint & plaster where either water intrustion or simple age have screwed up the finish--makes the whole place look worn.

Molding around a door w/ paint that puddled in the curves of the molding and now is cracking, and flaking--makes the entire room look crappy.

I'm trying not to focus on stuff that's about my family's functioning, and focusing instead on the worn edges that will make the whole place look ill-cared-for.

We *really* need to redo the floors, bcs they look really crappy--and I don't see how I can do anything like a quick fix (except maybe a wall-to-wall rug, as long as it goes ALL the way to the walls, but that still won't help in the entryway, which cannot have a rug bcs there's no clearance under the door). But I don't think we can live through that. We've had people who viewed the apt. comment on the floors as being beautiful (and they are; they just need a fresh finish), so hopefully that will be something they'll figure will work itself out at the time everybody moves.

I got some progress filling the holes in the bathroom wall from the badly made hooks I'd screwed into the walls a few years ago; I need to do a third round of spackle, then I can sand, prime, and paint.

And I *had* to fix the DW, bcs wheels holding the upper rack broke, so while I was at it, I tackled the rust spots in the racks (this stupid thing is 4 years old!) I'm reserving the option of simply spending $220 and getting all new racks, if the repairs look too crappy. (this is hard--painting that vinyl on so you get a smooth finish!)

Frankly, I'm scared to try to hire anyone to do any of the things around the house, bcs nearly every time I've hired someone, the end result was WORSE. The only time it wasn't worse, that guy isn't working in our neighborhood anymore.

We'd stop the stuff that's the equivalent of dancing or Scouts, but right now we're ALSO in the middle of high-school interviews, and they HAVE to happen now. They're even MORE important than getting the apartment on the market. And frankly, those things aren't the big problem. The big problem is that these things are hard to do, and I'm not home to do them.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 4:52PM
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Oh, talley_sue_nyc, I sympathize! I am job hunting, and am actually terrified of getting a job, because things keep going wrong with the house! Our furnace died ($2300), and then our electrical started surging (the estimate to fix the problem and add some very necessary circuits is $4400), and now we have a wet spot on our living room wall. I really need to clean out the basement, too, because it's leaking way worse this year than last... I need to get to the walls to put that hydraulic cement stuff in the cracks. AGGGGGGH!

I guess my only advice is the advice that I wish I was taking myself. Write a list of what needs doing and schedule each task on a calendar and then stick to it. That is exactly what my husband and I need to do.

Good luck! I know all of us are sending good thoughts your way.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 4:57PM
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Some real estate agents have a stable of repair/decorating/remodeling people on hand who will fix everything that needs fixing. I have had two different agents now who provided this type of service. It makes it worthwhile having a selling agent.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 5:12PM
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Hi Talley Sue,

Harriet the homeowner has a great idea: call in an outside authority. Do you have a selling agent? Or do you have a real estate agent friend?

How about having an agent/friend-agent come in to look over your apartment and tell you what you need to do to sell the apartment and give you a deadline? Harriet is right, a lot of those types of people have handypeople they can call. Our real estate agent did. If the real estate agent gives you a list and a deadline, then you guys can get cracking.

I know you guys are trying to sell your apartment yourselves, but in this market, I wouldn't foof around. Get a good agent. I have met many of the NYC warm-body-with-keys types in my time in the metro area (and not to mention the dishonest ones!), and I know it's hard. But they're out there.

Do you belong to Angie's List? You could probably find both a good real estate agent and fixit people on there.

Think of it this way: if you want things to change, you have to change.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 12:05PM
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The last time we hired an agent, the agents we had come see our place (we stuck w/ the people w/ experience in our neighborhood) all said we didn't need to do anything.

I don't know that I believe them.

And doing these repairs ourselves IS actually a change; the last time we tried to get a handyman to help us work our way through the list, it mostly didn't work out.

I don't think I need to change my strategy, I just need to keep things moving.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 1:03PM
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I've had agents say that, too, but they were wrong. All the things you mentioned sound like they need to be done. Maybe you need to look around a bit to find someone who is on the right wavelength. Or do you know of any general contractors? It's probably going to cost more than using a handyman or doing it yourself, but again, might be worth looking into.

We stumbled on a good floor guy and a great painter in NYC when we were fixing our apartment there, btw. The painter we found by going down the street to the paint store. I can't remember how we found the floor guy. They got the place looking very nice and were reliable and pleasant to work with. I can send you the info if you're interested.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 1:28PM
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see, here's where it's hard to figure out what MY priority should be.

Finding a GC is going to take time (bcs I wouldn't re-hire anyone who's ever worked for me). Getting on his schedule is going to take time.

In the meantime, most of this stuff I could probably just fix and be done with.

Some things, I know we can delegate, and that we need to. DH is supposed to call the plaster-repair guy today, and get us on his schedule. (the plaster guy doesn't paint, but DH could easily paint the ceilings he's going to fix). The light fixture, I'd asked DH to replace, but it needs to be done during the day, and DH is home alone, and weekends are crammed--so last night I asked him to call the electrician, and DH said yes, bcs that will also give him the chance to change out the electrical box, and we can change the kitchen fixture too. We *have* an electrician we can tap, so that will take care of us there.

The woodwork fixes, I know who we'd *like* to tackle it, and DH is supposed to ask him if he's willing.

But stuff like the medicine cabinet, well, I'd need to buy the replacement no matter who I hired, so I might as well just do it myself. Ditto fixing the little holes in the wall from the hooks, and painting around the window.

The caulking, well, I might as well do it; unless a handyman guy I have in mind works out.

But again, there's time spend finding someone to do it, vs time spent actually just DOING it. Which is faster, which is more efficient, which is a better use of my time.

i'll say this: Tackling the repairs to the DW and the holes in the bathroom wall sure made me FEEL better, made me FEEL like progress was happening!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 3:36PM
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Why don't you ask some friends over?? Even if they're quick little jobs, they're a lot quicker with more hands to do them.

Delegate little tasks. "Can you do this, joe can fill those holes, DH and I will tackle this" And before you know it, in a few hours, everything will be done!

And if you set a date for your friends to come over, you'll be less likely to go off track.

Then have dinner, and a relaxing night with your friends, knowing you accomplished a lot :)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 4:24PM
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Good luck Talley Sue. It always seems to be a ''deal'' to get the little stuff straightened out/tightened up. I know what you mean about just doing it yourself. While you're getting some help (like with the electrician), you might just consider asking him who he'd get for some of the other work. We found some excellent resources through some of our tradesmen. Not all of the names we were given worked out, but I have some references now that I highly value because we ''asked''. I hope there's something that will allow your place to stand out among others and you can get a holiday sale. Best wishes!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Why don't you ask some friends over??


Because I basically don't have any friends.

I'm not antisocial or weird or anything--it's just that I live a busy life in a huge city, with almost no social outlets, and anyone I *was* friends with in that way has moved far away.

And I have in-laws, but frankly they would slow me down, if I asked them to help.

These are all mostly one-person jobs. And if I'm not willing to trust a paid tradesman to do them properly (and I'm not--see above), why would I be willing to trust an unskilled friend or relative?

And it would take me as long to explain it as to do it. I'd still have to be the one rounding up all the supplies, which is actually the lengthiest part.

The plaster guy is coming on the 3rd; I'm taking the 30th off so DH and I can tidy up and declutter the rooms in question, so he can work around all our stuff.

I think the only pro we need next is a handyman--maybe a plumber, unless DH's dad can help take care of that leak inside the wall. We have to decide what will fulfill the co-op's requirements about having a licensed pro do all plumbing work.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 9:48AM
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Delegate little tasks. "Can you do this, joe can fill those holes, DH and I will tackle this" And before you know it, in a few hours, everything will be done!

Sadly, it just doesn't work that way.

Sue - I understand completely; my (few) friends would be useless in a situation like this.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 10:54AM
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Gardenweb ate my first attempt at posting my last post. I origionally had "If you have any friends that you trust to not mess up, why not see if they will come over?? If not disregard this post! LOL"

I just suggested because my boyfriend and I are the friends people always ask to come help, because he fixes and renovates for a living, and in turn I've learned how to do a lot of things too. I forget sometimes that not everyone is very skilled, or skilled at all with handy work.

And then WHY you would ask have I had a bathroom in mid renovation for EIGHT MONTHS?! Because he doesn't trust anyone else, to help us. I think I need you to come over TS and get his butt in gear. Cause I can't get him motivated. And I have done all I know how to do in that bathroom. Everything else is his, or needs both of us.

Perhaps reading your success and what's keeping you two motivated will give me incentive to kick him into over-drive. Good luck!!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:17AM
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My DH is not much of a handyman. I can't blame him, his father never let him help him around the house, so he never learned to use tools. We own the basics, hammer and screwdriver,but that's about it. We found a handyman who is very pleasant and will do just about any job, except electrical wiring and climbing on the roof. He's a treasure. He mounted a ceiling fixture for us and assembled a DIY bookcase kit, only charged us $30.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:22AM
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Thought of something that might help you... what about painting over the rust in the medicine cabinet with appliance paint? You can get it at any home store.

and now, back to my own fiddling little job list... time to pull the painters' tape out of the kitchen... it's only been two weeks...

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:22AM
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Munkos, I didn't mean to be so touchy. I think that's a sore subject w/ me; I really mind that I have so few friends. I'm the one who would gladly go help a friend make shelves, anchor them to the walls, fix the caulk, etc. But I don't even have any friends here anymore that *I* could go help *them*--they've all moved away, and I find it harder and harder to make real friends, as I get older.

there's way too much rust in the medicine cabinet, I think, to paint over it--and the idea is for it to look NICE; it wouldn't look that good once I finished with it. I think I'll take a stab at finding one the same size.

At the very least, I want to thoroughly investigate that possibility before I tackle the overwhelming task of sanding away all the rust and spray-painting the medicine cabinet. I live in an apartment, and there aren't that many easy places to do a messy task like that.

I'm trying to help my DS learn some of the handyman type stuff. He's very intrigued by it, and he's finally old enough that I feel he can tackle some of those things w/ supervision. In our household, I'm the handy person. I'm the one who owns the power drill, the electric screwdriver, the saber saw, the belt sander, etc.

I'm going to get DH to help me draw up the master list again; we had one earlier, but we need to start over.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 11:47AM
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I had one of those rusty old cabinets that I wanted to replace, but I couldn't find anything the right size. Everything was too big. This is a very small bathroom, and there isn't room for a bigger one even if we made the original hole in the wall bigger. The few small ones I found were really cheap-o plastic. So I had the painter remove it from the wall and I sanded it a bit and then painted it with a brush -- easy, not messy to do at all. It looks pretty nice. Perhaps if you can't find a new one you could take this one to someplace that will refinish it for you?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 12:14PM
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Yours looks almost exactly like mine--same frame and back of the mirror, etc. Even the razor slot looks the same. (mine's a teeny bit taller).

And mine is similarly substantial.

If I can't find something, I'll try that.

I just think that I haven't given the replacement idea the tiniest attempt.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 1:51PM
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At my MIL's house, I removed the ugly medicine cabinet/mirror, stuck in a piece of drywall, and covered it with a big mirror.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 6:47PM
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That's an idea--though I'd be a bit loathe to lose the storage. I could probably get by, though....

I've also thought of taking it out, and installing drywall and then a surface-mounted medicine cabinet. Bcs I installed a new vanity that's taller than the old one, and this makes the medicine cabinet harder to reach. It's also mounted a little bit too high, I think.

I'm just worried it'll make this crowded section bathroom look even more "in your face."

But I'll keep it in mind. If I can't find a medicine cabinet that will work, that may be what I'll do. Then at least I can mount it lower.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 9:20AM
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hi there
i just have a suggestion to offer that might make it quicker...pull out the old medicine cabinet. put a new larger surface mounted cabinet over the hole...don't bother to patch the hole first...then the next person can spend the time searching for a cabinet to fit the original hole or refinishing an older cabinet, or just leaving the big one on the wall. they will appreciate the gain in storage. btw, harriet yours looks wonderful...i have sent one of those to salvage in the past...i liked the glass shelves but didn't know how to deal with the rust. your person did a great job good luck!! kren

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 11:15AM
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talley_sue_nyc, I wish I could come help you!

You said that you didn't have local friends who could come help you, and I got to thinking about how many of us would love to come over and help if we lived anywhere nearby, because you are such a wonderful, helpful, and fantastically kind person on this forum. I don't post here very much, but I read this forum every day, and every day I find myself thinking what a truly generous person you are. So often, yours is the first response to a post, and all of your responses are full of concrete, useful information and reassurance when needed. So never forget that you do have tons of friends on gardenweb, even if they aren't anywhere near you. Think of all of us helping you in spirit. And maybe you're lucky I live across the country, because I am terrible at pounding nails! :)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 1:26PM
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thanks so much, xantippe--that means a lot.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 1:52PM
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Ditto what xantippe said. Sometimes I think you are the rock on this forum. I'm in Maine, but if I were a little closer I'd help you out.

Don't give up!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 10:22PM
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Thanks, you guy!

I've been trying to keep something small happening every day. And the plaster guy comes next week, so this week I do actually need to straighten, and sort of reorganize, enough so he can work without stuff underfoot.

The other things that have been sidetracking me are actually "makign life run smoothly" in nature--DD's new wardroge, bcs she's outgrown everything and it's getting old; DS's inadequate shelf space bcs I commandeered some of his shelves, and now actually he doesn't have enough (plus HE is getting bigger, and the dresser drawers that used to hold toys now need to hold clothes).

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 9:24AM
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