The 80-Minute Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Limited free time and too long a list?  We can help!

1. Buy a case of furnace filters (12) and replace it each month.

2. Deep clean the the inside of the house to reduce allergies.  Hire a pro if needed.

3. Be sure gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and other debris. Read more

How to De-clutter



I have been on a quest to de-clutter our home. For me it all boils down to this mantra, “If I Don’t Need It I Don’t Want It.” I took a few steps closer to the outcome of my mantra this weekend. Mind you, this was my birthday weekend…so that either means I really want a life less cluttered, or I don’t have any hobbies. The main goal of my birthday was to clean my basement. That’s what I spent all of yesterday doing. I spent 3 hours this afternoon picking up where I left off yesterday.


Idea 1 – Remove multiple landing spaces. I often wear a pair of pants multiple times between washings. I take my dress shirts to the cleaners. I can wear most of my shirts twice if I hang them up right after work. The problem I found was that I had this convenient coat tree in my bedroom that I would use instead of hanging up my shirts on hangers. I have an organized closet, and I have four hanging hooks in my closet and I was short circuiting my system by using the coat tree. So I removed the coat tree from our room and put it in the donate section of our lower garage.

Idea 2 – Remove trash. My first pass at cleaning the basement was to locate and eliminate trash. I threw out a shoe organizer I made in 6th grade wood shop. At the office we keep a pile for scrap metal that we return periodically for our breakfast fund or for money to buy company owned tools. I loaded up 70 lbs of iron weights and an incredibly heavy drafting table we got for Kristin when she was in art school at Kendall College. I moved fast and in an hour I filled the floor space of a cargo van with trash.

Idea 3 – Make a Goodwill run. I was pretty tired at the end of the day yesterday after I got rid of the basement trash but I decided to make a run to Goodwill to donate stuff. Instead of writing every item for donation I took the video camera on my phone and narrated the items for donation. Saying and showing 10 boxes of books takes literally 3 seconds. Speaking of books. My rule is if there is less than a 70% chance I will want to read the book again, then I donate it. Reviewing my library reminds me how many cool books I do have and instantly re-energizes my reading list.

Idea 4 – Buy cool gear. I asked for a $100 rolling storage rack for my birthday. I got one Friday night. If you want to get organized, buy some cool gear. If you want to organize your office, again, buy cool gear. I find that “fun” & “cool” supports not too fun goals like being more organized. I contend that all of those people at the gym are at the gym because they have sporty costumes. Health is the byproduct, whereas the costumes are the real motivators. Boom, a secret to human behavior exposed!

Idea 5 – Set a time limit. A few weeks ago I put on my home projects list to spend 15 minutes organizing paint cans. I didn’t write down, “CLEAN basement.” I wrote down a time bound, finite deliverable. ”Remove non-current paint cans for 15 minutes.” I started with that easy to achieve goal and kept going all afternoon and decided to go back for a few hours today to “finish.”

Idea 6 – Be okay with progress. The outcome of my weekend cleanout was substantial but I still have 35% of the stuff in the basement storage room that I have to sort through. All of our stuff is now in zones. The next step is working my way through each zone.

Idea 7 – Sweeping makes a huge difference. If you only have 5 minutes to spend on your basement then stack stuff up and sweep the walkways. The act of sweeping feels really good. It’s a quick win or finishing touch to any organization project.

Idea 8 – Backlog sucks energy – My favorite accomplishment of my weekend basement clean up was to go through a few boxes dating from as far back as 1996. The 10 boxes had papers, pictures, college essays, and memories. I was able to have some fun reliving the past, and it felt great to throw out trash. After all, how many copies of my senior pictures or an ex-girlfriend, do I need? But it sure was fun to relive the summer Kristin and I first met! 10 boxes became 1 box of keepsakes.

So that’s what I did on my birthday weekend. My mom called yesterday to wish me a happy birthday yesterday. I asked her what it said about me that I was choosing to clean my basement on my birthday. Her response, “You’re an adult.” Just so that I can finish this blog post with a few cool points, I did plan a weekend away for Kristin and I next weekend up in Traverse City, MI sans kids.

Remember: “If I don’t need it, I don’t want it!”

5 Minutes, Less Stress

Last Wednesday I tripped over something at the bottom of our staircase down to the basement. I needed to bring up all the Christmas decorations and what was before me felt like a sea of stuff in the basement. Emotions I dare not share welled up inside me and I went on a 5 minute power clean. I didn’t call a family meeting, I didn’t ask for help, I just started stacking and sorting.

Why I share this is because it felt so good! You, my friends, may experience the same bliss I did from spending 5 minutes on your basement. Maybe even make it your goal for the winter to totally clean out your basement. It is our goal, and now that I’ve shared this with you I will benefit from the power of your accountability, and you may benefit by joining me in your own winter de-clutter.

My favorite part of the basement is the Donate section. We have so much cool stuff that we no longer use – the weight bench, foosball table, the small steelcase desk, and the bag full of 33″ pants that I ain’t ever gonna fit in again. Happy de-cluttering.

Take Off Your Shoes

Since the last time we connected I have attended the National Remodeling Show in Indianapolis and have become a Certified Renovator through the EPA’s Lead Safety program.  In response to these two experiences I have one mental picture that I’d like to share and one action that I am asking you to take.

Please take off your shoes at the door. Do you have an attached garage?  Can you imagine leading a child you care about into your garage & sitting them down right into the middle of the floor and letting them play for a few hours?  We do this daily when we walk through our garage and then into our homes wearing the same pair of shoes.  A clear look into my own garage shows me that we track: mold, dirt, salt, sewer particles, exhaust particles, and cleaning chemicals into our home.

5 Other Tips:

1. Have walk off mats at entrances

2. Vacuum often (2x/week)

3. On wood floors we recommend Bona Floor Cleaner (we do sell it if you’re in a pinch) with their microfiber pads

4. Swiffer Dry is also very useful – its electro-static charge

5. Have indoor shoes/slippers

Beginning April 22nd, 2010 there is a new protocol that must be followed when paint is disturbed in homes that contain lead-based paint.  Thompson Remodeling is compliant and ready for the compulsory deadline.   The training heightened my awareness on clean work habits and I left with a few tips & tricks that will have universal appeal to our clients.

At the Remodeling Show I was in a session on Sustainable Remodeling by Michael Anschel and I had this thought, “My ethical commitment to the safety of my staff, trade contractors, and clients is incredibly important and an ongoing area of focused action.”  What does it actually mean to have a culture of safety & health?  Where is there more work to be done?  And this conversation happens through the lens that we have had a safety program in place for decades.

This month is all about keeping your eyes open and your floors clean.  Take extra care.

5 Steps to Cleaning Your A/C Condenser

1. Turn off the power at the electrical panel or remove the “key” fuse on the gray box outside.

2. Cut away anything growing over it that restricts air flow.

3. Rinse the radiator fins with a hose (dust, dirt, grass clippings, fuzz, leaves, reduce its ability to evaporate water efficiently).

4. Turn on the power.

5. Repeat seasonally.