My late grandfather used to say, quite seriously, that the best way to remind yourself to do something important during the day is to write down what you need to do, then thoroughly crumble the piece of paper on which you wrote and put it into the front pocket of your trousers; having that ball of paper in your pocket would be a constant bothersome reminder that you need to do something…
I am not as inventive as he was, but I am extremely organized in my planning and my daily life. I keep fairly evolved lists of to-dos, follow-ups and things to keep my eye on at work, I consult nested task lists at home, I make Natasha write down things that require her attention during the day beyond the simple grocery list.
When we go away on holidays, we always go through our thorough packing lists to make sure we don’t forget anything, starting with documentation and ending with caramel candies for ear pressure relief in flight. Our lists include absolutely everything that we ever needed on any type of holiday; we check off the things that we pack or cross out the things that we do not need for the specific trip. Several years ago, I even contemplated designing a software that would produce customized packing lists based on input such as number and age of travelers, type of destination, length of stay, etc. Laziness won and I did not progress much beyond conceptual design, and the all-encompassing packing list is firmly in our preparation routine.
Relocation gives me a huge platform to flex my organization muscles. We have an overall to-do list, an items-to-sell list, an accounts-to-close list, an accounts-to-retain-but-change-address sublist, etc. Every item is marked with a target date and a responsible party. There are green, amber and red statuses…
I exhibited similar fervor in preparing Natasha for house-hunting. We came up with a nearly exhaustive list of things that we want to pay attention to in prospective properties, and I coded a weighted formula into a spreadsheet that Natasha could populate upon seeing each house. Bigger things (number and age of bedrooms/bathrooms, size and quality of kitchen space, existence of a fully finished basement, quality of outdoor space, etc) get larger point allocation, but smaller things such as closet space, fireplaces and included/excluded appliances are counted as well.
I suppose a house purchase is more about love and hate than about weighted numerical analysis. You walk into a house, you love it, you find several shortcomings that you are willing to work on once you own the place. You walk into another one, everything seems to be suitable, but there is something off-putting that you cannot overcome or one specific parameter – price? noisy road? garage not big enough to fit your SUV? – that make the house undesirable. In the end, after seeing X number of properties, you sit down, look through your notes, discuss all pros and cons of houses that you liked and pick the one that you like the most.
We aren’t any different in expecting to do just that. Yet, I would like to have some quantifiable foundation behind our likes and dislikes.
My formula awards a maximum of 290 points, but no house could conceivably pack in every single feature that we’d like (while simultaneously staying at the lower end of our price range), so I figured that anything around 230 would be as close to an ideal house as one could get. When we did our preliminary online property reviews, we got a handful of houses into 160-170 range on the basis of realtor reports, with a number of unknowns. That boded quite well for Natasha’s search.
But after two days and a dozen viewed properties, only one house came close to 200. It was one of our online top two, but it has a couple of serious shortcomings, including backing out on a major county road…
Several other houses dropped their marks, on account of a realtor report generously saying “new” where the right description would be “20-year-old but in decent condition”, or “finished basement” where the qualifier “partially” would be key. Still, a couple of houses of the ones Natasha has seen score ok and she liked them well enough to schedule a second viewing. Stay tuned.