Outdoor Project Time is Here (For Now)

Summer is winding down. Soon Fall will be here. Bringing shorter days, cooler weather, and typically more rain. There a some outdoor projects, like painting, caulking, sealing, and glazing, that are best accomplished during the longer, dryer days of summer. But since time is running out, let’s see what steps we can take today to get some of these projects done.

  1. Start with a list. Take a walk around your property with a notepad and a camera. Write down and take pictures of what could use some work.
  2. Take a close look at painted or stained materials such as wood siding or decking, or metal objects such as railing or metal sheeting.
  3. Look around windows and doorways for lose caulking or weather stripping.
  4. Inspect driveways, walkways, and patios for faded or worn sealer.
  5. Prioritize your list and decide what you’d like to accomplish yourself, and what you’d like to find and professional to tackle.
  6. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the tasks, watch a few YouTube videos to see if it’s something you’re comfortable doing.
  7. Have your notes and pictures available when discussing the projects with the professionals. The picture will be very helpful, whether at your kitchen table or the paint counter at the hardware store.
  8. Don’t forget your protective equipment. Always protect your eyes from dust, debris and chemicals. Protect your hands with the right gloves for the task. And protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV.
  9. Put your tasks on your calendar. It really helps to have a reminder.

Let me know what other outside tasks you consider best done during the hot, dry weather!

Good luck and be safe.

Check out www.StepsForToday.com for other helpful hints on home maintenance and project planning.

And remember to take the next step…

Fall Yard Projects

It’s almost fall! While we’re enjoying those great fall months before winter sets in, there are a few steps for yard care that can make all the difference in the spring. It’s also a good time to plan for winter projects that may slip by while were holed-up during those colder months. But it’s not bad out today. So grab a pen and something sturdy on which to write. The Steps for Today will be out in the yard.

Now is the time to take a good look at the grass. Are there patchy spots. I know my yard has some. Giving them some seed and fertilizer to work over the winter will help produce a beautiful lawn in the spring.

  • Over seeding is best done early in the fall, when the ground is still warm. If over seeding, it’s best to get the seeds into the soil if possible. Raking with a hard tooth rake before and after application will help them make their way to the soil.
  • If the ground is really bare, remove any debris and apply a quarter-inch of soil over the seeds.
  • Dormant seeding can be done late in fall. But as the name indicates, the seeds will lay dormant until spring.
  • Both early and late fall are a great time to apply fertilizer. The heavy fall dew will help break down the fertilizer and feed the seeds.
  • If you have seeded, it’s not a good time to apply weed control. The new seedling will most likely need till spring to get a good start.
  • If you have a mulching lawn mower, mulching your grass and some leaves will apply a nutrient-rich protective blanking over the lawn during the winter.
  • If you’ve got one, it’s time to schedule having your sprinkler system flushed for the winter.
  • Late fall is also a good time to service your mower with a cleaning, sharpening and oil change.

All those wonderful leaves. Sure we don’t like raking leaves, but having a few trees in the yard sure is nice. Although winter is the best time to trim trees, it’s often a busy time for tree trimmers. Best to get on the schedule now.

  • Examine trees for dead or damaged branches.
  • Get on a tree trimmer schedule early. Get several estimates and opinions. Their prices can vary greatly. Be sure to have them look at the smaller trees for signs of stress as well. And be sure to ask for a copy of their insurance. Most will send it with the estimate. And always check the online reviews.
  • Check for limbs getting too close to the house. They can tear up roofs, siding, or gutters quickly in a wind storm.
  • As mentioned in my last post. Inspect gutters to ensure they’re working properly for the winter months.

Landscaping a water issues can become a real problem during the frigid winter months, when they become ice issues. Landscapers often offer discounts at this time of year for winter work, so now is the time to consider getting on their schedule.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things. Any suggestions?

As always, thanks for reading and please share with others.

And remember to take the next step…


Fall Projects Around the Home

This year has been like no other. The pandemic has had many of us staying close to home this spring and summer. Some have used this time to focus on projects they’ve been wanting to do for a while. Others have started a new hobby, like gardening. In either case, we’ve had a little more time to plan our lives and activities. Now that Fall is on our doorstep, we should give some thought to those activities which are best done at this time of year.

As temperatures turn cooler, it is the perfect opportunity to review our homes ability to shelter us from the upcoming winter months. A quick walk around the house will help uncover areas in need of a little TLC. So grab pen and paper. And let’s take a few Steps For Today.


  • Furnace Checkup – Your furnace is your main line of defense against winter cold. Changing its filter regularly help it from working harder than it should to warm your home. It’s also a good idea to have it inspected yearly. The combustion chamber of an oil or gas furnace expands and contracts every time it ignites. Meaning that after time, it can crack from fatigue. A damaged gas or oil furnace can emit carbon monoxide (CO); an odorless deadly gas.
  • Smoke and CO detectors – it’s a great idea to change smoke and CO detector batteries in the fall, when daylight savings time changes. And if you don’t have CO detectors near your oil or gas furnace, you should definitely add them to your list of things to do.
  • Windows and Doors – Air loss, through gaps in the seals around windows and doors, is a major factor in keeping your heating bills as low as possible. While walking through your home, take note of any windows or doors that just are sealing well. Also note any cracked or lose panes. Whether fixing the old, or replacing it with new, it’s much better to address these when the weather is still warm enough to remove them. If ordering new windows, be aware that there can be a significant lead-time on their delivery and/or install. It’s best to get the process started early as possible.
  • Insulation – While you’re at it. You may as well take a peek in the attic to see if there’s insulation up there. Chances are good that there is. But you never know.
  • Home Exterior – Taking a look outside, be sure to give your homes exterior a thorough inspection. Look for loose or damaged siding, trim, soffit, and facia. It’s certainly easier to address these concerns before real cold sets in. Working on vinyl siding in the cold, when it can crack, is less than ideal.
  • House washing – Summer months can lead to dirt and mold (usually on the north side) on your home’s exterior. A hose and long brush can remove most of this. If using a power washer, be sure to check it’s spray power from a distance before moving to close and possibly blowing parts off your home.
  • Outdoor spigots – Take a look at your outdoor hose spigots. Leaking spigots can freeze and rupture pipes inside the home. Sometimes spigots just need a new set of washers. Sometimes they need a replacement. A good local hardware store may be able to tell you if they sell a washer replacement just by looking at a close-up picture of the spigot handle. If you need a replacement, search the internet for ‘replacing a hose bibb’ video. It may be easier than you think. And, of course, your local plumber can make short work of such things.
  • Deck care – Now that Labor Day has passed, it’s a good time to consider sealing your deck or patio. Having the supplies on hand for when the weather is just right, will help make the process easier.
  • Gutters – Look for signs that gutters are overflowing. This is usually caused by foul-smelling gunk in the gutter or downspout. Stopped up gutters usually lead to water or ice problems in the winter or spring. Cleaning them early and late in the fall will help avoid associated problems.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things that should on this list. I’ll probably cover yard care in my next post. What are some of the important (or not-so-important) tasks I might add?


As always, thanks for reading.

And remember to take the next step…


The Year of Reclamation

Last year at this time I posted about New Year’s Re-solutions. This year I’m making a focus to reclaim those areas of my life which seemed to slipped in importance, or had to set idle, while other matters were tended.

Just about everyone has some aspect of their life to which they’d like to devote some time and attention; but they’ve put it off due to more pressing matters. It may be cleaning out an old closet, learning a new skill, focusing on health, organizing your household information, or returning to an old hobby. Whatever it is, you now want to reclaim time in your life to get it done.

Well you know were going to have to make a plan….with steps…for today. It’s kind of a thing here. So get a piece of paper, or create a file on your device, to keep these steps fresh in your memory.

  1. Divide you sheet into 3 columns.
  2. At the top of each column, write one of your reclamations and draw a line under it.
  3. Next, write the steps you’ll need to take to complete the project. Be as specific as you can. You may want to include steps such as researching solutions, making phone calls, arranging daycare, or whatever it’ll take to get the project completed. When finished you can put an order to them by assigning an number to each step.
  4. Under each heading, write down what you’ll need to accomplish the task. Will you need a carpenter, dumpster, working area, supplies, education, help from others, etc.? Draw a line under these items.
  5. Now you can prioritize your top 3 reclamation projects . Order them by which you need to complete first to last. Mark the order at the bottom of the column.
  6. Mark your yearly calendar with the completion dates for each step in the project. Write these dates next to the step on your sheet as well.
  7. Last, I highly recommend telling others of your intended project. By making a public exclamation of your reclamation (a Rexclamation if your will) you create an expectation within yourself, and others, to complete the project. If they’re willing, they can become your accountability partner; tasked with reminding you of your project steps and dates.

So let’s take your vision to 2020. (Sorry! I just had to…) and make it the year of reclamation.

So what are some of your Rexclamations?

Visit the store at https://www.stepsfortoday.com/product/rexclamations-worksheet/ for a free, downloadable, copy of the worksheet described above.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…

The Power of Planning

“Planning is bringing the future into the present, so you can do something about it now.” -Alan Lakein

My grandfather used to tell stories of helping his grandfather, a carpenter by trade. They would use the cold winter months to prepare for the upcoming projects. They would purchase the materials, sharpen tools, and pre-cut the lumber so that he’d be ready to start when warmer weather arrives.

In a similar fashion, every new year’s day my wife and I spend some time discussing the projects we’d like to accomplish during the new year. It’s interesting and rewarding to review the accomplishments of the prior year. We rarely review the list during the year, but its contents always seem to guide our endeavors. I believe the list gathering exercise gives us a chance to share thoughts and align our priorities; cementing the project firmly in the background of our minds. But, of course, the list is readily available, in case we need to review it.

Here are some Steps For Today tips for creating a list of your own.
– Get a small notebook or journal solely dedicated to managing home projects.
– If you followed my last post, you already have a list of possible indoor projects to put in your journal.
– Remember to date your entries. You’ll really appreciate this habit over the years.
– Take some time to walk around outside your home and add possible outdoor projects to your list.
– As always, have meeting with your household decision makers to prioritize your list, discuss funds and resources, and get some items on the schedule!
– Remember too, that this is a chance to model the planning process for any kids in the household. So invite them to participate.

Keep an eye on this site for more information on project planning.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…


Winter Projects

It’s wintertime. In the midwest, outdoor projects are often on hold till warmer weather. What a great opportunity you now have to focus on indoor projects.

We all have them. Those annoying little things we’d like to get done. They sit and wait, occasionally imparting a guilty feeling, until some of them can no longer be ignored. So why put them off until their necessity forces itself into your schedule; which might occur on the most beautiful weekend of the year. Taking time now to organize your home, do some painting, or update a room, will only free-up more time to enjoy the outdoors when warmer weather arrives. If your like most of us, the problem can be deciding what to do first.

Here are a few steps to help you get started today:

– Set aside some time to think about your indoor projects

– Get something on which to take notes and take a walk through your home, listing things you’d like to accomplish

– Prioritize the list with the help of your household decision makers

You now have a place to start. Pick out an indoor project for which you have the time and resources and put a start date on your calendar. If the project you’d like to start first seems a bit too large, you may want to pick a smaller one. My next post will focus on planning for larger projects. It may be best to start with a small project anyway. Once you get the first one done, you’ll probably get excited about the next.

One last thing. I recommend telling your friends and or family about the project. The benefits for doing so include any suggestions they may have, and knowing they will ask you about its status will help to ensure you’ll get it done.


Thanks for reading,
And remember to take the next step…