Home Advisor: March Madness - Using a bracket to master your to-do list

Lauren White
Using a March Madness bracket to decide on and prioritize home projects can be helpful if you’re a new homeowner – especially if you bought a fixer-upper. (Dreamstime)

Your household tasks can seem overwhelming when you add them all up at once. After all, your list could have as many tasks as the NCAA March Madness Tournament has teams. If you’re feeling paralyzed by the scope of your to-do list, give your list the bracket treatment at the start of the month or after a big move. This will help you narrow down which projects to tackle first.


Make a list of all of the home repairs and improvements you want to accomplish, from aerating your lawn to swapping all of your incandescent bulbs for more efficient lighting.


As you make your list, divide tasks into categories. Perhaps you can sort your projects by area, like your outdoor areas and exterior, shared spaces like the kitchen and bathrooms, the lesser-trafficked basement and attic, and private spaces like bedrooms. Or, your categories might break out by project type, such as repairs, cleaning tasks, property improvements and luxury upgrades.


In the NCAA Tournament, each region’s teams are assigned a ranking, or seed. So, the best team in the region will be number one and the lowest-ranking team will be number 16. Rank the projects in each category by importance. For a category like kitchen and bathrooms, is it more important to install more efficient water fixtures or to get rid of that ’90s wallpaper? For home repairs, is it more important to fix your garage door or those squeaky stairs?


Now that your tasks are ranked, it’s game time. In each category, pit the most important tasks against the least important tasks that coordinate. For example, if you have 16 projects, pair your number one project with your 16th and choose a winner. Then, pair your number two project with your 15th and so on. Once you’ve finished, make a fresh list of the winners for each category. These are your top projects for round one.


From here, simply continue pitting top-ranked projects against lesser-ranked projects until you have a final winner for each category. It’ll seem simple once you’re on a roll, but prioritizing with a bracket is a perfect brain exercise to get your list out on paper and get you past your project paralysis. At the end of each category, you should have a winner — and four projects to tackle this month.


Don’t crumple up your bracket once you have your winners. Keep this list as a guide for the rest of the year, and add to it as new projects crop up. Return to the bracket when you’ve finished all of your current projects for help prioritizing and making decisions for the next round.


Lauren White is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com