A question I get asked a lot is “How do you find time for all your DIY projects?” So today I wanted to talk about how to go about home improvement planning.
So the thing is that we all have the same 24 hours every day and it’s what we do that time that is up to us. That may sound a little blunt but I recently read How to Get Your S#!T Together by Sarah Knight. It was a great read if you need the motivation to get things done that you may have been putting off. She is very to the point about what you need to do. She does not sugarcoat or do any hand-holding, she is honest about what it takes to get things done. I would highly recommend picking up a copy from the library or your local bookstore.
Now you may be saying: “But Amy I have kids, a full-time job, kids’ activities, etc..” And I totally agree with that, I am not saying that life is not busy for all of us. We all have things going on in our lives that are unique to each and every one of us. But it’s how we choose to intentionally plan those un-scheduled moments of our days that make the difference. Think about how often you watch TV or movies, check Facebook or any other social media or email. And I am guilty of all these things as well. I struggle at times to be productive when all I want to do is take a nap. And I am here to tell you that it’s ok.
But on the other hand, I have also become more aware of the activities that I choose and that I am sacrificing something else to do that activity. For example, I enjoy this blogging adventure I am on but writing does not come naturally to me. I have to be disciplined in writing each day otherwise I procrastinate and put it off each day and become more behind. I love to be creative and do different DIY projects but actually sitting down and writing each post takes thought. That means stepping away from the TV, the phone, the laundry, dishes, etc for a short time to accomplish my daily goal.
Tips for DIY Projects
As for finding time for home improvement projects including the DIY decor, maintenance projects and remodeling I find that I have to break them down into time/energy chunks or I get burnt out. And I haven’t watched primetime television in years. I have found that my desire to work on our house or my many other DIY projects has out-weighed the desire to watch the latest episode of This Is Us. And also thanks to Netflix and Hulu I can catch up when I want to!
Home Improvement Planning: The DIY Project Path
So I have decided to walk you all down what I am calling: The DIY Project Path.
The first thing to do is create a list of every single project you want to do in your house. Basically, this is a brain dump of everything you can think of, money is no object at this point, so hold nothing back.
The next step will be to organize each of these projects into categories of low-budget, mid-budget and high-cost.
Now for me, budgeting is the hardest aspect of DIY and the one I struggle with the most. A lot of home projects can start adding up quickly when you start to do the math. And let me be honest, I hate math, never have loved numbers and I am genuinely grateful that I have a husband who can do math in his head. But the money has to come from somewhere right??
If you have no idea what something might cost there are several options: do some research in your area by asking family or friends, get quotes (usually a bid appointment is no cost for most but not all companies) or go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc and walk around to look at the area you are wanting to update to see what materials cost.
And since we are still on the aspect of money let’s talk about how to budget. Some home projects/improvements you just can’t DIY (for example a new air conditioning unit or water heater). We knew we needed to replace the air conditioner one at this house when we moved in but the money just wasn’t there. Then during our second summer on the hottest day of the year, our heat pump stopped working. It was a miserable day, luckily we were able to have a repairman come out and he was able to patch our current pump but warned us that a new A/C unit would be needed sooner rather than later.
That’s when I realized we needed to be setting money aside each month for our home projects. So I opened a new account at the bank that would be just used for house projects/maintenance. (Did you know you can set up new bank savings accounts online without stepping foot into the bank? This may vary based on the bank that you use but I am old school and had no idea this was a thing until I started poking around on my online banking account.) So now every month we set aside a certain dollar amount that goes directly into this account and it isn’t touched for anything but the house.
Now once you have everything broken down into these three budget categories you need to take a hard look and ask yourself what you can do yourself and what might be best done by a professional. It’s ok to admit when you find a project you dread or just realize you aren’t schooled enough to tackle it. It is also a good idea to think about priority if you know a project should be done right away, don’t put it off. It is hard to know that something needs maintenance when all you want is things to look pretty (totally guilty of this myself!) but not tackling the priority projects (example: water heater or furnace) right away will end up costing you in the long run.
So look at your list and put the letters “DIY” next to those that you know you can and/or want to tackle yourself. And if you are debating on some and it is coming down to the money aspect of DIY vs. a professional, take an honest look at the time and frustration that it may be for you to DIY and know that you can always save up to hire a professional at a later time.
What to Tackle First
So how do you decide which project to take on first? Well going back to earlier this will all depend on if something is needed to be fixed right away (leaky toilet, rotting wood, anything with a safety hazard).
After this, I would take a look at what you have set aside for a budget. If you find that you want to update your bathroom (you can read about ours here) and all the updates will cost over $500 for example and you don’t have that money in the bank right now, think about what small steps you can take to get started until you have more funds available. So in this example maybe you want to paint the walls, depending on the size of the bathroom and the paint you use this could cost around $50-$100 (if you have paint supplies already cost would be on the lower end.) So you can start on paint right away if and then there is one small step that is done!
I promise you will feel more productive working on small tasks at a time or by planning ahead and setting aside those larger chunks of time to accomplish those bigger tasks.
And in order to help you on this DIY journey, I have created some FREE worksheets for you, that way you can just print them out at home and work through all the DIY brainstorming, planning, and budgeting!
I hope this information has been informative and helpful. I love to DIY and if you have a passion or maybe just a curiosity I would love to help! Please email with any questions you might have and I will try to answer as best I can: firstname.lastname@example.org.