Welcome to Brighter Home Projects! In this series, we explore DIY home renovation, repair, and a variety of related projects by taking to heart this simple idea: you are capable of more than you realize. Each installment focuses on home improvement projects, information, and advice aimed growing both your skill set and your self-confidence.
How to Complete Your Projects Without Much Free Time
For those of us with a very active and busy life, when it comes to those things we want to accomplish, time flies – often at warp speed. If you’re anything like me, a stay-at-home parent with a passion for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, you know the frustration of trying to accomplish your DIY goals in what seems to be nearly non-existent moments of free time. To help you satisfy your project-related cravings, I want to share a few tips I’ve collected over the years to ensure you make the best use of your limited time.
1) Get It All on Paper
Before getting started on a project – even one that you’ve done before – put your goals on paper. Having a detailed plan not only gives you a visible perspective of the entire project, it allows you to plan ahead for buying supplies and budgeting your time for what needs to be done.
- Be specific about the details -color, size, etc.
- Make a list of the materials and tools necessary for getting the job done.
- Identify the steps, and the controlling precedents (such as dry time for paint and adhesives) so you know in advance what you will need to accomplish and when it needs to happen.
2) Break Up Your Projects
When tackling big fixes or renovations, such as painting a room or repairing exterior trim, break up the project into manageable parts. While some tasks are time-sensitive (like tiling a high-traffic area of the home), most DIY projects can be completed over several steps.
For instance, if you are painting a spare room and time is limited, move furniture one day, tape and cover things the next day, and split up the painting over a few short periods rather than taking an entire day to get it all done. Even replacing a toilet can be done over two or more days if time is very limited (especially if you followed Step 1 closely).
3) Identify the Low-Hanging Fruit
So, you’ve accomplished Steps 1 and 2, but you’re not sure where to begin? We recommend starting with the tasks that are easily accomplished. By pecking away bit by bit, you gain the satisfaction of starting the project, and you keep up the momentum by doing some work – no matter how small it might seem in the moment.
For example: my wife and I would love to renovate the two bathrooms in our 1940’s bungalow. We want to install a light in the shower, dimmable lights throughout, and a pedestal sink, as well as slap up a new paint job. While budget and time are working against us, we’ve broken down the project into manageable steps to help us make progress toward the goal. So far I’ve managed to find the right color of paint, and I’ve purchased a new workbox in order to expand the number of switches. Each step is small, low cost, and easy on the schedule.
If your goals are a little broader, such as a updating the look of an old house, identify the low-hanging fruit you can squeeze into busy evenings and weekends. I recommend tasks like installing new sockets and switches, replacing old drawer pulls, and touching up the trim around doors and windows (one small area at a time) with a fresh coat of paint.
Most importantly, taking on incremental improvements fits a busy schedule and is easier on the wallet, giving you more bang for your buck.
What tips do you have for completing your DIY projects with a limited schedule? Share with us in the comment!