We recently had a follower ask, “Do you have a previous post in which you teach us how you keep your list of projects? And what magic motivation keeps you on task? How do you seem to avoid all the time-sucking rabbit holes that pop up in any DIY?”
I thought this was a very thought provoking question that we have not previously written about and we ended up with way too much to say to put in an Instagram post (follow us at https://www.instagram.com/crazyfixerupper/?hl=en where most of our up to date content is found) so decided the blog was a better format.
So, here we go, in no particular order. Following is a list of things we have learned in the past 2 years, since we bought the farm, about how to stay somewhat organized and motivated and get some of this DIY stuff accomplished.
So one tip on staying motivated and not getting frustrated is to do something you have experience with and that you can accomplish quickly, easily and cheaply. Throw yourself a bone. The reality of DIY is you are always stretching your abilities and learning new things. Truth be told, it always takes longer and costs more than you expect and often involves a lot of pulling your hair out, making extra trips to the hardware store and watching untold numbers of YouTube tutorials. Occasionally, you need to build your self esteem and do something quick, easy and rewarding. The feature wall in this powder room was like that for us. We had already done a ship-lap type wall in our previous house so going into the project we were already thinking, “Okay, we got this!” We painted the wall behind black, cut the inexpensive plywood to the width we wanted, sanded the raw edges, applied a few coats of polyurethane and shot a few nails in with the nail gun, using a few little blocks of wood for spacers. Total cost probably about $30 and done in a few hours time. We love it and it makes such a difference in that little bathroom.
Another thing we do to keep on track is make lists. I am a huge list maker, I write them everywhere and type them when I get really serious. I make monthly, weekly and daily lists. I love to cross things off my lists, such satisfaction there! Above is a list we were working from last year. They can be overwhelming some times but I really like the visual of seeing it all laid out.
Another tip is to have a place for your tools. As you can see from this picture, it doesn’t have to be a perfect or attractive place to be effective. In our basement we have an area for most of our tools. It is a work in progress to keep them organized and sometimes we don’t do a very good job but when we keep up with it and put things away in their designated place it saves us tons of time when we go to start a new project. The first few months in the house it was getting really frustrating because we spent more time trying to find our tools than actually working. I know that sounds lame but it really was true! Figure out a system that works for you to organize your tools and stick with it and you will be much more anxious to start (or finish) a project.
Having a dedicated workspace is helpful too if that is an option for you. We use a room in our basement to organize all the old wood we have pulled out of the house that we might want to reuse, our own little lumber yard, and keep the table saw set up there so it is ready to go.
Another note on tools…when you DIY it is easy to tell yourself that you are saving so much money on the labor that you can invest that in tools to do the job and that is correct! It makes the jobs so much easier if you have the right tool for the job. Look for deals and specials and pick things up when the time is right. This light is an example of that. Normally they cost about $100. We have been thinking of adding one to our tools, knowing we will want one while working on the farmhouse. I saw one at Home Depot the other day for $40, perfect time to bring it home.
Another big thing for us, since our project is so large, is to be flexible. Sometimes we have planned out what we are going to accomplish in a certain time period and then something happens and we have to change gears, and that’s okay. The island in front of our house is an example of that. We had hoped to get it done sooner rather than later but the farmhouse was definitely higher up on the list but then the pandemic happened…Our college aged daughter who happens to be minoring in Landscape Management, came home to quarantine with us for 3 months. She wanted to help with the island, we decided we had better take advantage of the offer of labor! Other things got set aside and we spent about 3 full weeks making this happen but it was worth it and we are enjoying it so much!
Another thing we do to keep up our motivation is to sometimes just do things on a whim that we want to get done that have been hanging around bugging us. I was so sick of seeing this old air conditioning unit in my kitchen wall that could have been removed a year and a half ago when we installed the central air. Last week we stopped everything else and just ripped it out. Boy did that feel good. It gives you confidence that you can get things done that will make you happy!
Another big motivation for us in getting things accomplished is the arrival of house guests. We have 4 children who come home to visit and other friends and family that come and stay so we often base our lists on what needs to get accomplished before the next set of guests arrive. This faucet needed to be installed before some of our children arrived for a visit last month so we would have another usable bathroom.
There was also the time a few months back when we had to push to get the tub in and finished before the grand kids came so they would have a place to take baths. We will do anything for our grand kids!
Sometimes we cut it a little too close like last week when we were just finishing installing these lighting fixtures in the guest bathroom as they were driving up the driveway!
But there is no end to the to do lists and even though We got the lights installed we forgot to get the switch plates and get them put on!
We are certainly not experts but have found a few of these things helpful as we try to move forward on this giant project. We go back and look at before pictures periodically to see how far we have come, we have regular planning meetings to access where we are and where we are headed and we just keep moving forward and realize that Rome was not built in a day!