DIY: Finishing What We Start
I’m a serious do-it-yourselfer. If we need a new blanket for the bed, I’ll start sewing a quilt. If we need bread for sandwiches, I start making a loaf of bread. Now that my husband and I need a place to live, we’re remodeling an old airplane hangar all by ourselves.
It’s so easy to get excited about DIY projects. It’s cheaper! It’s creative! It’s more fun!
But so many of our DIY projects are not getting done.
DIY is in my blood. Unfortunately, finishing my projects isn’t. You too? You have half-done knitting projects, too? Half-painted trim? A half-weeded garden?
Artist and songwriter Piero Milani once said, “Why should I buy expensive art when I can make my own?”
Half-finished projects can end up a waste of our time, money, and emotional happiness. It can be hard to break the cycle.
So here’s what I propose for finishing the DIYs we start.
Photo by Martin Clemons
1. Take on big DIY projects with a partner.
Would I be willing to charge over to the hangar every day to work on all our decluttering and remodeling by myself? No way. It’s too exhausting and way too overwhelming.
But with a partner I’m checking in with, or who’s working right beside me, energy multiplies. I want to work a little harder. I’ll go through a few more boxes.
2. Start fewer projects.
I limit my hobbies—right now, I’m committed to not starting any new ones. I won’t check Pinterest when I have a few minutes to kill (I’ll get too many ideas). But I have to be mindful of my schedule.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just can’t fit in a new project (I should learn to knit my own socks!), no matter how much I crave those hand-knit socks. My house and wallet can’t handle the cost of more hobby equipment. I just have to say, “No. Not now.”
So, I’m not making those dreamy socks. I’ll visit Etsy instead.
Photo by Katie Clemons
3. Finish the unfinished.
There are more unfinished DIY projects out there than I could ever know what to do with. I’ve seen them in my closets. I’ve seen them at garage sales. I’ve seen the half-painted and half-built houses.
When I’m generating too many half-finished projects, I’ll stop and write them down. Then, when I’m tempted to start another one, I’ll work on finishing one I’ve started instead.
4. Get rid of half-finished projects that will always be half-finished.
Discover that you’re not really an oil painter after all? Get rid of the half-finished painting. Pass on all of your supplies. You’ll feel better.
Have an almost-finished sweater that comes with too much emotional baggage or memories of a sad time? Let it go. Give someone else the joy of finishing it.
5. Hire someone to finish it for you.
Over time, we stop noticing the half-installed tile in the laundry room. Maybe you’ve nagged the culprit multiple times to finish it already (or maybe that person was you), and it’s still not done.
Now it’s time to outsource. Asking for help isn’t defeat, it’s crossing off an item, it’s making your home better.
My husband, Martin, used to say, “Katie, why are you starting a new project now when you know you can’t finish it?”
I now first ask myself if I intend to finish what I’m starting. It’s no fun having half-finished ideas staring at me. Yeah, I like flagging new DIY ideas on Pinterest—but even more? I prefer the feeling of just getting those DIY projects done.
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