How to DIY in Your Spare Time

If you don’t DIY for a living, this post is for you. Just like you, we DIY on the side. Meaning we get to DIY in the spare three minutes we have between work and dinner, dishes and bed, or coffee and commuting. You know what we mean.

Because DIY should be fun and not stressful, we’ve learned a few ways to make the process easier, and just more doable. Today we wanted to share those tips with you.

1. Plan Well

It’s easy to skip over planning out a project because, well, you don’t have time. But if you take the time to plan, it’ll save you a lot of time in execution. Thinking about the following components of your projects ahead of time are so worth it:

  • Realistic Project Size. If you only have Friday night and half of Saturday, pick something you know you can do in that time. Or maybe you’re on spring break and have the whole week free? Now’s the time to tackle that closet makeover, but maybe not paint the whole house. I know that all sounds like common sense, but it’s so easy to overcommit, even unintentionally. So if we’re not realistic with how much time a project will really take, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of frustration, time-pressure, and possibly failure.

  • Attainable Time Increments. Planning out specific times for each step of a project really helps with time budgeting. If you know you need an hour to figure out what you need, two hours to make a supply run, half an hour to set up, three hours for the project, 2 hours for dry time, and one hour for clean up, it makes planning and accomplishing the project so much easier. You can put together your store list on Thursday night, run to the store on Friday night, spend Saturday morning doing the project, and then clean up Saturday night. Done.

  • Complete Store lists. Okay yes most, if not all, of you already take lists to the store. But what we sometimes forget is to double check sizes, quantities, or alternatives. Which means going to multiple stores. Or going to the store several times. Or going to multiple stores several times. Who’s got time for that? Obviously it’s not realistic to think that we’re never going to have to go back to the store, but if a little extra time on the front end can prevent even one or two extra trips to the store, then we’ve done ourselves a favor, yeah?

2. Prepare Contingencies

Yep. Something WILL go wrong, no doubt about it. So when that happens, what will you do?

  • Build in some extra time for your project when thinking about the project size and time increments. Or if that’s not an option, have another time in mind that you can come back to finish up a project if you didn’t get it all done. If you only have weekends free and you know you won’t get to finish for another week, guess what? That’s OKAY. It’s better than being frustrated, and angry, and hating DIY from then on. If you have this “backup” day or time already determined, it makes it a lot easier to handle not getting to finish up a project when you had originally planned.

  • Remind yourself of what’s important. Remember that as much as you love DIY projects, there are other things in life that are more important. So if you’ve run out of time for your project because you have to attend to your kids or spouse, make dinner, sleep, or pay bills, well – they’re really more important right? And when we learn how to keep it all in balance, we’ll enjoy our DIY projects AND the rest of life more.

3. Ask for help or involve a friend

Two heads are better than one. At least we think so. Having your spouse, or sibling, or a friend work on a project with you can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to spend time together while getting to do a hands-on activity. We readily watch movies, play video games, or shop with others, so why not build something together?

The other really great thing? Another set of hands and a different perspective. Having someone to bounce ideas of off or to share a different perspective can really speed up problem-solving, which makes the whole thing a lot less intimidating. It makes it a little easier to stick with a project instead of giving up.

Still think it’s weird to ask a friend to make something with you? Well, if you really are just asking because you don’t want to do all the work yourself, then no wonder it’s awkward! But

4. Consider Practical vs. Beautiful

In a perfect world every project would be just as beautiful as it is practical, and vice-versa. But given limited time and resources, that’s not always the case. So while we plan for something to be both beautiful and practical, in most cases one will take precedence. Knowing which one is more important to you for a given project is important. More often than not, you’re going to have to decide if you want something to be more visually appealing and less efficient, or more practical but less fancy. Knowing this ahead of time helps because when you find yourself in the middle of a project with an “either/or”, you’ll have an easier time finding a solution and spend less time being frustrated that you can’t have both. What is life?

5. Look for how-to’s, instructions, and tips.

The upside to having SO MANY people into DIY is that there’s probably someone somewhere who’s already done what you want to do, or at least something really similar. So take advantage of someone else’s time and money spent troubleshooting, fixing, testing, researching, failing, starting over, and messing up. Save yourself the time, money, and frustration! Seriously.

Even if there’s not instructions on how to complete what you want to do start to finish, I can almost bet that there’s at least a how-to video out there each step of a project you want to do. Don’t be afraid to learn from other people.

Interested in step-by-step plans with easy to follow instructions, illustrations, and lists for materials and tools? We get it. That’s why we started offering our build plans. Our build plans list every tip, tool, and technique you’ll need to complete the project. This is our way of spurring our fellow part-time DIYers to keep at. Check out our build plans now!

Happy building!

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