How to Finish Projects You Start

couple planning home improvement with blueprint
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner

Looking around your house and property, the mental list likely grows by the minute. It’s all part of the joy of homeownership. It can be quite overwhelming to figure out which projects to DIY and which to hire out.

Even if the regular maintenance list is manageable, you may be working on several hobbies, crafts, or minor improvements that are sitting in various stages of completion. Taking the time to finish up projects you’re working on creates mental and physical space for creativity and productivity.

Plus, it feels good to finally check the box, so we’ve put together some pointers to keep you on track.

Step 1 - Study Up

One of the most common reasons for failing to complete projects is simply getting in over your head. The plans may seem simple. You may think you have the right tools. Timelines may seem accurate. Then you dig in and nothing goes as planned.

Whether you’re still in the planning stages or are staring at a decades-old project, learning more about the task is always well advised. Bring up YouTube videos, checkout or buy a book, and consult with professionals so you understand each part of the project.

Step 2 - Create a Plan

Once you feel you have the DIY knowledge you need, create a plan for sourcing materials, getting extra hands when needed, and setting a timeline. Creating a plan gives you a tangible goal and helps keep you from losing focus or endlessly procrastinating.

couple planning home improvement with tablet and blueprints

Step 3 - Put It on the Calendar

Use whatever organizational method is available to you. A wall calendar, a pocket planner, or an electronic schedule will all do the job. Break your project down into manageable tasks and put each line item on the calendar.

For a small project, like building a shelf, you will likely complete it in one day, so block out the time you’ll need. For larger, multi-step projects like building a shed, break down your list into windows of time that make sense.

This might mean having supplies delivered or making the haul to the home improvement store one day, followed by a work party to raise the walls several work days later. Be realistic with the time you have and the amount of time each task will require.

Step 4 - Seek Help

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to learn. If your sewing machine isn’t working properly, the cabinets don’t fit right, or the plumbing connections are working out, seek out someone with more experience.

Step 5 - Let Others Hold You Accountable

Accountability is a powerful tool. If you know you have to update your spouse, friend, or co-worker on your progress, you’re more likely to finish the job. So when you start your project, talk about it. Don’t be afraid of failure. You’re taking the time to invest in yourself and grow as a person.

Every project presents obstacles, but if you bring others into the loop, you’ll be more motivated to find solutions as they arise rather than giving up.

group of friends smiling at each other

Step 6 - Make It a Social Event

As mentioned, it’s a good idea to ask for help when you need it, but you can even plan for help from the beginning. There’s a reason barn raisings were popular back in the day. Sometimes it takes a community, even if you feel like you should be able to handle it yourself.

If you have a big project on the docket, ask friends to help and repay their kindness with a bar-b-que at the end of the day.

Step 7 - Reward Yourself

Even the smallest tasks can hang over your head, constantly catching your radar and weighing you down with guilt and stress.

Make a checklist of those small items like mounting the last piece of trim, touching up the paint around last summer’s garage repair, installing the transition piece on the flooring, replacing the ripped screening, and tackling the sunken paver stones.

Whatever is on the list, manage them one at a time and reward yourself with each success. When the patio is level again, get a new planter or table.

If you finish off the deck railing, enjoy it with a cocktail in hand. When you finally complete the flower bed, sit nearby with an ice cream cone. Before you know it, the incomplete projects will find their end and the new projects can begin.