How to Organize Your DIY Projects

A man holding a tablet against a table with tools organized on it.

As the saying goes, “Getting started is the hardest part.” This is certainly true when contemplating a DIY project. But don’t be overwhelmed; with some preparation and planning, home improvement can be fun and rewarding. Here are four tips that will help you organize your project and get started.

1. Plan

Having a solid plan is the key to any project. This is not to say that things will go flawlessly just because you planned everything out, but it certainly helps give you a road map to work from. Research online, in books, or with a seasoned DIY friend to know what to expect with your particular project. While watching hours of video on how to install an irrigation system might seem like a waste of time, it’s much better to have an idea of what you’re in for than to rip apart the turf and find yourself figuring it out after your yard becomes a fountain.

2. Collect Supplies

A collection of tools.

Part of the planning process is figuring out which supplies you will need. Start with tools. Do you already have everything you need? If not, are they within your budget to purchase them? Or could you borrow a particular item from a neighbor or family member? Can you rent one locally or even check one out from a business? Sometimes it may not be a necessary investment to purchase a tool if you don't plan on using it frequently. In addition to tools, what other supplies will you need? This list might include sandpaper, glue, grommets, bolts or other hardware, cleaners, paints, stains, plastic sheets to protect your work area, dust masks, gloves, and other safety items. If you have to order any of these items online or within a store, be sure to check the timeline on their delivery. There are few things more frustrating than dismantling part of the house and having to live in it that way for two weeks until your flooring/faucet/oven part arrives.

Once you've gathered all of your tools and supplies, find a way to keep track of them so you don’t waste time hunting them down during the construction process. Remember to bring them in out of the rain or other weather, unplug any tools at the end of your work session, and label all hardware so you know where it goes when it’s time to put things back together.

3. Think Ahead

It’s great to jump into a project with nothing more than enthusiasm in your tool belt, but you need to be prepared to tackle the realities of home improvement. As the rule goes, it will cost twice as much and take three times as long to complete as you think it will. Mitigate that frustration by creating a backup plan (or several). Let’s say you’re replacing a stove and things don’t go as planned. What’s for dinner? For that matter, after swinging a hammer or ripping out old flooring, you probably won’t feel much like cooking, so set your slow cooker in the morning, plan on pizza delivery, or go out to dinner (budget in the extra costs). Along with how you will maintain daily life during a home improvement project, make sure you understand your home. Where is the electrical panel? Are the circuits accurately marked? Do you have extension cords to run the length to the next outlet? Where is your main water shut-off valve along with the ones under each sink?

4. Know You’re Not Alone

A man in a workshop surrounded by tools, looking at a computer.

Modern technology has made the world a much smaller place, allowing you to quickly find information when things don’t go quite as planned. From the home improvement store to the library, you have resources all around to help get back on track. The important thing to remember is that this project will end at some point—really, it will! So be patient with yourself during the process.