“You won’t do as much work on the house after you move in,” a friend warned us after we bought our house, a complete fixer-upper. He was right, but we knew we wanted to get projects done, so we remained optimistic.
We wanted to fix up our house, make it the way we wanted it, and then move on so we could focus on other things. We didn’t want to live in an ongoing project.
We spent several weeks looking for which house to buy, and then an intense six weeks on initial changes to the floors, kitchen, and walls before we moved in. I honestly thought we could finish most of it in a few months if we could maintain that strong pace, but we had to get back to real life. There was work to be done to pay the bills, plus there were holidays, illnesses, and events. We couldn’t spend so much time focused on the house.
I guess I was hoping for a miracle that would enable us to finish this home renovation as quickly as it looks on television (“And now we’re back, and the entire room was transformed during commercials…and it was so easy!”) It’s actually more like every week we try to do one more thing, even though we’re really busy with kids and work projects.
This is how we keep a steady pace of improvements even after the “new” has worn off our home renovation project:
1. Take “before” pictures to see how far you’ve come. It’s easy for me to see what still needs to be done, but how easily I forget where we started from. It wasn’t very long ago that I had a pile of bricks and rubble in my living room, carpet in the bathroom, and a kitchen straight out of 1970. My photos help me to see the work differently. (Click.)
2. Go for progress. Try to make at least one visible change a week, even if it’s small. Maybe all you will do is hang a mirror on a wall, but that helps you feel accomplished and keep momentum. If you don’t have the time or energy to paint the front door, replacing the doorbell takes ten minutes.
3. Learn to make decisions quickly. Everything we accomplished so far was the result of making fast decisions. It takes a lot of time to shop for and compare products, tools, and materials. A lot of time, especially if you are trying to save money while maintaining quality. Indecision will slow down your progress to a grinding halt. If you are doing a major project, you don’t have time to study the smallest options. Learn to trust your decisions.
4. When you run out of money, the work can still continue. Don’t let a lack of funds give you excuses. Limits inspire creativity. Maybe you can’t go out and buy supplies for your latest idea, but I bet you’ve already got supplies from other projects sitting around waiting for you. Cleaning, getting rid of junk, and reorganizing are always free.
5. Just start. I don’t always feel like getting started on a house project at eight o’clock at night, but sometimes that’s the only time I’ve got. It’s also hard when trying something new. I’m not always super productive, but to me, in general, getting something done and crossing it off my list is more satisfying than doing nothing or watching TV. If you think you’re going to do it before you sell the house, go ahead and do it so you will have time to enjoy the results.
6. Don’t wait for someone else. – You can do some of the work by yourself. If you’re working with a partner, you can’t wait for him or her to feel motivated at the same exact time as you. What will probably happen is you will start working, and that motivation will rub off, or else they’ll feel sorry for you looking so ridiculous trying to do it by yourself that they’ll give in and help you.
7. Set a deadline goal, but don’t get frustrated if you don’t meet your goals. Still invite your friends over, even when you haven’t finished that project; they won’t mind.
How do you stay inspired and motivated?