5 Tips to Complete Your Unfinished Projects

 When my now 8 year old was born, my husband took two weeks off of work to help out with our older two children and to give me some much needed time to rest and look after our new bundle of joy. On his last day home from work, he decided to tackle a small bathroom renovation that I'd been begging for (and had actually started on my own a few weeks prior to baby's arrival -- thanks to some nesting urges). 

The project? Adding some bead board paneling to the bottom half of the walls in our tiny bathroom. Could it have been completed on the 3-day weekend? Of course it could... it's a tiny bathroom. Did it get done? Nope. That bathroom project drug out for the next 5 years! All the paneling was up, but the nails hadn't been hammered in completely and the patching, caulking, and painting needed to be finished. I had finally had enough and one day just worked on all those little things and got it done. 

Why is it so hard to finish projects that we start? Maybe it's that we lose interest in the project. Maybe it gets to a point where we can no longer tackle it alone. Maybe it's because something more pressing comes up and the last project is put on the back burner. Today's blog post is all about how to finish those kinds of projects. 

We all have that pile of unfinished projects (literally, or proverbially). Now is the time to tackle them! With any project (whether you have started it or not) you can follow these simple steps to help you see it through from start to finish !

1. START WITH A PLAN - This may seem like a no brainer, but I will be the first to admit that when I get an idea for a project, I tend to jump right in. Rarely do I sit down and come up with a plan of action. Every project will have a different set of plans. Some require more time than others. Grander projects may need professional assistance. With any project, the best thing you can do is start off with your best foot forward. Take a few minutes, hours, or days to think through your ideas. Here are a few ways you can create your plan:

  • create a vision board - Pinterest is a great tool when it comes to larger projects. 
  • make a list - "to-do" list, supply list, shopping list, materials list, etc. 
  • run it by someone else - sometimes just talking through it with another person helps you to weed out the good and the bad in your plan
  • talk to a professional - if you don't need a professional, consider talking to a friend or family member that has done something similar

2. DECIDE WHAT YOUR MOTIVATION IS - I cannot stress how crucial this is. Motivation is easy to find when you start a project... but way harder to find when your elbow deep in sawdust and paperwork. In case you need some suggestions for motivation (though I'm sure you don't) here are a few that have fit some of our latest projects: make a space more functional, make my life easier, create an specific kind of atmosphere, to pretty something up (one of my favorites), to solve a specific problem, to help someone else, etc. 

3. CREATE A SCHEDULE/TIMLINE - without it, your project could take forever -- like my 5+ year bathroom project. We just got started not really thinking that I had 3 kids under the age of 8 and that my husband wouldn't be home to help with it. Had we taken a glance at a timeline, we may have realized that this project needed to wait a few weeks... or should have been tackled over the coarse of 2 weekends. There are parts of any project that will take time. Whether it's drying time, shipping time, or scheduling. It's important to keep those things in mind BEFORE you begin. Then, develop the timeline for your project. Some can be completed in a few hours, others may take months. Use your phone, computer, or pencil and paper. The waiting time between steps is often what leads us to leave projects unfinished. Seriously. 

4. EVALUATE - How reasonable is it for me to complete the project in the time that I'm giving it? What kinds of things could come up that might threaten the completion of my project? Three years ago we had a plumbing disaster. Our two bathroom tubs shared a drain line and neither of them would drain. We went through two different plumbers (that we love and trust completely) who tried everything possible to get them unstopped. The last resort was to rip out a bathtub and surround. Yikes! Since we needed to have a working tub we opted to rip out the easier of the two which happened to be our master bath. The problem was easily found once the tub was gone, but is something that could NOT have been solved without its' removal. What a bummer! It took us nearly two years to be able to complete our bathroom. We ended up doing a complete bathroom remodel... and I did the bulk of the labor. Why? Because it saved us several thousands of dollars. All 6 of us shared ONE bathroom for that whole time. 

What were the hang up? Why did it take so long? Money and time. I could get things to a certain point, but needed the help of my husband to do things like hanging the cement backer board and new mold resistant drywall. He was only available on the weekends, so I did what I could during the week and we both worked hard on the weekends to get it done. Once we'd saved the money for it, it took about 2 months of me working my little tail off to get it done. I couldn't be more thrilled with the way it turned out.... and I completed it 100%. One of the only rooms in our home where I had started and completed a project. 

This is the time to be realistic. Don't tackle a project (like your first ever complete bathroom renovation) if you aren't prepared to learn the skills necessary, and fail at some of them. If failure is something you don't deal well with, then make sure you have a back up plan for when things don't turn out the way you want. 

5. DON'T GIVE UP HOPE - There is always help available. YouTube, blogs, DIY message boards, friends, and family (and maybe even professionals if you have a larger project). Remember the motivation for your project. Post your timeline somewhere you can see it, or make a plan to check in on your timeline every day or two and adjust it if necessary. If something isn't working, it's 100% okay to change your plan. Be flexible. Most importantly, have fun and get creative. It's amazing how you can get a house full of children's messes cleaned in 5 minutes when you have unexpected company on the way over. 

What do you find helps you to complete those unfinished projects? Leave a comment and I will share them on Instagram

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