I know you’ve done it. You’ve started a project around your house early Saturday morning with enthusiasm and purpose. Come Monday morning you’re tripping over paint cans and regret as you leave for work. How could 48 hours go so wrong?

Completing a to do list

Don’t let that unfinished project affect your whole life!

Whether it’s home improvement or home maintenance, a little planning, preparation, forgiveness and a plan B (aka a margarita) all go a long way. I’ll be the first to stand up and introduce myself at a DIY support group. It’s not typically the idea brainstorming or the shopping for supplies that gives me trouble. It’s the seeing-it-through-’til-completion part that can trip me up. Especially when it takes longer than I imagined, is going to be more expensive than I expected, or if the task physically causes me pain I tend to not want to return to it the next day to get it done. Darn you DVR on my tv and that blasted need for instant gratification. I think I heard I can blame that last one on watching Sesame Street as a kid.

All excuses aside, what’s a weekend warrior to do? Well, let’s look at some tips that will help you whittle away at that To Do list.

  1. Start with a list and prioritize. Chances are you have multiple things to get done. Designate whether they are required ASAP (leaks causing water damage, things that could fall and hurt someone, anything causing an annoying clicking sound) or optional and can be put off to another date.
  2. Take the task at the top of the list and break it into smaller steps, such as choose paint color, gather and take inventory of tools and supplies, clean and tape area to be painted, etc. You might also add to the list, Spend 2 hours making a “Rock the Painting Project” playlist on your iPod and stock fridge for frequent breaks.
  3. Create a project schedule with enough flexibility to allow for the inevitable trip(s) to Home Depot.
  4. Give yourself a deadline with some urgency. If you are like me, you work better with a deadline, so be sure to schedule your best friend’s baby shower at your house so that will force you to get those curtains hung even if you wait until two hours before guests arrive.
  5. Before you even begin your project decide what your reward will be when you finish.
  6. Call in the troops or at least your best friends. Just make it fun and you’ll get it done. Don’t forget to bribe them. Save the wine for after you finish.

Now, doesn’t that feel better? Feel free to share your tips for successfully getting a project finished.

This post was inspired by AnnaMaria Stephens’ post, entitled, “When Home Projects Take Over Your Life.” Visit the Apartment Therapy blog to read about her experience.

Photo credit: kpwerker/Flickr

Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA is a vice president and director of marketing at HPD Architecture LLC. She and her partners offer custom design services for residential, commercial, and institutional projects in Dallas and the North Texas area. For more information please call 214.751.2300.


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VP, Architect, hpd architecture + interiors
Laura Davis is a Texas and Colorado registered architect and interior designer, and a co-founder of hpd architecture + interiors. With a diverse portfolio spanning residential, commercial, retail, and historical projects, Laura’s heart lies with her specialty in Historic Preservation. She loves to revitalize older properties, cherishing their character and the stories they hold. Her true passion lies in understanding her clients deeply, uncovering their desires and motivations, and crafting designs that turn houses into cherished homes.