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How to Start a Project and Actually Finish!

One thing about moving into a new house, there is always something to do.  I have more home improvement projects I want to start than there are bales of hay at the farm down the street from our house!  Most of the pressure I put on myself (do you do that?) and the other I believe comes from the fact that I want to have as much of the house complete for our wedding.  Our house is a reasonable size so that is really not a reasonable goal, but a girl can dream, right?

Finish DIY project

So how am I going to get all of what needs to be done before the wedding?  I’m not.  Yep, you read it.  I’m not and I’m not going to stress about it.  We just bought our house at the very end of July and there is no way we’ll have everything done by the wedding.  I mean we just got the bed for the master bedroom 2 weeks ago!

I would much rather take my time, find great pieces that I know we’ll have for a while, and make sure all of my DIY projects are done the right way!  So how do I keep everything organized?  I use my Home Project Planner worksheet (you can download your copy at the bottom of this post).  Mapping everything out that I want to do (and there’s a lot!) helps me to stay sane and organized.

Home decor planner

The Never-Ending Project List

The first thing I did was make a list of all the projects I wanted to get done.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to list all of them here because there’s no way you’d read all of that.  Here are some of the projects I wanted to start.

  • Paint every room in the house ( only 2 rooms left!)
  • Backsplash in the kitchen
  • Add shelves to the kitchen pantry
  • Make the coffee table for the first-floor family room (the shelves are painted and ready to go.  They just need to be installed.)
  • Restain the covered porch
  • Sand and buff the hardwood floors on the 1st floor
  • Add shelves to the master bedroom closet
  • Convert one of the bedrooms into E’s closet

See, I told you I have many projects and this is such a small excerpt from my list.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done small parts of things on this list, but many of the projects on my list are not small and will take a while. Because there are bits and pieces of projects done, I told myself I had to choose 2.  Stick with those 2 and worry about the others later.

How I Decide Which Home Project To Work On

Master bedroom closet

I decided to focus on my closet and my office for the moment because they are the closest to being finished.  To decide which project to work on, I ask myself the question, “What’s going to make our lives easier?”  We spend a lot of time in our kitchen because I cook, a lot. That meant the kitchen had to be first on the list with the first-floor family room next.

The family room isn’t 100% (we still haven’t found a couch we love), both of those rooms are 100% fully functional and sometimes that’s more important.  E is able to sit in the family room while I cook and we can talk and watch TV.  Sometimes you have to choose functional over complete.

Map It Out and Marinate

Home projects can be long and daunting while others are quick and easy.  The one thing to remember is to map it out and marinate on your plan.  For each project, I use my Project Planner worksheet to figure out all of the particulars.  This has been the most successful part of my whole project process!  Let me tell ya…I’ve wasted so much time redoing things because I didn’t map things out.  Time and money wasted.

Square accent wall

For example in my office, my accent wall is a wall of squares (room reveal is coming, I promise). If I hadn’t mapped things out and took the time to test out the layout, I wouldn’t have realized the pattern idea I had in my head was going to result in a completely different layout than the one I actually wanted.  Can you imagine having to repaint an entire wall of squares all over again?

Marinate More

Even after you’ve mapped out your plan and sat on it for a few days, sit on it again.  Home improvement projects involve money and sometimes a lot of money.  The worst thing to do is to throw money down the drain so don’t rush!

Getting It Done

No matter your project, break it down into the tiniest and smallest of tasks to keep you from being overwhelmed.  Let me tell ya, the idea of painting every room of a 3 story house is enough to make me freak out and at first, I did.  Then I said to myself, “Lynn, break it down.  You can’t paint that many rooms at once, in  a day, or even a week!”

But guess what I can do in a day?  I can decide which room to start on first.  I can tape the room with painter’s tape so I don’t cause myself extra work later on.  I can paint the walls of the room. I can paint the baseboards of the room.

Bonus room

See how I broke that down into small, easy bite-sized chunks?  Which sounds better?  I have to paint my entire house or I have to tape the bedroom so I can paint it.  The latter of course.  Looking at that big huge goal will make you want to run, throw you into a tizzy, and there you are left with the same amount of the task completed as you had before you started…none.

Need an accountability partner?  That’s okay.  Contact a friend or family member and ask them to hold you accountable.

Have Fun

The worst thing you want to do is feel like you’re a prisoner of your projects.  When you are creating your deadlines, make sure you add fun with family and friends.  You don’t want to resent your project and put it aside.

You may have expected me to give you some earth-shattering tips, but there is no magic pill. What I do know is that following these steps has been the biggest key to fishing up my projects.

How do you plan your projects to make sure you get them done?

Need help with the mapping out part?  Grab the 2020 Home Decor and DIY Project Planner copy of my Project Planner.

Home decor planner



  1. Robbi says

    Thanks for the tips. Prioritizing is so important! I’ve usually looked at it more from a what is quickest (so that I can finish more) than what will make things easier, but I need to change that! Sharing in some homemaking groups that I am in.

    • Lynn says

      Thanks for your comment Robbi! That’s usually how I looked at it too, but with the move, my perspective changed with all that we have to do. Nothing is quick these days. 🙂

  2. Candace says

    I’m currently renovating my house and like you I want it all done now lol. I’ve broken act room down in to jobs needing to be done but working full time it’s taking time. Good luck with your renovations

    • Lynn says

      Wouldn’t it be great if we could just wave a magic wand and our houses were completely done, Candace? . We made lists also, but we keep adding to them! Good luck with your renovations too!

  3. Meg says

    We are slowly updating our house and after a few months it just seems like the projects never end or get finished! These are some really good tips thank you!

    • Lynn says

      You’re welcome Meg. I know what you mean about those never ending lists. Each time I think I’m done with a room, I see something else I want to do! Good luck!

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