How to Restart a DIY Project: 6 No-Fail Steps to Get Yourself Going Again

How to Restart a DIY Project: 6 No-Fail Steps to Get Yourself Going Again

Elizabeth Licata
Nov 4, 2013
(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

So many DIY undertakings start out with grand dreams, but at some point the enthusiasm peters away to nothing and one finds oneself eyeballing a dust-covered project in the corner with a mixture of guilt and resentment. It's happened to a lot of us, but at a certain point one must decide if it's time to finish the project or give it up.

I’m very guilty of this particular DIY disaster. In fact, when I mentioned writing this post my partner threw me some serious side-eye and asked if I was really qualified to be giving advice on this subject. But a project-abandoner doesn’t need advice from someone who gets everything done on schedule and tidies up afterwards. As a recovering sufferer of Craft Project ADD, these are the steps I follow when I just can’t in good conscience leave a project semi-finished any longer.

1. Figure out why you stopped.

Did you just get distracted, or was there some reason you couldn’t continue the project? If you just put it aside and still mean to go back to it, find the next free time in your schedule and allocate that to the project. Writing it down helps.

2. Do you need something in order to continue?

Maybe you are missing a tool or fabric or a type of paint. If that’s the problem, get that thing.

3. Do you still like the project?

If your taste changed or you realized your painting skills are not great, there’s no harm in abandoning a project altogether. Take an honest look at how the project is going and try to envision what it will look like when finished. It is totally OK to decide you don’t want that sconce made out of red Solo cups after all. Either find a new home for it, or get rid of it so you don’t have to keep looking at it.

4. Enlist help.

Assuming you do want to finish your project, bringing on a friend or partner can help it go much more quickly. If my partner had not decided to undertake my “built in bookshelves” project with me, I would still be sitting in a pile of Ikea manuals with all my books on the floor. But when you bring in another person, you can’t abandon the project.

If a friend has expertise in your project, you have a built-in reason to ask. If you just need another body around, maybe you have a friend with an unfinished project of his or her own, and you can take turns helping each other.

5. Declare a moratorium on new projects.

Once you have picked the project you want to finish next, declare a moratorium on planning or shopping for any new projects until you are done.

6. Pick your Netflix project binge.

While your couch cushions need tufting, there’s no reason not to watch eight seasons of Charmed on Netflix while that happens. It can help to declare Charmed (or whatever you choose) to be your couch-tufting show, and then just decide for yourself that if you are watching Charmed, you must be making progress on the couch-tufting.

What's the oldest unfinished DIY project you still have lying around?

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