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Hi, all! I’m back to planning another project. It seems like I always have something on the back burner and I am just waiting for the time, money, inspiration or availability to get started. So, I do a lot of planning. I am a list maker at heart. Lists and plans help me get and stay organized. I find that it saves me time and money too. So, I thought I would share my free DIY project planning template with you. It has stopped me so many times from running to the nearest home improvement store in the middle of a project!
Let’s talk a little bit about my planning process. Normally before beginning, I have a general idea of what I want to accomplish, and how I want it to look. For some projects, I just don’t know how to do it, or I don’t know every step that is involved. That is why I love reading other people’s experiences. Other bloggers have been a great resource for me when doing my own home improvement projects! That is why I decided to share my process with you guys and give you a free printable to help keep your projects organized.
I start by researching what I want to do. Before making any lists, I look first at credible sources. This is important for DIY projects. You want to know that if you are going to start a project, you aren’t going to be surprised in the middle of it with another huge undertaking that you weren’t expecting. I typically start looking in places that I know are good sources like major home improvement store blogs, Home Improvement TV Network blogs, Home Improvement Magazine articles, etc. I read through several articles that detail the project that I want to do (as many as I can find). This helps me get a good understanding of the process used to complete the project.
As I am looking, I make a note of any special tips that I find that might be helpful when doing the project. The epoxy I used in one of my projects mixes better when it is warm. I scoured through so much information about that project, but only found the tip listed in a few places. Make a note of anything that can be useful so you aren’t looking it up later or forgetting it (and possibly ruining your project).
Next, I check for blog posts about my upcoming project. I often find that blog posts give me information, or helpful tips that I thought should have been standard, but I didn’t find anywhere else. They are also pretty good at breaking down the process into much smaller chunks if there is something you aren’t experienced or familiar with.
Making a Plan
Next, I make a list of steps that I need to do to complete the project. I tend to be more detailed. The physical act of writing helps me remember things better, plus it helps me finish a project much faster. When I have a list of steps, I am not constantly trying to unlock my phone to follow a tutorial. It makes it so I can focus on what is important, getting finished.
Note, I didn’t say doing it perfectly! I am a big proponent for the 90% rule. I can’t remember where I learned it (I think a cleaning blog several years ago), but it takes so much effort to go from 90% to 100%, that it isn’t worth it. Most people only notice the 90%, so I try not to waste time getting things 100% perfect, unless it is going to look terrible, ruin the project, or drive me crazy when it is all said and done. Remember you are the one living with your project (unless it is a gift, then it is the thought that counts). 😉
I also jot down a general time frame for each step, just so I know. I don’t want to be surprised with having to wait for something to dry unexpectedly, delaying the project. This is super important if you have small children at home like I do. I find that my projects take on average three times as long as they used to before having a baby. I try to plan for this by leaving extra time per step, and cutting myself a break when I don’t finish in time.
Let’s be real, some days I don’t get any work done. I am responsible for an adorable little munchkin all day long. That is why I try to get stuff done after I put the baby to bed, but that doesn’t always work out either. Momma’s have to rest too, and we need to give ourselves time to do just that! Otherwise, NOTHING would ever get done. Not joking.
Back to the topic at hand, when you are planning how long your project will take to complete, don’t forget to think about what else you have going on during that time frame like school, vacation, trips, meeting, afterschool activities, etc. This is much more important for large projects that will span several weeks. Easier projects that you can complete in a few hours are easier to postpone, but it is much easier to fall behind on large projects.
Also, consider how long you will be able or willing to live with an unfinished project. My kitchen took about three months from start to finish. During most of that time we couldn’t use the countertops. For about two weeks, we didn’t have a kitchen sink. That is a HUGE inconvenience, not only for me, but everyone that was in my house during that time. Try to plan ahead for how you can make accommodations to meet your needs while you are working on a large project.
Tools and Materials
As I am completing my list of steps, I like to make a list of tools and materials. You can find this on page three of the free download. I use the table provided to help stay organized. There is a place at the bottom to list all of the tools and materials you will need that you already own. There are also spaces to record the specific tools and materials you need to buy for this project, where you will buy it (retailer), price, quantity, subtotal, and a place to check off when you have purchased and received the items. Once all of your items are marked as received, you are ready to start! Note- make sure you calculate the total amount of materials you will need for your project. I typically use online calculators for things like painting, and area. Home Depot has a good selection that may be helpful. You can find them here. Also, make sure you are shopping around for tools and materials. I like to look online for the best prices before I pick up anything. Sometimes it is easier to order curbside pickup too, especially with a baby tagging along.
After I finish the project, I am always thinking about what I should have done differently, better or not done. Sometimes I am so extremely happy with my project that I want to shout it from the roof tops. It doesn’t always work out the way I wanted. Sometimes I have to run to the store in the middle of the project because I accidentally broke something or underestimated the amount of material needed. Stuff happens, you can plan all day, but I like to say, “plans never go according to plan.”
Page two of the download is a list of questions that I like to ponder upon project completion. Some of my favorite questions are how much over budget did I go? And If I did this project again, what would I do differently? You don’t have to use this page, but I find reflecting helps me plan my future projects. I can look back and see how much I loved or hated doing a certain project. I can see how much it really cost to do. It helps me decide if I want to do it again, or use part of the process in an upcoming project.
Printing the Template
When printing the project planning template, I like to print pages one (planning page) and two (reflection page) on the front and back of one sheet to save paper. Unless my project is huge and has a lot of steps, in that case I use the back of the planning sheet to record the steps that didn’t’ fit on the front. I like to print the third page (tools and materials list) on a separate piece of paper. It makes it so much easier to take to the store and see exactly what you need, and how much it will cost. Also, if I need more space, I can just print another copy on the back and voila! Feel free to pick and choose what you would like to print and how you would like to print it! Also, if you have any suggestions, let me know. I am always looking for ways to improve. 🙂