21 July 2011

Five tips to consider before you start your next "do-it-yourself" project

Part of being self-reliant often means "do it yourself" (DIY). Whether it's maintaining the trees and vegetation, remodeling a room, or repairing small engines, you can save money and get much personal satisfaction by doing these things on your own. However, it's very important to make sure you learn how to DIY first.

As you get more into the self-reliance mindset, you may be gung-ho to just jump right in and work on whatever you're trying to fix, build, tear down, etc. But, pause for a moment and think through the task. Be sure that you're really ready to start. Consider the following:

  1. Do you know how to do the task? If it's something you've never done before, you'll want to read up on it and/or talk it over with someone's who's experienced in that line of work.

  2. Do you have the necessary tools to safely do the job? "The right tool for the right job," as my father always told me when I was a kid. Don't forget the ancillary equipment too. For example, you may have the paintbrushes, but do you have a ladder or a scaffold? If you don't already have the tools, consider borrowing or renting them, especially if this isn't work that you expect to do regularly.

  3. Do you have all of the supplies that you'll need? This is related to the previous tip, but it's worth considering to. I find it helpful to mentally run through the sequence of events, noting the supplies I'll need along the way. For instance, building a raised garden bed, I think through preparing the location, building the box, and mixing the soil to go in, all the while making a list of the supplies I'll need.

  4. Are you "dressed for success"? This is kind of related to having the proper tools, but people often overlook the basics. For instance, as you work around the yard in the summer, many people are in shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers. However, this isn't really proper attire for many DIY projects. Working in the brush with short sleeves could be a painful experience. Using a shovel with sneakers will likely be hard on your feet. Cutting grass in your shorts leaves your legs exposed to injury from flying debris. It's much better to project yourself and wear clothing to suit the job.

  5. How are you feeling? It may sound odd, but how you feel makes a difference. Are you stressed from other events in your life? Are you sick? Are you inebriated? Any of these probably means that you should put off doing the work until another time.
I found a related article from the Toledo Blade about doing your homework before DIY, which is worth a read too.

When you DIY, how do you prepare? What are your favorite DIY resources?

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