Finding Time to DIY

There’s a lot to keep us occupied in this crazy world. Amidst all of that, a lot of people wonder, How do you have time to build anything? and When did you find time to paint this? The truth is, when you are doing something you love, you find minutes. You carve them out. You hoard them.

I used to get really frustrated when I would hear people say “do what you love” because it seemed so vague and unattainable. I’ve only just figured out that it’s not as complicated as I was making it out to be. Let me let you in on a little secret. “Do what you love” simply means,

Do something that you love doing so much that you don’t even want to take a pee break

(So eloquent. I know.)

Have you ever heard of “flow”? As I understand it, it’s the experience of being so absorbed in something that time flies by in a blink and whatever you’re doing just happens naturally. Here’s a TED talk by the psychologist who first studied this mindset phenomenon. He named it “flow” because when he spoke to artists who experienced it, many said that their work just “flowed” when they were in this mindset.  I’m so lucky that I’ve found a few things that get me into flow. It’s really a form a meditation for me.

So whatever the “I” in “DIY” is for you, whatever gets you to your flow, here are my best tips for ways to find time to DIY.


  1. Step away from the TV. I know, I know! This is my number one tip because we can just get so sucked in and waste so much time watching a TV show we don’t really care about. I know it can be hard, especially when your TV makes Modern Family larger than life, but once you get in the habit, it’s really nice to know you have all of your shows hoarded for when you really need some couch time.


    Oh hey Claire. Notice the totally blank wall. This was when we first moved in and put the tv on the wall.

  2. Know that you don’t need hours. The only way I can get projects done is if I take advantage of random nuggets of time whenever they pop up. I use the spare 15 minutes after chores while Virginia is napping, a few minutes in the morning before anyone else is awake, and while Virginia and Daddy are playing. The most valuable time slot? After bedtime. I get a LOT done after 7:30. Every board you attach, pocket hole you drill, coat of paint you get on, or sanding you get done – it all adds up and you’ll have a finished project in a jiffy.


    It’s a rare sight to see my workbench without the baby monitor

  3. Plan your time & read the instructions. If you are working on something that you’re following plans for, read them through before you begin! You may learn that there are built in “down times” while you wait for glue or paint to dry, and you can plan what nights you’ll work on your project around nights when you already have other obligations.
  4. Get creative and have a project mindset. This one takes practice and patience. (I’ll spare you from making “Practice patience” number 7!) I have found that the more projects I do, the more I recognize projects when I’m out and about. I saw these cool candle holders at Cracker Barrel the other day and snapped a pic to try to replicate them someday. I also loved these two Target Christmas decorations, but decided to return them in the spirit of being frugal… but I thought I’d save them to my inspiration bank for a someday project. 
  5. Have a cheerleader. I know, isn’t this what all the “you can do it” posts say? But honestly, I don’t know if I ever would have wound up here if I didn’t have a few people (ahem, Mom), who relentlessly and tirelessly praised my efforts, even if it the end product was woefully pitiful, for years before this blog took shape.

    Reliably wonderful Mom. Find someone who makes you feel this good!

  6. And of course, do what makes you happy. You just won’t make yourself invent time to go do something if you’re not really excited about it. Make sure you’re picking projects that make you psyched to try, that keep your brain engaged and challenged, and ultimately, just make you smile.

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