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How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:36 am

We bought our house about 8 months ago. It certainly wasn't our dream home, but it was a neat house in an awesome neighborhood at a price we could afford at the time. We previously lived only about a half mile away, but what a difference that half mile can make! The old neighborhood was going downhill, but I wouldn't call it bad. My wife works in social work and it wasn't in her best interest to live in the same neighborhood as some of her clients. Our old house was probably the nicest house on the block and sold in 3 days, so we were kind of in a hurry to find a new house and overlooked a ton of work the new house needed.

I'm currently in the process of painting my house. The old paint was in bad shape and was painted badly many times before so it needed stripped down the the bare wood. I started at the end of February and have about 2 more days of work to have the back half of the house primed. Once I finish painting the back in probably 2 months, I'll start stripping the front, which isn't as much and shouldn't take near as long. Along the way I've uncovered and replaced badly rotted siding and found rot under the roof overhang and at the roof overhang over a bay window where the spouting was put through a hole in the roof. I'm skipping the window for now because they are in bad shape and need restored. So, now once my new paint job is done I'm going to have these ugly peeling windows ruining the look of the house until I can get them finished. Then on to the brick, which is going to need repointed in the near future. The list goes on and on and on and I feel like I'm never going to finish and this is just the outside!!

How do you not feel overwhelmed? Some days I wish it would burn down when we're on vacation. Other days I wish we would have stayed at the old place for a few more years and moved straight into our dream home. After seeing some of your projects on here, which are wayyyy worse than mine I don't know how some of you do it.

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:51 am

Justin, I often feel overwhelmed because not only do I have a ton of work to do, but I don't have any money to do it with, nor time to accomplish it. All I can say is it helps to have "before" photos and compare them to your work in progress. Trust me, that helps...even little bitty projects. Even though I greatly admire the skills and talents of many on this forum, I don't compare my home or my skills to the fancy homes or the big projects. I can't say whether or not your house is right for you, but hang in there. More of us are like you than you might imagine. I love getting inspiration from the big projects I see here, even if far removed from my own modest home.

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:38 pm

Question: "How do you eat an elephant?"
Answer: "One bite at a time."

At times you must look at the entire project, just to prioritize what you are going to do, but once that's done, focus on a project or part of a project and don't think about the entire thing.

It also helps me, on those occasions when I wonder just what the heck I'm doing...to look back at what I've gotten done so far...it is SO much more than it appears on the surface.

I also feel strongly, that you must find a way to enjoy the process, no, we don't all want to work on our houses ever second of the day, but when I do, I enjoy the work.

Good luck!

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:48 pm

I do get overwhelmed! Constantly. And I turn to this site again and again to keep my spirits up.

Three things have really helped me.

The first is just what pqtex said: take before, during, and after pictures. I've got a bad habit of underestimating my effect on things. When I do a house project the bitchy hobgoblin in my head usually says "Kristen, that makes no difference at all". Then I look at my before and after pictures, and I tell that bitch to shut up!

The second is a list of what I've done-- especially the little stuff. Which goes hand in hand with the pictures. When the hobgoblin says "you're not making any progress, Kristen" I can look at the list and remind myself that I'm making HUGE progress!

The third is appreciating the tiny little things. That was advice directly from other OHW folks. I even started a thread to showcase the happy little things that are in my house. When I'm overwhelmed with the huge projects that will never be done, I post a picture of a happy little thing that I love.

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:51 pm

I admire the fact that you are only 8 months into your home and even *know* what you want to get done, none-the-less be well on your way with the first part of your work!

We have lived in our home for 13 years (almost). The first 10 years we spent sitting around hemming and hawing over where to get started :wink: Well, we were starting our family too, but that's no excuse. We were able to hire out the 2 major projects of refurbishing the front and replacing the back porches. BUT, we are now out of funds and will have to do the rest ourselves... As previously mentioned; one step at a time. It also helps to get out of the mindset that you will ever be "done". Really, we can say that jokingly - but it is the truth. It also helps to finish one project (especially major ones like exterior painting!!!) before trying to figure out where you are going to start with the next one. I hope that you will be able to enjoy the benefits of your labor - sooner than later!!

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:31 pm

Lots of times people who do the work themselves not only save money, but also do a good job. Owners don't skip over work because they know it will come back to bite them. You are getting on ladders, fixing as you go, and being thorough. You are also lucky that you are getting the worst side of the house out of the way first.

I don't want my husband on a high ladder, and I will not climb one myself (age 59). Our painting will be done by a friend's company but we're lucky: he treats our house as his. To me, you sound young and full of energy. And send us pictures of the side, and we will all cheer for you.

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:30 pm

Daniel Meyer wrote:Question: "How do you eat an elephant?"
Answer: "One bite at a time."

Daniel, I can't say that's bad advice, but by golly, I'm danged tired of eating elephant! Sometimes it just doesn't seem like I'll ever have anything else on my plate! Got any new recipes to disguise the taste? :lol:

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:41 pm

One thing that helps is when I make my to-do list, I usually have several "easy" things on there, just so I can do them, and check 'em off. That has backfired on numerous occasions, however, because sometimes the no-brainer 5-minute jobs turned out to bite me in the you-know-where. Like the time I changed a toilet seat. Yes, a toilet seat. A less-than-five-minute job. Right? RIGHT???? Nope. The bolt was frozen, rusted, seized, fixed-into-place kind of permanent. It took me three weeks to get that thing off! I tried penetrating oil, saws, wrenches...anything I could get my hands on. And this is AFTER I cut the old seat OFF to give me room to work on the hinges. One of the problems is that my toilet is right next to the wall. As in so close the tank lid TOUCHES the wall. The bathroom is also very small. I gained so much experience in contortionism, I thought for a while of a trying out for a career with the Cirque du Soleil. It wasn't just me. My cousin came over, saw what I was working on...smirked at me...took the tools out of my hands...and proceeded to wiggle and work...and wiggle and work...to no avail. At least he had a sheepish look on his face for having made fun of my ability to remove the old toilet seat and parts. Honestly, I believe this hardware and seat had been on there since 1956, when this bathroom was added to the house. Oh wait...I'm supposed to be making you feel BETTER and LESS overwhelmed. Oops...Never mind! :roll:

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:42 pm

Thanks for the responses. At least I'm not alone!

I made a thread in the picture section to track my progress and get some motivation.
Check it out!

Re: How to not feel completely overwhelmed?

Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:50 pm

I keep multiple projects going on all at once. Usually a large one and a handful of small ones that don't "need" to be done. When I tire (mentally or physically) of the large project Ill set that down for a couple of days and go tinker on other stuff. My DW always reminds me we will be here for years and years so it's OK if the job isn't done today.

Also, it's fine to not work on the house for a day or two. Sit on the couch or porch, go for a bike ride, fiddle around in the garden, take your wife/husband/Mom/friend out for dinner, etc.
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