How to DIY When You Have NO Time and NO Energy

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Let’s face it– when “life” gets in the way, what’s the first thing to go (besides taking care of yourself)?


It’s so frustrating because as creative people, creating is our life’s blood, isn’t it? And to not have time or energy to get it done takes away a small piece of joy in my life.

So here’s how I combat it. And hopefully these 10 steps to will help you move a project from “it’s been sitting here for 6 months” to the “I’m DONE, baby!!” file :).

How to DIY when you have no time and no energy


STEP 1: Stop Fooling Yourself, Dude!

It’s time to get real about why you really have no time or energy to finish your projects. Or rather, why you THINK you have no time or energy.  I bet that part of the reason is that you’re overwhelmed! You’ve got a list a mile long, and you don’t know where to start. Right?
Okay, first–make a list of all the projects you’ve been wanting to get done.  Everything that you can think of. Because, how are you going to know what you need to get done if you don’t even know what needs to get done? Yep. That’s a genius statement right there. You have my permission to quote me. 😉

Use Mobisle Notes

You need an easy way to keep track of your “Master Project List.” The Mobisle Notes app and website are by far the best app for making to-do lists. Use the “free” version. You can create tons of folders and sub-folders for each of your projects. It also syncs automatically between your tablet and the website, so you never lose a step! Here’s a sample of my House Project List. The beautiful thing is that you can create lots of sub-tasks under each task. Get this free app now!

How to DIY When You Have NO Time and NO Energy

 You’re not going to believe how long your list is! But doesn’t it feel awesome to get everything out of your head and onto a real list?

STEP 2: Pick a Project….But Pick the RIGHT Project.

Come on…I know you have a gazillion projects on that list. But which one would yield you the biggest results? Getting done the guest room for your mom to come and stay with you? Setting up a craft room for yourself so you can spread your stuff out and see where everything is? One of them has to be at the top of your “Gotta Knock This Out” list. Choose a project that you’re excited about and think you would actually want to finish, but that you just haven’t gotten around to, for whatever reason. For me, this is what I have been wanting to tackle {{{insert dun-dun-DDDDUUUH dramatic effect here}}}:

…it’s my “hot mess” garage! 

Garage mayhem!

It has steadily gotten worse over the 3 years we’ve lived here. I’ve stuffed it full of thrift store furniture and items I clearly have nowhere else to put. Now, I want to transform it into a garage workshop for me so I can dibble dabble in power tools and learn how to install some decorative molding around the house. (Oh, and did I mention I have lofty goals of building a play house for my boys some day? Yep. Some day 😉


STEP 3: Forsake all other projects.

Now, mentally “X” out every other project on your list. Yes, I just gave you permission to STOP worrying about all the other crap you just listed. Don’t you feel better? 🙂 Focusing on just one project at a time will give you the ability to give it your entire attention so you’re more likely to get it done instead of worrying about all the other things you “have” to do!



Yes, you know how to spell. But do you know to to clearly spell out your tasks? That’s a whole different story! I’m talking about listing every imaginable tasks that you can think of for your project. I bet you there are things you never even considered. For example, in my garage, I know I need to fill the holes in the wall….prime it….and paint it. Dude, that’s 3 steps! If I only put “Do the walls” then clearly I’m not spelling out every step involved.

Why does this make a difference, you ask?

Because when you’re doing a project, it’s easy to kid yourself about how much time something will take when you lump it all together. You may think it will only take you 1 day to “do the walls,” but when you spell out what “do the walls” really means, you may find you’re looking at a WEEK! Yikes!

So, be sure to list detailed steps so you don’t miss a beat :). And you can always add more steps as needed!

How to DIY When You Have NO Time and NO Energy

STEP 5: Make Home Depot Your Best Friend!

Or Lowes….Either one. You’ll need a list of materials for your project. Identify what you need and buy it before you get started. Wanna know why this is so important??? Because if you start working on a project and you forgot to get the  ___[insert random object you forgot!]_ guess who’s going to get derailed?  You’ll risk losing your “mojo” because you don’t have what you need to continue. And 2 years later, your project will still be sitting there, staring you in the face. Noooooo! We must prepare 🙂

Start by adding to your list all the materials and tools you’ll need for your project.


STEP 6: Don’t Go Broke!

It’s time to figure out a project budget. Have you ever heard of “scope creep”? Meh–probably not. Well, in DIY-land, there is something I call “cost creep.” It’s the idea that you think a project will cost $X number of dollars, and then by the time you get done, it actually costs $XXXXXX. It happens! You think you’re going to go with the “economy” sink for your bathroom makeover, and then suddenly you’ve upgraded to the vanity that’s etched in 14K gold. LOL.

That, my friends, is “cost creep.”

To prevent “cost creep” list prices for every single material, tool, object you need to do your project, and then vow to not go over that budgeted amount!


STEP 7: Bribe Your Friends!

If you’ve got awesome friends, especially DIY-friendly ones, you won’t have to bribe them much. Maybe pizza and beer? Hey–works for me. Ask them to come and help if you know that you won’t be able to do it on your own. Plus, extra hands make things go faster! I’ll probably end up working on my garage alone (waahhh!), but I will enlist hubby to help clear out some of the old furniture there.


STEP 8: Deadlines, Baby….Deadlines!

Want to know a surefire way of sabotaging your project? Not setting a deadline. Here on Thrift Diving my readers and I have started doing 30-Day Room Makeover Challenges (sign up to get notified when the new challenges start up!) where we pick just ONE room in our house and totally focus on it for 30 days. If you don’t believe me that it works, see my laundry room makeover and my kids’ bathroom makeover as proof that you can be a DIY rockstar with a deadline looming over your head!


STEP 9: Kids….? What Kids?!

Find a place to shuffle your kids off to while you’re working on your project. As much as I love my three boys, they are rowdy at times and do get in the way when I am trying to work (thus the reason I wait for them to go to bed and then stay up super late). But if you can swing it, invite your kids to “help” by giving them a project to do along side of you with their own paint brush, tape measure, and “tools.” They’ll love it! Here’s my 4 year old helping out!

My son helping to paint!

And if you’ve got young babies, use a backpack carrier while you work on your project (as long as it’s safe to do so, that is). My “baby” is now almost 3, so he’s pretty independent to play with his cars and trucks while Mommy DIYs. But if you have a yougin’, strap them on and get moving!  Trust me–they’ll fall asleep. 😉

Yes, babies are portable!

STEP 10: Skip To It!

Okay, now get to work! You have to take the plunge and carve out time in your busy schedule, and STICK TO IT. You’ve got all the tools, materials, etc. If you’re a night owl, carve out the time for your project and put it on your calendar from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. four to five nights a week, or whatever feels doable. Heck, even just an hour a night is something more than what you may be getting now!

You may have to go back and adjust your project deadline if you find 2 hours a night isn’t enough time for getting your project done. Do NOT forsake sleep to accommodate. I do this all the time, and it’s simply unhealthy. Instead, you might find an hour after you get home from work. Or perhaps you can go to bed early and get up at 4 a.m. and put in an hour before hitting the shower before work. No matter what, carve out that time. Otherwise, something else will eat up your precious DIY time!

But Remember….Don’t Compare Your Projects to Others’ Projects!!!

Don’t compare your progress and projects to what you see some blogger doing! Professional bloggers have Virtual Assistants and other employees and resources to make their blog look effortless even though they work extremely hard. (Hopefully I will be professional soon!). But the point is, their projects are their full-time job. You and I have “9-to-5” jobs so our projects have to be our side hustles. So don’t short-change your efforts, and don’t compare yourself to any bloggers.


Good. Now go. Your DIY projects are waiting for you.

So tell me….after reading this, what project you’re going to now complete? DOWNLOAD this free printable to help get you started! Leave a comment below!



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  1. Thank you for these ideas, I love lists but I often forget to make them and then I get stuck in an overwhelming loop! I am looking forward to sitting down and making a list of some of the things that I want to get done and actually do them! Thank you for the ideas and help!

  2. Shari Carter says:

    I’m retired and have all the time in the world. I don’t, however, have the energy of a gnat. Got anything for that?

    1. Awww…..I feel you, Shari! I felt like that this week, with the election and with some other things going on that just zapped my energy. I think for you, the key is to do smaller projects, and to not hold yourself accountable for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. And try to find projects that excite you. If you’re excited, you might want to go longer than 20 minutes. Set a timer and don’t try to push it, just do as much as you can until the timer goes off. The next day, start again. 🙂 Takes longer, but you’re chipping away at it and feeling motivated that you’re doing something fun and different. 🙂 GOOD LUCK!!

  3. Elizabeth Moyle says:

    Thank you fot the great advice. I will try it.

  4. It’s not that I dont have enough time, its lack of knowledge on how to use power tools! I have a few and they sit in the garage collecting dust. If I had more knowledge I would definately be doing more DIY as the ideas out there are endless!
    Love your blog!

  5. Velma Pruitt says:


  6. Ms Jennifer says:

    Hi since I can’t go outside to start on my back yard, I am need of a space in my bedroom to put a small desk and a small futon to relax on my room is so uncomfortable I only want to be in it to dress and sleep once I get rid of the extra things that can go to the attic, I can move things around. Thank you for the wonderful article I was so relaxed reading it it gave me a boost of satisfaction of knowing I will complete this task and move to the next

  7. My Hobby Room – it’s #1 on my list to get done. Now I just have to quit my FT job plus feeding awesome meals to my husband & specially prepared meals for my 3 tiny furbabies. Oh wait, I can’t do that – Lol!! Thank you for your ideas & suggestions, Serena – Have a great day!

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