Renovating: 15 Tips on How to Stay Motivated


Motivation is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to renovating. I’m sure everyone would prefer to be at the beach, rather than scraping floors, sanding and painting your um-teenth wall.

No matter how motivated you can be, motivation is not constant and consistent. It comes and goes, and comes and goes again. If you’re on Struggle Street, that your motivation will eventually come back. It just depends if you have time to wait or if you can handle living with that unfinished job. In the meantime, here are some ideas that have helped me stay motivated:

1. Get cracking

It’s like going to the gym-once you’re out the door and 5 minutes into your workout it’s fine. Or ripping off a bandaid-pull it off fast and it really hurts, but then it’s over and done with. Throw your reno clothes on and just try not to think about it. You might surprise yourself.

2. Take a trip down memory lane

Grab a beer or glass of wine and browse through your before, during and after photos. You’ll see how much you’ve already achieved-it’s a great feeling. And it will make you want to get stuck into creating more ‘after’ photos.

3. Remember that it’s not forever

The more you get done now the sooner you will finish. It won’t always be like this.

4. Mix it up

I’m by no means suggesting that you start many different jobs at once, but if there is a task that is really getting you down, mix it up a little. Have a go at finishing off another job that’s already on the go just for some variety. Some jobs become mundane and having a break from it for a few hours can make all the difference.

5. Baby steps-break each job into smaller, more manageable chunks

Some jobs are just plain overwhelming. Whether its one huge job or a what-feels-like a million little jobs, break it down into manageable chunks. You could do it by area (e.g. the hallway or the laundry) or by type (e.g. all of the plastering or painting)… whatever works for you. It will make it feel more achievable and easier to recognise progress.

We had to scrape glue off and sand every square inch of our concrete slab before putting floors down. It was like prepping walls for paint, but on your hands and knees, on cold concrete in winter, times 80 square metres. Yep. My husband and I originally started at opposite ends of the house working to meet in the middle. But it became way too overwhelming. Every hour that passed by it felt like we hadn’t even made a dent. Later on, we tried working together to do a room (or section of a room) at a time. We got there twice as fast working together, and each time we finished a section there was a sense of relief that we had made it to another milestone.

6. Find inspiration

Visit a display home, look at magazines, check out photos online. Anything that makes you think “I can’t wait until my place looks like that!”

7. Establish (realistic) goals

And make them exciting. Leading up to Christmas and our birthdays is always a very productive time. We’ll say, by my birthday, I would like to complete the patio so that we can have a party. Or, by Christmas, I want to finish the floors so that we can put our lounge back together and put a Christmas tree up. This way, it gives you something to look forward to other than just getting that work done.

8. Celebrate your successes

It’s important to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. It doesn’t have to be a party-it could be a few beers on your new garage slab. Or a roast dinner in your newly-renovated dining room. It makes the journey a lot more enjoyable.

9. Reward yourself

Creating a reward for yourself when you reach a milestone is a great motivating tool. It doesn’t have to cost money-it could be a month off from renovating, a day watching TV or lazing by the pool, or a massage. Decide on your reward in advance so that you have something exciting to look forward to.

Furniture and home wares make great rewards. After your hard work getting the house looking great, tired non-matching furniture and accessories just don’t do it justice. But don’t buy furniture until that room is finished. You don’t want to be painting over a new couch, for example.

10. Get help

Get some of your family and friends over for a working bee, followed by an afternoon BBQ. It’s amazing how much you can get done and how good you will feel afterwards. Plus, you’ll get some much-needed social time.

11. Take time out for fun

All work and no play is no good for anyone. Don’t forget to make time for fun and to catch up with friends and family. If you are constantly working there isn’t anything much to look forward to. Make plans and stick to them. Just make sure you allow enough time to get the paint off you before you head out;-)

12. Make a to-do list

Seeing items ticked off is a great feeling. If you’re having trouble getting moving, start with the easy jobs on your list and tick them off. It will give you a sense of achievement and help you keep going.

13. Don’t give up

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you aren’t feeling any motivation today, or you haven’t been ticking many things off the list lately, don’t give up. You WILL get there.

14. Focus on the end result

Think about how great it’s going to look when you are finished. This is your light at the end of the tunnel. It might not look so great right now, and you might be sick of working, but you won’t regret it once it’s done.

15. Stay positive

Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. Swap “This is too hard!” and replace it with “I can do this! If [person you know] can do it, so can I!” It might sound a bit lame but it really does work.

Hang in there!