How to deal with what feels like a lack of progress

Every renovation project has peaks and troughs. It’s a fact. But that doesn’t make it any easier when you feel like the pace has slowed.

Recently, we had this very problem. Things were going full steam ahead – the tiling went down in the kitchen (more on that in another post!), kitchen and hallway skirting boards were reattached and doorway architraves in the hallway were also fixed up and painted.

We spent a weekend putting the final coat of paint in the lounge and the snug/dining room and suddenly those rooms were transformed!

And then, everything seemed to slow.

Over the last week or so, we’ve gone back to working on the woodwork downstairs – stripping layers of old paint off the internal doors, sanding back the skirting boards and returning to strip the five layers of paint off our staircase and banister.

It’s slow going and that can be frustrating.

Personally, I think I struggle with this more than Luke. I reach a point where rooms are almost finished so I become impatient for them to be done. The lounge and snug/dining room are the perfect example. All it needs are doors attached so we can start taking our furniture out of storage and put it in the space. But because they’re the old original Victorian doors, they need to be hung properly by a carpenter, which means we’re relying on their availability to come in and help us do it. And that can mean a waiting game.

Same with the kitchen. Once the snagging points are done, we can finish this space off but we need a carpenter and an electrician to come in to do those little jobs.

Once the kitchen snags are sorted and the lounge doors are up, quite a lot of downstairs will be finished. Can you see why I get impatient?!

The thing is, the peaks and troughs are a normal part of any project. Progress is either super quick and striking, or slow going and not really noticeable to anyone but yourself (try asking someone to notice which bit of wood you have or haven’t yet sanded and you’ll be disappointed with the answer…)

So how do we deal with things when the pace starts to slow? Here are a few tricks I’ve learned.

  • Remember when you started, and how much has changed since then? We’ve almost owned the house for six months and considering all the ripping out we had to do, the countless runs to the tip, the rewiring of the electrics and the new pipework for the plumbing (alongside a little thing called ‘the budget’) when we step back, we realise that we’ve actually done a lot. We start to feel proud of ourselves again, and we should. When progress slows, it’s easy to forget how much has been achieved already and why, sometimes, a little breathing space can help. Take a step back and reflect for a while and remember progress takes time.
  • Make a list. Luke laughs because I swear this is my answer for everything but lists really help if you’re a planner like me! Feel like things have stopped? Make a list of the things that still need to happen to finish off a room or to be able to make a start on another. Prioritise them in terms of what’s most important or logical to do first, and then start booking people in or prepping the areas so the work can be done. While you might still be waiting a few weeks for the work to be completed, or even started, you’ll feel focused and in control again. I think sometimes I get so impatient and frustrated when progress slows because I’m worrying that we’re not in control and are reliant on others. Well, the reality is that we are reliant on other people BUT we can do something to regain some of the control and feel like things will start to change quickly again soon.
  • If the progress has stalled because you’re getting fed up, then have a break. If you’re feeling at your wits end and are struggling to motivate yourself, don’t feel bad – we all feel like that at times. Take a break and do something fun and NOT home related! Whether it’s staying with a friend, or just having a day out, you’ll return re-energised and refocused – and in my case, ready to continue to strip paint off the remaining 22/52 spindles on our banister…
  • Take photos. We’re constantly taking photos of the work we’re doing – whether to send them to each other if we’re not both in the house, for the blog, or for the scrapbook we’re going to make when everything’s finished. But it’s amazing how looking back at these photos can make us feel better when things have slowed down. This is particularly true if you’re doing a time-consuming job like prepping or painting woodwork like skirting boards. For this, take a ‘before’ photo, then another once you’ve stripped the paint off, then another once you’ve sanded it back, and another when you start painting, and another when you’re done. There are a lot of stages when it comes to woodwork, so take photos of each one and you’ll realise that, although it’s little steps that others might not notice straight away, the end result will reveal that it was a big improvement after all.

Got any tips on how to handle the peaks and troughs? Get in touch – we’d love to hear them!

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