All Together Now: Tackle Home Projects With a DIY Co-op

My sister Torey moved. Her and her husband are renovating their new house. They have achieved so much in only a couple months, but the remaining to-do record is long. The underlying disorder is sending my Obviously Organized sister into a tailspin. My house is only a couple of years old, however I am working to make it home, so I’ve a list of things to do also.

Last week Torey mentioned she actually had to paint her door. I intended to paint my back doors as soon as the weather cleared. “We ought to work together!” She said. And like this, our DIY co-op was born. We’ve been in business a week, and both of us have crossed a task we had been dreading off our list — and we’re looking forward to crossing off more.

Does this sound like a fantasy come true? Setting up your DIY co-op may not be as simple as a fast telephone call to your sister, but it could be simpler than you think. When considering a possible DIY co-op spouse, ask yourself a couple things.

Is the offender:

• Committed? You need a person who will appear when she states she will. A lot of us have at least one of those friends — we love her to death — but our plans with her always have a fanciful asterisk beside them. If your friend is not reliable, no matter how lovely and talented she is, forget about it. No flaky friends let.

Fun to be with? When you’re tackling tough projects, it is incredibly draining. Being able to laugh with another person can be a lifesaver. Lacking a sense of humor may not be a deal breaker for you, but it is for me.

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Does the offender:

Have projects? Clearly a co-op has to be exceptionally beneficial. If you have a friend who’s rude enough to have her home perfectly up-to-date and superbly in order, don’t bother asking her to be your DIY co-op spouse.

Have equal or complementary abilities, goals and energy levels? This means you need and are capable of accomplishing the same things. Torey and I aren’t DIY wonders, but we can paint and arrange and clean. She’s Obviously Organized and I am not, and we each have areas where we excel and people where the fetal position seems our only option. So far as our intentions go, we want to have organized and clean homes which are havens to our loved ones and friends. We want to create lovely surroundings where you feel great just walking through the doorway. Our differences bring more to the table, and our similarities keep us there. And our energy levels are close enough that we’re ready to work together.

As soon as you’ve found your DIY co-op spouse, you want to schedule work occasions. Be sure to limit them to one house a day. Due to the flexibility in our schedules, Torey and I’ve settled on Monday mornings at her house and Wednesday mornings at mine. If you work at a project full time, then you may choose to work in the evenings or on weekends, and only one DIY day per week could be best. You can choose what works for you.

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Establish the Universe Rules

These can evolve, but talk a couple of things through in the beginning, and with your program, correct as you go. This is exactly what Torey and I’ve agreed to:

1. The helper hauls away the crap. A big project will be exhausting for both of you, but if it is your residence, the exhaustion is on a whole ‘nother level, and coping with a pile of trash bags or Goodwill boxes may be the last straw. And from sight is out of thoughts.

On our first workday, we stumbled through the many boxes of Torey along with David’s books. David decided to go electronic with all except art books. We sorted box by box into “maintain,” “contribute” and “market” piles. I bagged everything up and packed it all in my van. That evening David remembered an expensive philosophy novel he wanted to hold on to, but that was it.


2. The host waters and feeds. You are functioning, not entertaining, but you need to eat. Keep it simple: a protein bar, perhaps some fresh veggies or soup, water to drink — even though having coffee brewed could be crucial. Just make certain you have some thing to maintain both of you fueled.

Once You’ve Started

Be firm yet flexible. As soon as you set a day and a time, stay with it. A lot of us struggle internal resistance to accomplishing the goals we say we’ve. It can be hard to begin, but after you do, momentum builds and you continue moving. Cancel only in the face of real emergencies.

Strike it first thing. If there’s a way you can schedule your work time do it. This will give you flexibility for big projects and utilize your peak energy.

Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab

Ask yourself whether you’re giving as much as you’re receiving. This is actually the best way to make sure that the division of work is equal, taking the long term, needless to say. Last week we sorted Torey’s books for an hour or 2 and reorganized my enormous pantry, which took all morning and a number of the day. Torey is not counting the time differential, but I am. Next week we’re going to hit her garage, which has all of the detritus left from their move, and the load ought to be equal.

Check in and reassess. As time passes you may need to correct your days or times or what projects you want to work on.

Your turn: Have you had a casual work co-op? Please share your advice and stories from the Comments.

More: Three Magic Words for a Cleaner House and a Better Life

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