What to do when project fatigue sets in

Woman leaning against a wood wall with her hand running through her hair looking fatigued

Hey ya’ll!! This post today is something I have been struggling with, a lot lately. Anyone who has been knees deep in a project knows about project fatigue. It’s an ugly little thing that happens when your project is taking too long, and you don’t have the energy, or want, to finish it. It truly, can be debilitating. So, what do we do when project fatigue has you in its grasp? Here are a few things that I have done to pull me out, and get me back to loving the project I am working on.

Step One in combating project fatigue

Man working on a project in a wood shop.  He's writing a list.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed with project fatigue, the very first thing I do is walk away. I take a day or two and not touch it at all. This helps to clear my mind from constantly thinking about it, and usually I can come back feeling renewed. I said, usually, because sometimes that won’t do the trick and I have to move to other strategies to combat the fatigue.

Step two in combating project fatigue

Man using a jigsaw to cut wood.

My next move would be to find a small project that I can do, and complete, within one to three days. I have found in the large projects, it becomes harder to see the finish line through the to do list. So, doing something small and getting from the beginning to the end quickly, helps me to feel accomplished. It also, can ignite the fire that burns the project fatigue away.

Step three in combating project fatigue

Woman sketching a drawing of a room.

If you have lost sight in your project, this idea might be the one for you. Have you ever heard the saying, “I cant see the forest through the trees?” The meaning behind this saying, has hit me through out my diy journey. We can get so bogged down with the to do lists of projects and life that it becomes hard to remember why you started the project in the first place. I like to take a sheet of paper, draw and color the project in its finished state. Somewhere on the paper I, also, list what problems this is solving for my home. This helps to bring me back to remembering the big picture and gets me excited to finish the project.

Step four in combating project fatigue

Picture of a notebook with today written and the numbers 1-4.

Now, I have a question for you, how do you eat an elephant? Don’t know? Well, one bite at a time, of course! Ok, I’m sue most of us have heard that joke before, but in our situation it’s true. I know that I can get extremely overwhelmed when I start to tally everything thats left to do in my head. This can almost instantly cause project fatigue for me. I have found that writing down a long list of what needs to be done, helps to get it out of my head and lays it to rest on the paper. From there, I like to break that list into small projects that are attainable to get done in a day. That way I can start to see progress and movement in the project, instead of feeling like it’s crawling along at a snails pace. Sometimes, you have to play tricks on your brain to snap it back into reality.

Step five in combating project fatigue

Picture of a woman doctor smiling looking at something.

If you have tried all of these and still nothing has worked, then it’s time to seek outside help. I’m talking about seeing your doctor. You might think that’s a bit extreme, but I assure you it’s not. I had been struggling with project fatigue so bad that I did not want to do anything with it at all. Which is completely not like me. My doctor knew that diy is my outlet, so she was able to ask me some questions that helped us to realize that I was suffering from a depression. When you suffer from mental illness and slip into depression, it can be hard to see whats happening when you are in it. Luckily, my doctor was able to pick up on the signs and she switched me to new medicine. Now, I feel better than I have in a long time. If you feel like this might be you, then I urge you to reach out to someone, a friend, a medical professional, family, someone! There is help out there and you don’t have to go through it alone! Here is a number for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 1-800-662-4357. It is a 24 hour hotline that has education, support, and can connect you to treatment.

I hope these project fatigue strategies will help you the next time you find it setting in. All of them have helped me, some more than others. So, if you find one that works for you, or if you do something different I would love to know. Leave me a comment below and share whats working. We are all learning here and knowledge together works better.

Wishing you the best, Annice

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