The psychology behind DIY projects at home

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Have you ever wondered why some men are extremely keen to tackle DIY tasks around the home, while others would rather cut off their right arm than drill a couple of holes in a wall - well according to a research paper published in the U.S. in the Journal of Consumer Research a lot of it has to do with your station in life.

Men who work in white collar professions, for example, use DIY home decor and improvements as a means of unleashing their inner suburban craftsman. Most men in this category don't get their hands dirty at work and DIY projects leave them feeling self-fulfilled. It's a different kettle of fish for blue collar workers who use DIY projects to assert their identities and create a better living environment for their family.

Living with someone who starts a DIY project, but doesn't complete the work is often a nightmare. Half-painted rooms, incomplete bathrooms or kitchens or uncompleted projects that involve knocking down the odd wall are bound to cause trouble in any relationship.

Unfortunately, the problem is far more widespread than most would believe. While statistics aren't available for South African DIYers, a report in the British press indicates that almost half of Britons surveyed admit that they don't complete the job. The survey conducted by a energy company asked more than 2000 adults about work done around the home and 44 percent of the respondents noted that they failed to complete these sort of tasks. As to the reasons given, 25 percent noted that they didn't have the expertise required, 24 percent stated that they did not have enough spare time while 16 percent said they got bored and gave up before the job was completed.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that women were far more likely to complete a project. A notable 78 percent noted that they completed the work as opposed to 76 percent of the men.

Experts say that DIY ideas often start and finish at the till of a hardware store. It seems to be one of those 'it seemed a good idea at the time' scenarios and while the planning and buying of the required resources gets a man's blood pumping, things tend to go pear-shaped once the hard work starts.

Academics maintain that the ability to complete a DIY task has a direct impact on feelings of well-being, but unfinished jobs often serve as a reminder of our failings.

All is not lost however, and there are ways for those who undertake DIY projects to motivate themselves to complete the task.

  • Firstly, set one goal at a time. It's all well and good to make a to-do list, however, this doesn't mean that everything has to be done at once.
  • Don't start numerous projects simultaneously.
  • Prioritise the work and tackle the toughest task first.
  • Get excited about the job at hand and try and stay as motivated as possible during the work.
  • Reward yourself once a certain milestone has been completed and perhaps the most important piece of advice, don't fear failure. We all fail at something in life and although it may seem like the end of the world at the time, quite frankly, more often than not, it simply isn't that big a deal.
  • If you truly cannot complete a job through lack of expertise - call in an expert to finish off the task. You'll sleep easier at night knowing that the job has been completed to a satisfactory standard.
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