I’ve felt a strong urge to do more with my hands lately. Two years ago, I purchased my first actual home, and since moving in, I have slowly been ramping up the number and complexity of the do-it-yourself projects around the house.

I find it incredibly rewarding to see the physical manifestations of my work happen over time. It’s both very challenging and rewarding. It has also helped me improve my balance of what I build in the digital world: software.

Preventing Digitial Fatigue by Getting Your Hands Dirty in Real Life

Over the years, I’ve seen many of my friends in the software space doing some awe-inspiring projects in the physical world. This includes starting home brewing projects and redoing laundry rooms, to buying land and rebuilding old barns.

I wouldn’t say I’m the handiest person, but I’ve been getting a lot better over time. First, I started with small projects like replacing door hinges and handles and slowly worked my way up to redoing drywall and electrical work.

Seeing this progression has been rewarding for my mental health and has helped improve the comfort of my home and my relationship with my fiance. She enjoys seeing me out of the office and working on the house, and I’m thrilled to be doing that work. It’s a win-win!

Learning New Skills and Trades Improves Mental Health

I find it very rewarding to learn new skills, whether a new strumming pattern on guitar, a new volleyball tactic, or, in this case, how to become handier around the house.

YouTube, as always, has been an excellent resource for me to learn how to begin to tackle new projects. Like software development, you have to start off basic and work your way up.

Some of the first projects I completed ended up pretty lackluster. It took me about a month to hang an 18-foot span of gutter. A professional could do that in a few hours.

The Tools and the Skills for the Job

I’ve always looked for ways to get the job done faster in the software world by utilizing third-party libraries, forking open-source software, and outsourcing where it makes sense.

I approach home projects with the same philosophy.

For instance, right now, I’m redoing my garage. This was the perfect opportunity to learn how to redo drywall, mud, paint, and add new floorboards. I knew I could do this part of the project because it didn’t need the end result to be perfect. It’s a garage.

However, I am not about to replace the garage door, the window or epoxy the floor. That’s where I hired professionals because those require the proper tools, materials, and experience.

Bring in professionals for jobs that are beyond your current skillset
For my garage door, I brought in the pros.

Having the proper combination of the knowledge, experience, and the necessary tools goes a long way toward the success of a completed job.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

When I first moved into this house, I thought I could be my own pool maintenance person. After about a month of struggling to understand the chemistry involved, I realized being a pool guy wasn’t for me.

The same story played out for maintaining the landscaping.

These projects were routine tasks that needed to be done to keep a house, much like a website. This is how I realized I have no problem gladly paying an individual or company to handle this routine maintenance.

I am now very happy to have a solid pool person and gardener.

Projects Currently Under Consideration and/or Active

Now that the garage drywall project has been completed, I will start on a few more projects—one at a time.

In no specific order:

  • Fixing two broken pool lights
  • Removing and replacing a side yard fence
  • Replacing hinges for a few doors
  • Fixing a few broken outdoor lights
  • … and so much more!

Perhaps I’ll get inspired and create some timelapses or YouTube videos on an upcoming project.

Bottom line: If you’re feeling stressed with your digital work job, try working with your hands. It’s worked wonders for me!

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