You Don’t Have to Be the Handyman: How to Offset a Lack of Practical Skills Around the House

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It’s easier than ever to access the internet and the endless variety of information it contains. Many people will tell you that with instructions available for almost anything, you could easily tackle any household task instead of paying for services. Yet the potential failure and opportunity cost of a botched DIY job are often ignored in such considerations.

Here’s why it’s all right not to handle everything yourself — from plumbing repairs to doing meal preps — and how you can play to your strengths instead to become more effective at home.

Understanding the hidden cost of time

Taking on something yourself versus hiring a professional to do it isn’t always a matter of money; time is also a factor.

You’ll be pouring sweat equity into a project to save costs. And while good DIY guides take time and difficulty into consideration, everyone comes from a different background, with varying levels of skill across tasks.

You might be handy with a hammer and some nails but not know the first thing about troubleshooting computers. Even if you’ve only been repairing minor damage to furniture and never had to build something from scratch before, creating a table or chair would be a much more feasible task than figuring out why your kid’s PC won’t boot. Most of us learn useful skills over time, playing catch-up in this regard. But doing a DIY project could translate to a massive, hidden time cost.

Identifying skills and strengths

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A lot of so-called “life skills” tend to be under-appreciated, especially as we grow older and start to focus on our professional careers. You wouldn’t usually list handyman skills on your resume unless they were related to the position you’re applying for. But part of living as an independent adult means self-sufficiency and handling tasks around the home. Thus, it becomes advantageous for you to know your strengths in this area.

Just as any employee would be well-advised to audit their skills for a job application, take the time to conduct a personal assessment of life skills, including preferences, motivations, and obstacles. This will help you identify strengths you might not have realized were there. For instance, you might not think you’re a good cook, but if you have a handful of reliable recipes, that could indicate the foundations are there for you to organize healthy meal plans weekly.

Maximizing the application of effort

Parents can be especially vulnerable to wanting to be perfect and do everything to set an example for their kids, but it’s all right to be imperfect and show your flaws around the house. The gist of this approach is to accept that not everything can be effectively done on your own — and you can avoid feeling guilty about it by maximizing what you’re good at.

You might not be able to explain math to your kids, but you can teach them the practice of journaling, improving their ability to write, express themselves, and become self-aware — and then hire a tutor for the rest. Apply yourself effectively, and you can offset any shortcomings in other areas.

DIY doesn’t stand for “do everything yourself.” While it can be tempting to seek out ways to cut costs at every opportunity, avoid the mistake of over-exerting yourself and getting in over your head. Stick to what you do best, and any money you have to pay will be wisely spent.

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