5 things you should do before you start your next project

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Few things capture an auto enthusiast’s imagination quite like a project. Repairing, modifying, or restoring a car can be mentally, emotionally, and financially rewarding. But it also can be an inescapable trap. It’s easy to lose momentum or, worse, interest, or watch mission creep bog you down. You can avoid a stalled or snowballing project with these five simple tips all but guaranteed to make your next project go smoothly.

Clean

Cluttered workbench dirty tools

Clean and tidy everything before you start. Projects take less time and create fewer headaches when you aren’t rearranging the junk on your workbench to make space for parts or digging through a cluttered toolbox looking for a wrench.

Research

1965 corvair carburetor project
Nothing better than finding no leftover parts on the bench when the tools are put away.

Determine the scope of your project, learn exactly what it entails, and outline a plan to tackle it. This means preparing your mind just like you prepared your workshop. Search the forums, read shop manuals, talk to experts, watch tutorials—anything and everything you can think of. The more you know going in, the more likely you are to finish the project on time and within budget.

Organize

organized tool kit

Beyond helping you know what you’re getting into, all that research will tell you what you need to do the job. Buy or borrow any tools you need now. Putting everything on hold to track down something essential robs you of momentum.

Budget and buy

From the fitted carpet all the way to a new white headliner, a few clicks and a credit card number put them on my front porch.
From the fitted carpet all the way to a new white headliner, a few clicks and a credit card number put them on my front porch.

Know before you start exactly what you want to accomplish, budget accordingly, and buy everything you need ahead of time. Sure, you might find something else needs attention once you’ve gotten started, but minimizing the time and money lost to shipping something or running to the parts store minimizes the risk of distractions, mission creep, and failure.

Schedule

Under the car to bolt up the exhaust and check the oil pan bolts in an attempt to prevent any leaks. Corvair Corsa
Under the car to bolt up the exhaust and check the oil pan bolts in an attempt to prevent any leaks.

Thoroughly researching what’s needed to complete your project will allow you to budget your time. Whatever time you think you’ll need, add at least 25 to 50 percent more, and then schedule it. You figure replacing that radiator will take two hours? Budget three, and actually account for that stretch on your calendar. And whatever you do, make sure you aren’t starting a project you won’t have time enough to complete.

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