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9 benefits of DIY home improvement

Ananthakrishnan Ganesan, Head-Information Systems and Technology, APM Terminals, tells us about this unusual hobby and how it has improved his quality of life. By Satyaki Sarkar

In his career spanning 18 years, Ananthakrishnan Ganesan has worked in a number of sectors including service, infrastructure, imports, manufacturing, and IT. Technology is his passion and he’s helped companies like Siyaram Silk Mills set up their IT infrastructure from scratch. Stress is unfortunately a given in the C-suite and Ananthakrishnan has an unusual hobby that helps him find his balance. In a country where small household repairs are taken care of by experts, Ananthakrishnan prefers to roll up his sleeves and get down to doing it himself. Here he tells us why everyone should consider doing their own home improvement tasks.

1. You stay grounded
“When you take up a home improvement project you know that it is you yourself who is in charge of the entire thing, right from the basics to the finishing touches. The entire outcome, as well as all the trivial parts of the job, is your responsibility, no one else’s. It is a humbling experience and teaches that no job is too small or beneath you, and helps keep you grounded.”

2. Teaches you to stop chasing perfection
“None of us are trained professionals, so we do not always have the polished skill set that a professional carpenter, plumber, or electrician might have. But what we do have is the desire and the will to do it ourselves, to the best of our abilities. As such, we often make mistakes, and what we end up with might not always be perfect. We tend to lose out on a lot in life and in work because we tend to nit-pick and constantly run after perfection. So this teaches us that we don’t have to reach for perfection; what matters is whether the job is done satisfactorily and whether we have given it our best.”

3. Helps you understand the trade-offs
“In a country like India, we rarely take up home improvement ourselves. From a leaky pipe to a jammed door, our first instinct is to call a handyman. When you resolve to fix the issue yourself, you not only get to know what exactly has gone wrong, but also how much fixing it would actually cost, how to prevent the issue from recurring, and exactly what you need to do. You realise whether the cost of calling a professional is a justified expense and whether you should do it the next time.”

4. Increases family bonding
“Home improvement can very easily become an extremely fun bonding activity for the entire family. If a room needs to be repainted, instead of calling a professional or doing it yourself, you can plan a Sunday when the entire family can do the job together. Not only is it fun for kids, it also helps strengthen the family bond while doing something productive. One must, however, ensure suitable care so that the job is a safe and healthy exercise.”

5. Teaches patience
“If it’s just a matter of fixing up a leaky pipe or something trivial, it’s rare that you will make a mistake. But when you take up a big project, like building a corner table, you might find out that you’ve completely goofed it up, or haven’t made the right estimate of materials, instruments, and the things needed. As a result, you either have to start over or keep running to the store for supplies. In this way, home improvement teaches you how to have patience, understand your shortcomings, and not give up, no matter how many times you falter.”

6. You learn the value of planning ahead
“When I take on a big project at work I plan out the entire strategy and the expected outcome, as well as the foreseeable risks and how to overcome them. Similarly, it is important to create a plan for what you want to do in home improvement. I do dive headlong into it at times, without planning all elements, and that experience has taught me the value and the undeniable need to plan ahead, be it a small or big project.”

7. It is meditative and helps you professionally
“When you work on small projects, you tend to completely focus on the task at hand, thus shutting out the incessant chatter of your mind.  More often than not, I find myself analysing what I did right and where I went wrong and how could I improve, and it is a known fact that, be it professional or personal, how we approach tasks rarely changes, and this introspection and reflection helps me tackle professional challenges as well.”

8. It teaches you something new
“Every home improvement project, however small, is a lesson in something new. We aren’t taught how to do these tasks growing up, so we have to learn them as adults. Instead of calling a carpenter or plumber, who charge an exorbitant amount even for trivial jobs, I like to do fix things myself. And remember DIY does not mean that you do it all. You can do the bit that you are familiar with, get the degree of personalisation you want, and later employ a professional to take it to the desired complete level.”

9. It’s a stress-buster
“In the fast paced, stressful life we need a hobby or a pastime that lets us de-stress, and relax, completely shutting ourselves off from our work and our troubles. Home improvement is one of my hobbies that helps me relax and regain my composure, and I feel good while doing it, as I know I’m doing something productive. It’s a great way to take some time out for yourself but still give back to your family.” 

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