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9 Ways to Take the Stress out of House Repair

9 Ways to Take the Stress out of House Repair
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There’s no doubt that repairing a house is worthwhile but the amount of stress it produces can be overwhelming. Having just moved from a newer four bedroom colonial to a smaller (and older) Cape Cod style house, house repair has been a reality for the last five weeks. Here are some simple ways to lessen the stress of working on a home:

Doing it yourself might not be the answer. If money is tight, then doing some projects yourself makes perfect sense. On the other hand, if you are a 5 out of 10 on the handy-meter, a complex project might add more stress than it’s worth. Know your limits.

Work alongside a pro. Ask in advance if the contractor would mind if you shadow him for a few hours each day so that you can learn some tricks and skills. From tiling to laying down flooring, a contractor can show you the ropes in no time.

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Watch the big rocks. In my “new” house, two areas have been shouting for attention: electrical and plumbing. For big ticket items like these, you’ll want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Just as electrical current is not something to play around with, over-tightening that new kitchen sink is also a bad idea and can cause added stress down the road.

Anticipate delay. Even the best contractor faces delays. Weather, other open projects that need attention and anything else that can pop up will during your house repair. If he tells you that it will take four days, add two more and you won’t be surprised when the project lags on.

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Treat yourself. If your kitchen is being redone and you’ll be out of a sink for a week, why not treat yourself to dinner out every other night as a way of counter-balancing the stress of being without the hub of your home? Build the expense of eating out into your repair budget and you won’t feel so guilty when ordering at your favorite restaurant.

Avoid entertaining. While it’s nice to have folks stop by to see the project in its various stages, entertaining is another matter. Even a visit from the best of friends will create stress, not to mention the added work of picking things up and preparing a meal. An alternative might be to meet them at a local park for a picnic or going out to eat at your favorite hangout.

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Get into the mind of your contractor. Just because you may be a neat-freak doesn’t mean that your carpenter is one. Try to get into the head of the person you’ve hired so that you can understand his lifestyle and approach to things. Remember too that his standards of “finish work” may be different from yours so state your expectations and repeat them with respect and tact.

Be nice to those you hire. Nothing eases a project like getting along with those who are spending vast amounts of time in your house. Offering a cold drink on a hot day, coffee in the morning or a newspaper at lunch can go a long way.

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Drop a few hints. To keep things moving along and to get more out of the process, drop a few positive hints, promising a referral for the contractor or letting him know how nice the new backsplash looks. You might also walk him around to other someday/maybe projects that you have been thinking of.

Mike St. Pierre hosts The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

Do you know that prioritization is an art? It is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you.

By prioritization, I’m not talking so much about assigning tasks, but deciding which will take chronological priority in your day—figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave to last.

Effective Prioritization

There are two approaches to “prioritizing” the tasks in your to-do list that I see fairly often:

Approach #1 Tackling the Biggest Tasks First and Getting Them out of the Way

The idea is that by tackling them first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method.[1]

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Approach #2 Tackling the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily, with Minimal Effort

Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness.

If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

Figure out Your Approach for Prioritization

My own approach is perhaps a mixture of the two.

I’ll write out my daily task list and draw little priority stars next to the three items I need to get done that day. They don’t need to be big tasks, but nine times out of ten, they are.

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Smaller tasks are rarely important enough to warrant a star in the first place; I can always get away without even checking my inbox until the next day if I’m swamped, and the people who need to get in touch with me super quickly know how.

But I’m not recommending my system of prioritization to you. I’m also not saying that mine is better than Leo’s Big Rocks method, and I’m not saying it’s better than the “if it can be done quickly, do it first” method either.

The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies very much on you and the way you work. Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus on and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed (personally, I recommend the Mark All As Read button—I use it most days!).

I’m in between, because my own patterns can be all over the place. Some days I will be ready to rip into massive projects at 7AM. Other times I’ll feel the need to zero every inbox I have and clean up the papers on my desk before I can focus on anything serious. I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at 11AM or 3PM or some specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming on when and try to keep my schedule liquid enough that I can adapt.

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That’s why I use a starred task list system rather than a scheduled task list. It allows me to trust myself (something that I suppose takes a certain amount of discipline) and achieve peak efficiency by blowing with the winds. If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

You may not be able to trust yourself to that extent without falling into the busywork trap. You may not be able to tackle big tasks first thing in the morning without feeling like you’re pushing against an invisible brick wall that won’t budge. You might not be able to deal with small tasks before the big tasks without feeling pangs of guilt and urgency.

My point is:

The prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. They’re all pretty good for a group of people, not least of all to the people who espouse them because they use them and find them effective.

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What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of dogma (and I’m not saying Leo Babauta or David Allen preach these things as dogma, but sometimes their proponents do) until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

And if the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In truth, this principle applies to all sorts of personal productivity issues, though it’s important to know which issues it applies to.

If you thought multitasking worked well for you each day and I’d have to contend that you are wrong—multitasking is a universal myth in my books! But if you find yourself prioritizing tasks that never get done, you might need to reconsider which of the above approaches you’re using and change to a system that is more personally effective.

More About Prioritization & Time Management

Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

Reference

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