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9 Ways to Take the Stress out of House Repair

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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 November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

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15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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