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9 Ways to Take the Stress out of House Repair

9 Ways to Take the Stress out of House Repair
Drill

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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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