Dirty Dishes and Other Household Chores 142 Excuse buster:Stop the problem before it happens by not letting yourself get so pressed for time. When you're calculating how much time you need between waking up and walking out the door, you factor in things like brushing your teeth, getting dressed, making coffee, wolfing down some breakfast, and scanning the paper. Added to that time should be a couple of minutes for bagging up the trash and walking down the hall, out back, down the driveway, or wherever to dump it. "I have too many other things to carry when I leave the house." Excuse buster:First of all, do you have to carry so much stuff? Sometimes, people are not only packrats at home but also when they go places. Try to take less stuff or consolidate what you must take into fewer bags. If you collect your trash in large bags, try switching to smaller bags, such as plastic grocery bags with handles. They'll be easier to carry when you don't have a free hand, just a couple of free fingers. "The bags always break by the time I get to the trash receptacle, so I dread doing it." Excuse buster:Buy stronger bags and don't cram so much trash into them. This excuse is really lame (but one that I've used myself, so I know how tempting it is!). Most of these excuses are just plain old habit. When you stop to think about them (using the Stop, Look, and Listen formula described in Chapter 12, "The Secret Formula to Overcoming Procrasti- nation"), you'll realize that they aren't particularly valid excuses at all. Matter of Fact Some people put off household repairs or home improvement projects because they get lost shopping in those gargantuan stores that seem to sell everything and the kitchen sink. You might find it easier to shop by catalog. The Renovator's catalog (800-659-2211) has everything from patio furniture to bathroom vanities, weather- vanes, and light switch wall plates. Equally handy is the Improvements catalog (www.improvementscata- log.com), which contains hundreds of quick and clever problem-solvers such as caulking tools, gutter pumps, and a 13-foot window washer brush for second-story windows. (There goes one excuse for not washing the windows.) This Old House In the procrastination survey, making home repairs or arranging for others to do them was one of the tasks respondents most often cited as being a problem for them. Much of the reason for this may be that having something break, leak, squeak, or otherwise get out of whack is not at all part of one's daily routine. We drop off dry cleaning on Monday mornings and pick it up on Thursdays. We vacuum on Saturdays and cut the grass on Sunday afternoon. What we don't have as part of our routine is fixing a closet door that suddenly doesn't close right or finding a plumber to repair a leaky faucet and rearranging our schedules to be home while the work is being done. To keep the roof over your head not only standing, but functioning well, try these tricks: · Keep a running list of non-urgent repairs to be done and schedule times to do them, just as you would schedule any other appointments or chores. In addition to doing them at scheduled times, you can also do them whenever you have some down time. Having the list helps you get a quick glimpse at what needs to be done, so when you have a few minutes free and are feeling moti- vated to do something, you won't have to try to remember what needs fixing. You'll see it on the list.