If you assume there is a way to deal with a problem, you’ll probably find one.

1. Be positive

1. Be positive

You’ve seen the bumper sticker. Stuff happens. Minor frustrations are the norm, not the exception.

Trying to pin blame on someone is usually a waste of time.

Negativity clouds the mind. Got it? Good.

Because avoiding the victim trap is an essential component of the fixer philosophy.

If you drop and break a china cup, you can think “unfair,” or you can marvel at how long you and that cup defied gravity, a force powerful enough to sling planets through the solar system.

Then you can zero in on a solution.

You must get over that initial emotional response to a problem.

Only then you will start to think of solutions.

If you assume there is a way to deal with a problem, you’ll probably find one. Think self-fulfilling prophecy.


2. Have a sense of humour

2. Have a sense of humour

If looking on the bright side is an indispensable fix-it trait, sometimes it’s also necessary to get downright silly, especially when things are so bad (a backed-up toilet is flooding the hall, a downpour drenches your business suit before an important meeting) that the alternative is tears.

If negativity clouds the mind, acute stress shackles bright ideas. Break those chains with a little laughter.

3. Think fast, but take your time

3. Think fast, but take your time

Sounds like some impossible Zen paradox, right? Like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Well, there’s an important distinction between thinking fast and acting fast without thinking. The latter is called panicking, and panic has no place in the Five Minute Philosophy.

Say your son loses a tooth in a backyard ball game.

He’s screaming, his friends are screaming, blood is everywhere.

What do you do? Rush him to the hospital? Yes, but . . . thinking fast, you search for the tooth and find it lying in the grass. Sure enough, the dislodged tooth might be reimplanted.

Rinse the tooth with water (touching the crown only) and slip it back into the socket (or into a cup of cold milk) to prevent it from drying out.

Now you can drive your son – carefully – to the emergency room.

A well thought-out fix is more effective than a botched attempt at a speedy fix.

If you assume there is a way to deal with a problem, you’ll probably find one.

4. Be prepared

4. Be prepared

You might think being prepared means stocking the world’s most complete set of tools: a different gadget for every loose nut, leaky pipe, or scratched antique credenza.

A garage-load of tools is expensive and mentally burdensome. (Where is that three-tined, chrome-plated thingamabob?)

Not being able to put your hands on a tool can turn a five minute job into a two-month-and-five-minute job.

Here are some ideas on how to generally prepare yourself for the problems that punctuate our daily lives.
• You may take them for granted, but your hands are your best tools, whether used alone or in conjunction with a screwdriver, pot scrubber, or garden rake.

Practice fine motor skills with detailed work such as needlepoint or piano playing.

Build strength by squeezing a tennis ball while watching television. Hone hand-eye coordination through art projects, such as sculpting, whittling, or calligraphy.

• It’s like a computer database of past experience. Make a mental note every time a problem arises and you attempt a solution, whether you’re successful or not. The database will build on itself, improving your effectiveness.
• OK, you can get only so far using your hands and mind. Here’s a good general tip for being tool-ready for most household fixes. As we suggest later, keep two tool totes handy – one filled with what you need for light repairs (claw hammer, small ruler, cordless screwdriver with two-way bit, locking-style pliers, brads, finish nails, flashlight, pencil, stud finder) and the other empty.

When a special project arises, load the empty one with the right tools, and you’re ready.

5. Think out of the box

5. Think out of the box
Px Here

Some fixes are straightforward. Others demand creativity.

Say your window screen has a small hole. The most straightforward approach would be to replace the screen.

But that’s overkill, both time-consuming and expensive.

You could, of course, patch it with a piece of screen, but the patch would be an ugly blemish on the otherwise uniform screen.

After a little creative thinking, you dab clear nail polish over the hole, which invisibly seals it. Voila! That’s thinking outside the box.

Another example: What do you do if the drawstring comes out of your pajamas?

Do you toss them and buy another pair? Of course not. And yet you’ll find no special pajama-stringing tool at your local hard-ware or fabric store.

Thinking creatively, you tie the end of the drawstring to a pencil and poke that through the pajama waist, bunching and smoothing the fabric until the tip pokes through the other hole.

No pencil or other tool to tie the string to?

Wet one end of the drawstring and place the string in the freezer.

Once it has hardened, use the stiff end to work through the waistband.

The true five minute fixer knows that anything is a potential tool.

6. Know thine enemy

6. Know thine enemy
Px Here

Trying to tackle a problem that you don’t fully understand can make matters worse.

Let’s say you’ve got ants in your house.

Your first response might be to grab a can of bug spray and start blasting.

But if those ants happen to be Pharaoh ants, then the queen will splinter the colony, creating new queens to lay more eggs for survival.

Instead of conquering the ants, you may have unwittingly doubled or tripled the colony’s size.

So study a problem. Analyze it. Break it down into its most elemental parts: ants, house, access point between the two. Do your homework. (Maybe your local cooperative extension agency can identify the ants.) And then choose a solution.

In this case, sealing up the entry point will likely halt the migration of ants into the house.

If you assume there is a way to deal with a problem, you’ll probably find one.

7. Be flexible

7. Be flexible
Px Here

A necessary ingredient for the aforementioned creativity is flexibility: the ability to adapt to new situations.

Being flexible means keeping an open mind, whether that involves the tools you use or the results you seek.

The key to flexibility when it comes to tools is to step back from the name of an object, which limits how it can be used.

Take a bread pan, for example. If you view it as a deep-sided rectangular metal tray rather than merely as a pan for bread, a world of uses may open up.

8. Start simple

8. Start simple
Martin Firrell/ wikipedia

If the simplest solution doesn’t work, move on to more involved ones.

If your car won’t start, you would first check the battery and maybe try jump-starting it.

If that doesn’t work, check the spark plugs.

If it’s not the spark plugs, try the carburetor.

There’s no reason to expend time, effort, and resources if the simplest possible solution solves the problem.

Besides, a step-by-step approach -from simplest to most involved -gives you a problem-solving structure to follow.

9. Think it through

9. Think it through

Guided imagery. Cancer patients use it to overcome pain.

World-class athletes depend on it for success.

Author Dale Carnegie espoused it as a way to win friends and influence people.

Also known as visualization, guided imagery is the practice of mentally mapping out a sequence of desired results, such as a golfer visualizing her swing, the arc of the ball, and where it will land on a fairway.

Practicing guided imagery can help the savvy fixer anticipate goof-ups and achieve greater problem-solving success.
Here’s how visualisation might apply to a five minute fix.

Once you’ve settled on a solution but before you dive in and start gluing that ladder-back chair back together, take a few minutes to walk through the sequence of events in your mind.

See each step. Feel it. Try to experience it before you actually do it. Layer on any details, such as the fit of the chair rungs and the dripping of the glue, to fill out the picture. Relax. Don’t rush.

Finally, linger on the most important image: the end result. Your goal is to start with success clearly imprinted in the mind.