I've said it before and I'll say it again: timing really is everything.  So, here are the best times to do some various chores:

  • Going to the post office. Find out when it opens, which is usually between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and show up about half an hour or so later. You'll hit a morning lull after the early birds who were lined up at the door have all been taken care of. Also, the mail carriers will have left by then, so the person at the desk won't get distracted by chatting with them.

  • Returning merchandise to a store. Get there when they unlock the doors usually about 10 a.m. Retailers usually have the most staff members on hand when they open, so you have a better chance of finding someone who'll give you your money back without any hassles. Also, the most experienced people usually get the best hours which means the day shift. So, you're likely to deal with someone who knows the definition of customer service.

  • Cleaning the house. Do it at 4 p.m. That's when hand-eye coordination is at its peak, and mood levels are high. But if someone in your family has allergies, make sure they won't be home for a while. According to Dr. Martha White, director of research for the Institute of Asthma and Allergy, it takes about an hour for allergens and dust to settle after you clean.

  • Take your dog for a walk. Between 8 and 9 p.m. He's been cooped up all day, and this is when you usually have more time to stroll, so your dog gets more time outdoors. Also, it gives him a chance to catch a whiff of some exciting dinnertime smells. And evening walks avoid midday overheating, and allow your pooch to expend all his pent-up energy before hunkering down for a good night's rest.