Sometimes it seems as if life is an endless wait in line, one long busy signal, an eternity on "hold." Isn't there a rule of life that says: "The more you have to do, the longer each thing will take"?
Learning to do various chores at the right time may not solve all your problems, but it may speed some things along. Here's what we found out for a ew of life's little activities. We can't list everything, but there seems to be one general rule of thumb. Whenever possible, do things on Wednesday. Most places tend to slow down at midweek.Otherwise, in no particular order, here are a few of the best times to:
Buy groceries: This can vary somewhat depending upon store and area, but generally in the Salt Lake area, says Smith's Art Jackson, the busiest times are Thursdays from 5-8 p.m., Fridays from 4 to 10 p.m. and all day Saturday.
The least busy times include most of Monday and any morning before 10 a.m.
Make airline reservations: Airline reservation numbers listed in the Yellow Pages are most likely to be busiest from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays (as business people plan their travel). Call in the early evening, roughly between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
If you are calling a travel agent, Monday and Friday tend to be the busiest. But morning is probably the best time to call, to give the agent time to work on things and get back to you. The worst time to call is 4:45 in the afternoon.
Travel: Airfares go down at noon on Wednesday and up at noon on Thursday. If your plans will allow you to travel between those times and still stay over a Saturday night, you will likely get lower fares and have fewer crowds, says DeAnn Emerson, travel agent at Murdock Travel.
If you can travel in the off season, you can generally get better fares and avoid crowds. Basically, that means traveling in the cold months, although summer is the best time for cruises to the Caribbean and Hawaii.
Off-season travel times for popular destinations include: Cape Cod - November to May; Yosemite - September and October; Great Britain - October to March; France - June, September and November; Hawaii - summer and October and November; the Bahamas - April to December; Disney World - in the fall.
Have your car worked on. This can vary somewhat depending on the season. And you can check with your own repair shop or service station for their schedule. But, says Kent Nelson, owner of Kent's Conoco, Mondays tend to be their busiest day. If the weather's good, Fridays and Saturday mornings tend to be slow. Midweek is usually a good bet anytime.
For car inspections, the end of the month is always busy. So is the first - with people who forgot to get it done sooner. "You can get your inspection done up to 60 days ahead of when it is due," reminds Nelson. "That gives you plenty of time to take care of any problems and avoid a last-minute rush."
Drive on the highway: For accidents that result in injuries, Friday between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. is the worst time on the highway, says Gary Whitney, public information officer with the Utah Department of Public Safety. Sunday is the best day, with the very safest hours between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.
For fatalities, the worst day is Saturday. The fewest fatalities occur on Monday. The worst times of day are between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m; the safest times are between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Get your furnace and air conditioner checked. A good rule for both: Check them out and arrange for repairs or maintenance well before the heating and cooling seasons begin.
For heating, the best time is September, says Mary, of Mountain Fuel's customer service department. She says their busiest times tend to be the first and last part of the month, when most people move. Mondays and days after holidays also tend to be busy.
For air conditioning, flick your unit on in early spring to test for any problems. Once the season begins, you might have to wait as long as two weeks for repairs.
Get a marriage license: If you want to get married at the busiest times - June, August, September, Valentine's Day, university quarter-breaks - you'll likely be scrambling for the same churches, reception halls and caterers as everyone else. You may also find long lines at the marriage license bureau.
The marriage license division at the Salt Lake County clerk's office is busiest on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Afternoons tend to be busier than mornings. Some 30 minutes of paperwork are required, so don't show up after 4:30 and expect to get your license. A marriage license is good for 30 days.
Call your pediatrician: Monday mornings can be awfully hectic. Phones ring constantly as parents call about youngsters who've become ill over the weekend. After school is another busy time.
If you need to call to make an appointment or get some information, your best bet is after 11 a.m. and before 3 p.m.
See your doctor: Some people swear by getting the first appointment of the day. But doctors can be delayed by hospital rounds and emergencies, so that idea's not foolproof. There doesn't seem to be a consensus as to the busiest days or specific times to avoid - so check with your own doctor or clinic.
Go to the bank: At most branches and offices, the busiest times are lunch hour (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and Friday afternoons. Some automatic teller machines are busy at lunchtime and on Saturday evenings.
But get to know the quirks at your particular branch; some days are likely to be busier than others depending on payroll schedules for surrounding offices.
Call the cable TV company: "Our phones are very open now," says Mindy Jeffries of TCI Cablevision. "A few years ago a lot of people complained they could never get through to us, but that has changed." Their phone lines tend to be busiest after bills go out at the first of the month and again around the 15th of the month when there are disconnects for non-payment, she says.
On any given day the busiest times will likely be over the noon hour (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and late afternoon as people get home from work (3-6 p.m.).
Take your kids to dinner: Go early, about 6 p.m. or so. Not only will the children be likely to be less tired and cranky and thus will be better behaved, there will be fewer diners around to be bothered by their antics.
Renew your driver's license: Because driver's licenses expire on birthdays and those are scattered pretty evenly throughout the month, it is hard to predict which days might be busiest. However, you can renew your license up to six months ahead of your birthday (and you don't lose any time on it - your next one will still expire on your birthday).
Mondays and Fridays tend to be a bit busier, says a spokesman at the Fairgrounds office. And the earlier in the day, the better, he says. Things tend to pile up at the lunch hour and drag on from there.
If you can renew your license by mail (you have to have no more than 50 points on your record and no medical problems) you can avoid standing in line - but on the other hand, you're stuck with the same old picture.
Get your car registration: Do it by mail, if you can - it can save a lot of time, says Janice Perry of the State Tax Commission. If you have to visit the Motor Vehicle Division office, midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and midmonth are best. Avoid the 30th, 31st and 1st of any month. The Fairgrounds office is generally less busy than the Murray office, she says.
Get help from the Social Security office: Mondays and Fridays and days after holidays are always busy. Mornings tend to be busier than afternoons. The best is between 1-4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Do your taxes: There are two busy periods at tax time. The most obvious is the week before the April 15 deadline. But there is also a pretty good rush from theend of January through mid-February, when typical wage earners who are getting a refund want to get it done, says David Petersen of H&R Block. Things slow down from the middle of February on through March and pick up again in April.
He says that their offices tend to be the busiest Tuesdays and then business tapers off toward the end of the week. Saturday mornings are busy, but the afternoons are slow.
His advice: Do your taxes early even if you don't send them in until April 15 (if you owe, you may want to hold it; if the government owes you, send it in soon).
Individual tax accountants' and CPAs' schedules may differ; check with your own to find the best time. But generally, the earlier, the better.
Get help from the Internal Revenue Service: The closer it gets to April 15, the more of a challenge you'll have getting answers to questions. So start early.
The toll-free tax assistance number is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday: 1 (800) 829-1040. You can also get recorded information and such on the teletax line: 1 (800) 829-4477.
At the IRS office in Salt Lake City, the busiest days are Monday and Wednesday; the busiest times are the lunch hour - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - and again from 4 to 4:30 p.m., says tax information specialist Jeff Harding. He reminds taxpayers there are also IRS offices in the federal buildings in both Ogden and Provo.
Get a haircut: Saturdays are always wild, says Heidi of Fantastic Sam's. Mondays and Fridays tend to be busy; things usually are slower on Tuesday and Wednesday. On any given day, lunch and dinner time tend to be slow; and it slows down after 6 p.m.
January and February are the slowest months; many people got their hair done for the holidays and don't have major things done again until March or April. If you want to get a permanent or such, think about doing it now.
Get your dry cleaning done: This can vary somewhat depending on shop and location, and you might want to check with your favorite cleaner, but Demetria at one of the Red Hanger shops says their busiest days are Monday and Saturday. She says the early morning hours tend to be busy with people dropping things off, and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. is the busiest time for pickups. If you can avoid those times, you'll get in and out faster.
Visit a laundromat: Weekdays are the best bet. Mornings tend to be busier than lunch time and early afternoon. Evenings can sometimes get crowded; avoid the post-dinner crowd (7:30 p.m.) if possible.
Call about newspaper delivery or place a classified ad: If you have a question about your bill or subscription or want to stop or start delivery, the phones are usually the least busy from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., says customer service supervisor Julie King. Before and after that, lines can be tied up with questions on that day's deliveries. Things slow down again from 6 to 8 p.m.
If you want to place a classified ad, avoid Thursday afternoons and all day Friday. Everyone waits to the last minute to place their weekend ads, says King, and phone lines get clogged in a hurry. Your best time to call: between 8 and 11 a.m. Tuesday or Wednesday.
Adopt a pet. Anytime is a good time for the animals, says Katherine Barnt at the Humane Society. But June has been designated adopt-a-cat month because that is the time a lot of kittens are born. October is adopt-a-dog month. You can often find discounts and specials on pet food and supplies during these times.
It's a good idea not to introduce a pet into the household at at time when it will get lost in the shuffle or be overwhelmed by other activities.
Animal shelters tend to be a little busier on weekends than weekdays, although Mondays can also be busy.
Make a long-distance telephone call: This can vary somewhat depending upon your carrier and calling plans you might have, but according to an AT&T spokesman, the cheapest hours to call are between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. on weekdays, all day on Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. The next best time to call is between 5 and 11 p.m. on weekdays and all day Sunday.
Rates are highest and phone lines busiest between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day are the busiest holidays. Holiday calls are charged at the 5-11 p.m. rate.
Go to a movie: You can avoid ticket lines, crowded theaters (and sometimes get a better price on tickets) if you can make the afternoon matinee (the 5 p.m. show or earlier). The biggest crowds, naturally, are on Friday and Saturday nights - especially for the 7 or 7:30 shows.
Some theaters will let you buy tickets several hours before the show. You can get the tickets, grab a bite to eat and then take in the movie.
Rent a video: Weekends, particularly Saturdays, are wild, says Troylin at Rocky Mountain Video. Mondays also get hectic, with people bringing back weekend videos and picking up new ones while they are there. On any given day, the busiest hours are between 5 and 7 p.m.
You will get the best selection and run into fewer lines on weekdays. Some stores will let you reserve your favorite video for a particular time. That may help you avoid the disappointments if not always the crowds.
Go to lunch: If you work at a downtown office, you know that eating places can fill up at noon. Barbara at the Crossroads Plaza says that their food court is busiest from 11:45 to 1:45 every day. Whether your stomach will let you go to lunch at any other time is the question.
In an average week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the busiest days.
She says the court also gets busy in the evenings on nights when some downtown entertainment is going on - Jazz game, concert, etc.