! Welcome to the forums. It's highly possible that a simple format and fresh install of your OS (most probably XP) will get things running nicely again. I find that XP gets "clogged up" over time, so I backup all my data and fresh install XP every six months or so...
Also, you may want to try a Google search for XP speed tweaks.
If everything is running as best as possible and you still want more, you can visit http://www.crucial.com/
and run their online scanner, I believe upgrading your RAM would be about the best thing you can do, XP runs pretty average with only 256MB. An upgrade to 512MB or 1GB would clear things up nicely. The scan will show what options are available and recommend some compatible RAM modules - Crucial are an excellent brand, but you don't have to buy. You can just write down the specs and purchase from elsewhere. It may also be possible to upgrade the processor, but I wouldn't want to spend much money on it as it's old technology now. We don't recommend purchasing parts off eBay, it's easy to get stung with high postage fees and/or faulty components.
Also note that upgrading the RAM doesn't necessarily make your computer "faster", but I feel in this case the upgrade should provide significant headroom to multi-task, so you should notice a difference.
If you feel up to it, and are technically-inclined (radio repairs sounds good), then you can most probably give it a go. You'll just need to find where the RAM is located on your particular model. Some laptops it's hiding under the keyboard, others it's elsewhere underneath.
Hope this is of help to you