Post written by Neil
Do you find yourself wishing you could buy time?
When there are not enough hours in the day to get all your daily goals and chores done, do you wish you could just click your fingers and have the whole house clean, the car washed, the lawn mowed, the food shop done?
Well, you’re not alone.
Fi and I often catch ourselves wishing for more hours in the day. Even more so in the last 6 months where we’ve been the busiest we’ve ever been (in a good way!). We’ve produced, written and launched an online course, started a Happy Home Club (which is free by the way) all while juggling full time jobs and shooting weddings (I’m a wedding photographer part time).
It’s been a great 6 months, and in this time we’ve learned some useful ways to optimise our time so that we can be 100% productive doing the things we need to and enjoying our lives to the maximum.
In this post, I want to share with you the 7 home hacks we’ve been practising which have optimised our lives and home, in the hope it gives you some extra time doing the things you love.
1. Don't leave the room empty handed
This hack is simple. Before you leave any room, scan it for stuff that needs to go in the bin, or brought to the sink, and don’t leave the room without doing it. We've been doing this recently and it's made a real difference to the tidiness of our house. By building this habit into your routine you spend far less time wandering around ‘pottering’ later on, putting things back when where they came from, meaning that when you do your cleaning you skip one of the first chunks of your usual cleaning process. Think of it as an investment in your future, where you save yourself the hassle of moving stuff about later.
Edit from Fi here - it’s me that does the bloody cleaning anyway!!!
2. Make your bed every morning
Research shows that accomplishing a small task like making your bed in the morning primes the human brain for the activity of 'doing' or being productive. Even a task as small as making your bed can set a snowball effect in motion of instigating positive behaviours for the rest of your day. Developing this habit also saves you time coming back to do it later in the day - or forgetting to do it completely.
3. Squeegee your shower every day
This is a great hack that isn’t practised enough, and definitely a trick to help speed up the time spent cleaning your bathroom, especially if you have a shower screen and live in a hard water area. You'll keep the screen and your tiles squeaky clean and free of limescale so that your cleaning process is so much easier - no scrubbing necessary. We bought this squeegee which has been awesome. It comes with a hook to hang the squeegee onto when not in use.
4. Get on top of your finances
We created a spreadsheet to manage our finances back in 2012 and since then we've saved for and bought a flat, a house, numerous holidays, and on the whole remain money-worry free all because of the careful planning we do. That said, we’re still human and we get our moments when money seems to fly out the window (something fellow home renovators will know all about). The way to achieve a strong savings plan if you’re working as a couple like we are is to create transparency in your finances so that you are both able to understand the challenges each other faces. For example, Fi has to spend a fair bit more than I on travel (she gets the bus to work, I cycle), so we account for this in our savings plans. The spreadsheet we use is now for sale in our shop, we’ve named it the Life Budget Planner and it comes with a how-to video sharing tips and examples to use the planner effectively.
4. Batch cook your meals
We've been pushing this tip for years and it never gets old, a few more ingredients to prepare but the benefits in terms of time saving and cost savings are excellent. Using a slow cooker to create your meal also makes a load of sense as it is low cost and high capacity. Freeze stews, soups, chilli, curry for quick consumption whenever you don't fancy cooking and washing up. The slow cooker we recommend is this Morphy Richards red one which is an upgrade on the one we’ve had for years, since we lived in our old flat. The best bit about this one is that you can sear the meat in the same pot - saves on washing up!
5. Use your washing machine timer
Many don't realise all of the functions of their home appliances but if you spend a few minutes flicking through your washing machine manual you might be pleasantly surprised what you find out it can do. We utilise the timing function on our washing machine quite regularly with great success. We set the timer in the morning for the washing machine to start in 6 hours. This means that it is finished when we get home and can hang the washing out to dry without it sitting around in the machine and starting to smell and without having to listen to spin cycle!
6. Order your food online
Everyone knows this one, but judging by the amount of people still wandering around the supermarket, it's still not in common usage. You can build lists within your online shop and re-use the core items to save loads of time. We like it because we don’t have to spend money on petrol, wait in queues and use precious weekend time to complete our shop. An added benefit is that instead of walking around a shop being tempted by impulse buying you will stick to the script and buy only the things that you 100% need.
7. Create weekly meal plans
We started doing this ages ago and it saves a load of time, we use a notes app; our favourite is Google Keep because you can collaborate easily with other Google users. Create a label “meals” and start entering your meal plans into notes with this label every week. To start with try to keep your meal plans varied from week to week with lots of original meals. When you get 2-3 months into this process all of your meal plans will be there under the label “meals” and you’ll never have to think from scratch what you want to eat.
So, what do you think about our ways to optimise our lives? Do you have any ways that save time? Leave a comment with your ideas below and we might well do a follow up with all of the best ideas you have submitted.
Thanks for reading!
Neil (+ Fifi) xoxo