Thursday, 27 March 2014

Be more productive at home ... without doing more! (3 great tips)

Do you ever wish there were more hours in the day?
Do you write 'to-do' lists, which you rarely complete? 

If you're anything like me, you'll have answered yes to both these questions!

After a bruising day at work, whether it's toiling on a building site, battling office politics or dealing with troublesome customers, the simple task of getting home and putting a meal on the table before clearing it up can feel like a major achievement, but:

What about the peeling paint in the bathroom? You said you'd get it done last week!

Did you remember you need to pick Katie up from her friend's house tonight?

You'll need to get some fresh milk for breakfast tomorrow! 

It's easy to become overwhelmed by the demands of every-day life before losing sight of what we really want to achieve. It's easy to put things off which we know we should do, whilst pouring our energies into dealing with smaller and less significant things. But amidst the chaos and conflicting priorities, is it possible to be more productive at home without actually becoming any busier than we already are?

I suggest 3 tips to help:

1) Take action on the truly important things:

Of course, I want to live in a neat and tidy house, perfectly decorated, with stunning features and accompanied by a lush garden, which oozes class. Of course I want to make stacks of money whilst working minimal hours so I can spend my best time with my wife, children and on my hobbies ... who wouldn't want that? But that's not real life for most people and when we try to achieve it, we generally  cause untold stress on ourselves and on those around us.

If you want to be more productive at home, identify the things which are truly important to you, the things which if you were not able to achieve, your entire being would be damaged. Normally, what comes at the top of most people's wish-lists are high quality relationships with our loved ones rather than a lush garden or a tidy house.

Once you've identified the important things, take action to make them happen. The less important things can wait and if you ever get round to achieving them, it's a bonus and if you don't achieve them, it's not a big deal.

2) Lower your standards on trivial things

This is obviously linked to the first tip. Time is both infinite and constant and it's impossible to make more time. Therefore, if you want to be more productive at home with the important things, you may have to lower your standards on the trivial things.

For example, whilst my kitchen is spotless and like something out of an ideal show-home, the rest of my house is generally a bit dusty, I only iron what is absolutely crucial and whilst our meals are home-cooked, we try to keep them simple during the week ... just a few small sacrifices we make because our top priority is spending quality time together.

"Take pleasure in what you do achieve rather than beating yourself up about what you don't achieve." 

So many of us fall into the trap of looking at our neighbours and thinking they have it easier than we do, that they're doing a better job at juggling work and home life or have the garden we'd love, or the car we wish we could afford.  The funny thing is, quite often, they're looking at us wishing that they had something that we take for granted.

Delight in the things you do achieve, and make peace with the things you don't achieve ... remember … there's something ironic about the fact that the things you don't achieve, are not achieved only because you put your energies into the good things which you have achieved!

3) Kill two birds with one stone wherever possible

I massively value my time with my children and wife. That said, there are jobs which still need doing around the house and which could eat into that quality time. Talking of eating, we value eating home-cooked food, we value eating around a table together and as I already mentioned, we value eating in our spotless kitchen. So in order to achieve quality time and a spotless kitchen, the kids help us to keep it looking good.

After a meal, they get to choose what chores they do out of the dishwasher, clearing the table, wiping the table, sweeping the floor, putting away and whatever else needs doing ... and they also get to choose which radio station we have on in the background. We then clear up together. Family time becomes chore time, which becomes family time, it's all the same thing.

When you have many things, which you want to achieve, consider how you can 'kill two birds with one stone', take aim and throw that one stone!

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  1. Thank you for these suggestions, they are very helpful. I have to admit it sometimes gets very draining when i keep high standards and don't involve the kids with house chores. Now i am being more conscious of involving everyone with as much as possible. Great Post Andrew!

    1. Thanks for your comment and feedback - am glad you found the post useful.