How to make working from home a time saver, not a time waster

We all know the way it should be, working from home = no commute, saving time and money.  You're more productive without the distractions of the office and you get a better work / life balance with more flexibility to get a few chores done.  However, how do you stop your family popping in your office every 5 minutes? It can be a bit too unstructured, with the tendancy to procrastinate by emptying the dishwasher or putting some laundry in the machine. 

So how can you make the most of your time? Have a to-do list and a timetable, which includes regular breaks.  In fact, the distraction of hanging out washing in the fresh air, gives your body a stretch, your eyes a rest from the screen and lets your brain re-focus. Know your body clock.  If you like to be up with the lark, power through your work in the morning and take a power nap when you get a dip after lunch. If you're a night owl, have a lie in and do your best work in the afternoon and early evening.  If distractions from family members are a problem then agree the rules - if your door is shut then it's do not disturb unless it's an emergency!  However, take breaks at strategic times, like when the kids get home from school.  Once you've given them a little bit of attention, they'll be happy to watch TV for a bit!

When you're working from home, procrastination and distraction by household tasks can be a drain on your time.  Here are a few of my top tips to streamline your chores and free up your time.

Meals

Ever get to the end of the day and think 'What are we going to have for dinner?' To avoid the dinner crisis plan a weekly menu and list all the ingredients you need to form your shopping list.  Have a 20 minute meal repertoire of quick dishes. Bulk cook at the weekend and freeze, so you can enjoy a healthy home cooked meal in the week.  The slow cooker is your friend!  Chuck it all in at breakfast and enjoy the fruits of your labours for dinner. Try out one of the recipe meal boxes on offer, fresh ready to cook food, delivered to your door.  And finally, give yourself a night off with a ready meal or takeaway!

Shopping

How many of you are still driving to the supermarket, loading your trolley, putting it on the belt, loading it into bags, driving it home and unpacking it?  All so you can be sure you get the special offers and no bruised fruit!  You can spend 10 minutes on your ipad sitting on the sofa and then your shopping arrives the next day.  All you have to do is put it away!  Many supermarkets are offering price matching on internet shops and it's easy to browse their offers.  And if you get a bruised apple or a broken egg, just ask for a refund.  Some companies deliver for free if you spend over £100 mid week.  So you save your petrol money and about one and a half hours of your time.  It's a no-brainer!

Laundry

Have 2 baskets, one for lights and one for darks, so your washing is pre-sorted.  A shorter spin reduces creases and use your washing machine timer to make sure you're ready to remove the washing when it's finished.  Hang shirts straight onto hangers to dry to save handling twice. Remove clothes from the tumble drier promptly, reducing the need to iron a lot of items. Only iron what you absolutely have to - who looks at your duvet cover?  Lower your ironing standards or pay someone else to do it!

Clutter

Keep your workspace uncluttered and tidy.  Clutter is stressful and distracting.  Avoid piles, they are the biggest time wasters!

About you

How often do you ask for help from your family?  Even little ones can do basic chores.  If your children are doing jobs like emptying the dishwasher or taking the bins out, it's one less job for you to do.

Work out your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  If you are an ace gardener and love cutting the lawn, brilliant! But if you're a deckchair kind of person, get a gardener in!

Think how much your free time is worth to you. Sometimes it's worth paying someone to do your chores so you can have more free time.  The fundamental key is to outsource those routine, boring or difficult tasks or those you simply don't have time to do.

That's what a concierge is for!