Those returning to work this week are about to discover how complicated it is to work full time, and manage to do all the things necessary for life.
Those of us who are not in the NHS, but nevertheless have continued working full time, are well acquainted with the frustration of trying to find enough hours in the day to work, and still queue for shopping and any other service we need. So what can you do to make life easier?
NB: if you do shop online, please make sure you do so safely. Use secure passwords, pay with Paypal if you can, and use a separate bank account for online shopping.
Many stores offer online shopping, and often you can shop in your favourite stores from anywhere you have an internet connection. I've been doing most of my shopping online, and have been satisfied with the results. I have regular supermarkets that I use, shops I buy from, catalogue stores and auction sites. For anything random, I usually go to Amazon, and because I have Prime membership, many items are delivered the next day, free of charge.
A previous blog looked at shopping online in more detail.
It takes far less time to shop online that it does to go around a store, plus you can keep an eye on how much you're spending, to help you stay in budget. Many shops 'remember' what you've bought before, so you can simply look up your list of favourites, and then select the ones you want to order again.
At present, delivery slots for supermarkets can be very hard to come by, and some stores are not registering new customers. If this is the case, then you may wish to consider:
Click and Collect
It is often easier to get a slot for 'Click and Collect' which is where you buy stuff online, then collect it from the shop, in some cases, much like a drive through. Again, from the comfort of your sofa you can load up your trolley, and then detour past the shop on your way home to collect your stuff.
Find the best price
There are many sites which allow you to shop around, and find the best price on an item: Google Shopping offers this option. The Money Saving Expert has a lot of brilliant advice for helping you to save money shopping online. Additionally, there are many sites that will help you find vouchers to get discounts on your shopping. Some, such as Vouch can be added to your internet browser, and will add any codes they can find to your shopping basket automatically.
Online banking allows you to manage your bank accounts remotely, and in most instances, offers almost as many services as you will find in branch. If you're not already set up for online banking, then check to see whether you can set this up without going into the branch. I've been banking online for years, but I recently discovered that my bank has a mobile phone app, that allows you to deposit a cheque through the app. I was delighted not to have to go into the bank! if you do bank online though, make sure you chose VERY secure passwords.
if you can't set up your account now to bank online, consider opening an account with Transferwise (read more here) which you can do remotely. Also, a Paypal account can be set up online. (Do be aware though that these accounts do have fees for using the bank card to draw money, so stick to using them for online shopping.)
Automate routine tasks
If there is a task you do regularly - every month, week etc - then consider whether it can be automated. This may take a little time to set up initially, but in the long run, it will save a lot of time.
- Most bills can be paid by Direct Debits.
- If you need repeat prescriptions, services like that offered by Boots will order your repeat medicines, fill the prescription, and deliver them to your door.
- We have cats, and often buy their food from Amazon. Several of the sellers offer a subscription service, where they will regularly deliver the items, without you needing to place an order every month.
- Similarly, if there are magazines or newspapers you buy regularly, why not arrange with your local newsagent to have them delivered to your door.
- Have milk or vegetables delivered to your door. These services vary in each area, so do a search to see who covers your area.
The biggest way to waste time is not to have a plan. There are loads of free online tools that can help you, but these can be complex for your personal life. However, there are a few essentials that you should consider:
- A family calendar - a shared online calendar is the easiest to use, as everyone can keep it on their mobile phones. You can each have individual calendars, and share them, or simply keep one calendar for the whole family. Google Calendars are great for this, and will sync with your phone.
- To Do List: Keep a list of things that you need to do, preferably in order of importance or deadline. It will help you stay on track, and ensure that you don't forget important things. ToDoCloud is a free app that allows you to track and categorise all of your tasks. Alternatively, Google Tasks integrates with your Google Calendar, and other Drive documents, and can be downloaded from Playstore for free. if you use Google Calendar and Gmail, it syncs integrates seamlessly. If you use Microsoft Outlook, it includes a task list, which is also a very effective tool for managing tasks.
- Create a schedule Your task list and calendar combined can function as a scheduling tool, allowing you to plan your time each week. If you do it this way, then make sure to add blocks of time to your calendar to reflect when you are committed to various activities. Alternatively, you could try a free scheduling app to help you manage your schedule.
- Have set places for things, and make sure you use them. How much time do you waste hunting for keys or other items? Create a space for them (even if you have to mark it out on a desk top!) and make sure you keep things in their place.
- if something takes a lot of time each day, then consider what you can do to change it.
And if you have already done everything listed, then perhaps it's time to consider that you're doing too much, and need to prioritise or say no. Alternatively, a google search will help you find other tips from time management pros.