The more projects you have in life, the less time you can use. And when the schedule is full, there is no more room for extra time. A day is 24 hours and nobody can change that. What is left to do? Getting rid of unwanted activities as much as possible.“Focus on being productive instead of busy”— Tim Ferris Click To Tweet
It is not only for productivity
Making the most out of every minute is a principle fiercely advertised in the self improvement world. But ultimate productivity is not the main purpose of automating your chores.
The main thing getting in the way of relaxation is most likely not your work, but the fact that you have no time next to it. Chores and errands are a lot more annoying to do than work by itself. They easily take a couple hours per week, and that’s time you can’t use to pause.
Automation and output ratio
At the level of this article, automating your life does not mean paying for people to work for you. It does not mean getting a personal assistant or a maid. It is about getting rid of some tasks in your schedule that have a bad output ratio.
For instance, grocery shopping has a terrible output ratio. It makes you waste time, oftentimes money, and it increases your stress and fatigue because of the noisy and crowded environment.
Automating parts of your chores will enable you to decrease your overall bad output ratio, saving time in the process.
The higher your bad output ratio in your daily life, the more stress and fatigue it will generate, and the less performing you will be.
If you are curious about how much time you could save by automating your chores, take a look at this list:
- Grocery shopping
- Doing the dishes
- Cleaning your place
- Shopping downtown for random items
- Other random errands
How much time do you spend doing these tasks every week? Probably many hours.
The nasty side of chores and errands is that we don’t necessarily realize how much they drain our energy. We consider them an inevitable part of our routine. But they don’t have to be. With just a few tips and tricks, we can drastically reduce the amount of time they take from us.
As stated before, grocery shopping is one of the most draining activities. It wastes your time, even more if they changed the order of the aisles again. It wastes your money, even more if they have deals on unhealthy snacks again. And it drains your energy, even more if you take 30 minutes to find a parking spot.
Grocery shopping, online
Enter online grocery shopping. No more looking for the right productbecause they changed the order of the aisles. You can use the search bar on the website and see right away if an item is available or not.
No more heavy lifting, no more squeaky shopping cart. Everything is taken care of for you, and your shopping cart gets delivered right at your doorstep.
No more cashier issues, discounts that don’t work, or slow customer in line. Everything is smooth and automatic, and discounts are automatically applied.
No more stressful environment. You are ordering from your couch and you can switch to another activity right after payment.
No more forgotten items and endless shopping lists. You can save all of your favorite products and organize them. Reorder what you ordered last week in one simple click.
Filter options. Only want products from a specific brand? No problem. Only want organic products? Simply use the filter options.
Grocery shopping literally changed my everyday life. I haven’t been to a grocery store in months, and it feels amazing.
Online groceries are getting cheaper
A lot of people don’t like the idea of online grocery shopping because they still think it is more expensive than normal groceries. This depends a lot on where you live and what service you use. Overall, online grocery shopping is getting as cheap as normal groceries. Moreover, the few extra bucks you will spend are seriously worth the time you will save.
A lot of people enjoy shopping downtown for clothes, jewellery, gifts… People who like to get things done and focus on their goals tend to perceive this type of activity as a waste of time. The time it takes to go downtown and buy a pair of jeans is time that could be used in a lot more productive or relaxing way. But effective people still need clothes to wear, gifts to offer, and even kitchen utensils to use.
Here is a little exercise to practice next time you go shopping for clothes. Try on different brands and different products as you normally would. For each brand/item you like, write down the name and your corresponding size in a notepad.
Next time you need to buy clothes again, open up your laptop, pull out your notepad, and check out your favorite brands online. 99% of them will offer their products to buy right on their website, along with home delivery. Since you know exactly which size suits you best for each brand, all you have to do is choose, pay, and wait for the order. All from your peaceful home.
Amazon now offers a crazy wide range of products. More often than not they will sell the exact product you need and deliver it to your doorstep in a matter of days.
You might have to pay for shipping. But again, the amount of time you save by shopping from your couch is worth the extra money in 90% of the cases.
Pro tip: if you want to make sure your item gets to your place safely wrapped and really fast, only choose products fulfilled by Amazon.
You will often get free quality delivery, and you will be able to track your shipment in the “My orders” section.
For items not available on Amazon, choose a reliable website that specializes in what you are looking for. Make sure you can reach out to them in case of an issue with your order, and check their shipping rates and times.
Chores and other errands: technology + time management
Tasks that require you to leave the house are easy to automate because you just need to find a service that does the task for you. But what about tasks that are time consuming even at home? Technology will help again, but it will have to be paired with top-notch time management to be effective.Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you stop doing it Click To Tweet
Tasks that require you to leave the house are easy to automate because you just need to find a service that does the task for you. But what about tasks that are time consuming even at home? Technology will help again, but it will have to be paired with top-notch time management to be effective.
Schedule your chores
Chores need to be implemented into your schedule like any other task. They are easy to squeeze in, because they always take the same amount of time.
You might dedicate one hour a day to reading, or meditating. Sometimes you enjoy it, you get carried away and you spend an extra 30 minutes finishing a chapter or relaxing a bit more. That won’t happen with dishes or moping the floor. Once it’s done, there’s nothing more to do, and you can move on.
Don’t do your chores when you feel like doing them, out of the blue. Allocate time to do them and respect the time frames. Depending on the size of your place, 30 minutes to an hour every night should be enough.
Timers are a great way to make work a lot easier. They work really good with simple tasks.
- Simple tasks are not stressful
- Simple tasks can easily be split into a lot of small tasks
- Simple tasks are easy, don’t require a lot of thinking, and are not likely to take more time than expected
Split your cleaning routine in simple tasks and see how much each task takes you. My cleaning time plan takes place everyday after dinner, for 30 minutes.
Put that in a timing app. I use Any.do. Every 5 minutes, I move on to the next task. This keeps the momentum going, and I never forget a single task. I know exactly what I am supposed to do, and how long it’s going to take me.
Even with simple tasks, you might run into unexpected issues that will make you go over time. For instance, you might run out of dishwasher soap or of plastic bags for the trash. In that case, the best option is usually to have a quick run to the closest store to finish the task.The best way to anticipate the unexpected is effective time management and organization. Click To Tweet
An efficient time management strategy will save you a lot of stress. The goal is not to reach ultimate productivity, it is to be able to relax more.
It is not relaxing to realize after a long day of work that you are out of eggs just when you were planning on making yourself an omelette. Or that the trash is completely full and you are out of trash bags.The more you will be able to organize your time, the less these unpleasant events will happen, the less energy you will waste. Click To Tweet
Your new productivity friend: the iPad
Yes. If you use it the right way, an iPad can become one of your best at-home productivity asset. Get yourself an iPad wall mount. Mount your iPad in an area with nowhere to sit, nowhere to rest. Usually, this would be the entrance of your house or a hallway where you walk by a lot.
The goal is to use your iPad to simplify your life at home.
You can use another device, and you don’t have to mount it to the wall. But the purpose is to have one dedicated device for one task, with nothing installed on it other than the bare minimum.
Your phone contains dozens of notifications that you will feel like checking while trying to follow you calendar. The iPad is mounted on the wall and is here to give you a heads up on what is next on your schedule. No Facebook, Twitter or other notifications in the way.
By saving your at-home schedule on your iPad and setting up reminders, everything will flow easily.
Set up routines
You probably tend to do chores and errands around the same time everyday. By extension, a lot of your evenings are probably similar, at least during the week. Put everything in your iPad, and set each event to repeat daily. Here is an example with my evening cleaning routine shown before.
Notice how everything is split into simple little tasks to keep the momentum going. Everyday, get back from the office and check your iPad on the wall. This way, you will know exactly what you have to do, and you will be naturally more motivated for it.
Even if you know what you were planning on doing, this technique will help you keep the flow going. Next time you get back home and feel like watching Netflix, look at your schedule. You should be doing this other specific task right now, why postpone?
You don’t have to set up notification sounds for every reminder as it can get pretty annoying for tasks that take only a few minutes.
However, it can be helpful to have a notification sound for every hour of the day, like on digital watches. Whenever you get carried away, it will make you check your schedule and bring you back to reality.
Your little productivity station is also a great place to store and track your habits. Productive — Habit Tracker is great for this. At the end of each day, go to your iPad and check off your habits. Once a week, you can take some time to look back and track your progress.
Slice it up
The key component in using a device to save and track your everyday chores is to split everything in simple tasks. This technique can really improve your use of time. It will take a bit of adjustment and calibration, but it will do wonders once properly implemented into your lifestyle.
You can take the concept a lot further, and use a device to track more components of your life, on a much bigger scale. However, doing so will fail in 99% of the cases. A lot of people rely on their phone for every part of their life (finances, health, long-term goals, podcasts, reading…) and think they are being productive.
The truth is, too much of anything will overwhelm you. Notifications will get in the way, and you won’t get anything done. Look at the people around you.
Final wordChores and errands are like beers at the bar. They don’t appear to matter so much, but overtime you realize they add up and you could have saved a lot of time and money. Click To Tweet
Try the techniques described in this article for a week, and see how your perform. By micro-managing your chores, you will create a productivity flow. You will spend less time on chores, and more time on what matters to yourself.