News & Articles

The Eisenhower Matrix Productivity Technique


Dwight D Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States and during his spell in office, made several landmark achievements including the launch of the internet and the exploration of space. A former General of the US army, Eisenhower was responsible for some of the biggest military campaigns during WWII including the invasions of North Africa, France, and Germany. He could arguably be considered one of the most productive leaders in the 21st Century. But how did he become so successful? He knew how to prioritise his workload.


In this article, we explain one of the biggest tools in his productivity armoury, the Eisenhower Matrix.


What is the Eisenhower Matrix?


Put simply, it’s an easy way of prioritising your tasks based on organising them into four main categories. These are


1. Urgent and important tasks (that you should do immediately).
2. Important, but not urgent tasks (that you should schedule for later).
3. Urgent, but not important tasks (that you should delegate to someone else).
4. Neither urgent nor important tasks (that you should delete from your list entirely).

What are ‘important’ tasks?


Important tasks are those that you feel will help you achieve your long-term goals. If your goal is to complete a project on time, ‘important’ tasks are those that help you towards this goal, such as completing a project plan.


What are ‘urgent’ tasks?


Urgent tasks are things that you THINK you need to act on immediately. But they might not always be important, such as answering emails or taking phone calls.


Why should you delete tasks?


Well, the answer to this question is easy. If you have defined your goals and the item on your list neither helps you achieve these goals or is not urgent, then why is it on the list at all? The quickest way to complete a task is to delete it all together. It is very easy to be busy, for the sake of being busy. Get into the habit of deleting tasks and you will soon find yourself completing tasks that are actually important and you will be much more productive. Work smarter, not harder.

Once you understand these simple concepts you can start applying the Eisenhower matrix to your daily, weekly or even monthly to do lists.  

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

How to remove scratches from wood or laminate floors


Scratches and surface damage can leave your floors looking tired and old. Whether your floors are made of hardwood or a laminate, moving furniture, dropping hard items or carrying stones in on your shoes are common culprits. There are a few simple solutions, however, to get your floors looking perfect again.

Read our short guide to removing scratches from your flooring.

Removing scratches from hardwood floors

Clean the scratched area thoroughly

First, clean the surface of the wood with soapy warm water. Work into the scratch with a cloth to remove any residual dirt. Then wipe off any excess and leave to dry.

Get hold of some wood stain marker

There are many different brands of wood stain marker available online or in your local DIY store. Find a colour that matches your wood flooring. If you can, take a piece of leftover flooring with you to ensure you find a matching colour. If that’s not possible, a photograph of your floor is a simple alternative.

Apply the marker to your floor

Follow the guidelines on the packaging to apply the marker to your flooring. You will usually need to add the marker to a cloth quite liberally and then press the cloth into the wood. Rub the marker into the scratched area using a circular motion.

DON’T use the market like a pen directly to the scratch. This will over saturate the area and will leave it looking darker than the rest of the wood flooring.

Removing scratched from laminate floors

Repairing laminate flooring is a little different to hardwood flooring. Laminate, though very durable can scratch very easily and you need a few special materials to repair it properly

Firstly, you need to get your hands on a repair kit from the manufacturer of your laminate floor that usually consists of wax pencils, coloured putty and a putty knife. It’s important to get hold of the perfect colour so the best thing to do is to contact the manufacturer directly. If you don’t know who the manufacturer is then your local DIY store should be able to help you find a kit to match.

Light scratches can be easily fixed

Once you have found the correct matching colour to your flooring you can repair minor scratches quickly with the wax pencil in your kit. Simply colour in the scratch with the pencil, making sure to colour against the direction of the scratch. Once fully coloured you just need to gently buff the area with a cloth until it blends in with the rest of the floor.

Deeper scratches require a bit more work

If the area of damage is more serious, for example, if there is a gouge or scratch that goes deeper than the top layer, simply using a wax pencil will not be enough. You will need to fill the damaged area using a floor repair putty. Apply the putty to the area using a plastic putty knife (not a metal one as this will cause more scratches). Press the putty into the scratch using the putty knife and level off to ensure it is flat and even. Then just leave to dry which will usually only take around 24 hours.

By following these simple tips and making sure you have the right materials, you can quickly make your floors look good as new again with very little work.

 

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

 

How to clean white work tops

 

White worktops look beautiful but can be really difficult to keep clean.  If you’ve got a white worktop, or ever had on in the past, you’ve probably spent hours scrubbing them in an attempt to keep them looking as good as they did when they were originally fitted.  Because white shows up everything, they are so easy to stain.  Tea and coffee are some of the biggest culprits but red wine, tomatoes, peppers and turmeric can also leave marks forever, if not tackled properly.

You’ve probably tried all sorts of cleaning solutions, from kitchen sprays to bleach, and everything else in between. Here are our top tips on how to clean white worktops, with some unique cleaning ideas you may not have thought of before. 

  1. Most household spray cleaners will do the job but be sure to check on the label that they are suitable for your worktop type. Some may damage the surface of granite or quartz.
  2. If stains are deep and the surface of your worktops has a mottled texture, try spraying with a bleach based cleaning spray and leave overnight. In the morning, scrub the surface with a sponge, soap, and warm water.
  3. If your worktops are made from a porous material such as slate, marble or wood, avoid using bleach. It’s corrosive and may risk eventually damaging the surface.
  4. Mix a thick paste by combining bicarbonate of soda with water and apply this paste gently to the stained area with a cloth. Baking soda is slightly abrasive so don’t scrub it in, particularly if your worktop has a shiny finish.  This will avoid any tiny scratches being left. Leave the solution overnight and then wash away with soap and water.
  5. Magic erasers are produced by lots of different cleaning brands and remove stains and scuffs from most washable surfaces around the house. They are often perfect for deep worktop stains.  All you need to do is wet the eraser with water, squeeze out the excess and apply to your stained area.
  6. A novel technique is to use denture cleaning tablets. Grind the tablets up into a thick paste along with water and apply to the surface.  The granular nature of the paste has a scouring effect which helps loosen tough stains. Simply rinse off after a few hours.
  7. Solvents such as nail polish remover or paint thinner can sometimes be used on laminate, but test on a small inconspicuous area first to be extra certain no damage or discoloration will be caused. When using solvents always ventilate the room well to remove harsh fumes and wear gloves to protect your skin.
  8. If you use any solvent or chemical based cleaner, make sure the solution doesn’t run into the seams of a laminate worktop, it can soak into the substrate and cause damage or weaken the adhesive.
  9. Avoid using abrasive materials like steel wool, all you will do is scratch the surface which will ruin your worktops appearance and also make stains more likely in the future.
  10. Prevention is better than a cure. Always wipe up any stains as soon as they happen and avoid leaving out any food or bottles of liquid (particularly oils and wine) on your worktops. Keep everything stored away and your worktops regularly cleaned and you will avoid having to tackle hardened stains in the future.

White worktops look classy and stylish.  By following these simple tips, you will keep them looking that way forever.  For more information on how to clean granite or marble, read our recent blog post.

 

Written by Mike Pye

 

How to keep your home nice & tidy with a newborn

Your previously tidy, clean house can begin to resemble a bomb site when you have a newborn and it can often feel like a challenge just to keep up. Here are some tried and tested techniques for maintaining some homely order when adjusting to life with a newborn.

First of all, it’s important to not be too hard on yourself. Bringing a child into the world is a momentous feat and no matter how much you prepare yourself, you are never quite ready for what comes next. So, do your best but try not to let the clutter get you down and be proud of the little achievements you make along the way.

The next thing to remember is that while you may want to do things your own way, friends and family can be a great help. So next time someone comes around be sure to accept any help they might offer. Have a list of small jobs handy for when they do – whether that’s helping with the dishes, laundry, preparing frozen meals or taking the dog for a walk. Remember though that you might find it claustrophobic to have too many people in your home at once. So while you are settling in with your baby, you might want to invite them to help while you are out visiting friends or at a doctor’s appointment.  

Between feeding and changing you’re going to be short on time and most likely exhausted. This will mean that you won’t have the time to clean every room.  Anyone who shares your home should know they are expected to clean up after themselves while you prioritise your newborn.

A new baby often means an inundation of gifts, which are appreciated but can quickly mount up leaving you with little space. Don’t be afraid to tell friends and family when enough is enough. 

Another handy tip is to utilise a car seat. You can position it in the room where you are working, for example in the kitchen while you clean dishes.  This means that your baby will be able to watch you and you’ll know that they are safe and comfortable in eye-shot.

Finally, try and create a routine and time how long each job like cleaning bottles or preparing clothes takes you. It can be reassuring at the end of a long day to know a job will only take you a certain amount of time.

Do you have any unusual home cleaning techniques that save you money and time? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home.

How to clean grimy gadgets & electronic items

It’s easy for your gadgets to accumulate grease and dirt over time, but while we want to keep them clean we also worry about breaking them. Here are some safe ways to clean your electronics.  

Mobile phones

Dust, food, coffee and muck don’t only make things look dirty, but they can also affect how they perform. Take mobile phones. One of the most common reasons for headphone problems is actually a build up of ‘pocket fluff’ inside the jack socket. This build up comes from carrying your phone in your pocket allowing fluff to make its way inside. 99% of the time this can treated with a can of compressed air.  Power down your phone and pump the can inside the jack socket to clear it.

Phones get greasy from our fingerprints, food and other grime. For general cleaning just take a microfiber cloth and wipe the front, back and screen of your phone, being careful not to apply too much pressure. Most screens are quite sensitive and you can cause a lot of damage by pressing too hard.

Laptops and computers

It's good practice to give your PC a regular internal clean by deleting old files and programmes, but you should remember to pay attention to the exterior too.

If you work in an office or spend plenty of time at your computer then it’s likely that you’ll have accumulated lots of debris in and around your device.

Keyboards are often the biggest culprits and if you have a stand-alone keyboard you’ll find plenty of lint inside. To get started

cleaning your keyboard simply turn it upside and lightly tap on the back. This should help to dislodge a fair amount of the lint. Next you can use a cotton bud to clean between the keys and a cloth to wipe away any dust found elsewhere.

Where possible you should avoid using any liquid to clean, especially if you have an LCD monitor which can be easily damaged by moisture. Your best bet here is a microfiber cloth.

TVs

TV’s can also be sensitive to liquid so be careful about using any harsh chemicals or anything abrasive on the screen. Again a microfiber cloth is your best friend. For particularly stubborn smudges and fingerprints you can lightly dampen your cloth and rub, allowing it to dry before you switch it back on.

Do you have any unusual home cleaning techniques that save you money and time? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home.

The most beautiful gardens from our August Prize Draw

Throughout August we have been running a prize draw to give away £100 worth of house cleaning. We asked our readers to send us a picture of their gardens in full summer colours and we've had a fantastic response. Congratulations to everyone who entered, you all have beautiful gardens!  Well done on all your hard work.

There always has to be a winner however so a big congratualtions to Lynn from Stevenage. Lynn's winning entry was chosen at random and in case you were wondering her winning entry is the first on our list below!

 

Lynn from Stevenage

 

 

 

Louise from Stoke-on-Trent

 

 

Marjorie from Lemington Spa

 

 

 

Rose from Cornwall

 

 

 

Wendy from Lancing

 

 

 

 Joan from Cambridge

 

 

 

Rachel from Winchester

 

 

 

Carole from Bedfordshire

 

 

 

Sue from Bedfordshire

 

 

 

Heather from North Lancing

 

 

 

 

 

Be more productive with the Pomodoro Technique

 

 

Being more productive with your working day can help you manage your time more effectively and prevent you having to work through your lunch, in the evenings or even over the weekend.


There is a simple technique called the Pomodoro Technique that will transform the way you work. You can even apply it to your daily life and use it to help you get those boring jobs done around the house or that life admin that you’ve been putting off for months!


What is it?


The Pomodoro Technique is based on scientific evidence that humans can only focus on something for short amounts of time, typically 25 minutes. When approaching your next piece of work or your household chores, rather than think about it as a one big block of work that needs to be completed, address it in 25 minute chunks. By addressing your task in this way you will be have maximum focus and creative freshness to help you complete the task faster and more efficiently.


How to use the Pomodoro Technique


Tackle your task intensively for a 25-minute period. Don’t let yourself be distracted by anything else so turn off your emails, ignore the phone and leave social media well alone!


Have a break


After 25 minutes of focusing solely on the task at hand, treat yourself to a 5-minute break. Your brain needs time after this intense period of work to rejuvenate so there’s no harm in having a short period away from your task to relax.


Back to work


After your five minutes off it’s time to hit it hard again for another 25 minutes. Repeat the process, until your task is completed.
You will be amazed at just how much you can get done when you focus your attention in this way.


Why does it work?


The frequent breaks keep your mind both relaxed and focussed on the task. If you have lots of tasks on your to-do list, the Pomodoro Technique could be the perfect solution to help you blast through it as you are forced to adhere to strict timing, which can help you speed through the task. It can also help you realise how much time you are spending procrastinating and eliminate it from your working life.

 

Revealed: Ten natural ways to get rid of spiders this autumn

 

With Autumn just around the corner and as the weather cools, spiders will look for a warm place where they can make a cosy home.  That place could well be your house! If you’re scared of spiders, now’s the time to take some preventative measures to ensure your home is spider free.  Here’s our top 10 tips to help you get rid of spiders the natural way.

1. Make your house minty fresh

Now I’m not saying spiders have bad breath, but what I can tell you is that for some reason they hate mint, peppermint to be precise.  That’s why you’ll never find one near your toothbrush! Most insects also hate peppermint so it’s a great way of keeping creepy crawlies out of your house. 

Get your hands on some peppermint essential oil, mix it in a spray bottle with some water and spray it all around your home, especially around any little nooks and crannies in the walls.  You could also grow some mint plants in indoor pots. Your home will be smelling fresh and spider free in no time.

Other essential oils are also effective, including tea tree, rose, cinnamon, citrus, citronella, lavender and eucalyptus.

2. Keep your home spotless

Spiders, in fact all insects, love a dirty and cluttered home.  Dust, dirt and grime are the perfect place for bacteria to grow, creating the ideal environment for bugs to thrive.  Clutter around the house not only makes it more difficult to clean but makes it much easier for spiders to make webs too.  Keep it tidy and clean and spiders will find your house far from homely.

3. Get a cat

Take advantage of your cat’s natural hunting instinct.  They will soon put an end to any eight-legged invader scuttling across the floor.

4. Seal your home

If there is no way for spiders to get in, you won’t have any spiders in your home to start with.  What we said about keeping the indoor space of your home clean and tidy also applies to the outside.  Make sure the surround of your home is clear of anything that attracts spiders including grass, old leaves and general outdoor rubbish.  Then go around your property and make sure any nooks and crannies are sealed with caulk.  Be sure to check door seals, letter boxes, windows and window frames for gaps that a spider could sneak through and seal it up!

5. Spiders hate Cedar

For some reason the wood variety, Cedar, is a natural deterrent to spiders.  Ensuring your draws, wardrobes and hangers are made from cedar will certainly keep them out of hiding in amongst your clothes.  You can even buy a Cedar mulch that you could spread around the perimeter of your home.

6. Keep your outside lights off

Light, as we all, know attracts all sorts of flies, moths and other bugs.  By keeping outside light to a minimum you will stop attracting the insects that the spiders feed on which in turn will reduce the number of spiders in and near your home.

7. Get the vacuum out

Suck up any spiders and webs in the vacuum and then dispose of it.  The vacuum cleaner is the perfect tool for sucking up spider’s webs and any spider’s eggs, to help stop them spreading.

8. Try horse chestnuts

With Autumn comes conkers, (horse chestnuts).  Inside the spiky shell is the nut which is a great spider deterrent, as well as a brilliant traditional game, if you’ve got strong knuckles!  Cut the nut in half to release its scent and place around areas of the house that are notorious for spiders.

9. Try citronella

Usually associated with repelling mosquitos, citronella is also a great natural spider repellent.   Mix it with lemon peel (another spider repellent) in a spray bottle with water and spray around your home.  Like the peppermint solution it will also leave your home smelling great.  You could also burn citronella candles around the house, particularly where you usually see spiders.

10. Electric spider repellent

These are great little gadgets that you simply plug in around your home.  They use ultrasonic and electromagnetic waves that spiders absolutely hate.  They are safe for humans and pets but are like kryptonite to spiders.

 

A well-kept secret for banishing pet smells

No one wants their home to smell like a farm yard but removing the odour of our beloved pets is a lot harder than it sounds.  Whether it’s the smell of cat urine, a litter box or a persistent odour of wet dog we have a trick that works.

It’s hailed as somewhat of a ‘miracle’ cleaner and indeed vinegar can solve many problems around the house.  It’s used for purposes as varied as shining floors, cleaning windows, removing stains and killing weeds. But what you might not know is that it can also be an effective tool in dealing with pet smells.

Whether you’re moving in to a new home that smells of cats and dogs or you’re just wanting your home to smell a little fresher then you can use a solution of vinegar to get the job done. Simply mix together a solution of white vinegar and warm water (2:1) and start spraying the affected areas. For most people this will generally be furniture and floorboards, material items such as curtains and carpets and skirting boards.

Another technique that is popular among pet owners is to leave a bowl of vinegar in the corner of a particularly smelly room overnight. This should neutralise any bad odours and leave a balanced smell come the morning time.

This also teaches your animal some good habits. Animals will tend to target the same areas over and over again as they can smell their odour there.  But, by neutralising the smell you reduce the chances of your pet repeat offending.

White vinegar is cheap and easy to find - you should be able to get it from any good supermarket. What’s more you don’t have to worry about risking your pet’s health with nasty chemicals either as it's completely natural and safe.

Do you have any unusual home cleaning techniques that save you money and time? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home.

How to maintain a clean, fresh bathroom

Cleaning your bathroom has to be one of the most dreaded household chores! In houses with lots of people mess can build up quickly which is why you need to not only clean your bathroom when it gets dirty but also maintain it. Here we will recommend a few ways that you can keep a clean and fresh bathroom.

Keep good habits to reduce your workload

Keeping good daily cleaning habits can help you to feel less overwhelmed when you do your larger but less frequent cleans. Try and encourage your family to follow these rules:

  • Every item in your bathroom has a home where it lives, so always put everything you use back afterwards. If it doesn’t have a cupboard, a shelf, or an area it is kept then it doesn’t belong there!
  • Put your dirty clothes in the wash basket and hang up your towels
  • Condensation causes mould and mildew, so keep a window open or switch on a fan when you shower
  • If you make a mess in the sink then wipe it up and clean it away
  • When a bottle or tube of a product becomes empty, throw it in the bin!
  • If you make a bad smell then open the window and spray air freshener

Stock up when you do your big shop

Another good habit is to stock up on the essential cleaning products – the ones you never think you’ll need but always do. Bleach, rubber gloves, multi surface cleaners and bin bags should be always be regulars on your shopping list. Descalers, toilet rim brushes, air freshener and mould remover provide extra muscle for a dazzling clean.   

Manage your weekly clean

One day a week you should aim to have a ‘big’ bathroom clean where you really go to town on obliterating the mess and muck.

Step 1 - First of all make sure that you have all the supplies that you think you’ll need ready and prepared, as this will save you time going back and forth

Step 2 – Next do a quick tidy, scanning the room for any obvious offenders. Toss out empty toothpaste tubes, toilet roll holders and newspapers with bin waste.

Step 3 – Gather up any unclean towels, flannels and clothes lying around for the washing machine, this will free up space to continue your deep clean

Step 4 – All purpose cleaner is a life saver. For big features like the shower, sink and bath tub use a 3-step method of spray, rinse, wipe and repeat until you’ve removed all the grime you can.

Step 5 - The next biggest offender is your toilet. Begin by giving it a flush, then apply some bleach around the edge of your toilet bowl and scrub down with your brush. Next flush your toilet and begin wiping down the seat and sides with disinfectant wipes.

Step 6 – To clean mirrors and windows spray glass cleaner or a solution of one part vinegar and four parts water on to a cloth. Wipe down the window with a circular motion. For any grime in tough to reach corners use swabs or old toothbrushes.

Step 7 – Finally do a quick disinfectant wipe of any remaining fixtures and fittings like light switches or towel rack.  Don’t forget to give your floor a wipe down and vacuum for the perfect finish.

Do you have any unusual home cleaning techniques that save you money and time? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice for cleaning your home.