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Common household items with secret uses

clip_image002Who knew! There are lots of items in our house that have additional uses. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Chalk

· Rubbing chalk on collar stains absorbs the oil and makes the stain easier to clean.

· Chalk in cheesecloth can prevent tarnishing silverware by absorbing the moisture.

· Chalk wards off ants – chalk contains calcium carbonate which ants don’t like, so draw a chalk line around ants’ entry points into the house.

Wax paper

· Add a sheet of wax paper between stacked pans to prevent rust.

· Shine up taps after cleaning to prevent water spots and finger prints.

· Clean can openers by running the wax paper through the gears so that they run smoothly.clip_image004

· Add wax paper between wet pages of a book to make it as good as new once dry.

Vinegar

· Pour vinegar in the cracks between bricks and patio flagstones to prevent weeds; the acidity can kill off weeds in one dousing.

· Freshen up wilted leaf vegetables by soaking them in two cups of cold water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar, leave for 10 minutes, rinse, dry and serve.

· Prevent mouldy hard cheese by wrapping a vinegar-soaked cloth in vinegar around it and sealing in an airtight container. The vinegar prevents mould spores.

Salt

· Remove dirt from spinach and green leaves by swirling them around a bowl of salty water.

· Clean greasy pans by shaking some salt into them – the salt absorbs the grease.

· Remove burnt spots from the bottom of your iron by sprinkling salt on brown paper and running the hot iron over it.

 

Petroleum jelly (Vaseline™)

· Rub petroleum jelly into pets paw to clip_image006soothe dryness and cracked pads.

· Dab around your nails to neaten your nail polish application, if you make a mistake the polish will easily wipe away.

· Dab some around light bulb threads when putting a new light bulb in, this will prevent dirt and dust and be easier to remove without sticking.

Related articles:

· Organising your home

· How has social etiquette changed?

How has our social etiquette changed through the decades?

clip_image002There’s no denying it, our social etiquette has changed significantly in the last few decades. British etiquette was quintessential and renowned throughout the world, with the English placing a great deal of importance on good manners. However, here are some courtesies that have been left by the wayside:

1. Gentlemen were expected to open the door for ladies; now if he does this he’s afraid that he’ll be accused of chauvinism.

2. It was suggested in the bygone era that children should be seen and not heard. Now if children don’t scream, shout and cause mayhem people assume that they’re not well adjusted.

3. Cohabitation prior to marriage with another person was considered a sin. In this day and age it’s considered the norm; in fact if a couple are considering marriage and they don’t live together then people think there’s something wrong!

4. Table conversation was considered good manners. Now with our busy schedules, getting everyone to the table for dinner, let alone to have a conversation, is actually considered something of an achievement.

5. Speaking with your mouth full was bad manners, apparently it’s not anymore. However, I have yet to see people encourage this: “David, what have I told you about speaking with an empty mouth?”.

6. When a person said “Excuse me” they waited until they got the attention of the other person. Now “Excuse me” is accompanied with elbows and quite possibly a shoulder shove – a good reason to take up Kung Fu.

7. “May I have that, please?” has been replaced with “Give me that, will you?” When you remind people about the magic word, they look at you as though you’ve suggested jumping off a high rise building for fun.

8. During conversation it was expected that both parties would make eye contact. Now if you insist on eye contact during a conversation you immediately offend the other party as you’ve interrupted their interaction with an electronic device.

Modern life has become a minefield of do’s and don’ts. Whereas once abandoning the fish knife – the height of chic for Victorians – was seen as the ultimate sin, does our lifestyle that’s based around technology determine how we now fit in?

Read our tips to leaving work at the door to take further steps to improve your work/life balance.

Related articles:

· Managing your work/life balance

· Organising your home

Work/life balance: 10 tips for managing in the workplace

clip_image002Time. Do we have enough of it at work to finish our tasks and meet our deadlines? Here we offer some tips to get productive and stay balanced at work; simple changes that you can put into effect straight away. These tips may also change how you look at your projects and work more effectively, improving your time management skills.

1. Start your work within five minutes of sitting down at your desk; avoid procrastination first thing in the morning as this will only distract you from starting your work.

2. Value your time and other people will do the same.

3. When things become pressurised, ignore emails and concentrate on the job in hand. Regular interruption will only hold you up from reaching your deadline, unnecessarily prolonging the job in hand.

4. Are you putting off a task? Why? Are you worried about it? Is it too difficult or too boring? We can waste a lot of time and energy on the things we’re putting off – the task is still going to be there so face up to it, it still needs to be done.

5. Finish your working day at a fixed time, avoid letting work take over your evening. If you do need to stay often set two finishing times, one for the ideal day and one to complete overdue work, but still set a time to go home, even if it’s a little later than the ideal day.

6. Sleep. Sleep deprivation has the same impact on workers as binge drinking (read HR Magazine article). Women are more at risk than men, with 35% of women having poor sleep compared to 31% of men. There is a profound correlation between depression and poor sleep.

7. Complete a time audit or diary of your work in one week and see where all your time is going. This could show areas for improvement and redistribution of effort.

8. Take small breaks when you need them during the day to help you refocus and recharge.

9. Don’t underestimate how long something will take. It’s better to be ahead rather than behind on a deadline.

10. Take breaks from work in the evenings, weekends and on holiday to help you to stay productive in the long term.

Simple changes to your working day will help you to see where your time is going and identify any reasons for any unnecessary pressure. It’s not that complicated, it’s just about taking a step back and reassessing where your time is going.

Read our tips to leaving work at the door to take further steps to improve your work/life balance.

Related articles:

· Managing your work/life balance

· Secrets to maximising family time

Work/life balance: an employer’s responsibility

clip_image002The work/leisure concept was invented in the 1800s with the supporting definition that happiness was to have as little separation as possible between work and play. The expression “work/life balance” was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe an individual’s balance between work and personal life.

Employee assistance professionals suggest that there are many reasons for the increasing conflict between work/life balance, one being that parents who are affected by work may avoid family life in order to manage their work obligations and the accelerating pace of technology.

Companies are now realising the importance of work/life balance in their employees’ productivity and creativity. Recent research has shown that employees who saw that their company’s efforts to support work/life balance were favourable and as such employees indicated lower intentions to leave their organisation, and were more likely to recommend it as a place to work due to improved job satisfaction.

Employers are now able to offer a range of initiatives such as flexible working hours, with more proactive employers providing compulsory leave and strict maximum working hours that encourage employees to go home on time, and not work after hours.

In Europe, the Working Time Directive has implemented a maximum 48 hour working week, although many other countries have opted for fewer working hours. The European Quality of Life survey discovered that countries in South Eastern Europe had the most common work/life balance problems. In Croatia and Greece, 70% of working citizens suggested that they were too tired to complete household chores at least several times a month because of work pressure.

In Britain, legislation has been granted to allow parents of children under six years old to request a more flexible work schedule. Employers must approve this request as long as it doesn’t damage the business.

Read our tips to leaving work at the door to take further steps to improve your work/life balance.

Work/life balance in the UK

clip_image002[11]The British are becoming more and more aware of the issue of a work-life balance, especially with the current nature of the economy and business environments forcing many employees to work longer hours. However, the UK is taking the lead from larger international corporations where policies have been introduced to reduce the pressure of work on private life. This current thinking aims to improve work-life balance for all parties: the company, the individual and the customer.

People in the United Kingdom on average work 1,654 hours a year

Whilst the working week is officially set at 48 hours, the UK has opted out of the European Working Time Directive which means that employees may work more hours if they provide written consent. As such, UK employees are working longer hours with an increased intensity of work. Many employees suggest that they are now working as hard as they can and unable to work any harder. These factors contribute to work/life balance awareness and the important issue of how work demands are regularly affecting family commitments.

Workers in the UK currently work the longest hours in Europe, take the shortest lunch breaks and enjoy the fewest public holidays

Unless employees can manage the demands of work, family, home and leisure then they are more susceptible to illness and stress and unable to perform to their full potential.

Employers are now recognising the importance of a fit and healthy workforce by providing incentives such as free fruit, discount gym membership or organising lunchtime activities. Eating lunch at your desk is one of the most common sights in a modern office environment, but it’s a proven fact that getting out of the office at lunchtime helps to refresh employees and maintain concentration throughout the day. As such, more and more companies are offering activities such as yoga, running clubs or team competitions.

Getting the balance right is tricky, sure, but talking your work hours through with your boss is a positive step. Making the smallest changes can make a big difference to you and your family’s lives. Try to come home relaxed - people pick up on moods so take 10 minutes to wind down, leave work at the door and enjoy your family time together.

Related articles:

· Managing your work/life balance

· Secrets to maximising family time

How to leave work at the door

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Had a rough day at the office? When we feel this way it’s inevitable that we will go home and complain about what’s going on at work. We need to change this habit otherwise we’ll bring everyone else around us down, having a negative effect on the whole household. Here are some tips to help you leave work at the door.

  • Remember when we were at school and parents asked what we learnt at school that day? It is a positive question- so when you walk in talk about the best thing that happened in your day, regardless how small it was. This will have the effect of starting the evening off on a positive note.
  • Use the commute to switch off and put your favourite music on. Singing along can even help you to refocus – however if you’re on a train or bus this may not endear you to your fellow passengers…
  • Avoid taking work home with you, if you remember that you have to do something for the following day then send yourself a reminder email and put it out of your mind.
  • Act like a tourist on your way home – it sounds strange but we are constantly thinking and don’t take the time to enjoy our surroundings. Instead of concentrating on what happened in our work day, appreciate the scenery and look at things you perhaps haven’t noticed before.
  • Change your clothes as soon as you get home. This is a physical reminder that you’ve been at work and can help your mind to shut off. This also helps children when they come back from school; changing out of their uniform can shift their mindset too.
  • Take some time out for you to chill out; sitting and talking can go a long way to reconnect with the household.

There’s no need to make too many changes, otherwise you may face a brick wall to alter everything at once. Everyone has times where they are unable to switch off from work, but try taking one simple step at a time and enjoy your home without letting work come through the door with you.

Related articles:

· How important is a work/life balance

· Secrets to maximising family time

Tips to manage work (to achieve work/life balance)

clip_image002Our school days seem a distant memory: no responsibilities, a free and easy life... These days, however, we seem overwhelmed by work and finding that perfect balance is a challenge for us all. Here are some tips to help you manage your work life, in order to spend more time in your personal life.

“My work day and commute prevents me from finding the time to spend on basic things such as shopping, housework or spending time with my family and friends...!

Tip #1 – time calendar

We budget our money, why not budget our time? While you can earn more money, it’s hard to earn time lost. Work out how much time you’re spending working and you’re left with time you can spend on your actual life to do the things you want and need to do.

Tip #2 – manage expectations

So you have to work late one evening; try leaving work early later in the week to make up for the personal time lost. Most businesses don’t pay you for the extra work, but you feel a responsibility to meet work deadlines. Employers should understand the importance of personal time.

Tip #3 – look at what’s important

What’s more important, your job or your life? Sadly most people will assume it’s their job, however some countries will suggest it’s their life – these are people that even build siestas into their working day and still achieve what they want because they are managing their time effectively.

Tip #4 – less is more

Working mad hours isn’t always productive. Work more, sacrifice your personal life, and get stressed. The stress of long hours reduces productivity and can cancel the benefits of working extra hours. You do best by working fewer, higher-quality hours.

Tip #5 – schedule personal time first

If you schedule personal time first then you can meet work deadlines in the left over time in your schedule. Organise a family dinner at the same time each evening, and you will find a way to meet your work deadlines in order to get home at that time. If not, then complete the work at home after dinner – this way it’s not eating into your personal schedule.

All these small changes aren’t that hard to build into your day: work less, do more and have a better life!

Related articles:

· Managing your work/life balance

· Secrets to maximising family time

What if we went on strike…?

Superman washing machineDo our kids have it too easy? A recent survey by Vileda showed that a quarter of our children aged between five and 16 do nothing to help around the house*. One mother of two was so fed up with being taken for granted that she went on strike, and whilst the experiment wasn’t a raging success, the guilty parties did eventually start to recognise the amount of work that goes into keeping the household shipshape. Albeit after the kitchen sink resembled a science experiment and the entire house was decorated with dirty clothes…

Sometimes it’s the sneaky way of getting parents to do it: if the guilty parties do a bad enough job of cleaning something up then we’ll intervene and do it ourselves to ensure its done properly, grumbling along the way.

However, extreme measures aren’t always necessary, just a few simple strategies that can be built into the day can go a long way to developing a bit of order in the household. It’s important to ensure that these strategies are followed through each time – the best way to change behaviour is to stop intervening so that the consequences are recognised by everyone else.

Decide who needs to be responsible for what

Let everyone know that they need to be responsible for contributing; for example laundry days will be on certain days of the week and if laundry isn’t in the basket then you won’t be begging them to bring down their dirty clothes all week.

Pack the school lunches but only if a clean and empty lunchbox is provided each day. Cook dinner but only if the dirty plates are washed afterwards, or put in the dishwasher.

Warning!

Make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them, explain the rules and the subsequent consequences that they’ll face should their responsibilities not be carried out. Ensure that these new rules are crystal clear and understood by everyone.

The consequences…

If toys aren’t put away then let it be known that anything that remains on the floor will be placed off dirty platelimits for a couple of days. If a lunchbox is left to fester in a school bag all weekend then the guilty party will be responsible for packing their own lunch. If the kitchen counter is covered with everyone’s dishes then dinner can’t be prepared until everything’s clear. Intervening in these areas will only demonstrate that you’re not serious about the rules, so be strong and it will pay off in the end by introducing routine and responsibility.

Whilst drastic measures such as going on strike can show everyone how much effort goes into keeping a house organised, teach the kids that you having to keep cleaning up after them is a lot harder and time consuming than they think.

Make sure that you follow the rules you set and you’ll find that a few days in dirty gym clothes or without their favourites toys won’t necessarily affect their wellbeing, but it will get them to clean up after themselves!

To read more tips on organising your home, click here

*Source: Vileda: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160855/One-children-aged-5-16-help-parents-house.html

How important is a work/life balance

clip_image002A lot of us don’t understand the importance of a work/life balance, some of us tend to groan out loud and assume it’s just some sort of mumbo jumbo - a new buzzword added to our increasing nanny state. But the fact is too many of us focus on work these days and neglect our personal lives, which inevitably affects relationships with family and friends.

This is creating negative long term effects, it has even been suggested that young people are now avoiding having children in order to focus on their career, which is very sad. There’s no need to for work to dominate your life; sure, it’s important but what’s more important?  Family or work?

Family and friends are there to enjoy life with; work is there to support your responsibilities. Our work life blend is becoming a vicious cycle, when we’re not in work we feel guilty for missing out on what needs to be done, which ends up with stress and affecting time with those that matter. In fact, a study from Accenture [http://newsroom.accenture.com/news/accenture-research-finds-most-professionals-believe-they-can-have-it-all.htm] found that having a good work life balance is actually the key to a successful career!

For example, phones and iPads should be removed during dinner time to give us time to connect directly. We all need to start prioritising better, and understanding that our work expectations are too high.

The three main negative effects of not having a work/life balance are:

· Feeling tired – work suffers.

· Missed time with family and friends – there are too many important moments that would be terrible if we missed.

· Increased expectations – if you go above and beyond with your work, your boss will come to expect it.

It’s important for everyone to have a balanced life because this goes a long way to being more productive at work!

Related articles:

Managing your work/life balance

Secrets to maximising family time

Tips for the cleaning obsessive

For some of us, the thought of not cleaning the kitchen side boards for a  couple of days would send us into a frenzy. Imagine it now – a ban on wiping down the sides, would you be able to hack it or would you stand there, staring at the grease with a mad tick in the eye, waiting for those two days to be up – or simply cave in and reach for the bleach?

Luckily for us there are some people out there trying all sorts of weird tricks to help with the cleaning, although how they came up with some of them we can’t imagine…

· Germ free sponges: put your cleaning sponges in the microwave and blast them for two minutes to remove germs.

· Sparkling iron soleplates: place a imagecotton cloth on your ironing board, add a couple of scoops of coarse salt and put the iron on the highest setting (turning off the steam), place the iron’s soleplate on top of the salt and press lightly. Grease and dirt will stick to the salt, leaving it sparkling again.

· Candle dust: remove the dust on your candles by putting them in a pair of tights, rub them around a bit – dust removed!

· Water stains on wood: mayonnaise… apparently. Spread mayonnaise over water marks on wooden furniture to remove – seeing is believing.

· Pet hair: window squeegees are really good for pet hair on carpets.

· Iron off carpet stains: mix one part vinegar, two parts water and spray stained area, put a damp cloth over the spot and place iron (switched to steam) over it for about 30 seconds.

· Picture grime: pictures looking grimy? Cut a bagel in half and imagegently rub the doughy inside all over the painting, this will draw out the grime like a sponge.

· Cleaning Pyrex dishes and pans: for those ingrained areas mix ¼ cup of baking soda and add water until it becomes a runny paste – spread over the glass or pan and leave for 20 minutes, then wipe off.

· Putting the sparkle back on taps: lightly rub with wax paper, this stops water spots and fingerprints from lingering.

How these tips were discovered we do not know, we’re not judging!

To read more tips time and money saving in the household, click here.