10 PRODUCTIVE THINGS TO DO IN AN HOUR AT HOME TO HELP YOU STRESS LESS
Struggling to find time for everything that you have to do and needing some quick ways to be more productive and get things done? Here are 10 productive things to do in an hour at home to help you stress less and make life easier!
BUSY VS PRODUCTIVE
It’s possible to be busy but not productive. You might have noticed that some days you get to the evening and wonder what you’ve been doing all day because you don’t have much to show for it. Or, after a day at work, you still haven’t completed your tasks for the day. It’s frustrating isn’t it, when you’ve put in the effort but don’t see the reward?
Maybe you get to the end of the week but still have lots of things on your list of To Dos that you haven’t been able to tick off and now you have to get them done during your precious weekend. Where did that week go?!
Perhaps you start your day feeling stressed out because you’ve got so much to do but you don’t know where to start or exactly how you’re going to do it.
If any of these feelings are familiar, it may be because you’re busy, but actually not very productive. Being busy is easy. Being productive is far more difficult!
HOW TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
The trick is prioritising those tasks which will make most difference, have biggest impact and are the most urgent or important. It’s also about being clear on what tasks have true value and which just make us look and feel busy for busy’s sake.
Many of us know the difference between being busy and being productive and we can often feel the difference too. Although you can be busy AND productive, being too busy on its own has a negative effect on our mental and physical health.
Being productive can encourage, motivate and help us achieve things – and that doesn’t always mean we have to be ‘doing things’ to be productive…
We’ll talk more about that in point 8 on my list of productive things to do in an hour at home!
HOW TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
In this article I’d like to give you some suggestions on things you can do at home to be productive and not just busy. They’re productive things to do in an hour but which will set you up for far longer. And, hopefully, help you stress less, be happier and make life easier.
10 PRODUCTIVE THINGS TO DO IN AN HOUR AT HOME TO HELP YOU STRESS LESS
Here are 10 productive things to do in an hour at home to help you stress less.
1. Brain dump
If you’re reading this article you might feeling stressed out or lacking in time and that’s why you were drawn to the title! When I feel like this I tend to feel overwhelmed and not sure what to do first. I find doing a brain dump really helpful to get all my thoughts out on to paper and out of my head.
Once they’re written down and I can seem them clearly in front of me, I can begin to sort though what I’m thinking. What needs actioning and how, what’s a short-term problem or something I need to address over the longer term?
Sit down for a while with your notebook and brain dump your own thoughts on to paper.
Read more about brain dumping and how it helps to clear the mind and relieve stress.
2. Make a To Do list
From the brain dumping exercise above, create a To Do list.
Your To Do list isn’t a list of things to remember or things that are worrying you or stressing you out, or that you’d like to do someday, your list is for things that you need to do right now, or today.
Keep it simple, short and strategic. Don’t add 10 items on there and then go on to wonder why you don’t achieve everything you wanted to by bedtime! Keep it realistic and achievable.
Once you’ve written your To Do list, go and do those tasks, or make a plan for when you’re going to get them done today. Personally, I find I manage to get through my own To Do list if I do it as early as possible in the morning. This is partly because I’m a morning person, but also I prefer to get done what I need to do before the rest of the day and my family imposes their own To Dos on me!
Read more about writing a great To Do List to help you be more productive.
3. Put a load of laundry on
I always feel that I’m on top of my housework if I keep on top of the laundry.
It may be psychological, but I hate the build up of laundry if I don’t maintain a regular laundry routine. Not only does it mean that I’m left with a mountain of dirty clothes to wash, dry and put away, but we also run out of clean clothes to wear. This is particularly stressful when my kids remember they have PE at school that day, or they’ve got pen marks over their white school shirt and need another.
Keeping on top of the laundry saves me stress and time. Pop a load of your own laundry on now whilst you’re getting on with other things!
Read more about simple household routines to keep your home running smoothly with minimum fuss!
4. Clear clutter from your flat surfaces
If you have an hour at home it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to do ‘big’ decluttering. However, it might be helpful to look around your home and check the flat surfaces.
Table tops, counters, shelves, the floor and even stairs are clutter hotspots and tend to be dumping grounds for clutter. These cluttered surfaces instantly make a home feel untidy and cluttered and it’s amazing what clearing them can do to the overall feel and look of your home (even if there’s still some clutter to work through). In fact, a decluttered home has some great benefits more generally too!
Clear counters give the illusion of more space and a clearer line of sight. It’s also easier to spot other bits of clutter that might get dumped here. Clutter attracts clutter and when a surface is cluttered, other clutter can be added to it without you noticing so much.
Keep those flat surfaces clear and your home will feel more spacious, calm and stress-free. If you don’t have time to declutter all your flat surfaces, prioritise the ones that are most visible or get used the most.
Here are some tips on how to declutter your kitchen counters to make your kitchen feel bigger and make preparing and cooking food in easier.
5. Meal plan for the week
Feeding my family every day stresses me out. I enjoy cooking but I don’t enjoy doing it every day, especially when I’m catering for multiple tastes and I’m tired and hungry myself come dinner time.
I don’t like having to plan and make packed lunches. I also find it stressful making sure we all eat as healthily as possible, have our 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables, eat a balanced diet and that I’ve got all the ingredients to prepare and cook all this amazing, nutritious food!
However, I’ve found that being more organised and simplifying my meal planning has turned this all around and feeding my family is now not the stress and burden that I used to feel it was.
Take a few minutes to plan your main meals for the coming week. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a list of your favourite meals written on a sheet of paper will do.
Make a list of these meals and check in your kitchen cupboards that you have all the ingredients to make them. If you don’t, make a list for next time you’re food shopping or place an online grocery order to be delivered as soon as possible.
Whilst you’re meal planning, also think about other meals you might need to cater for (breakfasts and lunches, for example), simple but healthy snack options and whether there’s any evenings or days when you might be very rushed so need a quick meal option.
For more tips, try this article on how to simplify meal planning for less stress in the kitchen.
6. Get moving
Another productive thing you could do in an hour at home is to get moving. You could vacuum or mop the floor, do some energetic housework, walk the dog, weed the garden, play football with the kids, follow a ten-minute Yoga video on YouTube or just do some gentle stretches on the floor.
Choose an activity that’s comfortable to you and get your body moving. Release those endorphins, get the blood flowing and feel your body moving. Exercise has a powerful and beneficial effect, not just for your physical health, but also your mental health too.
7. Declutter your clothes
We all make thousands of decisions every day which require our mental energy. They say that the quality of our decision-making dwindles as the day goes on so it’s a great idea to reduce the number of decisions we have to make.
If you combine this with the fact that we all need to get dressed every day, and that in itself is one of the first major decisions of the day, I feel it makes a lot of sense to make that decision easier! One way to do this is to simplify your wardrobe and make getting dressed easier, quicker and more fun.
Take a few minutes to go through your closet and get rid of (donate, recycle, sell or throw depending on their quality) any pieces that you don’t wear. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable, they don’t fit or you just don’t like the style. Ask yourself some questions to help you decide which clothes to declutter.
Take a look at what’s left and think about whether you could create your own personal daily uniform to help make getting dressed even easier.
Try these tips on how to purge your closet for more ideas!
8. Take a few minutes for yourself
Productivity doesn’t always have to look busy. Sometimes, in fact, being productive could be taking a nap to recharge your body and brain so you can be productive in other ways afterwards.
If you have a little time to yourself now, don’t just fill it with lots of things to do. There are some wonderful benefits in slowing down, taking time for self-care and resting. So often we leave ourselves to the bottom of the priority pile and then wonder why we feel stressed and tired. We get squeezed out by everything else we feel we have to do in life.
If you have an hour to yourself, one of the most productive things you can do is take a few minutes out of that hour (if that’s all you can spare) to yourself. Make a hot drink, cuddle up under a blanket, listen to some music or sit in silence, write or journal your thoughts in your notebook as we mentioned above, or your To Do list items and just commit a few minutes to prioritise your own self-care.
Try these 50 self-care ideas that take 10 minutes or less.
9. The 2-minute rule
David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done wrote, “If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.” This is a wonderful tip for not just helping us be productive and efficient, but also to help us avoid procrastination and build good habits.
When we have things to do, it’s very common to put them off, avoid, delay or forget about them. Making a start on something is often the most difficult, but if we change our mindset and pattern of behaviour by getting into the habit of just doing a small task, it will often encourage and motivate us to continue. Try these 2-minute activities and see how many productive things you can do in an hour to help you stress less:
- Check your emails
- Book a doctor or dentist appointment
- Empty the recycling
- Clean the kitchen sink
- Water your plants
- Choose your next book to read or podcast to listen to
- Delete unwanted apps off your phone
- Clear your fridge of stale food
Here are some other time management tips to help you get more done in less time.
10. Connect with loved ones
When life is busy, we don’t often have time or energy to connect with loved ones. A very productive thing to do at home to help you stress less is to spend time with your partner and kids, phone a friend, send a loving text or catch up email. Maybe you could even write a note or letter and post it to a loved one!
Put down your phone, be present, listen, ask questions, share thoughts, have fun. Be engaged and spend the time deepening and strengthening your closest relationships. Humans are designed to be social creatures although, of course, it varies by how much and our mental health benefits from deep personal connections.
What can you do to spend time with loved ones next time you get a moment?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I hope you enjoyed these ideas for 10 productive things to do in an hour at home. Do you have any that you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment at the end of the post.
MAXIMISE YOUR TIME
Time management and productivity are the secret sauce of simplifying life and creating more time, ease and less stress. Although decluttering our homes is a popular way of clearing excess clutter, you can also clear clutter from your schedule and calendar. This is how we carve out more time when it seems impossible to fit in work, kids, family, friends, relationships, hobbies, self-care, housework and everything else that requires our time and attention.
Over the years, I’ve learnt many tips and strategies to help manage my time – in the workplace, at home and managing my life with kids and family. I’ve read a lot and learnt a lot about what it takes to be strategic with our time and how to make the most of it when it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
That’s why I created Maximise Your Time to help you really make the most of your time and find time for what matters to you. It’s a mix of tips to help you live intentionally, but also to help you get organised, plan your life and schedule and find ways to make more time for you and what’s important to you.
Think of it as a decluttering course for your time!
MORE PRODUCTIVITY TIPS
Here are some more resources on productivity and time management to help you be more productive and not just busy!
- 7 Ways To Be Intentional With Your Time
- Daily Routine Ideas to Simplify Your Life
- 10 Productive Things to Do on Your Phone Instead of Scrolling Social Media
- How To Be More Productive At Home and In Life
- How to Use a Planner to Help You Be More Productive
- How to Create An Intentional Morning Routine
- How to be More Consistent to Get Things Done
DON’T MISS OUT!
I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!