The latest news

The latest news

Essential Tips For Working From Home

For a small number of people, working from home will be the norm. But for the majority of the nation, the current climate has caused us to quickly adapt our working practices to home working for the safety of ourselves and those around us. In doing this, it is important to create healthy working practices to maintain motivation and routine throughout the day.

We’ve gained advice from those who regularly work from home so that we can share some top tips for the coming weeks ahead. Continue below for our top tips on how you can get the best out of home working:

1. Get ready for the day
Get up and ready for work as you normally would. Getting dressed out of your pyjamas and fresh for the day helps you to maintain a routine and get ready for a day of work. Doing this will signal to your brain that you are going to work and create a good mindset.

2. Have a routine
Working from home can get lonely, so a routine will prevent the day blurring into a mix of work and relaxation time. Creating a morning routine that will guide you into your work chair each day so that you can signal the separation between home and work. Start and finish work at your usual times so that you do not become overworked.

3. Create an office space
If you have a separate office space to work in, then that’s great. But even if you don’t, it is still important to create an area in your home that you can designate and associate with work. Whether that be at a desk, or if it has to be your dining room table, this will support you to keep a routine. At the end of the day, shut down your equipment and put it away. This will signal the end of your working day and the start of your own time.

4. Keep to your regular hours of a working day
With all your work equipment at home, it can be tempting to try and get ahead by setting yourself mammoth tasks that take you all evening to complete. Set yourself achievable goals (as you would when you go into work) so that you maintain your usual work hours and maintain your positivity and optimism. This will also allow you to keep a work life balance.

5. Have regular breaks
When you are in the office, you naturally take short breaks throughout the day. Whether that be to go and make a drink or go and discuss something with a colleague. These breaks away from the computer are crucial for your productivity and health. Breaks away from the computer screen help to break bad posture habits, help with concentration and productivity, and prevent fatigue. This should be no different at home. You can call a colleague for a chat, go and make a drink, or spend some time in a different room for a few moments.

6. Get some exercise
Living and working in the same space can be challenging at times so you may find it important to get a change of scenery. Stepping outside for a walk not only allows you to “leave the office” but also allows you to get valuable exercise (providing this is in line with Government guidelines). Some fresh air and natural light will do you the world of good. With people rarely leaving the house, a short walk could be all the exercise you get in a day so place importance on this. Alternatively, you may want to do a short home workout. There are tons of guides online to help you do this. Let’s not forget about those all-important endorphins.

7. Take your lunch break
You are still entitled to your full lunch break and it is important to take this. Ensure you continue to eat well and take time away from your work space to break up the day. Using this time to get some exercise (as advised in step 7) is a great idea too.

8. Get on the phone
Communication is so important during this time. Working from home can be isolating (especially if you live alone). To overcome this, ensure to keep up with regular team meeting via group calls. Check in with your colleagues throughout the day – even for a general chat not related to work. This is what you would usually do in the office and it is important to maintain this to make the day more enjoyable. Call people instead of email so that you can have proper conversations during the day which is so much more personal that email communication. You could even use Facetime for a more personal touch.

Safe Activities To Get You Through Self Isolation

Whilst self-isolating, one thing a lot of us will have gained is some time. A lot us will not be used to spending so much time at home, so here are some activities that can be done safely, to curb any boredom:

1. Board games
Its’s the perfect time to dust off the family favorites, whether that be Monopoly, Uno, or Cluedo. Board games offer some great household fun and provide a break from electronic devices.

2. Arts and Crafts
Many of us will enjoy drawing or painting but never have enough time to do it. Now is the perfect time to start a new art project. It can be a great family activity to do with your children too.

3. Gardening
With Spring finally here it’s time to pay attention to our gardens and tidy them up. Spending time mowing the lawn, weeding, or planning new bulbs will give you some time to get some fresh air, as well as create a perfect garden. It is also a great time to dig out your outdoor furniture so that you can spend more time outside.

4. Baking
Baking is an activity that all generations can enjoy. Dig out those recipe books or search the numerous cake recipes online to make a tasty treat.

5. Cooking
Now is your chance to get creative in the kitchen and have more time to cook healthy meals. If you’re concerned at not having the right ingredients, there are many websites online that allow you to input what ingredients you do have. That way you can make use of what you have in the cupboards and get some inspiration.

6. Fitness routines
It’s always important to get some exercise each day, but with us now spending all of our time at home, we may need to get more creative. You can go outside for a walk or a run, or do an exercise routine at home. There are plenty of resources on social media and online that you can follow along with. You could even do this in your garden to get some fresh air. Some examples are Joe Wicks or the NHS Fitness Studio exercise videos.

7. Film days
We can have some well-loved lazy days on the sofa watching some family classics, or entire seasons of favorite TV shows. We all deserve the time to binge watch some TV.

8. Spring cleaning
Now is the perfect time to be house proud. A good spring clean is a positive way to stay motivated. When you enjoy your environment you often feel happier, so why not try and improve your living space.

9. Going for a walk
With spring finally upon us we have brighter days. Going for a walk can help to break up the day and get some vital vitamin D and exercise.

10. Online Resources
There are so many resources that can curb boredom online. You could learn a new skill using sites such as Future Learn or turn to YouTube for some video tutorials. Alternatively, you can spend time listening to music or some podcasts. There are endless options available to suit any preferences so there will be something for everybody to enjoy!

Top Tips For A Swift Spring Clean

It’s officially time for a spring clean! The lighter days and warmer weather can get you in the mood for a post-winter spruce up to rejuvenate your home. Check out our great tips for cleaning your home.
The first and hardest step in the entire process. It’s vital you take a brutal stance when it comes to decluttering your home. If you don’t like a decoration or if you have an outfit that you haven’t worn since 2010, just throw them away or donate them. Don’t just focus on one room – ensure you search every part of your house, especially in rooms like the kitchen and bedrooms where clutter can quickly get out of hand.
The problem with clutter is it quickly manages to grow again! You might wish to consider setting up a bag, box or bin that you can designate as a “donation bin”. In the future, you will be able to sort clutter as you come across it, and then donate it all to charity as soon as you fill up the bin.
The bedroom
Your wardrobe is a key area you should focus on when having a de-clutter, however, unlike other areas of your home, there is potential money to be made when clearing this area! If you have a hardly worn item of clothing, consider putting it on a Facebook sale page or eBay to generate a little extra pocket money.
There are also some areas of the bedroom(s) that will most likely be in need of a little TLC. Make sure you clean underneath all the beds, dust the curtain rails and even consider flipping the mattress.
The kitchen
It’s more important than ever now that our surfaces are kept clean using disinfectant. Did you know that you should leave disinfectant untouched on a surface for around 30 seconds before you wipe the area? This is so it has time to work and kill harmful viral bacteria. You should clean your work surfaces more frequently as well, to keep the germs at bay.
After the surfaces, there are a few areas of the kitchen that can prove to be a big job on their own. After you have finished de-cluttering your cupboards of old pots and spices you only used that one time, you should then turn your attention to the appliances.
The fridge is a good place to start. Clear out all the old produce and table sauces, give it a really good clean to get rid of all the odours and then try to stay on top of its organisation, which will save you a job in the future.
Have you been avoiding cleaning the microwave for the past few months? Luckily, there is a quick and easy way to clean your grease spattered appliance. Simply place a combination of vinegar and water in the microwave, heat it up for ten minutes until the solution is steaming, then simply wipe away the grease.

The bathroom
The bathroom is another time-consuming job. The tiles, floors, toilet, bath and sink may be ready for a deep clean. This requires a full gutting of all the beauty and hygiene products, and a good deal of manual labour to remove any troublesome stains like limescale or mould that might have built up over the winter.
There are thousands of home remedies available on the internet so if you’re short on cleaning products, you will likely have the right substitutes at hand. So, roll up your sleeves, snap on the yellow gloves and give it a bit of elbow grease.
Our little secret…
Want to add the perfect touch to your spring clean? Take a leaf out of our book and put a cup of vanilla extract in the oven for an hour. Your home will smell like a bakery in no time!

Saving Money On Your Bills Each Month

Figuring out ways to spend less money can be frustrating, but one of the best ways to start the process off, is to try and cut down your monthly expenses. By making these small, yet practical changes, it can really have a positive effect to your monthly bills.

1. Heating solutions.
Bleeding your radiators is a quick, easy and free way to improve your radiators efficiency. Do this once every two months and it will save money from your energy bill.

Whilst we are on the riveting subject of radiators, it is very important not to block them! Anything that is covering your radiator will reduce the flow of hot air which ultimately makes your boiler work harder, resulting in money being unnecessarily wasted.

Draught proof your home. Keep any draughts out by fitting an internal flap for your letterbox, using rubber strips to seal floorboard gaps and place rugs on any bare floorboards, this will reduce unwanted cold air coming through.

2. Install a programmable thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat offers many benefits. Having the ability to control when and how long your heating comes on for, can save you money. According to Compact Appliance, “for every degree you raise or lower, you can save up to 2 percent on your utility bill.” Having access from your mobile is incredibly efficient. Unlike self-timing heating systems, with the thermostat mobile app you can be sure your heating is only being used when someone is in; there is no point it being on if no one is going to be home for hours! Be smarter with your money.

3. Install CFL or LED light bulbs
If you have never changed your lightbulbs before, now is the time! Make the switch to CFLs or LED, these bulbs are around four times more efficient than the traditional light bulb. “Even switching just, the five most-used light bulbs in your home could save you upwards of £30 a year on your electric bill", says The Simple Dollar.

4. Switch to a cheaper supermarket
Rather than using your mainstream, more popular supermarkets, try the cheaper ones. According to an article on Echo, they compared shopping prices across three different supermarkets for a typical weekly shop. Aldi came in at the cheapest with a total of £26.86, followed by Asda as £28.72 and then lastly £31.68. Despite £4.82 a week not sounding a lot, it does save you a total of £250.64 a year.

5. Are you paying too much council tax?
On average, 400,00 homes are in the wrong council tax band. With this free online checker, make sure you aren’t paying too much!

Implementing even just a few of these suggestions can make a real impact on your household’s monthly outgoings. None of them are impractical or unapproachable, so there are no excuses to save the pennies! If you are looking to save for your first deposit, our expert agents can help. Just complete our online evaluation and find out your properties value in under ten minutes!