We spend a lot of time waiting. For most of us, a large part of our time is taken by commuting and traveling. Or just lining up for things. I used to have the mentality of seeing these periods of time as time wasted, and as a result, I looked for time wasters to fill them up with: social media, reading news, watching movies, listening to songs, and so on.
It’s not that these activities are necessarily negative activities, but I’ve realised that they do not help me along on my personal ambition at all. Even as a form of entertainment, they aren’t very good.
These days, I’ve changed my mindset and instead saw these periods of time as time in which I could use to make myself happier. It would typically mean using these periods of time to work on stuff that would help me along my personal mission statement.
I’ve 6 examples of what these activities typically would be for my case.
I have a huge reading backlog, and these come in both audiobook and ebook formats. I typically read books on personal development, productivity, or business. This may include courses as well, which cover things like programming or even foreign languages. Whenever I commute – whether I drive, or take the bus – or if I am waiting in line, I start reading, with the intention to either learn something new.
2. Create my to-do list
Having downtime lets me mull on the topics that are in my life, and I typically start coming up with to-do items, be it urgent ones or ones for the future. I then use Google Keep to store everything and start working on them. I find that this greatly organises my life, and lets me be much more productive since I am constantly reviewing the things that need to be done.
I typically respond to messages and emails during waiting times. This frees up my time during periods of work so that I can concentrate on other tasks and projects. I find that “batching” responses like this make it very much more productive for me.
Sometimes when I am waiting, I start thinking about my friends whom I’ve not heard from in a while, and I’ll reach out to them. I typically use some form of chat messaging, but it can be anything that you like. You can send emails, calls, or even voicemail. This helps me connect with friends that I would otherwise not have the time to spend with.
5. Review my budget
I have several bank accounts and several credit cards. I use waiting time to look at anything that I need to. This includes reviewing my statement to check on my spending, canceling any subscriptions that I don’t use, and paying for any outstanding bills. I can also use this time to forecast my spending for the future and to prepare for any large up-coming expenditures.
6. Plan activities and appointments
There are a lot of things that I find fun, but unless it’s planned for, it’ll typically never happen. I try to find time and buddies with whom I can do activities together with, and use waiting time to arrange and coordinate everything.
It isn’t always fun activities though. Instead of using my other time to do it, I typically use waiting time to organise appointments for the dentist, or any other administrative appointments that I have to do.
For many of us, our daily lives have multiple periods of waiting time. Don’t dread it or waste these periods on mindless entertainment. Start looking at improving the quality of how you spend your time. This has the positive effect of reducing stress and increasing satisfaction, and will in turn start making you happier.