Maximizing the Minutes

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good at managing large chunks of time. I know the projects I need to accomplish and stay very focused when I have a large block of time to work on them.

Watch Face However, I am not nearly as productive with smaller blocks of time — the five-, ten-, maybe thirty-minute intervals and breaks that constitute a large part of my day. Most of this is “waiting” time: in a carpool line; in a restaurant before I meet a friend; in line at a store; at home in the time between one child getting home and another needing a ride to an activity; in the waiting room at the doctor’soffice. (As Jerry Seinfeld says, “There’s no chance of not waiting; that’s the name of the room!”).

While a lot of my work requires larger chunks of time (an hour or more) to really get in the flow, I have been trying to also turn “waiting” time into “doing” time, to really maximize the minutes. Knocking out the small items on my to-do list utilizes my waiting time, but it also then frees up my large blocks of time to really dive into the big projects, or just to be more present to the people around me. Here are some of the things I am trying to do in shorter segments of time:

  • Thank-you notes. I try to keep a few notes and stamps with me.
  • Short phone calls, the kind I know won’t require long times spent on hold or lengthy conversations: making and confirming appointments, quick check-ins with friends and family.
  • Make lists — groceries, to-do’s, Christmas shopping, monthly menus — to help organize my thoughts.
  • Pray. This should probably be at the top of the list but apparently I’m not that spiritual.
  • Stretch or do simple body-weight exercises. Why not strengthen those calves and glutes while I stand in line?!?
  • Read. I try to keep my own reading material with me, whether on an iPad or Kindle or good ol’ paper books and magazines. It’s usually much more productive than reading what’s on hand at the doctor’s office.
  • Play games. Of course, once all the rest of my work is done, I’m free to play Sudoku. I must confess that I have at times deleted games from my iPad when I sensed myself getting a little too hooked.

I’m interested in other people’s ideas. How do you maximize the minutes in your day?

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