Advertising
Advertising

7 Productive Things You Can Do During Your Idle Times

7 Productive Things You Can Do During Your Idle Times

The most productive people aren’t more effective because they have more time during the day, but because they make every minute count.

Throughout the day, all of us have idle (or “down”) times, where we’re simply sitting or standing still. This could be when you’re doing your laundry, stuck in traffic, or just resting at work.

While having rest time is important for recovery, these idle times can start to add up after awhile.

Instead of letting these times drift by, we’ve come up with 7 productive things you can do on-the-go to maximize your time.

1. Listen to audiobooks

Knowledge is power, but not everyone can carry around a book wherever they go. This is where audiobooks come in.
Using apps like Audible or Audiobooks.com, you can not only have someone read you the books for you, but you can get through a book in twice the time, since it allows you to increase the reading speed.

Advertising

Audible-image

    Personally, listening to audiobooks is the first thing I do whenever I ride the bus or the metro (where WiFi doesn’t work). An average audiobook will be around 3-5 hours long, and if you’re commuting every single day, reading two books a week is more than possible. Think about the knowledge you’ll have!

    2. Play brain activity games

    Another great way to spend your time is to play brain activity games. There are apps out there that I recommend like Lumosity, where you are able to train your memory retention, math skills, and pattern recognition in a fun and easy way. Apps like Lumosity have gamified the system, allowing you to stay engaged throughout the learning process, while improving your cognitive functions.

    Free-Lumosity-Brain-Training-App-Released-for-iPhone-iPod-touch-2

      3. Learn a language

      Learning how to speak a new language used to involve in-person meetings, but not anymore. With the rise of powerful communication tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, it’s possible to connect with professional, native speaking teachers around the world. Why not learn how to speak Spanish, while you’re sitting restlessly in traffic?

      Advertising

      Many companies have taken full advantage of these powerful communication tools, and have made it incredibly easy for busy people like yourself to learn Spanish on your own time. You’re able to book an unlimited number of private lessons at any time of the day, and any day of the week, allowing you to spend as little as 30 minutes/week to reach fluency faster.

      rype

        4. Write down your goals

        A study was done on Harvard’s graduate students, and they were asked if they have set clear, written goals for their futures.

        The result of the study was only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in their minds but haven’t written them anywhere and 84 percent had no goals at all.

        After 10 years, the same group of students were interviewed again and the conclusion of the study was totally astonishing.
        The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals. The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.

        Advertising

        Which one of these 3 categories do you currently belong to?

        If you’re not writing down your goals yet, you can start today during your idle times.

        5. Catch up with an old friend

        Loneliness has been shown to be even more dangerous than obesity. According to Psychology Today:

        • Doctors themselves confided that they provide better or more complete medical care to patients who have supportive families and are not socially isolated.
        • Living alone increases the risk of suicide for young and old alike.
        • Lonely individuals report higher levels of perceived stress even when exposed to the same stressors as non-lonely people, and even when they are relaxing.
        • The social interaction lonely people do have are not as positive as those of other people, hence the relationships they have do not buffer them from stress as relationships normally do.

        All of us have felt loneliness in one form or another, and calling an old friend we’ve lost in touch with may be the solution.
        You’ll feel more energized for the day, exchange some laughter, and increase your level of happiness.

        6. Finish up 2-minute tasks

        2-minute tasks was introduced by David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done. All of us have these tiny tasks that needs to get done, but are difficult to prioritize into our schedule, since we have more important things to finish.

        Advertising

        It could be sending an email, reorganizing your schedule for the week, or booking a round trip ticket. Whatever the task is, as long as you can get it done within 2-minutes (or so), create a list of these tasks ahead of time.

        Then during your idle times, you can run through these as quickly as possible, and dedicate a time segment to complete them, instead of spreading them out throughout the day.

        19fie23thc20qjpg

          7. Reach out to a mentor

          Having the right mentor to guide you can significantly shortcut your path to success. A mentor is someone who has been where you’ve been, made all the mistakes, and can share how you can achieve your goals.

          Most people either don’t have a mentor at all or don’t have the type of connection they’re seeking from a mentor. In many cases, it’s because the mentors we want are busy people, but it’s also because we’re not reaching out enough.

          With a little bit of persistence and reaching out to more mentors in our industry, we can significantly increase our chances of finding the right mentor for our life, business, and career.

          Create a list of people you’d like to connect with, and during your next idle time, send them an introduction email or a follow-up from your previous one. If you can continue to keep up this routine, you’ll have yourself a mentor in no time.

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

          Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

          10 Websites to Learn Something New in 30 Minutes a Day 9 Free Language Learning Apps That Are Fun to Use 12 Surprising Benefits of Learning a New Language 7 Best Languages to Learn to Stay Competitive 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers

          Trending in Career Advice

          1 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 2 9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career 3 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 4 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on January 13, 2020

          Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

          Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

          Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

          Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

          Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

          Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

          How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

          The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

          You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

          Physical Signs

          Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

          It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

          In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

          Mental Signs

          One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

          Advertising

          I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

          Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

          • The tension in your neck
          • Difficulties with sleeping
          • Unable to concentrate
          • High anxiety
          • Depression

          If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

          Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

          Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

          The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

          Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

          Desire for an Increase of Salary

          The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

          At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

          Overnight Decision

          Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

          Rejected for a Promotion

          I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

          Advertising

          Bored at Work

          Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

          A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

          • How long have you worked in your career?
          • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
          • Do you receive recognition?
          • Can you consider working in a new department?

          If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

          How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

          I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

          One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

          It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

          A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

          You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

          • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
          • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
          • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

          How to Make a Career Change Successfully

          The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

          1. Write a Career Plan

          A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

          Advertising

          You can learn how to set your career plan here.

          2. Weigh Your Options

          If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

          You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

          3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

          It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

          A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

          • Economic factors
          • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
          • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
          • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
          • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

            A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

            4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

            A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

            • What is required to be successful in the role?
            • What certification or educational development is needed?
            • What are the challenges of the role?
            • Is there potential for career advancement?

            A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

            Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

            Advertising

            5. Research Salary

            Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

            It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

            6. Be Realistic

            If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

            For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

            Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

            7. Volunteer First

            A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

            Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

            Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

            8. Prepare Your Career Tools

            I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

            • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
            • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
            • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
            • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

            Bottom Line

            It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

            Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

            More About Career Change

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

            Reference

            [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
            [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
            [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

            Read Next