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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.

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    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.

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      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?

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      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.

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        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.

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        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.

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        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.

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          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.

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          Last Updated on August 16, 2018

          10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

          10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

          When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss – you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

          However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

          You see, a boss’ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

          A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

          Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

          1. Leaders are compassionate human beings; bosses are cold.

          It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

          Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

          Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

          A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

          If people feel that you are being open, honest and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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          2. Leaders say “we”; bosses say “I”.

          Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

          Let me explain:

          A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

          A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern day workplace.

          3. Leaders develop and invest in people; bosses use people.

          Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

          Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

          Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

          Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

          4. Leaders respect people; bosses are fear-mongering.

          Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

          A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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          What’s the bottom line?

          Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

          5. Leaders give credit where it’s due; bosses only take credits.

          Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

          Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

          You might be wondering how you can get started:

          • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
          • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
          • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

          6. Leaders see delegation as their best friend; bosses see it as an enemy.

          If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

          Delegation equates to trust and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

          Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

          Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

          In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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          Learn how to delegate in my other article:

          How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

          7. Leaders work hard; bosses let others do the work.

          Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the hardest work of all when the need arises.

          Here’s the deal:

          Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

          The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go”, a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go”, showing that you are totally willing to help and support.

          8. Leaders think long-term; bosses think short-term.

          A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

          Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

          For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

          9. Leaders are like your colleagues; bosses are just bosses.

          Another word for colleague is collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

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          Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

          As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

          10. Leaders put people first; bosses put results first.

          Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

          Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

          Here’s what I mean by process over people:

          Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

          Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

          This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

          Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

          Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

          For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

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