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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.

    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?

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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.

          More by this author

          Sean Kim

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

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          Published on October 8, 2019

          How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

          How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

          The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

          The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

          By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

          1. Define What Success Is for You

          There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

          Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

          2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

          Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

          Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

          3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

          It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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          By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

          4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

          A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

          One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

          5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

          You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

          Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

          6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

          If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

          Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

          7. Pick Up Some New Skills

          Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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          By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

          8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

          Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

          If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

          9. Make Yourself Indispensable

          Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

          It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

          10. Get Off the Fence

          People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

          If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

          11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

          If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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          Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

          12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

          If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

          Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

          13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

          Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

          Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

          14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

          Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

          A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

          15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

          The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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          Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

          16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

          Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

          Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

          17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

          It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

          Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

          18. Join a Professional Organization

          The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

          Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

          More About Career Advancement

          Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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