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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.