I love lists. I love to sit down with my steaming chai tea and neatly write out a new list. I love to cross items off my list and see my progress throughout the day or week.
But, in order to get to my happy place, I need to actually get something done. With all that goes on in a day, that can be a challenge. Sometimes, your time does not feel like your own and it can be difficult to see where you might find the time to get more done.
I have found that during the day, there are at least 7 little pockets of down time that I tended to waste by playing on my phone, watching TV or who knows what. By taking charge of those pockets of time, I find I can get more done during the day and that leaves me a bigger chunk of me-time at the end of the evening.
Before I share my list, I am conscious to be present and pay attention when I need to, and I do not hit my to do list at the cost of personal interaction or the safety of myself or anyone else. Nothing is more annoying that someone who spends time looking at their phone when they should be present in the moment and distracted drivers are dangerous, so don’t be that guy (or gal). The to-do list is not THAT critical.
With that being said – on to 7 ways you can sneak more time into your day:
1. While making dinner. When I start dinner, I get as far as I can with making the food, and then I try to fill up any down time between stirring, flipping, adding ingredients, simmering, etc. I use that time to set the table, fill up snack containers for my kids’ backpacks, empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher or start a sink full of hot, soapy water and get a head start on the hand washing. This is also a great time to catch some one on one time with one of my kids and hear what is on his or her mind at the moment.
2. While in the car at a light. When I am spending time waiting at a red light, I file my nails or file my entertainment coupons (like restaurant, bowling, etc., I keep the container in the car so we have it when we go to do something). As long as the items I choose to have available are not urgent, then I am fine if I don’t actually get much time when I miraculously hit all the lights just right. Of course, I seem to hit all the lights just wrong more often then not, and taking care of simple tasks like that make the waiting time go faster. When the light is getting ready to change, I drop what I am doing with enough time to be alert to my surroundings and give my full attention to driving before I take my food off the brake.
3. While waiting in the car for kids. Man, this is something that just drives me nuts. I hate waiting around, particularly for someone else. I don’t know about you, but my kids are NOT in a hurry. Here is how I avoid feeling impatient – I try to always have some task that I can complete in the car, whether it is a book to read, items to add to my calendar, appointments to make, forms to fill out or things to sort or file. You can even just clean up your car and gather the trash, items to go inside when you get home, etc. Sometimes when they come out, I am a little bummed that I did not get all of my tasks done. Lucky for me, there will be a next time very soon!
4. While watching TV or a movie. This is a great time to work on knitting, cutting things out, gluing things or assembling (if you craft), not to mention that mundane filing or sorting through mail or files or coupons. I also like to iron while watching something on TV. It makes the time go much faster for me, since ironing is not my idea of a great time. You could do a pedicure or manicure, sort through drawers (if they are removable), put together a binder or mend clothing. Of course, sometimes I just sit and veg out or cuddle with a kiddo. And that is OK, too.
5. While the kids are in the tub. Even though my kids are 6 and 9, I still feel like I need to be close by when they are in the tub. I use that time to chat with them while I straighten the drawers or under the sink, put away the laundry, make the bed or dust and clean the bathroom and bedroom. Sometimes I bring my laptop or iPad up and catch up on my blogs or email reading, too. When they are happily playing, you can sneak in some reading or just close your eyes and breath deeply. Other times, I take of my makeup and get ready for bed, as well as lay out my clothes and jewelry for the next morning.
6. While waiting for a meeting or event. I spend a good amount of time attending volunteer meetings and sporting events for my kids. I hate to be late, so even though I aim to be just on time, sometimes I err a bit on the early side or a meeting starts a little late. Thanks to technology, I can get through my emails, add events to my calendar, check the latest blog postings, send an email, read a book or check the weather or news. All on my phone! I always have it with me and it is easy to just do one thing at a time and STOP when I need to pay attention to the meeting or event.
7. While riding in the car. Usually, when we are all in the car, my husband drives. I love it. I don’t have to pay attention to the road or where we are going. I always bring things to do in the car, no matter how small the trip. This is my favorite source of found time and I can’t believe there was ever a time I let it just slip away. A lot of the time, I bring things like knitting or coupons, which don’t require much brain power, and I can still carry on a conversation with my husband or kids.
Give it a try – the next time you are going to be doing one of these things, think of what you could do in that time and try to be prepared. If you are aware and treat it like found time, then no matter how little you are able to get done, it will feel like you are ahead of the game.