Using small chunks of wasted time effectively
we all have little periods of time throughout our day that go to waste because of circumstance. Usually these chunks of time are spent waiting for something standing at the bus stop, sitting in the back of a taxi arriving early to a meeting and so on. As cal Newport observes in his previously mentioned book deep work. These chunks of time usually get filled with unproductive activities. We check facebook, we play candy crush or some other mindless activity to pass the time. Now like we learned before doing this is actually much worse than doing nothing as it trains your brain to need constant distraction and stimulation. So if you're going to do something mindless and unproductive, the reality is you're better off staring out into space. In fact, I recommend that every so often you fight the urge to pick up your phone even if you plan to do something productive and train yourself to be comfortable doing nothing. But waiting. Now with that said, if we do a little planning in advance, th...
ere is a way to set ourselves up to be actually productive in those short waisted periods and get important meaningful things done while we wait around. You see in the moment when we realize we may have 5-10 minutes of waiting, it's impossible to think of what we could do at that time. We default to whatever is easy and convenient, which is most likely scrolling through instagram. However, we all have those little 10 minute tasks that we don't have the time to do tasks like calling grandma, reviewing our flash cards or reading the news and if you're like me, you always push those tasks back because every time you sit down to get real work done, they seem like they aren't huge priorities. The trick to actually doing these things during our gap time is to remove the elements of thinking and deliberation, Make a list of things you'll do when you have those 5-10 minutes and then make it easier for you to do those than your normal go to to distraction. For me, this meant deleting the facebook app from my phone entirely and instead of putting the new york times app in its place Now, it's important to note that this is different from your normal to do list primarily because every task here is something that can be done in a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. this is so that you can do at least one, but maybe two or three if it's a long taxi ride or the doctor is behind schedule. Now this is literally free productivity time taken away from usually meaningless tasks that do nothing but waste your time. Now here's some of my personal mini tasks that I do when I find myself stuck waiting for something, review Russian spanish or hebrew flashcards, this one is great because I can do one minute or one hour and it doesn't matter if I stop in the middle call a friend or family member, I haven't spoken to in a while now to make this a no brainer decision. I have a group on my address book of people that I want to be in touch with more stretch out my muscles if of course it's socially appropriate. And sometimes even when it isn't Watch a lecture of whatever you to me, course I'm currently taking since they're usually 1-5 minutes and available on my phone, read a few pages of whatever book I'm currently enjoying on the amazon Kindle app. Now this is fantastic because it actually synchronizes to my other devices instantly by doing this. I accomplished a lot of small stuff that would normally get pushed back and because I'm already in between tasks such as getting in and out of the taxi and going into my meeting. I don't really have to break my concentration. I just sandwich something productive in between now before I let you go, I want to again encourage you to use this trick in moderation While it's great to get back an extra 30-40 minutes a day. You certainly don't want to feel like a robot who needs to occupy every waking minute of every waking day with something productive. That's why every once in a while I encourage you to stop and smell the roses, look up at the sky while you walk, stand patiently at the bus stop instead of looking at your phone and practice the skill of not being stimulated, there's a happy balance and I'll leave it up to you to find whatever works best for you.