Down time… those numerous times throughout the day when you are not doing anything productive. These might be time spent in line, in waiting rooms, in your car etc… Usually it involves waiting of some sort. In your car you are waiting to get to your destination, in a restaurant you might be waiting for a friend, at the bank you might be waiting in line etc…
Sometimes down time occurs because you finish a product early. Perhaps you finish a project and there are only 10 minutes until your next meeting. In essence, by finishing early you are now waiting for that meeting. It might not make sense to start a new project in those ten minutes, so what do you do?
If you are like most people you’ll find your day is scattered with these sort of down times. It may be only for a minute here and a minute there, but in the end they add up to a significant part of your day. If you can capitalize on these times you can substantially increase your productivity. In fact, you’ll soon start to consider down times as bonus times!
This article will discuss three categories of bonus time:
1. Bonus Time While Driving
2. Bonus Time While Waiting in Line
3. Bonus Time in Your Office
Bonus Time While Driving
For many, the biggest daily down time is while they are driving. In our congested cities we often spend an hour a day or more commuting. Even people who work fully from their home often have to run errands a couple of times a week and can still get stuck in traffic. If not used productively driving can be one of the biggest time wasters.
There are a number of ways to be more productive while you drive. The most obvious one is to listen to compact disks or podcasts. These can be podcasts, audio books, business training, or even sermons. Audio recordings can also help you become an expert in a subject of your choice. For example if you wanted to become an expert on team building you could get a number of different training programs and audio books and on the subject. You can also choose to learn a language or even take some college level distance learning courses while you drive.
Secondly you can listen to motivational and inspirational music. Having the radio on all the time is not productive, but there are times when you need to fire up some energetic music to get yourself pumped up. A third productive thing to do while driving is to return phone calls. The cell phone is an invention that if used properly can save you a lot of time. By batching return phone calls you can return a lot of calls while you are driving (just be sure to use a hands-free system).
Bonus Time While Waiting in Line
Another primary type of down time occurs when you are waiting for someone or in some line. You are usually standing in a line of people or sitting in a waiting room. This time can also be turned into a highly productive event.
One option for using this time is to read. Keep a paperback book in your jacket pocket or in your purse and pull it out whenever you have two or three minutes. If putting a whole book in your pocket is too big, then rip out 5-10 pages each day and take them with you. By the time you get home from your day you will likely be finished the pages you brought with you. You can often read a book every couple of weeks just in the time you are waiting in line.
Secondly you can network! Talk to the people around you. Ask questions and get to know them. The funny thing about people, even complete strangers, is that when you ask them questions they answer them. Most people are so starved for people to listen to them that they will talk your ear of. Perhaps the person you are talking with will become a valuable business contact.
Bonus Time in Your Office
A final type of down time can occur in your office when you finish a project early. You may not have time to start in on a new project, but you should do something during this time. Certainly, one good option for this kind of bonus time is to read. If you have a book, magazine or journal ready you can use this time to read. Perhaps this is also a good time for you to read your favorite blog, or go through some of your RSS feeds.
Another option is to use this time to check a few emails. If you are batching your emails then you will not have checked any emails while you have been working on your project. Using bonus time to check emails can be a good use of time. Even if you have a scheduled time later in the day to check emails, you can get started during your bonus time. This will make your job later a little easier.
Clearly there are a lot of options for how you fill your down times bonus times. Whatever you choose to do with these times, just make sure you use them for something of value. There is no reason to leave the time in unproductive waste. Remember you only have 1440 minutes in a day so use each one to their full benefit.
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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