Nothing, of course, can lengthen our finite days. But I love finding ways to feel like I've gotten more time — to feel less rushed and distracted and more on top of it and productive. One way I try to do this is by shedding unnecessary time-eaters from my family's days (limiting after-school activities and only attending the birthday parties of close friends, for example). Another way I eke time from my day is to ask myself one simple question.
"What can I do while I wait?"
Even those of us who find ourselves booked solid are faced with small pockets of five, ten, fifteen minutes. These can be frittered away scrolling (no judgment; I do it too, and sometimes it's nice to catch up on social media) — or, if you employ this mindful question, those bits of time can make the difference between a frantic dinner hour and a chill one that includes a stroll after eating.
Here are some slices of time that I encounter in my typical days:
- Waiting in the car pick-up line
- Microwaving leftovers for lunch
- Waiting for my second cup of coffee to brew
- Waiting at the doctor's office
- On hold on the phone
- Waiting for someone who's not quite ready to leave the house
And here are some ways I put that time to good use:
- Chopping vegetables for dinner
- Returning a phone call
- Updating my meal plan on my phone
- Emptying the dishwasher
- Filling the dishwasher
- Sorting through papers on my desk
- Wiping the counters
- Wiping out the microwave
- Putting the laundry away
- Folding a load
- Throwing in a load
- Watering the plants
By pairing pockets of time with tasks that take about as long, I'm able to check things off my list, get ahead of schedule, and temper the busyness with a good dose of calm. And I remember, too, that sometimes the best investment of time, an antithesis to our multi-tasking world, is just to sit and rest, outwardly doing nothing but inwardly getting filled.
How do you spend your in-between moments?