Taking a look at my private calendar, I noticed that there are short time slots throughout the day that I did not use to schedule. I didn’t schedule anything, because either it seems impossible to me to find any activity to do in-between two other events, or because these idle time slots just seem too short. (But theoretically they still last 15 minutes or more.)
In this idle time – I used to consume classic time wasters: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, … YouTube is probably the biggest time sink.
Exactly because I was so annoyed to have no time to read a book I bought months ago – or several books -, or to read the articles that are saved in my browser and prolongate the list more and more, I have been looking for ways to spend this idle time in a meaningful way.
If I extrapolate, I theoretically have at least 1 hour of idle time every day, on some weekends even significantly more.
I’m not talking about taking advantage of every last minute. Especially not when I am with other people.
I do realize, however, that it’s incredibly worthwhile to think about the idle time and how to use it wisely, for whatever that may be. One hour every working days – let’s say 220 in a year – adds up to 220 hours idle time: Over 9 days!
In the next section below you can find some ideas on how I use my idle time (when I want to). Yes, they all sound obvious, but sometimes it takes the right impulse at the right time to act accordingly.
Some years ago, I wouldn’t even listening to podcasts. But now, I listen to them almost daily. Here’s why.
Whether I’m on my way to work, in the car or train, working out, or otherwise on my own, podcasts are my first port of call.
I can find everything from entertainment (e.g. “Couples Therapy with Candice and Casey“) to motivation, inspiration and education (e.g. “The Tim Ferriss Show” or “TED Talks Daily“). If you use an iPhone, just check out the podcast app and search for the topics that might interest you. You’re sure to find what you’re looking for!
Some podcasts I like to listen to at 1.25x or 1.5x speed. I can still follow the conversations and dialogues, and this way I can listen to 50% more content in the same amount of time.
When there are no new podcast episodes or I have a chance to sit down, for example on the train or plane, I read the articles that pile up in my bookmarks. I also use medium.com and some newsletters, gathering articles every day based on my interests.
If my next idle time slot is long, like the upcoming one hour train ride, I take one of my many unread books with me, mostly in digital format on my Kindle*.
I have been reading since I was a little child and honestly I still prefer printed books where I can make my onw annotation and mark interesting sections. However, eBooks are very convenient, especially when I devour a novel in a few days.
When it’s really only 10-15 minutes, or I don’t feel like listening to podcasts or reading but I still want to be productive, I rummage through my perpetual to-dos.
It’s not uncommon for me to write things on my to-do list and feel like I’ll never get rid of them, as the list sometimes gets longer and longer. They’re usually sucky topics like “cleaning out notes on my phone” that you can fit quite nicely into your otherwise empty and unused time.
I think we all have more time than we think and as you can see, there’s practically always something to do when you’re feeling productive.
The valuable thing about idle time is that I don’t have to free up time elsewhere when I want to listen to a new podcast episode.
I’d be very interested to hear what you do with your idle time. For example, I’ve found that I tend to use that time less for creative things (even though it’s not uncommon for good ideas to come out of it).
If you still have the feeling that you don’t have any time left day after day, you might find my article “What to Do When You Never Seem to Have Enough Time” helpful.
* Was der Stern bedeutet: Ich bewerbe ausschließlich Produkte, von denen ich selbst überzeugt bin und die ich in vielen Fällen selbst nutze. Für Links, die mit einem * markiert sind, erhalte ich eine kleine Provision, wenn über den verlinkten Anbieter einen Vertrag bzw. Kauf zustande kommt. Für Dich entstehen dadurch keine Mehrkosten und ich kann so die Kosten fürs Hosting des Blogs oder für das Abo von Photoshop und Lightroom aufbringen. Als Amazon-Partner verdiene ich an qualifizierten Verkäufen.