Managing meaning instead of timeJanuary 18, 2018
Making optimal use of volunteer timeMarch 28, 2018
Standing still is hard
How good are you at waiting? Our daily schedules can include long waiting times – while traveling, in medical offices, or at kids’ activities. Of course, there are lots of entertainment options for those moments. You can make small talk or look at any number of sites on your phone, but it would be much better to do something meaningful (especially if the office TV is blaring soap operas and you’re not interested in grubby magazines). In exactly those moments, it’s hard to think about that one thing you’ve wanted to research or the message you wanted to draft. As a consequence, we miss good opportunities to make the most of such “time windows.”
Lately I’ve been looking for a more productive approach. What if I had a portable collection of prepared questions, topics or ideas, a list of things to do when I have 5, 10 or 30 minutes to spare?
Portable toy box
In my effort to find a better way of using waiting times, I have come up with a “toy box” that I can pull out whenever I have time available. I built my toy box in the Evernote mobile app, but there are any number of ways to set it up. My collection contains specific, short invitations to myself to brainstorm and research a topic, or write a few bullet points. The topics vary in length and depth, but are very specific so I don’t get lost in thought. Some are easy to complete in a few minutes, while others are better suited for a 30-minute wait or a train ride. Recent examples include “What is nigella seed?” “Ideas for April presentation” and “Check travel dates in October”. The toy box also includes notes about new songs or blog sites I want to check out and book titles I’ve heard about. Whenever the opportunity arises, I open the list and randomly choose an item that appeals to me at the moment.
Features of a toy box to use while waiting
Here are some things to consider for building your toy box:
- Use a synced app such as Evernote, Google Keep or any number of list-writing or project management apps such as Wunderlist.
- Set the program to continuously save entries so your content is never lost when you quickly put away the device (for example because your name is called)
- Create a variety of topics, from playful to involved
- The system should work in places where there is no WiFi access (and save new content later)
- Match your working style (for example, the list should allow for writing, dictation, drawing, pictures, etc.)
- Content should be easy to transfer to other formats later so you can keep working
Have you built something similar, and what did you discover? I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback.