One of the keys to productivity is taking advantage of the moments as they come available. To do this successfully you need to be prepared to react when those moments arise. Here are some tips for taking advantage of "idle moments":
1. Clean up your task list
If you're keeping an active task list regardless of it being digital or analog, idle time is a good time to go through and do a quick update. Capture new items on your mind, update completed tasks, and look over what is already there to see if anything needs to be revised.
Journaling is a powerful way to keep a grasp on what has been happening and what needs to happen in your personal and professional life. One of the obstacles to journaling is the idea you need to craft these wonderful personal missives in your journal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Taking a couple of minutes to jot down what is happening right at that moment is a great way to start building the running narrative of your life.
3. Keep a quick reading list
Idle time is an excellent opportunity to catch up on the light reading you've been putting off. Apps such as Amazon Kindle and Pocket are great tools to have reading material on hand even when you may not have connection to the internet to be able to fill idle time with productive learning and information.
4. Be "mindful"
While this may be the current buzzword when it comes to many circles, being mindful of what and where you are can be a wonderful application of idle time. Take a few moments and focus on the sights, the sounds, and the happenings around you. Don't worry about adding things to your Snapchat story or your Instagram feed. Let Facebook wait for a while and take the idle time to capture the most important thing...a memory.
Brainstorming is one of those things I find works best when you can disengage your mind from the tactical requirements of a problem and give your subconsious a chance to ponder and poke at the topic. Next time you have some idle time try this brainstorming exercise: pick a topic you know you need ideas around, say a project for example, and focus on it for a full minute. Try your hardest to come up with new ideas. Now after a minute let it go. Don't focus on something else, but rather just stop focusing on the topic. After a few minutes of idle time you may find your mind making connections you didnt see when you were concentrating. Often creative ideas gain their greatest energy when given the chance to play on their own without our direction.
In today's world, idle time is a blessing. It is a rare gift we need to appreciate and take greatest advantage of rather than waste as it slips by. Whether we want to accomplish things or revel in inactivity as a way to "sharpen the saw" we can use idle time to our advantage. By having a plan as to how you can take advantage of idle time, you can lower your stress, increase your productivity, and feel better about both in the process.