As any parent will tell you…if you have an active family, free time is at a premium. Now more than ever, families are constantly on the go. It’s no wonder there are so many time management books and workshops. We are all just trying to get the most of out the hours in the day. You need to get creative!
Sometimes your schedule just isn’t optimal for getting tasks done. Have you ever experienced that “awkward amount of idle time”? It’s usually sitting in your car, in a lobby, or in some uncomfortable bleachers while your child is at practice or lessons.
Sometimes as the parent (and chauffeur)…well, you’re a little bit stuck waiting around. It’s such a short period of time that you can’t actually run a useful errand. Do you just end up scrolling through social media as your “to do” list inevitably grows?
All that time adds up!
As a parent of active children, I found that my afternoons were full of awkward amounts of time. But as a business owner and a parent, I couldn’t afford to sit idly for an hour several times a week. For my family, I calculated that we spent at least 12 hours a week on our kids’ extra curricular activities! Sometimes even more. I would end up working late after the kids went to bed to make up the time, or getting up extra early in the day (eating into my exercise time).
That’s when I created my “5 Minute Queue”.
As my day went along, if I had tasks that would only take me about 5 minutes to complete, could be completed from a phone/tablet/laptop, and didn’t require a lot of thought, decision-making, or research, then I saved them into a “5 Minute Queue”.
- Pay bills online
- Register for activities or classes
- Online purchases that don’t require research
- Update calendar items
- Clean up photos on my phone
- Digitize the bills/documents from the day using a PDF scanner app on my phone
- Respond to simple emails (both business and personal)
- Call to make appointments (doctor, dentist, house maintenance)
- RSVP to invitations
And so on. Then, in the late afternoon, when I was driving my kids around, I would have my “5 Minute Queue” all ready to go. I found it easy to watch the practice or lessons and then spend 10 minutes here and there going through my 5 Minute tasks. Some days, I only got a few done. Other days, I completed quite a bit.
Other times, I used the 30-60 minutes for planning and reorganization sessions. I’d go through my to-do list, and re-prioritize my plan for the next day or week. Maybe I would spend it on meal planning for the month, so I no longer had to think about the dreaded question “what’s for dinner.”
If you have an active schedule that includes awkward chunks of time, try planning ahead of time what easy tasks can be done away from your desk in 5 minutes or less… either in the car, in a waiting room, on the sidelines, or in a lobby. Try saving those tasks for your idle waiting times, and you may find that you can be more productive than you think.
What are your tricks for maximizing your time? I’d love to hear from you.