For the past hour (plus), I’ve been sitting in the service department of my local dealership. We brought the car in for what was supposed to be a quick look and diagnosis.
You know what that’s like. You spend far more time than you planned, and in the utterly charming atmosphere that is most service departments, you feel like you’re stuck forever.
Times like these are when you need to learn to be prepared and take advantage of every second.
Be a Boy Scout
You know those Boy Scouts – they’re always prepared. We could learn a few things from them.
Yesterday I spent the day working on the other side of the state. My purse was exchanged for a tote bag to hold my laptop. This morning when I left the house, I transferred what I thought I would need back to my purse.
I have my phone and my Planner Perfect Out and About. (They didn’t ask me to write this. I just love their products.) It doubles as a wallet and a planner. It would have been nice if I’d remembered my glasses, but I seem to be doing OK without them.
So after I wrote down my list for the Costco trip I hope to make later today, I decided to write this post. Be prepared and use every second. And now I know I can write on my phone! Even without glasses!
How Many Seconds Are You Wasting?
You literally have no idea how much you can get done in just a few seconds. I finished college in between having three babies. My son barely escaped being born in my Statistics class, but he’s a whiz at math!
I literally had to learn to use every free second I had. And I did. A long line at the bank drive-through was a welcome sight. And right now, I’m even putting time spent at the car dealership to work. It beats reading a magazine from twelve years ago.
Think about your typical day. How many seconds and minutes are you wasting? I bet it’s more than you think. Now I know that a lot of you work, but you’ve probably still got bits and pieces of time here and there that you could put to better use.
Maybe you can’t pull your planner out, but a small notepad or pack of sticky notes (even better) might be doable. Every time something goes through your head that you need to do or want to remember, write it down. Tell your boss it helps you concentrate better on your work if you get the other stuff out of your mind. Hey, it’s true.
You could make a shopping list, figure out what’s for dinner next week, what you’re buying for Christmas, and so many other things. No, you’re not going to have maybe more than a minute or two (if that), but it adds up. I know from experience – it does.
Collect all of your sticky notes at the end of the day and put them in your bag. Once you get home, you can add them to your planner.
Can You Take Your Planner with You?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a combination wallet and planner. I like to carry a big bag and would rather have a planner with me than not. This is not my everyday planner, just a wallet with a calendar so I can check dates before making an appointment if I’m out, plus notepaper and a book for shopping lists.
If you can take something like that with you, it can help you get even more done. Need to make a phone call? With your planner, you’ve got a reminder plus the number to call and a place to take notes.
Whenever I make a business call, I always note the date, the time, who I called (like the dealership), and the name of the person I talked to. Then I add any notes – including if I got transferred – to which department and who I talked with there. It’s a good backup if you need it, and you always know where to find it.
You can also save lists of important information in your planner. With the holidays approaching, maybe a list of gift ideas and sizes might be helpful. If you have children, a list of their sizes – especially if they’re still growing – might be helpful all of the time. That way, if you happen to find a great sale, you’re prepared. Grandmas can use this too.
Carry a Few Extra Things
If you’re the type to send cards, maybe some stamps in your planner would be a good idea. And maybe a master list of birthdays. A lot of planners these days have a page at the beginning with the whole year on it. Sometimes it’s for the current year, sometimes it’s what is called a perpetual calendar – just month and numbers without days of the week attached. That’s a good place for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
If you’ve got something to mail out, like a bill, then stick the bill in your planner. You’ve already got the stamps, right? Oh, and don’t forget your checkbook! When you have a second, you can get that taken care of. A few more seconds or minutes, and you can bring your checkbook up to date.
I also like to have either a small notepad or some sticky notes in my planner in case I need to write something down quickly. Someone recommends a podcast or a new book at lunch, I see something I’d like to have and make a note for later. And while you’re at it, a second pen is always handy.
Are you trying to be more healthy and keep track of your activity or what you eat? There are apps for that, but you could use your planner too. Personally, I don’t mind an app tracking my activity, but I find logging my food in one is a hassle. But then, I’m a pen and paper girl.
You Know All Those Things You Have to Do?
Start thinking about them a little more. Each one of us wastes more time than we realize. Maybe you could use a sheet of paper in your planner to brainstorm a few things, like how you could get your to-do list taken care of more efficiently.
Maybe start taking a look at your week instead of just your day. If you’ve got a few calls to make, do them all at once. Block out a section of time for them. And by the way, you can and maybe should have a planner for work, too. Or maybe just an insert in your traveler’s notebook for what you need to do each day.
Just as you group all of your tasks together at home, you can do the same for work. When I dust or sweep the floors, I don’t do one room at a time. I do all the dusting at once and sweep all of the floors. It’s more efficient that way.
Take a look at your workweek, or even what you do at home. If you look at the entire week, you may see areas where you can group things together. This saves you time.
Think about it. If I vacuumed the house room by room, day by day, I would be getting the vacuum out, using it, and putting it away each day. By taking it out once and doing all the vacuuming at once, I save time and am more efficient.
The same is true of things that are more mental rather than physical. For instance, I can get more done if I write a series of blog posts at once rather than doing one at a time. My brain gets into “writing-mode” and I can accomplish more.
The same is true for you. Take a look – a good look – at the things that you do on a regular basis. Would it make more sense to do them together?
And what about those wasted seconds and minutes of your day? Can you think of some creative and useful ways to fill at least some of them? You shouldn’t aim for filling every second – that defeats the purpose.
But think of those little things you’ve been meaning to get to – the ones that will only take a second or two, but don’t seem to get done because you have other, bigger things to do.
Think about how it would feel to have them taken care of, without really taking any extra time from your day.
Now that’s making the most of every second, and helping you find time for what really matters.