I recently was on my way to a client when she called to say she had a last-minute emergency and needed to push our start time back an hour. Since it wasn’t feasible for me to go back home, I parked near her house and spent the next hour making phone calls, writing a few thank you notes, and reading. I was grateful that by having planned my day the day before, I had with me not only a list of phone calls to make and notes to write, but also the materials to get those tasks accomplished. I also had a couple of magazines with me to read.

Although I couldn’t find definitive statistics on how much time the average person spends waiting, my informal survey of a variety of sources showed a range of from 45 to 62 minutes every day. That’s a staggering amount of time, especially considering that most people (at least almost everyone I know) feel that they don’t have enough time in the day. I was “lucky” that my delayed appointment gave me a large block of time, so I was able to get a lot accomplished. But even if I’d had only 5 minutes or so, I could have made a phone call, written one note, addressed an envelope, or read an article. Any one of those accomplishments might not seem significant, but doing a little bit here and a little bit there with small bits of waiting time can add up to substantial achievement. Imagine how much more productive and less stressed you might feel if you made better use of small pockets of waiting time.

So where do we do all this waiting? Some of it is where it’s difficult to do much more than just wait: in traffic or in line at the grocery store are a couple of examples. But then again, maybe you’d find it helpful to use such time to do those deep breathing exercises you’ve been meaning to get to, or to make a mental list of what you’re grateful for. There are plenty of other opportunities where we can constructively use waiting time. For example, while pumping gas, instead of focusing on how alarmingly fast the total sale numbers are spinning, I empty my garbage bag (tip: if you don’t have a garbage bag in your car, you might want to get one, if for no other reason than to distract you from the price of gas) and wash my windshield. When waiting at the doctor’s office, I either read, or close my eyes and just enjoy shutting out the world for a while. Sometimes I wait so long that I imagine my doctor has done the same thing!

My point is not that every waking minute of your day should necessarily be filled with activity and being productive, but if you’re feeling like you need more time in your day, it may be there if you only look for it. I’d love to hear what you discover about making the most of the time you spend waiting.

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.