Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Increase Your Productivity by Using Pockets of Time

One of my core memories from my early softball coaching days is a conversation I had with one of our best players. She was a conscientious student as well as a gifted athlete, and she was stressed. She competed in three sports until her senior year, and during her junior year, she was feeling the stress of a schedule that was full of deadlines, emotional and physical demands, and mentally exhausting days. 

I remember her expressing her feelings of being drained and overwhelmed with not having a long break to focus on "one thing." I reminded her that we were nearing the end of our softball season, which meant a break from sports and school at the same time. Also, school would be out soon and summer break would give her time to relax and get recharged before her senior year. 

I also told her of a lesson that I had learned early on that had served me well during my high school and college athletic careers and into my professional life. I reminded her that as an athlete, she had to be aware of her "pockets of time." We all have them, and they can add up to a large amount of time during a week. They are breaks that we have during different times: while waiting, after finishing a task early, between tasks, during the early morning, and more. They show up differently for all of us, depending on the day or week and what is needed from us in our personal and professional lives. 

To this day, I've maintained an awareness of my pockets of time, and I've been intentional to use them and not waste them. Some might say I'm "Type A," or it's because of my Enneagram 1 personality. Maybe it's because my mom modeled it for me growing up. Whatever the reason, I'm wired to use my pockets of time in ways that serve me, whether it's for production, learning, or self-care. 

5 ideas for using your pockets of time 


If you are feeling overwhelmed, use the time for meditation, journaling, quiet reflection or prayer, listening to soft music, or taking a walk. I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She has many different yoga videos, including a 5-Minute Full Body Stretch video. Intentional self-care can lead to a more productive and effective rest of your day. 

Build relationships

Use the time to connect with a colleague, make a quick phone call to a friend, or leave your desk to have a conversation with someone in a nearby office.  According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, along with food, water, & safety, love and belonging are the most important needs. (Related Post: "We must Maslow before we Bloom")


Depending on where you are when you have your pocket of time (at work, between clients, at the doctors office, waiting in carpool line, etc.), you have several ways to use the time for learning. 
-Read or listen to a chapter in a book 
-Listen to a podcast episode
-Watch a YouTube video

Chip away at a larger task

If you have a large task that needs to completed, create a task list and use the time to complete the quick tasks. When my daughters were younger, we would do "10-minute clean up" in the house. I would set the timer and they would pick up and clean as much as they could for 10 minutes. It was amazing what the 10 minutes would do for keeping the house neater, and it kept me from needing a large chunk of time after work or on a weekend to clean the house. 

Try keeping a list of tasks that can be completed in 10 minutes or less, and you'll be surprised at how much can get done during your pockets of time. It can help you from feeling weighed down at the end of the day with a looming to-do list!

Let your phone work FOR you

It's easy to do mindless scrolling on social media outlets when you have a short break or pocket of time during your day. (Don't do this!)

Ideas for using your phone to be productive:
-Create your meal plan and grocery list for the week
-Clean up email inbox
-Order the gift for the upcoming birthday, holiday, retirement, etc. 
-Review your budget
-Unsubscribe from emails you no longer want to receive
-Respond to an email
-What would you add?

What are your best tips for using pockets of time that appear during the day? Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on twitter!

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