Adding your wait time throughout a day could sum up to an hour or more. Reinvesting that time would allow you to stay in touch (network), finish a report, read a book, or get your car washed. It could help your career advance and your happiness quotient!
The first step to converting wait time is to recognize where it is wasted time today. Here are a few frequently spotted examples:
- A room is booked for a meeting before yours and those in the prior meeting go over time leaving you and your peers standing outside the door – perhaps pacing outside the door.
- Information meant to get to you is delayed
- The computers are down
- Someone is late to a meeting and the person who initiated the meeting doesn't start until everyone arrives even if it's 10 minutes or more late
- A co-worker is so overloaded that his part of your part of a project takes a back seat for days and you can't proceed without that part
- You wait by the microwave while components for dinner defrost
The next step to converting wait time to productive time is to work to eliminate waste. Let's highlight the waste in some of situations above as a way to identify waste that could be eliminated.
- The room could be made available for only the first 45 minutes of each hour it's bookable. The meeting facilitator of your meeting could show up early and respectfully urge the prior group to leave. Every
- meeting could have a time keeper to keep an eye on the time.
- Information delayed getting to you might be able to be provided by someone else.
- If the computers are down, get over it – find the things you can do now while the repairs are being done and data is restored. If the computers coming back on is your responsibility, have a strong recovery plan in place and tested before you need it.
- You could arrive late if the meeting organizer is chronically and predictably a late starter.
- Plan dinner the night before or early in the morning and put the components in the fridge to defrost during the day. No wait / waste time!
Finally, if can't get rid of it, you could fill currently wasted time with effective and productive activities.
- You could consciously build consensus for your position while standing outside a meeting room door rather than waiting for the meeting to start to start educating other there.
- You move on to another project while information you're waiting for is on its way.
- If you're sitting in a meeting waiting for it to start you could write a note to someone who has helped you recently, updating your ToDo list, or read an article that you've brought with you.
- Breathe and enjoy being where you are – it's the power of the moment and will refresh you for what's to come.
- You could do something constructive while waiting for dinner to defrost… load the dishwasher or set the table.
Converting your wasted time to fulfilled time is a matter of mindset and preparation. Raise your awareness of wait/wasted time in your day. Squeeze it out or fill it with something practical / valuable.