It's through this process that I discovered there are hidden pockets of time throughout the day that you likely could be making better use of, particularly in the mornings: Shower time, getting dressed and ready for the day, your commute, walking between events or locations, waiting in line for coffee or food, and more.
The instinct might be to listen to music or to zone out while you lather, rinse and repeat, or to play a game on your phone whole you wait for a train to arrive on the platform, but these small pockets of time can be incredibly valuable if you capitalize on them and combine them.
During these times, you're often doing unconscious or repetitive tasks that require very little active brain power. While your eyes may be engaged, your ears are usually open and your brain is capable of more. Here are some ways to make the most of that time to add productive hours back into your day.
Let Voice Command Prep You For The Day
As you're getting ready in the morning--whether you have Siri, Cortana, Alexa or someone else--leverage your voice command services on your phone or smart home device to get prepped for the day. Ask the weather, so you can choose outfits accordingly and know whether you need an umbrella or sunglasses, and check in on traffic or commute times so you can stay on schedule. Have your schedule of meetings read out so you're prepared for what's ahead and can start to think about what the day has in store.
Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are great for down times, particularly when you're showering, walking or commuting, because they don't interfere with your hands or eyes, so you can keep doing what you've got to do. Find a podcast on your industry, so you can stay up to date, or find one about something completely separate to challenge yourself, learn a new skill, explore a new topic, or otherwise stretch your mind. Podcasts turn listening time into learning time.
Make Progress On An Audio Book
So many people say that they wish they read more, but that they can't find the time. Audiobooks are a great way to find the time where you might not expect it. A 30-minute morning routine and a 20-minute commute means you can have nearly an hour of reading time in before you even start your work day. Add in your evening commute, a walk on your way to a meeting, waiting in line for lunch and you're well on your way to adding a new title to your list of "completed reads."
Catch Up On Calls
This one might not be great for all downtimes (like the shower...) but for any small pockets of break time--between meetings, waiting in line, walking on your way somewhere--make a quick call. Whether it's finally calling a plumber about that leaky sink or just catching up with your grandparent or sibling, these tiny pockets of time can help you check something off your list. Keep a list of "To Call" in your task manager or phone, so you can pick right up and dial when you see you've got a spare few minutes.