When I was little I never appreciated how much waiting around my parents and grandparents did for me. I remember doing Karate, Cubs, music groups, and holiday activities. Some within walking distance of home and others I needed to be driven to. My grandad probably spent hours waiting for me and my brother; he would pull up outside our house and wait until we got ready, then drive us to school, then wait around at the end of the day to pick us up. Some of it was his choice. He would arrive early to get the best spot in the car park. Other times I know my brother and I took advantage of his kindness. My grandad’s generation would pass the time waiting by reading the paper or listening to the car radio.
In today’s world the Millennial Dad can’t afford to be idle and must use productivity hacks to get things done even when we’re waiting.
Here are my top five ideas for making the most of your waiting time:
1. Plan ahead
It sounds simple, but it’s difficult to be productive if you’ve got no idea of what you want to do. It’s important to plan your task before you arrive at your ‘waiting spot’, be it the car, a lobby, or a coffee shop. I try to set myself a couple of goals to achieve before I head out. Otherwise, I’ll just end up browsing the news or social media.
2. Bring the right tools
If you’ve dropped the kids off at a party in town and have time to get to a coffee shop, then bring along a laptop or iPad to do your work. If you’re going to be standing around or the only place to work is your car, maybe you’ll have to do things on your phone. It’s important to bring the right tools to achieve what you want to do. I’m writing this blog post on an iPad with a keyboard on my lap.
3. Find some space
If you’ve decided what tasks you want to accomplish and you’ve brought the right tools, it’s no use going somewhere that will make it impossible to get things done. It’s fine to be social and chat to other parents, in fact, it’s important. But if you’ve got to get something done don’t sit with other parents. Go to the other side of the room, go elsewhere if you can. Or at least make it clear that you’re getting things done. Cultivate that look of busyness that let’s others know you’re not up for chit chat!
4. Measure out your time.
There’s no point trying to write a chapter of a novel if you’ve only got five minutes. You’ll never get into it. Work out how long you’ve got and aim to get something meaningful done within that time. The goal for productivity during waiting time should be to get something done and feel good about it. Some things are out of our control, like if we call a helpline and it takes ages to get through. When starting out, plan bitesize tasks. Respond to a few texts, email your mum, even use your time to write a task list for the rest of the day. Plan your time wisely.
5. Get it done and put it away.
Time with your children is important. If they’re at a swimming gala and want you to watch, then do it. It’s their activity and they want us to be proud of them. Don’t let your kids see you working on their time. The point of productivity hacks for waiting is to make the most of idle time. By that I mean any time we’re waiting around doing nothing while our kids are in a class, for example. When they’ve finished their activity, put your computer away, stop doing what you’re doing, learn the art of being able to stop even if it’s not convenient.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay productive and there’s definitely another blog post about the beauty of idleness. But as I sit here outside my daughter’s ballet class I know I’ll feel much better afterwards that I’ve accomplished this post.