It’s January and for me that means lots of time in the doctor’s office crossing off all of my annual exams. One of the most frustrating aspects of these appointments is waiting and waiting and waiting. First, you wait in the aptly named waiting room. Then, once the nurse escorts you back, there may be another long delay in the exam room. Today’s was 30 minutes. Not bad. In one specialist’s office, I routinely sit staring at the door for over two hours and have more than once stormed out in frustration.
If you know that you’re facing an afternoon of sit around and wait – or if it’s a routine part of your day, Medical Sales Reps, what can you do to turn that lost time into found time?
What you shouldn’t do is mindlessly munch on social media. While it’s tempting to check in on Aunt Sally’s knitting progress, it won’t shorten your workday. Instead, here are four proven strategies for making the most of your waiting or commuting time without needing to boot up your laptop.
Cross off quick To Do items. Being highly productive in waiting time requires advance planning. If you have coded your To Do list by the amount of time you expect the task to take, it will be easy to knock out a few items from the 5 minutes or less list. Try apps like Todoist or Things that allow you to organize action items by duration, priority or by customer.
Get smarter. While the cooking show playing on a TV in the waiting area could certainly help pass the time, unless you happen to be a chef, it’s not workplace relevant. Instead have the latest thinking in your field queued up in podcast or e-reader form, so that you can use the time to build your expertise. If you viewing list is a little short, you might start with the twenty-five most popular Ted talks.
Refresh your To Do list. David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology suggests that simply holding actions, concerns, and issues in your mind consumes energy and is therefore a distraction. He recommends writing everything down – no matter how big or how small – to ease your mind and to ensure it’s not lost. Waiting time is a great time to retrieve the large and small ideas and projects rattling around in the back of your mind. Always carry a pen and a small notepad so that you can have instant access when the opportunity arises, even if your battery is running low. You can then transfer the relevant action items to your master list when you’re back at your desk.
Meditate. Meditation’s brain-building power is well documented and its benefits include everything from lower anxiety to slowing down the aging process. There is no special equipment required and it’s not even necessary to be in a quiet place. Skilled meditators can silence any room through the quality of their focus. If you’re new to meditation, it can be helpful to have a guide. I’m a fan of Headspace, a guided meditation app.
Whatever your strategy, what’s most important is that you have one. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be making up those lost minutes at night and on the weekends – when I’m quite sure you can think of many things you’d rather be doing.