I’m always running, except that I don’t run. I’m constantly on the go chauffeuring my kids to and from their activities, and here’s what really happens. They run – literally. I sit.
I sit and wait for them to get done with their sports or instrument lessons. I wait in the car line at school too. Once a week, I need to arrive in the car line 40 minutes before the bell even rings. If I’m not one of the first three cars in line, then we’ll never get to music lessons on time.
When I’m waiting, I’ll tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not doing laundry. I’m not cooking dinner, and I’m not getting sleep. In other words, I’m not checking any big to-dos off my list.
For the record, I’m not a big fan of sitting still and being unproductive. I spent two six-month periods of my life on strict bed rest during each of my pregnancies, completely horizontal. I’ve had all of the “still” that I ever want to experience.
So, after I realized a while back that at least twelve hours of my week is spent waiting for my kids, I knew I had to find ways to be productive, and I did.
Today’s hint is the nine tasks I’m able to check off my to-do list during waits. If you don’t use waiting time to do something, it’s easy to feel that you’re not doing anything and this, in turn, can lead to stress if you’re forever trying to conquer a to-do list that seems a mile long.
So, if you find yourself waiting, no matter where you are or why you’re there, try one of these activities to pass the time and get things done. I’m pretty sure you’ll feel a little more relaxed while accomplishing something than you will if you waste all those minutes scrolling through Facebook just to pass the time.
1. Return phone calls. Before you head out, jot down any phone numbers and details you need for your calls and take that information with you (assuming you can’t easily access that information in your phone while you’re out). If you need to call the cable company, insurance broker, window repair guy or an old friend, knock out your call list while you wait.
2. Control your coupons. Grab your coupon envelope or binder before you leave the house and sort through coupons while you’re waiting. Set aside and toss the ones that are expired. If you don’t have a coupon organizer, now is the perfect time to put one together. Check out some great coupon organizing ideas at Couponing 101.
3. Organize your phone. Do you have apps on your phone that you never use? Delete them. What about blurry photographs in your gallery? Delete those too. Are there people hanging out in your contact list whom you can’t even remember? Check your recent calls, voice mail and text messages list. Waiting time is the perfect time to clear out what’s no longer relevant.
4. Manage your e-mail. While you’re scrolling through your inbox, take the time to unsubscribe from promotional e-mails sent by companies who you don’t buy from on a regular basis. If you’re interested in buying something in the future, you can always go directly to the Web site.
5. Organize your car. Bring two small trash bags along with you – one for trash, another for stuff you want to return to home or work. Clear out all the little compartments in your car, including the ones in your vehicle’s doors.
6. Plan your meals. If you’re looking for inspiration in the kitchen, bring a pile of recipes to sort through or scroll through some pins on Pinterest. Select a few recipes and put together a grocery list and plan your meals for the week.
7. Organize your handbag or briefcase. You might be surprised by what you find. Minimize the contents of your purse and only keep what’s necessary. Don’t forget to go through diaper bags too. They also have a way of becoming chaotic.
8. Start your shopping. Shop for holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations by searching for items online or in catalogs. If you’re shopping online and don’t have a secure connection, put items in your online shopping cart and enter your credit card information later in the day when you have access to a secure connection.
9. Catch up on reading. If you have a pile of magazines, work documents or mail that you haven’t had time to review, toss the piles in a durable, portable bag, like my personal favorite, the Keep It Caddy by Thirty-One Gifts, and take the readings with you in the car to read while you’re waiting. As my fellow Hint Mama contributor Olivia Howell wrote earlier this year, waiting time can be a great time to enjoy some leisure reading.
To be sure, not all of us wait for our kids in the car, but these tips work just as well whether you’re waiting in your vehicle or the doctor’s office. And of course, the time we spend waiting is often a blessing and a curse. It forces us to slow down, but it often prohibits us from getting things done at home or at work.
When I focus on the small tasks above that enable me to cross things off my to-do list and stay more organized, I feel less stressed when I finally do get home and have to manage everything else on my list and maybe even find a few moments to relax.
What do you do to keep yourself organized and busy while you’re waiting?
Hint Mama contributor Crystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices for the past 12 years. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines. Crystal lives in Bucks County, PA, with her 9 year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. Follow her tips on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Photo credit: Crystal Sabalaske