I am always on the lookout for better ways to spend little bits of time. It is very easy to do nothing of consequence: delete more emails, perhaps, check social media and the like. This has the unfortunate consequence of making time feel "full," even though you haven't done anything. So here are some other ways I'm trying to spend shorter blocks of time.
Running on the treadmill in the morning. So it seems like going for a run would take quite a bit of time, but I can do a quick 2 miles in less than 20 minutes. Now that the 2-year-old is starting to sleep better, I'm experimenting with setting my alarm for 6:30 and being done before 7:00. It feel great not to have to figure out when it will fit in the rest of the day, particularly if my hair needs to look nice, though the honest truth is that any given 20 minutes can work for this. Or less - running one mile is better than nothing!
Reading on the Kindle app. I've been stressing this one a lot lately, but it really is great at turning what would be headline reading time into better reading time. I downloaded The Age of Innocence the other day (it's free- as are many classics). I have not had a real block of reading time devoted to it, but I'm already a decent way in, just in little bits and pieces. Pulling a paperback out of my purse feels like a major decision, whereas pulling my phone out does not. With a book on the phone, you get the same outcome.
Listening to TED talks in the car. This is a new one for me. (If you haven't watched my TED talk, please give it a view -- almost to 3 million now!) TED has lots of playlists so the next one starts automatically, or if it's just a short trip, I'll choose a talk before I start and just play that. I found out from tracking my time that I spend more time in the car than I think. I don't have a daily commute, so it wasn't figuring into my mental model of life, but it averages out to about an hour a day. This helps it be an educational hour. (If my kids are in the car I talk with them -- but sometimes they've been watching Leap Frog phonics videos, which I guess is educational enough that I can let them do that and I'll listen to my stuff).
Hacking through the admin list. Maybe you've figured out how to get a lot of the little administrative matters of home and work off your to-do list. I still wind up doing a reasonable chunk of them. So I make a list of them: scanning and emailing a contract, buying a present for one birthday party, sending an RSVP for another, mailing a card, etc. If I have 5 minutes before a phone call starts, I do one of these, in order to preserve open blocks of time at other points in my life.
Strength training during microwave time. I clearly have time to exercise, hence the running. I know as I get older that I should do more strength/resistance work, and yet I never do. I've realized this is because I don't have a good trigger that tells me it's time. But every day, I'm heating at least something up in the microwave. I can do push-ups, plank poses, whatever. That won't work if you're using the microwave at the office (unless it's that sort of office) but it's slightly more productive than sorting the mail (which is under our microwave, and tends to be the other thing I'd do with this time).
What bits of time do you use? Any other tips for time in the car?