6 Productive Ways to Use the Time You Normally Waste

What do you do with your little nuggets of time?

I’m talking about those few extra minutes we all have when we stand in line for coffee, wait for someone to meet up with us, or are taking the public transit.

It might seem like just a few minutes here and there. On a small scale, it’s nothing. But added up over weeks, months, or years, it’s a ton of time that could be used for more meaningful things.

Most people spend those little nuggets of time on things like watching YouTube and scrolling through social media. Those are OK, but definitely not the most effective use of time. You could instead be using that time to be productive, practice new skills, or learn something new.

Without further ado, here are 6 productive ways to use those little nuggets of time to the fullest.

Listen to an audiobook

Audiobooks are my absolute favorite way of learning new things.

The great thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them anywhere. It could be while relaxing on the couch or in the cafe, walking around, or driving somewhere. It’s easy to plug speakers or headphones into your phone and listen to something from Scribd or Audible.

While reading a physical book is always great, there are some pretty nice advantages to audiobooks.

You can take notes at the same time as listening, while with a physical book you would have to put it down. The person reading the audiobook will often put emphasis on certain words or phrases, which is very helpful for getting the important point across.

If you’re looking to read more books, audiobooks are the absolute best. A 400-page book will usually clock in at around 20 hours of audio. Personally, I read a lot slower than that, so with audiobooks, I can learn a lot more things in a shorter period of time.

Read positive tweets

Many people who advocate for self-improvement are totally against social media. I do agree for the most part, since a lot of social media is people faking their lives on Instagram or negative news posts on Twiter.

But you can also tweak your social media usage in a way that is far more productive.

There are some really good Twitter accounts out there posting very positive and useful content. ScienceNews posts about the latest and greatest advances in science. Daily Stoic posts regular quotes, blog articles, and YouTube videos about stoicism and how to apply it to real life. TED Talks posts links to new TED Talks.

You can calibrate your Twitter account to be a source of knowledge simply by following the right accounts. You can pick ones that offer quick and valuable information so you can easily learn new things while on-the-go.

Write in your journal

If you have an extra few minutes, it can be the perfect time to write in your journal. This can be on your phone, or a physical notebook, or wherever you prefer, as long as it’s convenient.

If you’re someone who normally shies away from journaling, let me try to offer you a new perspective.

Journaling doesn’t have to be very heavy writing or about a serious subject. For me, the main purpose of journaling is to put all my thoughts down on paper. It’s like meditating in a way, to release all of the buzzing and stress going on in my head. Once it’s down on paper, I can look at it from a more objective and level-headed perspective, without being stressed out about it.

Try writing in your journal from that perspective. When you have a few minutes, jot down a few notes about how you’re feeling that day or about something that’s been on your mind.

Once you have it down on paper (or saved on your phone), you can forget about it all and move on with your day without the extra stress. When you’re ready, your thoughts will be there waiting for you if you want to take a second look.

Talk to a stranger

It seems like these days, most people in public are plugged in, listening to music or texting. It’s quite a shame since there are so many other more positive experiences that can be had simply by talking to people.

Take a few moments to chat with the person next to you. No matter who they are or what they look like. It’s an amazing chance to speak with someone new.

Talking to strangers is one of the most effective ways to practice social skills (especially if you’re an introvert like me!). You never know who that person standing next to you is or what you might learn from them.

If you’re lucky, the person you talk to might end up becoming one of your best friends, a new business associate, or your significant other. You’ll never know until you try! And that’s the beauty of meeting new people and having new experiences!

Take a short walk

Many of us were already primarily sedentary before the pandemic. Now it’s even more extreme due to the fact that many of us are at home for most of the day.

One of the absolute best things you can do for your health during your free time is to hop up out of your chair and take a short walk.

Anywhere really. Around the block or just pacing around a bit in your home.

Walking is probably the most underrated form of exercise. It’s healthy, yet still easy and relaxing. And because it’s a lighter form of exercise, you won’t be as stressed out as you would be after an intense workout. You can still do it in the middle of your day, within those little nuggets of time

Learn something new

Online education is booming, and for a good reason. It’s easy to access and inexpensive. So take advantage of it!

Duolingo has become crazy popular — it’s a great app for learning new languages.

Coursera is awesome too, with courses on everything from coding, to economics, to game theory, to business. Almost every subject that you would normally learn about in university or in a professional job is covered.

When you have a few extra minutes, pull out your phone or laptop and go through a lesson or two. Most of the online courses are light and easy to digest, so you can do this without too much stress. It’s an easy way to always learn new things while on the go.

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