How to Be More Productive in Your Downtime

How often have you wished for more hours in the day? As if 24 wasn't enough, and there's still so much to do around the house, the yard, the garage, and you wonder if you need to start cutting out bathroom breaks too.

But here's a secret: You do have enough time in the day. It just comes in small doses, and you often don't think of it as downtime because it happens in between everything else going on in your life. If you start to pay attention to these unexpected little windows of opportunity, you'll be able to check off more things on your to-do list than you thought you could.

What kind of little windows? Rather than scrolling through your Facebook feed when you're waiting for the dryer to finish its cycle, give the laundry room a quick sweep or empty the waste bin that's full of lint. Five minutes is all it takes!

If you find yourself in any of these five common scenarios day-to-day, take advantage of the bite-size bits of free time to get a few things done:

#1 You wake up 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. Oftentimes, we'll open our eyes, see what time it is, and close them again to savor those last few moments of sleep. But instead of hitting your internal snooze button out of habit, start your day 10 minutes early. Use the "bonus" time to pick clothes off the floor and furniture on your way to the bathroom. Throw open the windows and air out a rug before you start your morning routine.

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#2 Your ride is running late. If you're already dressed and ready to go, spend those precious few minutes picking up (or putting away) shoes that have accumulated in the entryway and watering all the houseplants. If your friend still hasn't shown up, water all the potted plants in the front yard as well.

#3 Your kids are running late. Waiting around for your kids to grab their lunches, put on their jackets, lace up their shoes? Instead of tapping your foot impatiently at the front door, spend those 5 minutes sorting through mail and recycling old newspapers (or even dragging the cans to the curb).

#4 You're watching the pot. And it isn't boiling. Pasta in hand, prep work done, and you're counting down the minutes until your water finally boils? In the time it takes for the surface to start simmering, you can load up the dishwasher and wipe down the counter, leaving less work for after dinner.

#5 Your TV show goes to a commercial break. No need to sit through another annoying ad. Do a quick lap around the living room to gather up any stray ice cream bowls and tea cups and put them in the dishwasher. If you're having a Netflix marathon, start a load of laundry at the beginning of the first movie, put it in the dryer while the closing credits roll, and collect your clean, dry clothes at the end of the second movie.

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