Whether you work in China or Germany, are in sales or R&D, we all have something in common.  We all spend a lot of time waiting.  Waiting for an email, waiting at the Doctor’s office, waiting for the plane to board, we all share these experiences.  So how do we stay productive during these moments where most people would just sit and waste time?  Here are some tips to keep you working.

  • Stay off of Facebook – Unless you are liking your last blog post to get it some more attention or messaging a business contact, don’t waste time seeing what your friends are up to. It is easy to get sucked in for hours and get nothing done. This goes for the next tip as well.
  • Stay off of Reddit – This one applies to me. Sites like Reddit (or others like it) are great entertainers, but can suck away hours of your life without you getting anything worthwhile done.
  • Update Your To-Do List – This is a great time to update that pesky to-do list.  Mark down new tasks you need to get done when you get back to the office and remove things you have finished. Whether it’s on your tablet, phone, through Evernote, or on a dinner napkin, get that thing up to date.
  • Update your Planner/Calendar – This is a great time to “pencil in” some future activities, from your spouse’s birthday to your boss’s big presentation.  If you have connection to the net, use meeting requests to setup meet and greets with clients or potential business partners. Reference your to-do list and make sure you leave time for the important things.
  • Catch Up on Email – This one you have to be careful with.  Emails are essential in their own way, but can also become a bit of useless back and forth.  Don’t ignore real work while waiting for someone to email you back.  This time can also be used to clean up your inbox so searching for old mail isn’t such a hassle.
  • Read Some Blogs – It can’t hurt to read up on some new material in your field. Keeping up with the latest news is essential to being a successful worker or boss.
  • Plan Time to Charge – If you are traveling and plan to use your laptop on the plane, give yourself time to charge your devices at the airport.  A device that’s low on battery is useless, and you will find yourself wishing you planned ahead.
  • Take a Minute for Yourself: Get a coffee or tea, take a breath, and relax.  Sure we all have work to be done, and technology has made it possible to be connected at all times, but it doesn’t hurt to take 5 minutes for yourself. Put in your earphones and listen to your favorite song, sip your coffee, and let all the stress go for a minute.  Good? Good. Now you can focus on what you are doing.

How do you stay productive when life forces you to stand still? Let us know in the comments!