Become a Better Person While Waiting for the Microwave to Beep
People always talk about “saving time” in the same way they talk about “saving money,” like there’s some way to hold onto it and store it up for later.
But what if the “saving” part of saving time isn’t about holding on to time, but about rescuing it from the vast wasteland of The Island of Misfit Minutes?
I’ve noticed that every day I have moments when I’m waiting for a kid to finish practice, or waiting for an elevator, or yes, waiting for the microwave to beep, when little bits of time are falling off the cliff of my life, never to be recovered, never getting a chance to be put to good use to make me better.
[Now before you start trying to interrupt with a speech about the poisonous effects of ‘busy-ness’, let me say that I’ve read Cal Newport’s work too, and I recognize that it’s actually quite beneficial to our mental and emotional well-being to do absolutely nothing sometimes. But it’s all about balance. So hush for a minute.]
My main goal with saving these lost minutes is to avoid the mindlessness that often comes with them, and instead give them the respect they deserve by treating them intentionally (even if that means intentionally doing nothing).
So I’ve come up with a list of options that don’t involve scrolling social media, checking e-mail, or playing smartphone Solitaire. These are all things we can do (for the most part) in a minute or less that will add more value to our lives. Some make more sense to do at home, some can be done anywhere. But every one will – when done repeatedly– make your life just a tiny bit better.
- Knee raises
- Calf raises
- Jumping jacks
- Squats (lunge squats, sumo squats)
- Arm circles
- Tricep dips
- Yoga poses
- Toe touches
- Empty the dishwasher.
- Hang up your coat/jacket/shirt/etc.
- Wipe down a table or counter.
- Put in a load of laundry.
- Switch the laundry to the dryer.
- Tidy up.
- Declutter your email inbox.
- Figure out what’s for dinner.
- Make a grocery list.
- Sort the mail.
- Clean a few things out of the fridge.
- Clean a few things off the fridge.
- Take out an overflowing trash bag and replace it with a new one.
- Jot down ideas for new creative projects.
- Sketch, doodle, or draw.
- Make a new playlist on your phone.
- Find something beautiful, and take a photograph.
- Make something more beautiful, and take a photograph.
- Write a haiku.
- Daydream about your perfect place/day/date/person, etc.
- Put on some music and dance.
- Find a new recipe to try.
- Look up quotes about creativity.
- People watch.
Refresh your soul
- Work on memorizing a quote, poem, or scripture.
- Post something positive on social media.
- Send a kind text to a loved one.
- Leave a short handwritten note for someone you live or work with.
- Write down something you’re thankful for.
- Write down something that made you smile today.
- Listen to a song you’ve never heard before.
- Leave a compliment on someone’s social media post.
- Think of a new goal to set for yourself.
- Hug someone.
- Give yourself a hand massage with lotion.
- Light a candle.
- Pet an animal.
- Find some sunshine and bask in it.
Fun ways to use this list
- Select the items you want to practice, and set them as the lock screen on your phone, so when you reach for your phone to waste time, you can remember to save time instead.
- Post this list near the microwave, copier, in your car (not for use while driving, only while waiting) or anywhere else you might have a minute or two to kill.
- Cut this list into strips and place them in a jar near a spot where people do a lot of waiting. (Like the microwave. Of course.) Challenge friends, family, or coworkers to draw a new one each time and do what it suggests.
Just 3 minutes a day can give you nearly an hour and a half a month of exercise, organization, creativity, or personal fulfillment. Annually, that makes almost 17 hours of time you will have rescued from oblivion.
Who knew a microwave could be so life-changing?
More Stories by Kasey Q. Tross
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