Be more productive at home: 7 uses for downtime


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You probably have more free time than you realize. It just comes in really small doses. 

Yes, your day is filled with a hundred tasks — work, appointments, grocery shopping and (sometimes) the gym. The list goes on. But between all of that rigmarole there are actually bite-sized pieces of “downtime.”

Example: Those three extra minutes you wait by the front door while your kids are getting ready for school, which you spend playing Candy Crush.

You can make better use of these moments. Here are seven common “downtime” situations and a quick chore you can tackle when they occur.


1. Kitchen: Your water is taking forever to boil

You know that watching it won’t speed things up, but it’s tempting to stare at those tiny little bubbles anyway, tapping your foot and waiting for the boil party.

Try this instead: Check your dishwasher situation. If it’s clean, empty it out! If it’s dirty, do a quick lap around the house and fill it up. 


2. Laundry Room: The dryer cycle isn’t quite done

Everybody jumps the gun sometimes and heads to the laundry room expecting dry clothes but instead finds two to five minutes left on the timer. Don’t walk away!

Try this instead: Grab a damp cloth or sponge and clean the tops and sides of your washing machine. If you arrived really early, give your washer and dryer a full clean.


3. Bathroom: Your bath is filling up

It’s tempting to just sit back and imagine the relaxing awesomeness that you’re about to enjoy, but it’s not very productive.

Try this instead: Do a lightning clean. Make sure there is ample toilet paper on the roll and refill the soap dispenser if it’s down to the dregs. Then empty the trash and remove any stray reading materials. By then, it’ll be bath time.


4. Entryway: Your ride is late picking you up

You’re dressed. Shoes and coat are on. You look fantastic. But your ride is nowhere in sight. Don’t sign on to Twitter.

Try this instead: Look around. See a bunch of shoes or other entryway-related clutter? Snatch it up and put it where it belongs.


5. Bedroom: You woke up 5 minutes early

This one is not easy. It’s tempting to wake up, see the time, realize you can go back to sleep for a few minutes and do exactly that. Resist the urge.

Try this instead: Pick up any dirty clothes lying on the floor (or stuffed into the closet) and throw them into the hamper.


6. Living Room: The TV show went to commercial

"Orange is the New Black" may be commercial free, but ads do still happen occasionally. And guess what? You don’t need to learn more about the benefits of owning a Snuggie.

Try this instead: Grab any stray cups or dishes and take them to the dishwasher. If you have extra time, wash a few of them in the sink.


7. Dining Room: The food isn’t ready yet

In this situation, you’re doing yourself a favor by staying busy — nothing is more frustrating than sitting in your chair, smelling a dinner that you can’t eat yet.

Try this instead: Audit your cutting boards and make sure they’re still safe. Cutting boards can harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli, so take five minutes and give them a closer look.


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