Optimize Your Time: Fitting in Wellness Where (and When) You Can

Many people think we don’t have time to accomplish all we set out to do.

darren-nolander-optimize-your-time-featuredMost of us have the same problem on a daily basis: there are just not enough hours in the day. Rather than whine about this problem, however, we should do our best to capitalize on the untapped sources of time we all do have – whether we know it or not.

There are tons of opportunities to inject a small dose of exercise, music, podcasts, meditation, thought gathering, education or to-do list making into our daily schedules. Driving to work? That’s a great time to make a decent dent in a 50-minute podcast. Waiting in line for coffee? Rather than mindlessly browsing Instagram or a news website, take a few minutes to review the to-do list you made the night before.


Many people think we don’t have time to accomplish all we set out to do. With a little organization, time management and creativity, though, we easily see that anything is possible. Take a look at the list of “empty” spaces that typically fill our days, which, when added together, can cumulatively total a couple hours’ worth of untapped, unused, wasted time. Then review the various beneficial items that could inject some peace, education or general wellness into our lives. Finally, compare these positive ways to use a few minutes with the ways most Americans mindlessly fill these blank gaps.

I think you’ll find we have much more time than we think, and many more promising activities that could take the place of brainless tasks when the right opportunities arise.

“Static” states that only involve one of our senses, but could be used for much more:

  • Morning/bedtime routines, such as brushing your teeth, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, packing lunches
  • Commutes by car, train, plane, bike or foot
  • Waits for coffee, elevators, meetings, reservations, doctor’s appointments
  • Physical activities like dog walks, runs, gym sessions, household chores, errands, meal prep
  • Relaxed states with your morning coffee, after-dinner drink, sitting on the patio, watching the sunset/sunrise, or supervising a play date, children’s activity or sporting event

What we tend to fill this time with:

  • Flipping music or radio stations
  • Scrolling through endless news headlines
  • Scanning social media pages
  • Refreshing email over and over
  • Reading irrelevant text that catches our eye, such as the posted menu at the coffee shop, ingredient list of the blueberry muffin we already decided to purchase, subway stops, in-flight magazines and advertisements

What we could be doing with this time:

  • Reviewing our daily goals
  • Listening to a motivational podcast
  • Noting any inspiration we’ve garnered from our surroundings
  • Engaging in a brief meditation
  • Reading a compelling article we bookmarked
  • Sending a text to a loved one that shows our appreciation
  • Following up on a few flagged emails that need our attention
  • Plowing through a chapter in that book you’ve been putting off

Even a few minutes can snowball into larger progress if we recognize the downtime we do have in our otherwise busy days. No one wants you to multi-task 24/7 and burn yourself out. Instead, conduct an audit of your daily activities for a full week, including weekends, and note just how many opportunities there are to work in the things we do enjoy or do want to accomplish, but incorrectly think there’s no time for. Then begin making changes in your schedule and adjustments in the way you spend your time to ensure that all priorities receive your equal attention. When done successfully, a better sense of balance awaits!

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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