3 Methods To Get The Most Out Of Downtime Between Appointments

3 Methods To Get The Most Out Of Downtime Between Appointments
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You probably want to maximize time but often think, “Where does the time go?” It seems to just disappear into thin air sometimes. Hours fly by. Minutes feel more like seconds. Time you could otherwise invest in your family, business, hobby, community or other activity that supports your goals is often lost. Where does it hide? Likely, lost time doesn’t end up in the same place as lost socks from the dryer (still unsure about that answer). You can actually find lost time again and maximize it to make a huge impact on achieving your goals. A major key to doing so is to make the most out of your downtime between appointments. Here’s how:

Methods To Maximize Time Between Appointments

1. Recognize Downtime

Downtime is inactive time, as in the time between periods of work. Downtime is all around you but you may not even realize it. Any time you have a few minutes between the end of one task and the beginning of another, you have downtime in which you can be productive. Start pinpointing your periods of downtime and you will have the ability to choose to invest that time differently. Often, the biggest challenge is recognizing the opportunity to repurpose time because we’re too busy wasting it on habits such as social media, checking (not processing) emails, chit-chatting, surfing the net, day-dreaming, etc.

2. Be A Master Scheduler

Planning ahead can save you loads of time! If you are proactive with scheduling your appointments you will dramatically reduce lost time. Schedule meetings strategically so you can maximize time between appointments. Book meetings closely together to avoid long, unproductive breaks. One of my favorite strategies is to schedule meetings back-to-back as a “power meeting day” in a coffee shop. Scheduling back-to-back meetings at the same location minimizes travel time, removes the cost of traveling to another destination, and enables you to accomplish tasks between appointments because you’re stationary.

I typically schedule a “power meeting day” once a month with everyone I want to meet with or catch up with if it’s not urgent. This strategy has been very effective and efficient for me and could be for you too! It has two benefits. One, you do not run over on meetings. When you knowingly have another meeting to get to, you will purposefully utilize your blocked time for each meeting more efficiently. Second, back-to-back meetings don’t provide time for long, unproductive breaks.

Another strategy is to break up your meetings outside the office into regions. I have several clients who use this planning method and swear by it. They inform their assistants which days they will be in certain areas of town. Their assistants then schedule their meetings accordingly, filling up their calendars with back-to-back meetings by region and date. This strategy works particularly well for professionals that meet at their clients’ homes or offices.

3. Keep A List

Downtime is inevitable. No matter how great a scheduler you are, you will face periods of unscheduled inactivity, and therefore opportunities to maximize time. Create a list of tasks you can complete between meetings and during any downtime. Keep the list with you, ideally on your favorite electronic device,  so you can get right to work when you have downtime. Your list may include tasks like:

  • Calls – Do you often have to make return calls or progress calls to check in with clients and see how they are doing?
  • Reading – Love perusing trade journals or industry articles for great ideas?
  • Online Research – Need to figure out how to best go about an upcoming project? Let someone go? Upgrade your technology?
  • Review – Have to compile and assess meeting notes?
  • Schedule – Want to capture action items on your task list?
  • Emails – Need to process emails? Hint: Check your emails only if you have enough time to take action on them. You would have to waste time re-reading them again otherwise.

Time does seem to get lost sometimes but unlike missing socks, it can be found – in the seconds and minutes that add up between meetings, appointments, and scheduled tasks that make up our daily lives. Use downtime to your advantage. Recognize it, repurpose it, schedule wisely, and keep a list to maximize time and be productive so you can move forward with accomplishing your goals.

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Amber De La Garza

About the author

Amber De La Garza is The Productivity Specialist! Amber helps small business owners maximize profits, reduce stress, and make time for what matters most by improving their time management and elevating their productivity! Amber is a sought after coach, trainer, speaker, writer, host of the Small Business Straight Talk Podcast, and creator of Leverage Lab®.

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