As a parent of an 11-month old boy, I realized that at some point certain activities had almost disappeared from my daily task list.
This is quite understandable. Since I have a family I’m focused on them and whatever personal projects I have been doing, and these were mostly related to building my online business.
I have been into personal development for years and for instance, I used to read much more than what I’m currently doing. And not just reading, but I loved watching videos, and listening to audio material too.
Now, all this learning was somewhere on the background, like I had forgotten to do it – all of a sudden.
However, the itch for learning was there all this time and finally I wanted to do something to change the situation. I just didn’t want to see so many awesome books just gather dust on my work desk anymore.
Still, I had a problem: How could I find some extra time for studying (or other stuff), when my days were already fully booked, thanks to a day job, family, blogging projects, and sports?
I wanted to get some extra time in my daily life, but I wasn’t sure how.
Dare to be different
People (me included) like to take things for granted. Most of the time we believe that there is only one way of doing things and that other alternatives are (of course) out of the question.
In this case, I’m talking about time and especially how much you have it for yourself when you have a baby in the house.
It’s often assumed that your child is taking all of your time and that you don’t have any time for yourself.
I agree with that, but not always.
You see, there seems to be one aspect of time that we tend to overlook and that’s the time pockets. These “pockets” can be found in your daily life – if you just take a closer look at it.
Obviously, since I was seeing my time exactly the same way as other people (your free time is lost when your baby is born, you just have to surrender to your destiny), I wasn’t seeing any alternatives.
And since I continued to think like this, the pile of books just continued to gather dust on my desk.
The time outside your home
Our daily time doesn’t only consist of the minutes or the hours we spend at home. Most likely we are moving from one place to another, whether it is from home to the grocery store, from home to a gym or from office to home.
Unfortunately, I failed to understand the value of transition times and considered them as waste of time.
Then there were those dreaded errands – like going to the grocery store, post office or bank. Something that you just had to take care of – no matter what.
Yet, this was another area which was eating my time to do something valuable (like reading a book) and which I considered as time wasted (especially when I had to wait for something).
So, instead of taking maximum advantage of waiting, I would just kill time until it was my turn to take care of things.
Finally, even the times I spent outside with my baby (when he was sleeping in the strollers); I knew that this time could be maximized somehow. I just didn’t know how.
I started to see these “mobile time pockets” everywhere, but I wasn’t prepared for them at all. That’s why I wanted to create a new strategy for maximizing this “mobile time” better.
You need a toolkit
What I represent here is nothing revolutionary, just a different way to prepare for the mobile time pockets that you might encounter in your daily life.
The preparation works best with a set of tools, something that I’d like to call a mobile toolkit, and it consists of the following items:
- A pen and a notebook (for jotting down ideas, for planning)
- Amazon Kindle (or iPad or any other tablet device) (for reading)
- Your (smart)phone (checking your e-mail or random web pages)
- A MP3 player (listening to audiobooks, listening to audio training)
- A physical book (for reading)
- A laptop (optional) (for writing, for reading or listening to your material)
Now, let’s go through the list and I’ll explain how to use the toolkit in practice.
First of all, the toolkit prevents wasting your time. From now on, when you are waiting in a post office or commuting to work, you’ll always have something productive to do and you are maximizing your time.
For instance, when I’m riding a bike to my office, I’m not just taking the time as is – I use the time for learning (listening to English lessons by using MP3 player).
Or, when I go to the bank and I’ll have to wait my turn, I’m not just staring at the wall or ceiling, looking bored. Instead, I take my Amazon Kindle off my bag and start reading Kindle books or blog posts, which are stored there.
Second, you don’t need to carry the whole toolkit with you all the time. So for example when waiting at the bank, it would be an overkill to carry your laptop with you.
Instead, having a lightweight mobile device (Kindle or any other tablet device) is more convenient for the situation. It’s easy to carry it with you and also easy to use – whenever you need it.
Third, everything (expect the laptop) can be carried easily with you. For example, I have a shoulder back that I carry with me whenever I’m on the move – whether when I’m on the move by myself or with our baby.
Finally, the laptop has its use too and it can be used in a very specific situations. For instance, whenever I’m travelling, I carry a laptop with me, so that I can use the waiting and transition times for something productive (like writing blog posts).
However, the laptop might work in other situations too. And the reason I’m saying “it might” is because I haven’t tested this yet.
For instance, last summer my son occasionally fell into sleep in his stroller, while I was outside with him. I figured this to be perfect opportunity to do some writing as long as he was sleeping.
If I wanted to write during that time, I had to carry a laptop with me every time I went outside with him. Next, I would have just waited for the moment until he falls asleep.
Then, I’d parked the stroller somewhere quiet where I could sit down and do some writing. At the same time, the stroller would be next to me and I would immediately notice if the baby wanted my attention somehow.
Naturally, this type of working is only possible in a good weather, not when it’s raining or when it’s cold. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to test this “mobile time pocket” and see if it works or not.
WAHD mobile toolkit – the step-by-step essential guide
Now you know what the toolkit is all about and here are the actual steps to put the knowledge in practice:
1. Be aware. Figure out the time pockets that could occur in your daily life. When you have some kind of idea of those, it’s easier to prepare for them.
2. Be prepared. Have your toolkit ready in advance. More specifically:
- Make sure the batteries are full
- The content is already loaded to your devices
The first bullet point is quite obvious: keep the batteries loaded. That way you are not disappointed, when all of a sudden your Kindle is shutting down because of the lack of power.
The second bullet point refers to the preparation work you have to do in advance.
No matter if you carry your MP3 player, laptop or your Kindle with you, they are mostly useless if they don’t contain the material you want to go through.
That’s why I suggest you do the following:
- Laptop: Make sure you have the content ready (for e.g. if you decide to write offline).
In my case I’m using Google Docs for all my writing and I can also store my stuff offline if I want to.
- MP3 player: Upload the content (podcasts, audio books, audio training) for your player in advance.
- Kindle: Although Kindle is great for reading books, it can be used for reading blog posts too.
I’m referring to a service called InstaPaper, which lets you to save the web pages for later reading and even export them to your Kindle (or to other mobile device).
If you want to do take the InstaPaper option, then do the blog post export in advance.
- Store it in the cloud: Nowadays, the majority of my personal content is on the cloud – whether if it’s on Google Docs or on DropBox. This way I can access the files anywhere with a working Internet connection.
3. Buy the toolkit. As your budget allows, you can add new items to your toolkit as you go.
For instance, last year I bought the Amazon Kindle, this summer the MP3 player and now I’m planning to buy an iPhone (by the end of the year).
The point here is that these devices cost money and if your budget is tight, you could purchase the devices one at a time – instead of buying everything at once (of course, no one is stopping your if you have the money ;)
4. Act immediately. As soon as the right time comes, know what to do and take advantage of the toolkit.
For example, when I step outside of our home, I put the MP3 player on and start listening to English lessons while I’m on the move.
This way you are not wasting any minute of your time and you can fully maximize the mobile time pocket.
5. Form a habit. Finally, you need to take the toolkit with you when you are on the move – like when commuting or running errands.
Of course, how many items you carry depends of the situation, but make sure that you have at least something with you (like the Kindle or a physical book).
When you keep doing this habit for a while, it becomes automatic and it’s natural to grab that MP3 player or iPad with you before you step outside your home.
As a WAHD, your daily time could be very limited. That’s why you have to maximize the mobile time pockets for your advantage.
These pockets give us new opportunities to learn (or even work) while we are on the move – something which may not be possible in your home.
Over to you: How do you make sure you take the most out of your mobile time pockets? Please share your comments in the comments area.
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