April 23, 2009
I'm on a plane to New Orleans to spend a few days at the Jazz Festival. The flight will last about 2.5 hours and I'm thinking "How can I use my time wisely?" It's not often I have 2.5 hours with no phones ringing, or any other interruptions. But what am I going to do in order to make the most of this time. First, I read the Wall Street Journal during the period of time after takeoff when you aren't supposed to use electronic devices. Once the seat belt sign went off, I booted up the trusty laptop and started to write this post. But is this the best use of the time I have? How should I determine what to do? Let me share with you my thought process at this time.
My first thought was "What can I do, considering where I am and what materials and technology I have available to me?" I don't have internet access right now so that eliminates several things I could be doing. I can't check my Facebook page or send tweets on Twitter. I can't check my e-mail or do any of the other things I enjoy or need to do on the internet. Writing this post for my blog seems like a good idea under these circumstances.
Next, I thought about how much time I had available to me to accomplish this task. Roughly two hours of uninterrupted time is a lot. I can write this post in thirty minutes or less. Maybe I can write more than one post. I am always looking for "spare time" to write. What a great opportunity this is.
Now I'm still thinking "Is this the best use of my time?" I'm pretty tired. I didn't sleep well last night and was up at 5:00am to get some exercise before getting on the plane. Could my time be better spent taking a nap and conserving energy for the weekend? Am I in the right frame of mind to write a post for my blog? Turns out I couldn't resist the overriding fact that I had all this time on my hands. It would be foolish to pass up this opportunity to write something.
My final thought was, "Is there anything else, more important, I could or should be doing?" Clearly the answer was "No."
So, the next time you have some time on your hands, stop and think about these four things before you do anything: 1) What resources do I have available to me at this time and in this place? 2) How much time do I have to do whatever it is I'm thinking about doing? 3) Do I have the energy and will to do a good job on this project at this time; and 4) Is this the most important thing I can be doing at this time and under these circumstances?
This thought process works in places other than on an airplane. It works when you are at the office trying to determine which task on your list to do next. It works at home when you find yourself with some "free time." It works when you're taking the bus to work in the morning and home at night. It works in lots of situations. Give it a try.