Monday, July 10, 2017

The Value of "Pockets" of Time

While brainstorming about how to use my time more efficiently, I was reminded of a tip I gave my three kids back in our homeschooling days. I'd tell them to look for bits of spare time, or "pockets of time", and to use them to their benefit. You see, on occasion, there were bouts of lollygagging and numerous wasted minutes. Imagine that!

(If you aren't familiar, lollygagging, a term my parents used when I was young, means wasting time, procrastinating, sometimes at its most extreme level.)

I'd encourage my gang to use those pockets of time during the day, for example, to read, review spelling words, study for a test, or work on projects. It wasn't all about being a hard taskmaster, I simply wanted to raise their awareness of how they spent their time, and of course, to encourage its wise use, building good habits that would last a lifetime.

Like the kids then, I have plenty of unused pockets of time now, (on hold for a call, waiting for a haircut or dentist appointment, or just hanging out at home, to name a few). And although I like to think I use time efficiently, I still often waste much of it - getting sucked in to social media, etc. So I'm talking to myself here too, just so you know. :)

What items can be accomplished in these moments?

General tasks might include:

  • Sort mail.
  • Plan a menu. 
  • Write a thank you note.
  • Delete unwanted emails.
  • Make a grocery or to-do list.
  • Clean out a junk drawer. (Skip this if going to the salon/dentist or similar. Hauling the drawer along is usually frowned upon,)

Or how about these writing related tasks:

  • Write a book review. 
  • Draft a blog post calendar.
  • List character traits/a sketch.
  • Brainstorm about...anything! 
  • Pen an outline for your next article.
  • Research potential writing markets.
  • Create questions for an author interview. 
  • Conduct research for an upcoming project.
  • Make a list of interesting or unusual words.
  • Review a chapter/article/blog post rough draft.
  • Read bookmarked articles or an online writing newsletter.
  • If out, observe and note the surroundings/people/activities. 

While tasks might not get finished in that particular span, it can lay the groundwork and offer a great head start to new and ongoing projects. I've found this to be an extremely helpful habit, often fitting writing in on the busiest of weeks.

Bottom line - it's about an awareness of how we spend time. It's about balance, too. No need to go overboard, filling every spare minute. We need time to devote to family, friends, and commitments, to think, decompress, daydream, and rest too. These daily segments merely provide opportunities for heightened general productivity.

Have you ever spent time lollygagging around? How do you use your pockets of time? Have any exciting plans for the rest of the summer?

I'm taking a break to work on projects and regroup. Will return on September 18. Have a great summer! :)

Happy writing,


  1. Every minute is precious to me. I'll use those pockets to knock off small items on my to-do list.

  2. There are a lot of things you can do in just five - ten minutes.
    Enjoy your break!

  3. So true. You can accomplish a lot in short bits of time. I always carry a book with me and even if I have three minutes waiting in a line, I pull it out and read. I can get through a book so much faster that way, and the seems to take no time at all.

  4. I love that word lollygagging, Karen! I haven't heard it in a long time. Love your suggestions for how to productively use our time pockets - I do try to make the best of the time I have each day, but find it helpful, too, to use those in-between moments for day dreams. Sometimes, my best writing ideas pop up then!
    Enjoy the rest of your summer!
    Hope you will visit me at

  5. Have a good break and a great summer! I adore the word lollygagging. I try to use my pockets of time wisely but sometimes lollygagging is okay too.

  6. One thing I like to do in a small pocket of time is write haiku :-) Enjoy your break, and the rest of the summer!

  7. Hi Karen - great post ... and I love that term 'lollygagging' ... have fun - I'm probably not the best organised right now ... so better get the lollygagging done away with ... such a fun word. Enjoy your break and see you in a couple of months ... and I'll follow your advice in the meantime! Cheers Hilary

  8. Diane,
    The scripture about redeeming the time comes to mind with this topic. Not that we should get crazy, you know? But intentional thinking this way really does help. :)

    You really can chip away at things that way if you are intentional about it. All about balance, right? :)

    I know, I'm like you. I carry a book, notebook, and/or a draft around with me almost all the time. You never know when those moments might pop up. :) Happy summertime to you!

    I think you are right, dreaming is a good thing to do in the in between moments! Enjoy your summer as well! :)

    Thank you, and you do the same! You're right, a balance is necessary and a very good thing. :)

    Now there's a great idea! Haven't written any haiku in ages. I need to give it a go again! :) Thanks so much, enjoy your summer too!

    Thank you! I know, I love that term too! It fits well sometimes, and sometimes it's just okay to do too. :) Will be stopping by your place a bit over the summer, I'm sure. Stay cool!

    Happy writing,

  9. I'm always on the go. When I finally sit down to relax, my brain is still going at warp speed. Thus, I'm doing laundry, opening mail, and writing a to-do list while playing on the Internet. Can anyone say, "multi-task?" Have a fun summer!

  10. Thank you, first of all, for visiting me at my blog site, "Closed Doors, Open Windows". It was such a pleasure to meet you there today, and I look forward to getting better acquainted in the days to come! Now, secondly, thank you for this excellent article on how to better use our time while "lollygagging"! Yes, I am well familiar with that term, and have often not only done it, but have used it when expressing my "concern" to my own children during their growing up years. Now that they are grown, it's their problem to figure out! Ha! But, back to me...I am now retired, and I find that I do have a lot of free time on my hands...and I am trying to learn to use it productively for God's glory. Not always an easy task because there are so many mundane, every day things that must be done...but my goal is to add creative projects to my routine so that I feel like I am actually accomplishing something worthwhile. Reading and writing is a big part of my day, but applying what I am reading and writing about is another goal. You have given some excellent tips, and I intend to apply them right away! Thank you again, for becoming a new "friend"...and especially for being one who can help lead the way! Have a wonderfully blessed rest of summer!

  11. Susan,
    Multi tasking is a good thing in some ways, that's for sure! Hope you're having a good summer too! :)

    You are welcome! It was my pleasure to stop and visit. Appreciated your review. Using time productively - I hear you! regrouping and praying this summer to use mine most effectively and for His glory.

    Happy writing,

  12. Great tips! do use time on hold to sort mail and similar small chores at home. I hadn't found a way to incorporate writing into those pockets- so the list got me thinking. Thanks!

    Enjoy your break!

    1. Jess,
      I'm always looking for ways to be productive - mostly to make up for the time I slack off. lol :) Glad this list got you thinking.
      Enjoy your summer,

  13. Hope you are having a great break Karen! I love the word lollygagging! Sometimes when I have pockets of time, I am feeling very drained so have to do things that do not require lots of brain power. So it might be used to flip through a magazine I've been waiting to get to for home ideas, or even just to read (which I consider part of the writing process too).

  14. Love this. Most my pockets of time are spent reading--whether educational, inspirational, or fiction. I think my kids have picked up on that too, except I can't seem to get the idea of personal research through their heads. They always think I'm reading just for fun. *sigh*

  15. Hi Karen! It's all about balance, isn't it? I have trouble with that. If I'm sitting around "doing nothing" I feel guilty. There's always something that needs doing, it seems. When we moved recently---from GA to FL---my hubby made me promise to find balance with my writing/editing work. I hadn't realized how it had taken over my time and, by extension, his. I'm taking weekends off now, and I don't work after dinner unless there's a deadline looming. And lollygagging? I do plenty of that now that we live only 15 minutes from the beach! :) Enjoy your summer!

  16. Excellent tips! And this actually fits nicely with my post that I wrote on Monday. ^_^

  17. I haven't had much lollygagging time this summer but your ideas for those times are spot on! I 'spect when winter hits I'll have much more lollygagging to do - my parents used the term all the time, too, Karen. =0)

  18. Excellent list, Karen! I love the word "lollygagging," by the way. It's classy!

  19. Lynn,
    I hear you and I agree! So much of life, big or small, is part of the writing process. Glad you brought that up. :)

    Good habit to instill in kids, for sure! As far as the "fun" reading, they'll probably catch on as they get older. You know, how we always thought the adults were always having such great fun getting to do whatever they wanted. Then you become an adult...:)

    You are so right. Balance is important. I have a tendency to work into the evening like that too, and my husband sounds similar to yours. Setting more and different boundaries these days. Appreciate your input! :)

    Thanks so much. Will have to hop over and check out your post! :)

    Gotta love that word, right? You have really had a busy summer. Hope you are getting time to rest as well! :)

    Thank you! I like that term too. :) Have been doing some today, as a matter of fact. lol

    Happy writing,

  20. I hope you enjoyed your break, Karen! Every writer needs a break. I need to remember this, although it's difficult for me to do. You have great ideas here. I have tried some of them. I like making a List poem out of stuff in my junk drawer. All the best to you, my dear!

  21. Victoria,
    The break was very nice, thank you! I agree, we all need a break now and then. :) Hope your weekend is going well!
    Happy writing,


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!