Here’s what we know: Penelopes do NOT do well with downtime.
I don’t mean time that we’ve set aside to rest, relax or rejuvenate. That’s a different thing altogether.
I’m talking about that period of your day that you WANT to be productive, but you’re limited by circumstance and itching to cross something off that to-do list.
I’m most often in this limbo state as I sit in the car waiting for one of my kid’s practice/rehearsal/appointments to end.
Sure, my smart phone can keep me endlessly fascinated by things like work email and videos of baby goats on Facebook. But being entertained is not nearly as satisfying to my Penelope core as being productive. #truth
I’m taking back this dead time in my day because I KNOW that if I use that time intentionally, all my Penelope juices will zing with happiness.
Here are 5 productive things you can do while waiting in the car:
1) Get your “cleaning fix”
Purge and organize one of the following items:
- glove compartment
- child’s backpack
If you think of it before you head out of the house, throw a trash bag in the car to make it easy to contain the things that need to get tossed. No trash bag? Simply use one of your car door “pockets” as a temporary place to stash trash. When you roll into your house, empty that sucker straight into your main trash bin.
Uplevel this task: Have you seen/used these Armor All wipes? Stash one of these containers in your rear console or trunk and shine up the interior of your car after you’ve tidied up. Seeing the shine of your dash will add to your euphoric cleaning high. Go Snow White and do some whistling. Badass.
2) Plan a week of meals
Meal planning can be a total chore. But if you’ve got a few weeks of meals stored at your fingertips to choose from, it can be as simple as “rinse and repeat”.
I KNOW there are a ton of fancy new apps that will help with your meal planning/grocery shopping woes. But I’ve yet to find one that really does all of the things I want it to do (if you have one you love though, please let us know in the comments – I’d love love to check it out!). I go with the path of least resistance and just use my “Notes” app in my phone.
I’ve got weeks and weeks of meal plans stored in that sucker. And when I have 20 minutes to kill, I can pull out that smart phone and search for new recipes to cycle into our family favorites to spice things up.
Uplevel this task: Online grocery delivery is getting easier and easier and more accessible to the masses every day. Check out an app like InstaCart and see if they deliver in your area. Once you’ve planned your meals for the week, hop on over to the app and set up a delivery for all the necessary items! (There is an upcharge on some items, so if you’re sticking to a super tight budget, proceed with caution.)
We’ve also been hearing lots and lots about using Munchery. It’s worth a look and something that can easily be done while you wait for the littles to finish soccer.
3) Send Birthday/Anniversary/Just Because Cards
Very rarely these days does ANYTHING fun come in the mail. And yet, every time I head to the mail box, I have this tickle of anticipation that it’ll be the day that a little fun surprise is waiting for me. #optimist
Consider keeping a small ziplock bag of birthday/greeting cards in your car so that you can spread that mailbox joy to your family and friends! Whip out your handy smart phone calendar and check for birthdays/anniversaries/graduations coming in the months ahead and get to writing.
If you aren’t ready to send the cards just yet, get them all ready to go, signed, sealed and stamped and put a post-it note on the outside with the date you want to throw it in the outgoing mail. Keep those finished cards in a separate ziplock and go through them once a week to see what’s ready to be sent!
Uplevel this task: Don’t have any paper cards on hand? No excuse! Check out the app, Ink Cards. This handy app will let you not only send a greeting card from your smart phone, but you can personalize it with a photo AND you can schedule it to send on any date in the future! #cardrevolution
4) Deal with the paper!
Before you head out of the house, throw any paper stacks you have laying around or any filing that needs to be done into a bag and take it with you. During your down time, go through the following quick steps:
- Make 3 piles: trash, filing, needs action
- Grab the “needs action” stack and resort into 2 piles: Can be done in the car, Needs to be done at home
- Grab the “can be done in car” stack and try and tackle at least 5 of those actions. These may be things like, paying a doctor’s bill, which can often be done on the phone or via your smart phone. Schedule a follow up visit. Calendar upcoming practices for kid’s activities. Activate a new credit card. Etc.
Uplevel this task: Buy yourself this adorable expanding file box. When you do your first sort above, instead of making a pile of things to file, go ahead and put them into your file box. Make sure you’ve set up the file box to mimic the filing system you have at home. When you pull into your garage after practice, take the filling box DIRECTLY (and I mean before you start on dinner or get sidetracked into the kids’ bedtime routine) to your main filing and move the sorted papers into their long term home.
It’ll take you less than 5 minutes to finish this task completely. Clean files. Full heart.
5) Be intentional about some Theta time!
We all KNOW it’s important to schedule some downtime, but sometimes it just feels like our calendar is too full to make this a priority. Meredith reminds us how important this Theta time is, especially for us Penelopes. 20 minutes of dead time, when used to decompress in an intentional way, can be just as useful as being productive. It turns the time from “wasted” to “meaningful” and that is what it’s all about.
Uplevel this task: There are lots of ways to get your Theta fix, but for many of us, a good book will do the trick! But, instead of just sitting in your car reading, let’s take it up a notch. Throw a nice blanket in your trunk and your favorite snack/beverage into a cooler. When you’ve got your 20 minutes to kill, find a nearby tree with some shade, grab your current guilty pleasure book and spread yourself out in the fresh air to read.
Reading + fresh air + maybe even a little sun on your skin = a small slice of theta time heaven!