Reclaim Lost Time: 10 Things to Do While You Wait


With 3 girls in 2 different schools plus various sports and activities, I spend a lot of time in the car. I end up waiting in the carpool line, sitting in my car during a short practice or waiting for whatever activity to finish up so I can get my kids and move on with real life.

Even when it’s just a few minutes at a time, it adds up to at least an hour each week. Sometimes, it can be almost an hour a day! Any time the girls have something to do right after school, I get in the carpool line early so I can be first.

Sure, I’m waiting a little while, but I get out of the parking lot sooner so we can be on time. I know we’re all way too busy to hang around in the car for hours, which is why I find things to do while I wait. It’s a good way to balance everything I have to do, and it allows me to be productive with otherwise wasted time.

Here are a few of my favorite things to do with a few minutes in the car:

  • Read 1 of 10
    When I know I could be waiting awhile, I bring a book. It's nice to have some down time just for me, even if I am at soccer or the girls' school. Since I don't always know if that will happen, I like to keep a few magazines between the seats. I can scan a few pages as the girls make their way to the car.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user mandarina94
  • Clip coupons 2 of 10
    Clip coupons
    I keep a pair of scissors right in my coupon binder so everything I need for couponing stays together. I can cut coupons when I have a few minutes, wherever I am.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user krossbow
  • Make a grocery list 3 of 10
    Make a grocery list
    Sitting down with a pen and paper (or my iPhone Errands app), I can put together a grocery list anywhere. Going in with a list the next time I shop helps make the grocery trip more productive, too.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user meginsanity
  • Plan your menu 4 of 10
    Plan your menu
    All I need to plan the week's meals is my calendar — it allows me to plan quick meals for busy evenings and avoid the drive-thru. This is my favorite Monday carpool activity so I can start the week with a plan.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user perspicacious
  • Clean the car 5 of 10
    Clean the car
    I keep a duster and bags in the glovebox so I can do a quick cleanup of the car while I'm already there.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user
  • Prioritize your to-do list 6 of 10
    Prioritize your to-do list
    Here's another easy thing to jot down while I wait. A quick look at my to-do list can even help me figure out what I can fit in the next time I wait.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user notahipster
  • Take a nap 7 of 10
    Take a nap
    On the surface, this is not very productive, but I am completely convinced that a quick nap every day helps me focus and get more done when I'm awake. Lean the seat back and take a nap. I promise the kids will wake you when they're ready to leave.
  • Sort the mail 8 of 10
    Sort the mail
    I usually grab the mail on my way out of the driveway. I can do a quick sort while I'm in the car, and the junk mail pile often kickstarts that whole "clean car" idea.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user dvortygirl
  • Take care of you 9 of 10
    Take care of you
    I keep a nail file and pair of tweezers in the car. It's one of those things I notice more when I'm sitting around doing nothing, and it only takes a few minutes to shape my nails or pluck a few stray hairs.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user sophistechate
  • Clean out your purse 10 of 10
    Clean out your purse
    My purse is basically a black hole for receipts, coupons, and chapstick. Waiting in the car is practically the only time I remember to sort through it all.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user

Photo Credit: Flickr user

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