Skip to main content
How to Organize Your Life Blog

Productive Things To Do While You Wait

By August 20, 2023May 25th, 20248 Comments
people in line at a bus stop

We’ve all experienced those moments of waiting. It can be truly frustrating to think that you’re spending this valuable time twiddling your thumbs. You may be waiting in line, waiting for an appointment, or waiting for a friend to arrive. It’s easy to let this time slip away, lost in the void of anticipation. But fear not! There are plenty of productive things to do while you wait.

Here’s a list of things to make the most out of those waiting moments:

1. Read a Book

 Keep a book handy in your bag or on your phone (eBooks or audiobooks). You’d be surprised at how much reading you can get done during short waiting periods.

2. Have a READ ME Folder

Tear out or print articles you want to read and carry them with you. Read them while you wait at the bus stop, in a doctor’s office, or anywhere you are waiting. When you’ve read the article remove it from your folder and recycle it. Please don’t keep it as you can be sure there will be updated information in the future.

3. Learn Something New

Download a language-learning app or explore educational YouTube channels to pick up a few new phrases or facts.

4. Meditate

Waiting can be stressful, but it’s also a perfect time to practice some quick mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath, close your eyes, relax, and clear your mind.

5. Sketch or Doodle

If you have a sketchbook or even just a scrap of paper, let your creativity flow. Doodling can be incredibly therapeutic. It’s also a productive thing to do as you never know what wonderful idea may come from those doodles.

6. Listen to a Podcast

Talk about ideas! There’s a podcast for nearly every interest. Pop on your headphones and dive into an episode on a topic you enjoy and want to learn more about.

7. Plan Your Day

 Take a moment to review your to-do list, rearrange tasks, or plan out your schedule for the rest of the day. Remember to factor in some time for fun or maybe even a reward!

8. People Watch

People-watching can be fascinating. Try to imagine their stories based on their appearance and actions.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Observe your surroundings with intention. Take in the sights, sounds, and sensations around you without judgment.

10. Write

Keep a journal, jot down ideas, or simply write a stream of consciousness. Writing can be a great way to pass the time.

11. Organize Your Digital Space

Clean up your inbox, organize your phone apps, or sort through your photos. It’s a productive way to declutter your digital life.

12. Stretch

Do some light stretching to relieve tension and stay flexible.

13. Engage in a Puzzle

Solve a Sudoku, crossword, or any puzzle that challenges your mind.

14. Practice Deep Breathing

Take a few moments to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for a count of four.

15. Strike Up a Conversation

If you’re waiting with others, take the opportunity to have a friendly chat. You might make a new friend or learn something interesting.

16. Visualize Your Goals

Use the waiting time to visualize your goals and aspirations. It’s a powerful technique for motivation.

Do a little preparation work in advance. If you are heading to a doctor’s appointment, chances are you are going to have to wait. Pack a tote bag and bring something productive to do with you so that you don’t feel as if the time is wasted.

Remember, waiting doesn’t have to be a passive experience. With a little creativity, you can turn these moments into valuable time for personal growth, relaxation, or entertainment. The key is to stay curious and make the most of every moment!

Sign up for my newsletter to get more tips like these.

Diane N. Quintana is an ICD Master Trainer, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Certified Professional Organizer, owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release Repurpose Reorganize LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in working with people challenged by ADHD, Hoarding and chronic disorganization.


  • It’s a great list. Thanks

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    These are all fabulous ideas. Thanks to smart phones, I think we’ve all gotten out of the habit of daydreaming or people-watching. We’re always trying to be productive in terms of creating something — finishing emails or projects, delivering a completed *something*. But so many of these are productive in that they are making us happier, healthier, and more even-keeled. I love reading my digital “to-be-read” folder; in the olden days, I always had that fat sheaf of clippings in a folder, and it was great to finish reading and pass along (or recycle) what I didn’t read.

    Nowadays, it’s tempting to shuffle through social media, but I do try to practice Italian if I don’t have a book or a podcast at the ready. (Having headphones handy makes a big difference!) But I’ve got one more item for taming the boredom and being intellectually productive. Pre-cell phones, I once got stuck in a doctor’s office treatment room for hours; I think they forgot me. I finished my book, wrote out my to-do list, drafted some writing, and then got stuck. Finally, I numbered the page 1-50 and made myself come up with all 50 states, and once I’d done that, all 50 state capitals! Trust me, you’ll be shocked by how quickly the time passes when you’re trying to recall things you haven’t studied since third grade. I have a friend who charts the line of succession from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, and another who names the prime numbers. How we’re productive is so much less important than the fact that we ARE productive, and you’ve provided a fabulous list for getting us going!

  • Seana+Turner says:

    I love this post because it completely reframes waiting time as a positive, rather than a negative. This list wonderfully shows that we can actually be productive during waiting times. Or, if we would rather, relax and recharge.

    I tend to mostly do #11 when I’m waiting, working on emails or photos. Sometimes, though, depending on where I am, I choose #8. People really are quite entertaining!

  • What a comprehensive list! Great ideas.

  • I LOVE this one! Waiting is part of life, and it can be annoying, depending on your perspective. Your list is fantastic because it gives many doable suggestions for what to do with your time. I have one more. DO NOTHING. I know that might seem radical. But sometimes we need a break from doing. We can use our waiting time to stop and NOT be productive…maybe even daydream.