My life is busy. I’m a dad to twin boys who are almost two. I’m training for a half marathon, like to write, and am an Engineering Manager. A combination that eats up any free time if I’m not intentional.

How do I make time for what I care about, and keep my sanity? The surprising answer is I make use of lost minutes. But what is a lost minute?

Someday is today

It all started when I read Someday is today by Matthew Dicks. The tagline is “22 Simple, Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life”. Matthew shares his experiences with making time for his creative life. While being a rather busy guy.

Even though the book has 22 great actionable ways, there is one that stood out to me. How powerful a minute can be. Matthew shares a story about how he often uses slots of 3-5 minutes to “just write a few sentences“. If you do that often enough, you have a book/blog/newsletter/etc.

Stop thinking about the length of a day in terms of hours and start thinking in terms of minutes. Minutes matter. – Matthew Dicks

My favorite story is where he wrote in his car while waiting for his family to run a quick errand. Showing us there are more lost minutes than you think.

As a nice little bonus, Matthew his year-in-review posts are the most in-depth I’ve ever seen.

My lost minutes

I’m a coffee drinker. I have a nice big coffee machine that grinds my beans. From a cold start to a hot cup of coffee usually takes 3-5 minutes. Instead of waiting and doomscrolling, I do chores. One cup of coffee is often enough to unload or load the dishwasher.

On average I drink 4 coffees a day. This adds 20 minutes of lost minutes per day, or 80 minutes per 4 day workweek! Those minutes I can use to do those I otherwise have to do in my “free” time. Imagine I apply the same principles to getting tea, waiting for an egg to boil, or anything else. There are a ton of lost minutes in a day you can use to your advantage.

Applying them to work

How often have you thought “It’s 6 minutes before the next meeting, I’m not picking up anything else”. And while I was a software engineer that was often the case. In such a short time I never got back in the flow. But there are so many other things to do.

A few minutes is often enough to write that email, or sentences for that email. You can read a design document or a proposal. Even at work, you can use these lost minutes to your advantage.

So next time you are getting coffee, how will you use your minutes?

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