Increase Productivity and Kill Your Dead Time

Waiting for a plane

Waiting for a planeHow much dead time is there in your life? Do you wish you had some great ways to utilise it?

This blog is part of my productivity philosophy which aims to help you to get more important stuff done in the time you have.

So what is dead time? There are probably loads of definitions, but the one I use is “time where you are constrained in a way that means you cannot perform value-adding activities. Waiting for a train (or a girlfriend) is a good example.

So what can you do about dead time?

Leverage your smart phone

I got a iPhone 4 in 2010, and was blown away by the possibilities. Phone, text, email, word processor, spreadsheet, online banking – it’s all on there.

So if I’m sitting at a bus stop I fire up an app and start doing something useful. Good examples of value-add activities are:

  • Check emails and clean up inbox
  • Quick review of the next few days on my calendar
  • Call or text someone
  • Write a blog post

Of course there are many more, but hopefully this gives you some inspiration.

I’m writing this blog post on a 6 hour journey across France; luckily my parents-in-law have kindly offered to drive the whole way!

Brainstorm a project

You’ve probably got some sort of project that needs a bit of attention, from planning a party, to a big piece of work for the office, so why don’t you get ahead by doing a brainstorm?

The main thing is that you need to capture your thinking – I like to carry a notepad around with me wherever I go. Moleskin make a great notebook- link here to buy one from Amazon. However you could also use your smartphone as before – the notes app is great, but even better is Evernote…

Learn stuff

Are you preparing for an exam? Are you trying to remember the names of all your class at school? Do you want to show management that you are in touch with business performance by learning some KPIs from the latest annual statement? There are so many things that need to be learned!

This tip is one that needs a bit of prep; exam revision cards containing the things you want to learn are a must if you’ve got an exam coming up.


You know what? Why don’t you use your deadtime to switch off for once? We’re all so busy rushing around; sometimes it’s great to just let yourself have some well earned relaxation.


Dead time is only a problem if you let it be. With your smartphone at your fingertips and a plan to use your deadtime wisely you’ll find your frustration with queuing and waiting drastically reducing!
Image by Angelo DeSantis from Flickr

Author: Oliver Gearing

Oliver Gearing is a beatboxing, acoustic looping, 38 year old father of 3. Sounds like an electrocuted version of Elbow

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