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When you have something to do that involves a long wait, what’s your plan? Are you an ‘unlimited coffee’ drinking Wetherspoons telly reader (because the sound’s off and the subtitles are behind the speaker)? Do you search the local shops with no intention of buying anything? Do you manically find some urgent task that you might just progress if the opportunity arises and can be taken? Or do you just chill?

Yesterday, I had a car serviced by a friendly mechanic in Cardiff and such is the distance that it’s not worth going home because as soon as I’d get there, I’d be called back to collect the vehicle. So when I’d booked the service, and in anticipation of the expected wait, I planned my day by first asking Neil (for that is his name) how long it would take. As a result of that one question I was able to make a plan as to what I’d do during the wait AND plan the rest of my post-service day.

First, I decided to go to a library and review my Personal Mission Statement and Goals, just to reset and refocus. That is a valuable activity that reinvigorates motivation and allows you to plan and envision how much better you’ll with deal with a challenge the next time someone annoys you. Then I decided to visit Cardiff Crown Court ‘for old times’ sake’, which proved to be a bust because inn the lead up to lunch there seemed to be little enthusiasm for starting the trial. (Wonder why courts are suffering delays? This is why: “Well, it’s midday, we’ll only get the jury sworn in and have to start the trial later, so let’s have lunch now and start the process at 2pm.”) Finally, I adjourned (ha!) to the adjacent museum and amused myself with some Natural History input – did you know that Wales is made up of rocks, like THE REST OF THE WORLD?

I walked 14km that morning and when I got home, I got to walk the dog, too. Yay.

But it was the first hour, the library life review, that made all the difference. No major changes in terms of my approaches to life, just a reminder where I was and wasn’t performing in terms of the person I want to be. A couple of short-term goals were identified, but the main benefit was just reminding myself who ME is supposed to be.

Beats shopping.

For those who just chill, kudos to you. Taking a break from the high demands of life is as valuable – I don’t do that because no matter how much I try I am always thinking about the next thing, so Mindfulness is a no-hoper. But for those who find meditation valuable, go for it when you have a long wait.

Charles R Hobbs, author of Time Power (best practical time management tome ever, available second hand only), suggests that when planning for a waiting period it is always good practice to have what he called a ‘High A’ to hand, meaning an important task that you can progress during your wait. Suggestions included making important phone calls or reading something related to your profession, but a good novel that lets you put the stresses of work behind you is as good a High A as a report that needs to be read but in respect of which you’re not really going to be able to provide the appropriate focus.

But the message remains clear –shopping, telly watching and other mind-numbing time fillers aren’t valuable enough for you to be wasting time on them.

What’s your High A, the one you can use to fill spaces in your day?