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Many Small Time Make Big Time


My family and I were watching The Office for the millionth time last night.  The episode was The Incentive from Season 8.  It starts off with Kevin talking a bit weird.  Jim and Pam notice it and take him into Andy’s office to figure out if something is mentally wrong with him.  In as few words as possible, Kevin explains that his mechanic doesn’t speak English but understands when Kevin says, “car no go.”  And since he is best friends with his mechanic, why waste time sayings lots of words when just a few words can do the trick?

They explain to Kevin that he’s only saving a microscopic amount of time.  Kevin’s responds saying, “Many small time make big time.”   It’s true that this is an extreme way of saving time, and one could argue that it actually wastes time, but Kevin does make a good point.  How much “small time” do we waste and how could we use that time better for self-improvement?

Many Small Time

There are many times during the day that we could use some of this small time to get big results in the long run.  The first opportunity, for most people, is first thing in the morning when the alarm clock goes off.  Do you hop right out of bed or do you hit the snooze button a couple times?  The average snooze button is nine minutes.  So if you hit it just once, you just wasted nine minutes in bed.  And if you are a two to three times snooze bar person, you are wasting 18-27 minutes every work day.  That’s “many small time.”

How about the car ride to work?  The average daily commute time is 26.1 minutes.  Do you typically listen to a morning talk radio show, or some jam on your way to work?  What if you took that time instead to listen to an audio book on your way to work or listened to some inspiring YouTube videos?

Here are some other small times that if used properly could make a big difference:

  • During your workout;
  • While taking a bath or shower;
  • While doing chores;
  • While waiting for an appointment;
  • While making lunch.

Imagine all the minutes of every day that are wasted and could be used to make a big difference in your life.  But what could you do during those “many small times” to make “big times?”

Things To Do In Small Time

I have already mentioned that you could use some of that small time to listen to an audio book or listen to some inspiring YouTube videos.  You can learn quite a bit during these small times by listening to something educational, uplifting, and inspirational.

Here are some other things you could do during the small times:

  • Perform a set of an exercise (push ups, jumping jacks, etc…);
  • Stretch;
  • Take a minute of breathing;
  • Send a thoughtful text message;
  • Enjoy the moment you’re actually in (soak in Mother Nature).

My Example

I use to drive 86 miles one way to Baltimore for work.  It was when I was first getting into the computer field.  During my 90 minute drive, I would listen to Howard Stern or jam out to some music.  I quickly learned, that being new to the computer industry, surrounded by guys and gals who really know their stuff, I had a lot to learn.  But how could I catch up with them quicker?  Well, I had three hours of driving every day to catch up.  That was many years ago, back when there was cassette tapes.  I decided I would take information I found in team Powerpoint slides and read them into a cassette tape.  I then listened to that cassette tape every day.  In under a month, I could tell you pretty much every important TCP/IP port available for a service, and I still can to this day.  And TCP/IP ports was just the surface of things I learned by listening to my self-created audio tapes during my drive to and from work.

The Takeaway

There are many small times during the day that we tend to waste doing mindless things.  Don’t get me wrong, we all need some down time too.  But what if you identified some of these times during your day and used them for something more productive?  What if you could squeeze in an audio book, a YouTube video, or a set of an exercise?  If you did that regularly, would that make a big difference?  I bet it would.  So take it from Kevin and consider, “Many small time make big time.”

Here is Kevin’s “small talk” experience on The Office:

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