Making Good Use Of Trapped Time

by Kevin Burton

   It’s twenty minutes to 10 a.m. on a Saturday. My wife and I have agreed that Bible study will be at 10. 

  She’s on the phone. I have twenty minutes to use or lose. What to do?

   I can’t get into a project that’s too complicated, but neither do I want to waste the time.

   I now have what I call trapped time. My life is full of trapped time.  How about yours?

   I wish I could defragment my days, you know, the way you do your computer to make it run more efficiently.  No can do.

   I’ve been known to create color-coded Excel spreadsheets to try to divide my week in such a way that I got to all the important stuff, Bible study, work, music practice, writing, etc., without shortchanging time with family and friends. 

   Maybe that helped a little. But there was never any trapped time on my spreadsheets, but my real life never looked like that.

   Doctors are good at delivering trapped time aren’t they?  You show up on time for your scheduled appointment, but they are 20 minutes behind. So you sit there and do, what?  Is that something you plan for?  I do. 

   Restaurants do the same thing, with sloe service, but that time is usually spent with someone you want to be around. It doesn’t fit my definition of trapped time.  

   My commute to and from work is at least 25 minutes each way.  It sometimes is a lot longer, based on some struggles my ride service is going through these days. 

   That is major trapped time.  I use a lot of that time to do my Bible memory verses. I might use some of it to read those articles that I saved, but never quite get to. 

   I also use it to make various lists, what to do at work, at home after work, which blog posts to finish, grocery lists for Jeannette and me or for my mother.

   I am able to do this because I am legally blind and don’t drive. I have heard sighted people talk about listening to books on tape to make good use of their commute time.

   When I was a beep baseball coach I used trapped time to design defenses that could help us beat teams that had better personnel than we did.  That was an exercise in tail chasing: the ball will find your worst fielder eventually, guaranteed.

   I hope my current trapped time pursuits are more fruitful.  I need to make them so.

    I want my kindergarten teacher, should she travel from Bermuda to Kansas to check up on me, to write “Kevin uses time wisely” on my report card.

   Jeannette said she had never heard of trapped time before she met me.  But it’s an easy concept to understand, so I don’t think I invented it.

   Here’s something I got from the website of a teachers’ union in England:

   “Where any meeting of whatever type is scheduled to take place at the end of a school day but there is a gap of time between the end of the school session and the start of the meeting which is not sufficient time for a teacher to go home if they wish and then return for the meeting, that time is called ‘trapped time.’”


   Using trapped time is a bit like saving change in a jar, except that the time has to be used right away. The change is saved for later, but in both cases you’re trying to use small assets to your best advantage.

    Now this may seem to run counter to what I’ve been saying, but there’s something to be said for daydreaming.  Creative types need to do some daydreaming to let that side flourish, but you’d never catch me putting daydreaming on one of my weekly planner spreadsheets.

   So maybe it will go down as songwriting or story development. 

   Any way you slice it, time is a gift from God, deposited into your account daily.  I can’t afford to throw away those stray minutes.

   So what did I do with my twenty minutes before Bible study?  I straightened up my office. Picked the papers off the floor and filed them, did the same with the top layer of miscellany in my in box. I washed some dishes, put my shoes where they belong, i.e. not in the middle of the floor.

   These things could have been done before. But the trapped time motivated me to use it for several very small projects.

   Here I must admit that some of the papers I filed were nothing more than lists of players I had drafted in various mock fantasy football drafts.  Perhaps I should think more about what I do with the time that isn’t trapped.

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