How many times a day do you find yourself acting on auto-pilot, having gotten from Point A to Point B with no exact recollection of how (other than that fleeting moment you whispered an unkind word under your breath at the driver who cut you off on the freeway)? I can say pretty confidently that I’ve experienced this to some extent during nearly every commute, delay or space of time where my mind is allowed to wander. As a busy professional in this world of a constant and instant influx of information, we tend to try to multi-task in a way that often doesn’t yield the best results. That is, until now.

A few months back, NRPR Group attended a panel of empowered females who shared insights into how to go about excelling, both personally and professionally, in business. A spunky tech entrepreneur named Dimple put it simply: “Just be the best at whatever you are doing. With a quick Google search, you can teach yourself any skill, or refine a skill you currently have.” That stuck with us. In every airport layover, in every sudden stop of traffic, in every flight that lasts longer than a cat nap – this ability to utilize moments in transit and/or unexpected inconveniences (flight delays, rush hour commutes, waiting for a fellow Angeleno who has not yet perfected how to arrive on time) to sharpen a skill set, learn something new, cross something off of your list or lose yourself in an outlet of inspiration will excessively enhance your overall excellence. And, here’s the good news: we have some quick tips for how you can immediately start implementing these practices into the pauses in your days.

1. Podcasts. Whether you find yourself sitting in an hour of gridlock on the 405 at the end of your day or walking the eight blocks to your office each morning, listening to podcasts related to your field or interests is the easiest, least invasive and most organic way to ingest new information. We recommend TED Talks, Zen Founder, The Tim Ferriss Show, She Did It Her Way, This is Your Life (and if you’re a publicist looking for a fun radio show to boost your morning every other Thursday, PRfect Pitch is the way to go).

2. Google. When in doubt, do as Dimple does. You can literally learn anything with just a quick click through Google. Typing in a short search to watch a tutorial, read over a bio or identify what exactly the Dow Jones is will grant you quick insight and an infinite amount of information at your fingertips. On our team, we utilize Google Alerts to keep up-to-date on certain topics that interest us, inform us and/or involve our clients.

3. Code. We don’t mean you need to go out and develop an algorithm for finding out each time your ex has peeked at your Instagram account. (But wouldn’t that be something). Learning the very basics of digital programming can be as simple as building a website through a platform that walks you through it. In this modern marketplace driven by digital content, we believe that any professional from any brand should have at least an entry-level understanding of HTML and digital design. And yes, for those of you who hope to launch the next big tech startup, there is such a thing as Coding for Dummies.

4. Duolingo. Think Rosetta Stone, gamified. For those who have always wanted to learn a new language or brush up on the local slang they picked up that one summer they spent abroad, Duolingo is the perfect tool to keep on your phone to practice your conjugation of the subjunctive and ultimately become a conversational cosmopolitan in this increasingly global era.

5. Swipe It. This one has become a staple at our office. The Swipes app allows you to store and organize all of your tasks in one interactive space, and swiping a task off of your plate feels just as good as driving a pen through the To Do lists that once cluttered your paperback pocket planner.

6. Read a Book. While I personally lean strongly toward the honest-to-goodness, paper and thread kinds of tangible books, I understand that it may be more feasible and reasonable to store your leisure literature in your phone or on your e-Reader. Have at it. But the effect that diving into an actual book – of full-length and full sentences – has on your ability to process information is threefold positive: 1) It redirects and refines your attention span, holding you captive to the page for more than the typical few moments digital devices and communication tools are able to, which 2) removes you, even slightly, from your myriad of distractions to 3) learn something new. Whether your flavor of genre is ancient history or quasi-philosophical science fiction, you literally exercise your brain muscles every time you turn the page.

6A. Books on Tape. And here’s one bonus pro tip from a friend of our agency for how to read more efficiently and effectively when you really don’t have time to read. After purchasing a book, buy the book-on-tape edition through a digital program (such as which allows you to adjust the speed at which the book is being dictated. At speeds 1.5 and 2.0, the words are being read at a pace you can only absorb while sitting down with the physical pages and following along. Having this dual channel for digesting the content, however, creates an interactive, collaborative and sensory experience, which allows you to fully tap into the topic and finish the book in half the time. Go from never getting more than thirty pages into any book, to finishing seven books in one month. We dare you.

7. Be Social. And no, we don’t mean on social media. (Though there’s value in that, too). We mean look up. Notice things. Be mindful of others. Start a conversation. While you’re standing in line at Starbucks, while you’re waiting for your lunch meeting to arrive, while you’re once again on an early morning flight, you’ll be amazed at what just interacting with your environment can do to relax your tension, refresh your creativity and spark a new idea. And, if you’re lucky, a collaboration.

While juggling three handfuls’ worth of responsibilities, it’s easy to get thrown off by delays, pauses and inconveniences. Instead of just watching as hours of your already jam-packed day are gobbled up by travel, traffic and waiting, you can turn those moments into seamless self-developmental opportunities that will ultimately make you a stronger professional once you reach your destinations. We’ve seen each of these tricks work firsthand, and we encourage you to start including them in your routine to watch your capacities expand.

*Disclaimer: Just don’t read books while driving or talk along with Duolingo on a crowded plane. We don’t want anyone getting into a fender bender or whacked on the head with a SkyMall Magazine.

Do you have any additional tips for making the most out of your time to better your personal and professional self? We’d love to hear more! Share your tips in the comment section below and stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest news from NRPR Group by signing up for our bi-monthly newsletter, HUSTLE WITH A CONSCIENCE!