I’ve been reading a lot of career advice lately, and one thing that professionals consistently highlight is the importance of being able to multi-task. As a bit of an exercise, I jotted down some instances of multi-tasking in my everyday life.

Unless you have an enormous amount of patience (I don’t), you probably multi-task more often than you realize. While I was waiting for a game to download on Origin last week, I found myself automatically taking on other tasks while the download completed. It’s easy to pull up something else on your computer to work on while you’re waiting.

In the twenty minutes I spent waiting for my game to download, I discovered there are actually a lot of productive activities to spend my time doing. Here are some of my suggestions:

1) Read about the game online (avoid spoilers!). If it’s a sequel, try looking up information about the first installment of the game. This will help familiarize you with the game’s story and tone, and perhaps even some of the controls.

2) Change the batteries in your controller or wireless mouse. If you were a chef, you wouldn’t use a dull knife, would you? Maintaining your equipment and keeping it in tip-top shape is important for any activity, even gaming.

3) Set up your game space. If you’re like me, you have probably littered your workspace with coffee mugs and take-out containers.  Studies have shown that a cleaner workplace means better productivity. It’s important you have room to use your computer ergonomically, without the added hazard of distractions.

4) Exercise. All right, this one might take a little more motivation than say, breaking out a bag of chips or flipping through that magazine you’ve been meaning to read. But if you’re like me, you know that once you finally get your hands on a new game, you’ll be playing for a few hours at least. So why not take the time now to get in a little bit of exercise? Not only is it good for you physically, studies have shown that exercising greatly improves your mental acuity.

5) Get your creative juices flowing. Try whipping up a few simple origami crafts while you wait. How about this frog, inspired by Frogger? Or a Mario star? Cheesy, I know, but studies have shown that creativity and productivity are intrinsically linked. Even economists see the benefit. I keep a pad of paper next to my computer and I often doodle while I’m  waiting for programs to load up—I swear it helps me concentrate better.

These five suggestions may be a bit unorthodox, but they’re excellent time killers while you’re waiting for a stubborn game to download. Plus, fitting in a bit of art or some exercise gives you a sense of accomplishment before you even lay your hands on a controller. I’d be curious to see what strategies others employ during the inevitable ‘down time’ inherent in gaming.

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