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3 Ways to Be Productive When You Only Have 5 Minutes

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If only we could combine all those five-minute segments of time while we're on hold or idling in a meeting room, waiting for the other participants to appear, we could knock another item off our to-do lists almost every day. (Or, at least, take lunch away from our desks now and then.) Failing major changes to the way time and space work, the best we can do is take advantage of those minutes where we find them.

If only we could combine all those five-minute segments of time while we’re on hold or idling in a meeting room, waiting for the other participants to appear, we could knock another item off our to-do lists almost every day. (Or, at least, take lunch away from our desks now and then.) Failing major changes to the way time and space work, the best we can do is take advantage of those minutes where we find them.

hour glass 

(Photo Credit: bogenfreund/Flickr)

Here’s what to do when you have only a few extra moments to spare:

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1. Throw something away.

Organized people throw things away. It’s the big difference between them and people who can’t find what they’re looking for in a desk they sit at every day. It just makes sense: minimize clutter, and all you have left are things that matter.

This goes for digital detritus, as well. If you’re waiting for an appointment and have access to your inbox, go through and delete or file anything you no longer need. It’ll make life easier.

2. Consider your to-do list.

If you’re a list maker, chances are you start every morning with an orderly set of priorities, only to watch life blow a hole through your plans as the day goes on. Too many upsets, and your list starts to look less like a productivity tool and more like a litany of impossible goals. Fix the problem by moving things that can wait, and escalating issues that require attention the next time you have more than five minutes.

3. Select emails to answer.

Most business writing should not actually take place on the fly, unless it’s to colleagues who know and respect you and will forgive you for a hurried typo. Instead of trying to thumb-type your way to communication, use these moments to collect your thoughts and select which emails to answer next. If you have more time, you can even start some drafts — but don’t send anything until you have the time to devote your full attention to what you’re saying.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you do when you only have five minutes? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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