If you’re starting out this week feeling like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, the goal is to focus — even if it’s just for short periods of time. Only have five minutes to spare? There’s still a lot you can do to make incremental progress on your goals.
Next time you’re waiting for a meeting, between projects, or stuck on hold with tech support, take out this list. Something on here will help you cross off a task, reset your brain, or see things from a new perspective. You only need five minutes to make a big impact.
- Answer an email. Pick an email with one clear question — as opposed to multi-paragraph scroll-a-thon from your most verbose colleague — and respond to it.
- Update your to-do list. Look at your tasks, and ask yourself what needs to happen today, and what can wait until tomorrow, next week … or next year.
- Add something to your to-do list that you’ve already accomplished. It sounds like cheating, but really, you’re only giving yourself credit. Call it a “Done List,” if you want, but give yourself the boost.
- Compose a tweet or retweet something. Social media can be a time-suck, but without it, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a personal brand in the 21st century.
- Take PayScale’s Salary Survey and find out if you should be earning more money.
- Throw something away. Even if you’re a committed member of Team Messy Desk, you need to purge the clutter at some point. Now’s a good time. Spend five minutes throwing out papers you don’t need.
- Endorse a friend on LinkedIn.
- Go outside and take a deep breath. This time of year, it might be your only chance all day to see the sun.
- Make a list of questions you need answered by a colleague.
- Assess your skills and decide what you want to learn next. If you get stuck, looking at LinkedIn profiles for people with your same job title — or the one you want next — can help.
- Clean (as in, disinfect) your workspace. It’s cold and flu season, after all.
- Eat something green.
- Organize your apps. Delete the ones that you no longer use.
- Look at your calendar for tomorrow and next week. Make note of upcoming priorities.
- Ponder your next career move. (See some possible next job titles, here.)
- Take something off your resume. For example, the objective, if you still have one listed, or those jobs from 15 years ago that no longer apply.
- Add something to your resume. For example, that new skill or certification that you’ve been meaning to add.
- Write down three things you accomplished this year. Note whether these were part of your goals for work, your personal goals for your career, or extra.
- Write down three goals for the coming year. Think about what you need to do to accomplish them.
- Find a new dream job. Even if you like what you’re doing right now, it pays to consider alternate paths. You never know when opportunity will knock, or when your industry might being to decline.
- Email a former colleague or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and arrange a coffee date. Networking is really another name for maintaining relationships.
- File something, physically or electronically.
- Read an article from a publication that’s not on your usual reading list. We all have our old favorites; expand your horizons and read something new.
- Say hello to a coworker you don’t normally see around the office. Get to know your colleagues, even if you don’t work with them everyday. You never know where you’ll find your next job. It could be right under your nose.
Tell Us What You Think
What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.