If you're like most people, you probably feel as if you have more to do than you have time to get it all done. But are you making the most of the time that you do have? So often, when we have only five or ten minutes before a meeting or an appointment, we let that time slip away because it seems like it's too little time to get anything done. Not so, says time management ninja, Craig Gallow. According to Gallow, this “in-between” time is precious time that we all too often waste, resulting in lost productivity.
1. Handle 10 emails – Hard to imagine? Gallow says it can be done "if you keep it short, and remember that not all email messages deserve a response." If it doesn't, delete it and move on. If it does, make it short and sweet. In and out is the trick.
2. Return or make phone calls. Choose the calls that will only take a minute or two. Schedule an appointment or two. Call in a refill. Listen to your messages, or leave one yourself.
3. Pay a few bills online – Gallow says that in a just few minutes, you can pay a few bills using online bill pay.
4. Catch up with a colleague – Use those spare minutes to reach out to a co-worker you've been meaning to hook up with. Let your colleague know that you only have a few minutes so that you won't seem abrupt when you have to go, but ten minutes can be a great use of time to catch up and reconnect.
5. Read – Whether you carry a book or use an e-reader, use your in-between time to get some reading done.
6. Write – Write a quick memo. Start a blog post. Write in your journal. You may be surprised by how much you can put down on paper in ten minutes.
7. Prepare – Whether it's getting ready for a future appointment or looking ahead in your calendar, preparing yourself for what's coming up in your schedule can get you ahead of the game.
8. Reflect – Spend your in-between time reflecting on your day. Gallow suggests asking yourself: What you have accomplished? What has made you happy today? What do you still need to address?
9. Reach out and touch someone – In this ever-growing electronic age, face-to-face contact is becoming more and more rare. Use the spare time to walk down the hall and talk to someone live and in person.
10. Do nothing – Gallow says you can "just waste the 10 minutes surfing the net or checking the news. Unfortunately, too many people choose this last option." However, I suggest that you actually do nothing. Relax. Take deep breaths. A brief respite from the stress of the daily grind can improve concentration, enhance your focus, and increase your productivity when you do return to your work.
If you have any tips for making the most of your in-between time, please share them with readers by leaving a comment below.
© 2012 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (Prometheus Books, 2011).