— December 4, 2018
Tell me if you’ve ever had this experience. You just finished a project at work, and you have about six minutes before you need to jump on a conference call or head to your next meeting. Not really time enough to start a new task—so why not spend those minutes idly scrolling through Facebook, or watching that Jimmy Fallon clip somebody sent you?
We all have these little pockets of time throughout our day, and there’s really nothing wrong with using them for a quick mental vacation. When you have five minutes of “lost time” every hour, though, it adds up. Just think what you could do if you actually used this time more productively!
And it’s very possible to do so. Let me explain.
Redeeming Lost Time
Have a list. The first thing I’d recommend is keeping a running list of short tasks—little projects you can complete in 10 minutes or less. Keep this list handy on your desktop or on your phone, and consult it any time you have one of those little pockets of time. The tasks on this list may be sending a follow-up email to someone, posting your latest blog to LinkedIn, printing some documents—all those little things that tend to get lost in the shuffle throughout your day.
Use your phone wisely. Your phone is always there to tempt you with mindless Instagram scrolling or YouTube videos—but what if you used your phone to actually accomplish things? Think about unanswered LinkedIn messages, unheard voicemails, etc.
Make small talk. No, really! Small talk doesn’t have to be pointless. Spend your extra five or 10 minutes stopping by to say hi to a co-worker you haven’t spoken with in a while. This can be a great chance to catch up, juggle some ideas, and ensure strong bonds with the people you work with.
Give your brain a breather. Finally, don’t be hesitant to use your idle time for mental refreshment. This can mean something as simple as meditating for five minutes, taking a quick walk, or jotting down something in your journal. Unplugging a bit from the daily grind doesn’t have to be unproductive; in fact, it can be a really restorative exercise, charging you for the rest of your day.