Sometimes we think to be productive takes a lot of time, but we don't always have big chunks of time to devote to particular tasks or projects. Let's look at some ways to be productive when we only have a few minutes.
Quick productive things--making good use of the short pockets of time
I have come up with 15 very productive things we can do in 15 minutes or less to help us be more efficient with our time. I broke these down into 3 categories: some about our home, some regarding general organization, and some for our self-care.
Five productive things we can do around the home
Whether we live alone, with roommates, or with a spouse and houseful of kids, keeping our home in order is a never-ending task. It matters because if we want to make a home rather than just live in a house, make it a place where we, our families, and our guests feel welcome, relaxed, at peace, or able to work on our creative pursuits, we need to tend to certain tasks.
Make the bed. It's a way to establish a bit of control over your space. As the biggest item in the room, getting it in order immediately makes the room look better and you’ll rest better at night getting into a made bed.
Empty the dishwasher. If it’s empty, the things you need are where they belong, and it’s easy to put dishes in there as they get used rather than piling them on the counter or in the sink. The kitchen is more pleasant to work in when it’s tidy and definitely more efficient; you're not having to work around a full sink or messy countertops, and the items you need are where you need them. If your house is like mine where the kitchen is open to the living area, having the kitchen tidy makes the rest of the house look better. If it’s already empty, you can use your few minutes to load it or to wash a load of dishes by hand.
Declutter and tidy a drawer or cabinet or shelf. The less we own, the less we have to clean, store, maintain, etc., and the easier it is to find and use the things we actually like and need. If we make a point of using a few minutes each day to declutter one drawer or cabinet, we can painlessly reduce the number of unnecessary possessions. If we rotate through the house, we can get through all the spaces this way in a few weeks.
Find 15 (or more) things to donate or discard. Grab a bag or basket and speed through the house pulling items off shelves, counters, drawers, etc., to either donate or discard. Moving quickly helps prevent second-guessing; just go with your gut: Do I use this? Do I love it?
Reset the main living areas of the house. This isn't a deep clean, just something you can do quickly. Toss trash, put toys, books, etc., away; take dishes to the dishwasher, straighten cushions and fold throw blankets--generally put things back where they belong. Doing these things will make the space more relaxing and pleasant. A great time to do this could be before bed or before leaving for work. If you have kids in the house you might need to do it a couple of times a day. Generally, this takes only 5 minutes or so, so you might want to do a quick sweep or vacuum too.
Five productive things we can do in the areas of general productivity & organization
So often we procrastinate on things that need to get done because we overestimate how difficult they’ll be or how much time they’ll take. But really, they can be done pretty quickly if we just get to it. Give yourself 15 minutes to get tasks off your to-do list and mind.
Make a phone call. Return a call, schedule an appointment, get information you need.
Process your email inbox. Begin by triaging the emails quickly--can you delete any of them? Reply to the important ones that can be responded to in a couple of minutes or less and transfer those that require more time into an action folder (and put a reminder ...