Staying Productive When You Only Have A Few Minutes

My son, Ethan, gets dropped off at high school at 8:30 in the morning. On one particular day, I had a 9:00 AM appointment just a few minutes away from the high school. Now, I could have easily just driven from school to home over to my appointment in that 30-minute window, but it would’ve burned about 10 minutes of my time just driving. And since I’m obsessed with maximizing my time, I decided to go straight from the high school to my appointment, which meant I’d have about 25 minutes of sitting in a car in the parking lot.

Now, I’d say the average person would probably spend that time looking at social media, browsing the internet mindlessly, not really putting any thought behind that time. I read every single morning from home; I’m always researching for my training and speaking. I decided that’s how I wanted to use that time, so I grabbed my book and that’s what I did for the 25 minutes in the parking lot. I am obsessed with being as productive every single minute – or as many minutes as possible – throughout each and every day!

Because time is non-renewable, we can’t get time back; every minute that passes is gone.

How can you maximize those minutes? And yes, I mean minutes, I’m not talking hours. I’m drilling down to the minute; I want to be productive! Now, when I say productive, I don’t just mean working and doing chores, push and push and go. Productivity includes sleep, rest, meditation, light exercise, all the things that you need to do to recover. So when I say I’m being as productive and maximizing every minute, it includes things that are push and go, and things that are pulled back for recovery; to support mental and physical health.

I’m also a huge planner; Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, depending on the week, I sit down, look at the week ahead, and I’m building out a master list of everything that I know that needs to get done. But here’s the trick – I break my list into two big buckets. The first one is projects: what are the things that take more time, whether that’s an hour or several hours in a day, or they’re going to take several days or weeks to complete. That gets put into one bucket.

The second bucket is tasks, those things that take roughly less than 30 minutes. They’re really quick things that I can get done. The projects get scheduled into my calendar, the tasks stay as a living list. That way, when I find myself with an unexpected few minutes, whether that’s because a call ended early or maybe I have 15-20 minutes between calls, I have a go-to list of things that are already prepared.

So instead of, “Oh goodness, my call ended early. I’ve got 10 minutes. What should I do with this time?” No! Instead of doing that, I just look over at my list and say, “Bam! I can go ahead and write that email that’s going to take me a few minutes, that I haven’t taken care of yet.” Something off the task list, it’s ready to go.

Here’s a bonus for you – included on my tasks, always, are things that have to do with my mental and physical rest and recovery.

Things like taking a few minutes to walk, going outside, getting some sunlight, putting my feet on the ground. As a gift from my family, I recently received one of those mini trampolines, a rebounder, so I can go out there and do a few minutes of hopping, getting my system activated. It might mean I sneak in a meditation or, lovely would be, a nap for 15 minutes, if you can pull that off.

So have those quick things already on this living task list, so that when you find yourself with a few minutes of unexpected time, you can really maximize it. It’s all about being intentional with your time, so that you can be productive. Please share this with your friends and family! I want to know how you are helping other people, including yourself, to really maximize your time when it’s unexpected at the most.

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