by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
No matter how you slice it or dice it, there are only 24 hours in a day. But if you’re like the majority of Americans out there, you still hope against hope that somehow the productivity fairies will bestow you with an additional hour or two one of these days. While you wait, we suggest you focus on getting more productive in the hours you do have. How many times have you caught yourself thinking, “Well, I just have five minutes, so it’s not worth doing X, Y or Z?” Make use of those short windows of time and you’ll suddenly feel like you’ve been handed extra-long days.
Sitting in the doctor’s office? Skip the magazines and do one of the following. Got ten minutes before your next meeting? Cross one of these off your list. You’ll be delighted at what you can do in small windows of time.
Here are 23 ways you can work smarter in short bursts to maximize your time:1. Make a to-do list.
What you write down gets done.2. Keep a reading file and catch up on articles.
Consider this: you are bombarded with more information in a typical day than someone in 1900 was during their entire lifetime. It’s impossible to get to it all. But if you keep a file of things you want to read eventually, you’ll have something productive to do whenever you find yourself waiting.3. Clean up your inbox.
The average person gets 99 emails a day. If you’re the kind who holds on to them and have hundreds, or even thousands, in your inbox, use those random blocks of five minutes to set up folders and clean it out.4. Keep a running phone call list and return calls.
Keep a small log with you or on your desk at all times to keep track.5. Pay bills.
If you haven’t already signed up for e-statements and electronic bill payments, take a few minutes to do that too.6. Track your budget.
Download a free budget tracking form – visit www.getbuttonedup.com and click on tools and giveaways. Keep it in your to-do notebook and write down where you’ve spent your money when you have a few minutes to spare.7. Order gifts for your gift closet.
Head over to a site like www.GiftHero.com and stock up on gifts you can stash away in your gift closet for later use. Their gift finders make it a cinch.8. Make a list of doctors appointments.
Do you let years pass between appointments? Stop. The next time you find yourself twiddling your thumbs, call and make check-up appointments, even if they’re six-months out. Ask the receptionist to email a confirmation.9. Go for a walk to clear your head.
It’s amazing the difference a five or ten-minute stroll can make.10. Sort through your snail mail.
You’ll get over 850 pieces of junk mail this year alone. 95% of it is junk. You can zip through a big stack in 3 minutes.11. Organize your gift cards.
Get a wallet like Buttoned Up’s GiftCard.log that enables you to keep track of the cards you have and the amount/expiration date on each one.12. Make maintenance appointments for your car.
When was your last oil change? Is your inspection date coming due soon? Don’t wait until it is too late or your car breaks down.13. Make a list of the things that bug you at home (loose drawers, missing handles) and a shopping list of what you need to fix them.
Then the next time you’re out and about, grab what you need from the hardware store so you can deal with them once and for all.14. Tackle the junk drawer.
Everyone has at least one. Set the egg timer for five minutes and go to town on it. Be ruthless about tossing the junk.15. Organize take-out menus.
Grab a folder or binder from your home office if you have one to spare and use that to keep them contained. If you don’t have one, keep them together with a clip or rubber band.16. Order prints of digital photos.
Organizing photos can seem like a massive job. Rather than stressing about putting together a perfect album or scrapbook, just order prints of a few great ones.17. Order frames to display the prints you just ordered.
They don’t have to be “perfect” or expensive.18. Research a vacation or project.
19. Water the plants.
70% of business and professional people use a “to do” list on a regular basis to administer their “have to’s”.20. Make birthday list and set up e-cards.
70% of business and professional people use a “to do” list on a regular basis to administer their “have to’s”.21. Make a cheat sheet of fun things to do or places to go on rainy days.
22. Pick up five things and put them in their correct spots.
Pick a room, any room and take this small step. The bigger the items, the greater the impact.22. Do something thoughtful for someone else!
Send a random email letting them know how much you care, call them or just stop by and give a hug. Your day will get a whole lot brighter too.
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