It’s really easy when you are thinking about time to dismiss anything under a certain amount as not really enough time to do anything. I work on the clock for clients so I have a very clear view of what can be done in five, ten, fifteen or thirty minutes because I am recording it. But I am still very guilty of dismissing small amounts of time.

Of course, it depends on how much time, where you are and what is currently on your mind but as I sit at my desk now, I thought, “I’m going out in an hour and I need to get ready. I only have half an hour. That’s not nearly enough time to do anything useful. I might as well go and have a gin and tonic.” (can I just point out it is currently 6 PM on a Saturday, not 10 AM on a Tuesday morning before everyone calls The Priory to book me in!).  Half an hour doesn’t feel like enough time to finish a blog. But it is certainly enough time to start one, isn’t it? It is also plenty to time to do some client work, to upload my expense receipts, sort out last month’s mileage and many other things. None of which I have done!

Having a spare ten minutes I’m even less likely to think that’s sufficient time to start anything. But again, I bet I could get my receipts done, I’m pretty quick and I don’t let a huge backlog accumulate so we’re probably only talking about four items or so.

Based on this, I have started tagging my task list (Todoist) with a “Spare Five Minutes”. That will show me at a glance if I have things I can do in five minutes.  There is also a mental list of things we all have that never make it to a task list – replying to a text from a friend, putting the bins out, paying a bill and so on.  Another tag I use quite often is “To Read”. If I find an article I want to read, I’ll add it to Todoist with the tag and when I arrive early somewhere or I’m waiting for something I can go straight to something interesting.

Whenever you think “Oh, there’s not enough time to…” the tendency is to then fritter away that chunk of time. But if you add up all those chunks over a week, that is a lot of time that you’ve let slip by when it could have been put to good use. If you want to increase your efficiency, make use of these wasted moments. Find something that will only take ten minutes or make a start on a bigger project knowing that you’ll be very pleased with yourself when you have less to do later.

I use small chunks of time the other way around to motivate myself – either with the Pomodoro Technique or the most basic of all “just clean as much of the kitchen as you can during the ad break”. When it is a small amount it time it’s much easier to commit to something you aren’t really feeling inspired by!

And, if you really can’t face doing any work in those little chunks, you can still use it constructively. Meditate for five minutes, text a friend and say hello or go and have a chat with someone on the team.

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