If your work schedule requires a meeting every hour on the hour, skip this entry. But if you are like most people, you find yourself with some dead periods of 10, or 15, or 30 minutes between meetings or commitments. If you have two or three of these a day, it is like “found” time, almost as good as gold.
You can spend this gold in a variety of ways—chatting with co-workers, balancing your bank account, or taking a brief walk. All of these may be good choices, but they are also valuable chunks of time that can help you get your actual work done. They can help you leave work at quitting time, and they can prevent you from having to take work home with you.
The key to successfully using these little blocks of time is to keep a list of things that require only 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and then to keep the list and the work close by. For example, do you need to review that power point presentation for the graphic designer? Do you need to respond to a request for a meeting? What about a writing project? Can it be broken down into chunks so you can write the draft introduction or ending in a 15 to 30 minute period?
Accomplishing things in small amounts of time is mainly a function of mindset (and a bit of discipline). If you think you will need to spend hours on the report introduction, it will probably take you hours. Work will expand to fill the time allotted. But work will also shrink to fit the time allotted. Suppose you simply start writing that report introduction.
Writing experts claim you should be able to write two paragraphs, or around 100 words, in ten minutes. Yes, you will need to edit it later, but editing is so much easier than starting from scratch. Most of our writing evolves. We rarely sit down at our computers with ideas fully formed. Besides, if you write something down, all day long you may be thinking about what you wrote. During your next short period of free time, you may be able to add to what you wrote or change it for the better.
Breaks during the day are important, but so is family time. Or, if you use two free thirty minute periods, you might be able to squeeze in an hour at the gym. The possibilities are great.
It doesn’t take an efficiency expert to recognize time wasted. And it doesn’t take a genius to know time is money. More importantly, time saved is time you get to spend later. It really is like gold.