There are days when 24 hours just isn't enough. I'm sure you've experienced at least a few of those. Wouldn't it be great if you could find an extra hour without having to sacrifice sleep or something else you love to do?
Finding that extra hour a day might be easier than you think. The trick? Create a "5-minute list."
What is a 5-Minute List?
Your 5-minute list is simply a list of tasks and activities you can do in five minutes. Even better, the list itself shouldn't take you more than five minutes to create.
What kinds of things might end up on your 5-minute list? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Check or update one of your social media accounts.
- Check your email, or respond to a few.
- Put together a to-do list or schedule for the next day.
- Straighten your desk or other work area.
- Read and comment on one work-related blog post.
- Run updates on your blog.
- Back up your blog's database (or key files).
- Respond to comments on your blog.
These are the little things we do during the day to promote ourselves, maintain our sites, stay in touch with clients, and network. They're also the kinds of tasks that can distract us from the big picture. It's easy to let checking a social media account for important updates turn into an hour of browsing for example. If it can be completed in five minutes or less, add it to your list.
How to Use Your 5-Minute List to Find Time
Once you have a list of things you can accomplish in five minutes, use it to find a little extra time during your work day. Here are some of the ways I've managed to do that -- things you can do too:
- Stop scheduling all the little things. Allot your entire schedule to bigger tasks you want to complete. Then, squeeze in your five-minute tasks as you go -- if you finish something else early or in between bigger tasks for example. You can always find another five minutes.
- If you ever find yourself procrastinating because you can't get your head into a project, pull out your 5-minute list. Complete one quick task to get your mind focused on work again. Sometimes checking something small off your to-do list is all it takes to motivate yourself to get something else done.
- Knock out more work in your off-hours. Now, I don't recommend working regularly when you're supposed to be off enjoying time doing other things. But let's say you watch a favorite show every evening (and you don't DVR it to skip commercials). Use those commercial breaks to tick one item off your 5-minute list. Look for situations like that where you have wasted minutes that you can turn into more productive time.
Finding five minutes here and there adds up throughout the day. It's not difficult to do this 12 times, giving you an extra hour of time towards work (or anything else).
Find even more time during the day by having a personal 5-minute list as well.
For example, if you don't have time for a typical workout, get up for five minutes and walk around your house. Do it several times per day, and you'll walk for a half hour more than usual before you know it. Or use your five minutes of "found" time to take care of chores around the house, make a personal call you've been meaning to make, or just close your eyes to relax and clear your head.
Personally, I like squeezing these kinds of tasks into my hourly five-minute breaks when I use the Pomodoro technique. It means my work breaks don't go to waste, and I don't have to spend as much off-hours time worrying about things around the house.
What could you accomplish with an extra five minutes? How much "found" time could you come up with every day with your own 5-minute list?