15 Productive Things to Do in 15 Minutes or Less

Do you have 15 minutes before your next meeting? Are you waiting in line at the post office? Is your friend late to pick you up? The next time you find yourself with an awkwardly small amount of free time, put it to good use by completing one (or more) of these small yet productive tasks. Just think: If you take advantage of just one 15-minute period each weekday to do something useful, you will have increased your weekly productivity by more than an hour. Yes, please!

Declutter

Source: Glitter Guide

1. Clean something. The gross spot under the refrigerator? The minuscule gap between your bathroom sink and the wall? The dusty cupholders in your car? Grab a Clorox wipe and go for it. You’ve probably spent longer thinking about how you should clean that space than it would take to just clean it. So do it now.

2. Delete unnecessary photos on your smartphone to free up storage space. Start with those direction screenshots from last month or that picture of a book you wanted to remember but already added to Goodreads. Also take this opportunity to delete any unused apps or addictive games you’ve been meaning to cut back on.

3. Choose three (or more!) items of clothing to consign or donate. If you can’t remember the last time you wore it or it doesn’t fit, it needs to go! But also look closely at any items you aren’t excited to wear anytime soon—if you can’t see yourself wearing it within the next year, it probably isn’t worth keeping. (Tip: Ask yourself these seven questions if doing a major closet overhaul.)

4. Unsubscribe from all those pesky emails you don’t even read. An app like unroll.me can scan emails to see which subscription lists you are on, then unsubscribe at the click of a button.

5. De-clutter your wallet. Reconcile old receipts with bank statements and then shred or file them. Get rid of old loyalty cards you don’t use anymore, or rewards cards to stores that allow you to use a phone number when checking out. Do a quick inventory of any unused gift cards and consolidate or digitize them, if possible.

Connect

Source: Danielle Nichol

6. Text or call a friend or family member you haven’t caught up with in a while. Or (even better!) get out some old-fashioned stationery and write a heartfelt note to drop in the mail.

7. Send a thank you note. This could be a note thanking someone for a specific gift or event, or it could express a broader appreciation, such as “thank you for mentoring me” or “thank you for always making laugh.”

8. Update your resume and/or LinkedIn. Won an award recently? Given a new duty at your current position? Picked up a valuable skill? Add it now to keep your resume updated for any professional development opportunities that may arise. You can also use this time to do a quick design facelift if your resume needs a new color scheme or an eye-catching header.

9. Be informed about current events. Subscribe to a daily email news service like TheSkimm or CNN’s Five Things for Your New Day, create a designated Twitter list of your favorite news sources, turn on news radio for 15 minutes during your evening commute, and check back here at The Everygirl every Friday morning to stay “In the Know.”

Rejuvenate

Source: Christine Amorose

10. Read something. Trying to read more in 2016? Use a 15-minute work break or time in the doctor’s waiting room to read an actual chapter from a book, a short story, or even a piece of long-form journalism from a favorite magazine or website. I always carry a book or magazine with me for unexpected downtime, but you can also download e-book or e-audiobook apps so you’ll always have a book accessible on your phone or tablet.

11. Floss. Yes, seriously. (Even if it’s not the week leading up to a semi-annual cleaning.)

12. Pay attention to your body. If you’re at the office, perhaps that means getting out of your chair and taking a quick stroll outside. If you’re at home, consider dimming the lights and checking in with 15 minutes of mindful meditation or a yoga pose. If you need a quick burst of energy, do a quick weight-lifting session (you can use a water bottle or your all-too-heavy handbag if you don’t have dumbbells) or some jumping jacks.

13. Plan your meals for the week. This can include choosing recipes and creating a grocery list, or brainstorming meals based on what is already in your kitchen.

14. Make a to-do list. If you can think of eight things you need to do today but none of them will take less than 15 minutes to complete, take two minutes instead to write them down so you don’t forget. Your mind will thank you later.

15. Start working on your bucket list (or add to your existing one and begin creating a plan for your top goals). Who says productivity can’t be fun?

These are only 15 ideas—I’m sure you can come up with many more! Generally, if something is going to take 15 minutes or less to complete, just do it. Wash out your morning coffee mug when you’re finished, instead of leaving it in the sink. Hang up freshly laundered clothes right away, rather than leaving them in a pile (this also prevents wrinkles). Unpack your suitcase when you get home instead of leaving it until next week. Sort your mail and shred any junk mail as soon as you bring it inside.

As you begin to complete small tasks immediately, you’ll be amazed at how clean, organized, and refreshed your home (and your life) will feel.

How do you productively fill small chunks of potentially “wasted” time? Share your ideas in the comments!

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