The workplace has become a world full of interruptions: meetings, noise, and Facebook. And even I – someone who’s always been good at switching gears between different projects quickly – find my productivity getting as chopped up along with my day.
As with most people, I’ve found ways to work through the distractions, but I still face those weird, 15-minute windows of time when I’ve finished up one task but don’t have time to start something new before a meeting or a phone call. It may not seem like much, but 15 minutes here and there add up quickly. Here are three ways I fill those potential “dead times” in my day:
Start the day with a plan. (This one is super obvious, but we all need reminding, right?) You may know what you need to do (run social media accounts, plan a campaign, create supporting collateral), but it takes a block of time to really get into your projects. If you start your day by listing out your projects, then break them down into bite-sized tasks, you’ll know which you can knock out in 15 minutes.
Collect articles to read. Whether it’s bookmarking a webpage, favoriting a tweet, or physically printing out something, keep a couple quick articles handy to read when you have a couple open minutes. This will keep you on track, and up-to-date on your industry.
Stack your meetings back-to-back. Whenever I plan a phone call or meeting, I try to schedule them adjacent to any other meetings I have scheduled for that day. That limits those dead times and also allows longer stretches of “heads down” time.
Don’t do anything. Sometimes the best thing you can do, is let yourself do nothing. And I’m not talking about mindless Buzzfeed binges, I mean real moments of meditation. (Yes, even you extroverts.) There’s a lot of benefit in just taking a moment to remove yourself from the trenches and regain some perspective.
Full disclosure: I’m not great at doing these, but I know that when I take my own advice I’m better off for it. What about you? How do you maximize your day?