What can you accomplish in ten minutes?
[Updated for 2023] It’s 10:40am. You’ve got a meeting at 11am. There isn’t enough time to start a big piece of work so what do you do?
Copywriter Elise Dopson (check her out, she seems ace) posed a similar question on Twitter:
How do you make the 15-30 min gaps before/during meetings more productive?
— Elise Dopson (@elisedopson) January 20, 2022
I replied with a few suggestions, explaining that I have a list of little labours that each take a few minutes. I call them my ‘just jobs’. For me, the list is a great way to keep on top of regular tasks that might otherwise get overlooked. Plus, there’s a sense of accomplishment to be gained from ticking jobs off which is especially great if you’re having a crummy day.
Since then I have kept adding to my list of ‘just jobs’. See if any of them might work for you:
Read one of the many newsletters in your inbox. Or unsubscribe from the ones you’re unlikely to ever read.
Check your social media notifications. Follow back any new followers who look interesting and reply to comments.
Read an article. How many tabs do you have open on your phone, each home to a feature, article or web page you promised yourself you would read at some point?
Answer one email. If it’s a tricky message, draft your reply and return to it later.
Update your to-do list. I use Trello and have a board per client. Tasks are assigned due dates and I move them from ‘to-do’ to ‘in progress’ to ‘done’. Checking in and clearing completed tasks prevents The Fear that I might have forgotten something.
Write a list. This could be ideas for blog posts, skills you want to learn, or even a list of achievements you’re proud of.
Check your LinkedIn Profile. Are your details up-to-date? Could you request a recommendation from someone you have worked with recently? Are there posts you can comment on to help maintain your visibility?
Tidy your desk – or your desktop. Archive old files, delete duplicates of photos, tidy your folders and clear the collection of mugs and biscuit wrappers (just me?).
Move. Do a lap of your home, walk up and down the stairs, pop your head out of the door to get some fresh air. Stretch; I love the YWTL sequence after a few too many hours in my chair.
Hydrate. Not drinking enough water leads to headaches, a lack of concentration and lethargy. Keep a big bottle on your desk or use a small glass – walking to refill it regularly means getting some extra movement into your day too.
Daydream, look out of the window, listen to music. The desire to be productive can become a stick we beat ourselves with, but we can’t work at full pelt every minute of the day, so take a break! I love a desk disco (desko?).
What do you like to get done in the minutes before a meeting, or between bigger pieces of work? Tell me what’s on your list of ‘just jobs’?