Most of us who work from home feel guilty about wasting time in large increments, but the same isn’t always true of small increments. If I finish work early or a project is canceled and I have a few “found” hours of time, I nearly always switch to another productive task such as working on my blog or website, contacting prospective clients, etc. However I find that the same isn’t true when I have five or ten minutes; if I have a conference call at 11:00 and I finish my morning’s work at 10:50, I’m more likely to read celebrity gossip websites (shameful but true) or look at friends’ photos on Facebook.
The real problem is that these small increments of time add up. To combat this issue, I started what I call a “Five minute task list” that I post over my desk. As a side note, I still do all of my planning and scheduling (other than finances) on paper because then I’m forced to look at it, whereas if it’s on my computer I tend to forget that it’s there. At any rate, I made a list of tasks that really do take only five or ten minutes:
- Enter receipts into accounting software
- Shred confidential documents
- Send one e-mail to a prospective client or a client I haven’t heard from lately
- Add one contact on LinkedIn or Viadeo
- Send one marketing postcard to a prospective client
- Back up my blog
- Back up in-progress projects to Gmail
- Review business bank account for irregularities
- Delete unneeded files from hard drive
I find that this technique has really helped me make those small increments of time more productive, and in addition, some of these tasks (shredding, entering receipts, etc.) are so tedious that I can’t stand to do them for longer than a few minutes anyway. Feel free to add your own suggestions as well!