10 Ultra-Productive Things to Do With 15 Free Minutes at Work
Long work days can be *so* exhausting, even if you work for an amazing company, know how to leave stress at the office AND get a few short blocks of free time throughout the day. Whether you’ve hit a point where your brain just needs a break from an overflowing inbox or you just find yourself with a few minutes to spare, it’s pretty darn tempting to pull up your fave social sites and scroll through your friends’ feeds. We talked with 11 bonafide girlbosses to figure out how to get the same mental relief without totally sacrificing productivity. Use their top 10 tips to feel majorly refreshed in a short amount of time — all while making an impact.
1. Make a phone call. Maria Yuan from issuevoter.org tells us, “I make phone calls. I either call people back or call customer service for any issue that I can’t solve online.” She says that while she loves meeting people and talking with people, returning voicemails is something she used to procrastinate. “I’ve found that making phone calls during these gaps of free time is really productive,” she says. “And since you only have a finite amount of time to work with, it won’t end up taking longer. It’s easy to forget that a two-minute phone call can be so much more efficient than spending 5-10 minutes drafting an email or ping pong emails.”
2. Cross something off of your to-do list. Career Coach Jill Ozovek is all about efficiency — even with just 15 minutes! “I do a few things, like check email and respond to any non-urgent emails, which I’m trying to batch more. I also use small blocks of time to make personal calls for doctor’s appointments or something that’s fallen off my to do list for too long.” A bride-to-be, Jill says that she also uses free time to get back to wedding vendors. Phew!
3. Learn something new. “Spend 15 minutes on a lecture that aligns with your learning goals for the week,” Jessica Graves from Thread Genius suggests. “You can even watch a 30-minute talk from a conference on 2x speed.”
Liz Long, a leader in the maker movement, swears by turning pages. “I keep all my books in iBooks and read whenever I have a spare 15 minutes throughout the day. I’m able to read a book a week by doing this, many of which help me with my business.”
4. Answer emails. Gesche Haas, the superhuman behind Dreamers // Doers says that she takes advantage of short blocks of time to answer emails that aren’t time-sensitive. “I batch email answering as much as possible OR I go on FB and see who I can help/connect/if there’s anything I need to moderate.”
5. Connect with your team. If your mind is completely tapped out and you see others around you taking a quick break (maybe while waiting for lunch), try connecting with your team or deskmates. Jessica Tsukimura from Stag&Hare says, “I use all my spare time to think about my team and culture. Simply asking ‘How are you?’ is a really nice way to engage and bond, and really meaning it is a nice way to reconnect during the day.”
6. Squeeze in some stretches. “I hide in the phone room and meditate/stretch sometimes,” life coach, editor and author Ko Im confesses. Hey, girl, that sounds pretty darn awesome and important to us!
7. Text your friends and fam. A quick message to friends or fam is a thoughtful gesture that totally trumps wasting time on social media. Creative strategist Julia Lovallo tells us, “I especially like to email or text a friend or family member something funny so that I can share a laugh with a loved one. Communicating with people outside of the immediate workplace gives me energy and a sense of place.”
8. Play with your pet. Lucky enough to bring your pup to work or WFH with your cat by your side? Swarna Kuruganti from The Clear Scoop says, “If I’m having a particularly difficult day and happen to be working from home, I play with our two dogs. They give me back my perspective in five minutes!” Purrfection.
9. Get your steps in. Laura Youngkin devotes her days to running The Brave Millennial, but still finds time to sneak in steps. “I like to take a quick walk (especially if the weather is nice) and go over my priorities for the day/week with 15 free minutes,” she notes. “Getting outside and moving around helps jog my memory and gives me energy.”
10. Practice gratitude. In addition to quick power walks, Laura tells us that she tries to use small bits of free time to focus on something she’s grateful for. “I think about ways I can help others and pay it forward. It’s amazing what you can do in 15 minutes!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
What do you do when you find yourself with a random 15 minutes to spare at work? Share your productivity tips with us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)