When you find yourself with an open (yet small) block of time, what do you do? Do you use it wisely, or do you fritter it away, trying to figure out what to do with it?

How to make the most of small blocks of time

If you end up wasting the time and kick yourself later, I have a solution for that.

A perfect way to maximize these small windows of time is to create a layout in a notebook or Bullet Journal that has a single page with 2–3 columns and label the columns based on the amount of time you have. So for example, one column would be labeled “If I have 10 minutes”, another column would be labeled “if I have 20 minutes, and the other column “If I have an hour”. Think of things that fit these categories, write them down in the appropriate spaces. This is your quick reference page, and one that you’ll refer to often.

Suggestions here might be self-care “just for me” things, or small projects like “clean the microwave”. The goal is to fill your time with actionable steps, not confusion and overwhelm.

With 10 minutes you can:

  • Practice a short meditation exercise
  • Clean the microwave
  • Feed the cat
  • Step outside and get some fresh air
  • Send a friendly check-in email to a client
  • Do some jumping jacks
  • Book a massage
  • Throw in a load of laundry

With 20 minutes you can:

  • Check email (but just do a quick scan and only respond to the most important ones)
  • Write a “just because” card to send to a client or friend
  • Buy chocolate online (or wicked good cupcakes)
  • Vacuum your office
  • Check your social media channels for mentions, and respond
  • Take a short jog around the block a few times

With an hour you can:

  • Eat a good lunch, without rushing
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Write a blog post (or at least an outline)
  • Update your bookkeeping and budget (if you’re already mostly up to date)
  • Practice yoga
  • Call a friend
  • Do some planning and set some goals for the upcoming week/month

As you think of things you can do in a short period of time, write them down in the appropriate column.

That way when you do find yourself with a little extra time, you can make the most of it, and celebrate some quick wins.

Try it — you’ll be amazed at what you can do!

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Lisa Wood is a mentor to small business owners, and the founder of the Women’s Success Circle and The Hive. She focuses on teaching women how to build sustainable businesses, market them effectively and authentically, and reduce the often overwhelming aspects of being a solo business owner.

Originally published at medium.com