Your Weekly Challenge: How To Productively Use Little Time Blocks

Life Coach Sue Brenner, PCC, PMP and founder of Action Symphony encourages us to brainstorm what we can do in small time increments. Susan says, “To maximize your time, learn what you can do in small increments. It’s not about cramming things in. It’s about discovering brief openings of time in your day. What can you do with 15 minutes?  Don’t fritter them away. Spend these small blocks of time intentionally on things that will make a difference.”day.
A checklist of ideas for 10 or 20-minute sprints and breaks in the day.
This week provides a checklist of ideas for “mini-breaks” in the day. Print a copy of this list and keep it in your planner. When you find a mini-break, take advantage of it to fine tune an area of the home or your environment. Many of these ideas can be done in 10 minutes–others may take 20. One fun exercise can be to schedule time to visit the Housework Helpers for one or two (or three) hours. Using the sprint structure, see how many items you can check off this list!
Here are a few of Susan’s ideas…
De-clutter Your Car: Are you early for a meeting and want to get something done? De-clutter your car! Gather up all the recyclables, including plastic bottles, soda cans and paper, and put them in a bag. Put all trash in another bag. Use a damp cloth or disposable wipe to clean all surfaces. Group any remaining things that you need to remove from your car later, such as clothes and newly purchased items. When you leave your car, take all the trash and recycling with you. Remove the other items as soon as you get a chance. If you’re picking up clients for a meeting, they’ll appreciate the serene setting you’ve just created in your car.
Note from Brook: I keep a travel-pack of car wipes (or you can use household wipes or even baby wipes) in my glove box, along with a couple of dusting cloths. I have a 4 ounce, 99 cent, plastic spray bottle filled with Windex. (You can find these at stores like Wal-mart, Walgreens or Target). This car kit takes up little room, and allows me to take advantage of rush hour or arriving early to an appointment by doing a quick-clean. This kit has also come in quite handy when spills happen!
Sprint Clean Your Office: Scan your office. Pick the one area that needs the most attention first. Do you have folders stacked on your desk? Are there three coffee mugs from the past week? Your desk top may be your first target area for action. Remove what doesn’t belong there. Use a tissue to dust. Either file or put papers in your out-box for future organizing. The goal is to pick one area and clear it. Then experience a sense of calm and relief. Eliminating a mess you’ve been putting up with recharges your batteries.
Fix Something That Is Broken: You know all those things you think to yourself: “I have to change the light bulb,” “I need to get the latch on that window fixed,” “I have to let I.T. know about my computer glitches”? Use a small time block to actually do something about them. If you’re handy, take that time to actually fix something simple yourself. For example, if the arm of your chair dangles, find the screw and bolt under the seat and tighten it up yourself. If you can’t (or don’t want to) fix something yourself, take the time to contact someone who can. Prompt your IT person to come assess your computer problems, or see if he or she can do it remotely. Call maintenance to repair your window. Take the first step, so you can stop thinking about it.
Prep for a Meal: Do you find yourself eating out every day? Do you want to eat healthier, but end up grabbing the quickest and most convenient food at meal times? When you have an extra 15 minutes at night or in the morning, use it to prepare a meal. Slice some sourdough bread and make your favorite sandwich for a bag lunch. Then enjoy more time at noon because you won’t have to run around and wait in line for your food. Or your meal prep might include tossing some meat, spices and vegetables into a slow-cooker or crock pot. Then you can return home from work to a nourishing, warm meal. You can sit down, relax and enjoy your food solo or with your family.
Ideas from Brook: Match the Socks: Grab a container and pile all solo socks inside. Match what you can.
Rotate the Closet: Do you really need all the winter coats in the coat closet during summer? If it is winter, is anyone going to wear the open-toed shoes? Move out-of-season items to an unused closet. If you don’t have one, consider hanging a small line in an infrequently used area of the house. Once this is complete, look at what you have left. Are there items that “ended up there” but don’t really need to be there? Move any to their proper home.
Repair “Message Central: “Wherever messages are taken, clutter seems to arise. Go through any miscellaneous messages or notepads and discard items no longer needed. Test the pens; get rid of those that don’t work. Clear off your answering machine.
Clean Off The Fridge: While putting coupons on the fridge seems like a logical place to remind us to use them, it is amazing how quickly they age! Remove outdated items from your fridge display. If you have kids’ artwork wallpapering the front, consider the “feature” method included in the previous lesson addressing children’s artwork.
Sort the Mail: Gather all the mail into one place. Don’t read the mail–just make piles. Create a pile for garbage, one for bills, one for to-read items and additional piles for other people in the home (i.e. give to husband, child, mother.) When done transfer the piles for others to somewhere they will see them. Put the to-read items in a place you will read them. Toss the junk in the garbage. Return the bills to the inbox.
Go through the Bills: This is best to complete after the task above. Remove all bills from their envelopes and lay flat. Staple of paperclip those with multiple pages.. Tuck the return envelope around the bill. Throw out all the miscellaneous offers included in the bills. Stack them in three piles… receipts/file only (if you use auto-pay), to pay within the next 14 days, to pay after 14 days.
Wipe Down the Appliances: Grab the Windex and wipe down the front surfaces of your kitchen appliances.
Clear the Junk Drawer: Empty the drawer entirely. Go through each item and either throw it out or return to its proper place. There is no reason to use up prime storage to hold “junk.”
Sort Your Chargers: If you are high-tech, gather all of your gadget-chargers together. Wrap the cords neatly. Label each one with its purpose. Move car-compatible chargers to the car. Place the others neatly in a drawer.
Wipe Down the Microwave: Give your microwave a thorough cleaning–inside and out!
Wipe Down a Shower Door: Spray the front and back and let it “set” for a couple of minutes while wiping down the vanity area. Return and wipe down the shower door.
Wash a Window: Wash a set of inside windows (or outside for that matter–your pick).
Match-Up Your Media: Return CDs, DVDs, video games and computer programs to their proper storage cases.
Go through Your Media: Do you need to keep the install disks to printers you no longer own or programs you no longer use? Get rid of any unneeded items to make it easier to find what you do need.
Photograph Your Home: Create a “photo inventory” of your home for insurance purposes.
Check the Medicine Cabinet: Check the expiration date of all vitamins, prescriptions and medicine cabinet supplies, discarding any expired items.
The Bye-Bye 10 Game: Find 10 things in your house to donate or throw away.
Sweep the Entry Way: Take a moment to sweep the outside entrance of your home.
Purge the Post-Its®: Gather a stack of loose papers and transfer them to your planner.

(c) 2011 Brook Noel and Make Today Matter, LLC. For more information visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *