The Secret to Getting More Done: Using “Dead Time” Effectively

What sets truly productive people apart from their counterparts is not working more, it is working smarter. In this post, I want to highlight the difference a simple list can make on your productivity.

If you are anything like me, you have a lot of “dead time” in your schedule. Ten minutes waiting here, five minutes there or maybe even a 15 minute block when waiting for someone. How you spend these, seemingly utterly unproductive short blocks of time, can make a world of difference.

Five minutes isn’t that short. You have more time than you think to get some small task done, which you then don’t have to do later. Don’t feel pressure to complete everything though. Even if it is just one email, or a quick phone call, you will have reduced the time required to tackle this later on, freeing up time for something better and more enjoyable.

What can you do in these short blocks of time? The most obvious is get some email done, but other useful things include reading, communication in general (social media, phone calls and of course email), writing a blog post, networking (check in with friends or connections), do some project planning, take a walk (refresh your head) or start doing some research.

Of course, doing work in these small blocks of time is not always the best things. Note that taking a walk was on my list of things to do. It is important to take breaks and to refresh and enjoy yourself. Without energy, you are going nowhere.

The key to being able to do either of these items though is having a list of what to do. When you find yourself having an extra five minutes, you need to be able to pull out the list and tackle an item. If you need to think about how you might best spend your time, you have used it before you have your answer. Just pull out the list, start with an item and you’ll be surprised at how much more you get done during the day, without working many more hours.