When you have some extra time on your hands — not enough to really go anywhere or paint a room, but just several minutes or at most half an hour — you may wish you could be productive rather than just kill time.
Here are a few things you can do while waiting to leave the house, or waiting for that call or email, or when you just have a few extra minutes that you don’t want to waste.
1. Read a little. Be it a book, the paper, a blog, or a magazine. Ten minutes of reading a day makes a difference in how you process information. You can get used to not reading, so please remember to use and treasure this amazing gift we have.
2. Floss and brush your teeth. Twice a day is good, and thrice is better. It only takes five minutes, and you will feel refreshed afterward. It’s a great little pick-me-up, and, yes, it makes you healthier. There is a connection between oral health and heart health.
3. Freshen up. If you’d like a refresher, but you don’t have time for a shower, try washing your face. It will give you a lift and can help reduce your anxiety. If I get stuck on a particular piece, I find that the five-minute face wash can free up my mind.
4. Put the dishes away (or in the dishwasher). Again, you are using your time wisely, doing something constructive that you will need to do later anyway. Cleaning off counters, taking out the trash, and generally picking up around the house usually takes only a few minutes, and, yes, you will feel better.
Throwing in a load of laundry has the same effect. Generally, if your home is more organized, so is your mind.
5. Clean out a junk drawer. I have far too many of these because when I’m picking up around the house, and I don’t know where to put something, it goes in a junk drawer. I have a couple in the kitchen and several more throughout the house.
If I were to work on one of these a week in my free minutes, instead of staring at my inbox, the task would be done.
6. Review your social media accounts. A few minutes is all it takes, and this is a good use of time if you’re waiting to do something else. Spending hours on social media is not really social, so please manage your time on the Internet. If it’s the way you choose to relax or communicate with friends, that’s perfectly fine, but that takes way longer than five to thirty minutes.
7. Throw out old paperwork. If you have files, envelopes, or opened letters on your desk, it’s probably because you don’t have time to attack the whole desk-cleaning process, or you’re intimidated by it. Start by just doing it in five- to 20-minute chunks, while you’re waiting. Doing this will keep your desk cleaner.
8. Reach out to an old friend. Send a text or an email to someone who is in your life but with whom you have not communicated in a while (other than liking their posts on Facebook). Getting in touch will make both of you feel better, and that time will serve you well because we all need old friends in our lives.
9. Pet your pets and loved ones. If someone or something (with a tail) is around, you can spend a few extra minutes giving him, her, or it some extra attention. Petting the dog or cat helps us to relax, lowers our blood pressure, and makes us feel more secure and so does a nice long hug. Not a bad way to spend some time.
Five to 10 minutes is enough time to change your clothes or change your life, depending on what you choose to do. We haven’t got enough time to waste, so try to enhance your life in those extra minutes.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.