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How effective are you at using found pockets of time to get work done?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How effective are you at using “found” pockets of time — 10 to 30 minutes — to get work done?

  • Very: I always have a ready list of tasks to do in these small moments. 32.81%

  • Somewhat: Sometimes I use it productively and others I waste the time. 47.63%

  • Not very: Most of that found time goes to waste. 14.83%

  • Not at all: I never get anything done in those pockets of time. 4.73%

Make a list of small tasks. Most of you are somewhat effective — or less than somewhat — at using small time slots of “found time” to get things done. This occurs because when we find 15 or 20 minutes, we spend 10 of it trying to figure out what to work on and then 10 minutes saying we don’t have enough time to finish the task. An effective way to use this time is to maintain a list of small tasks that can be done in 15-, 30- and 60-minute spans. When you are given the gift of some found time because a meeting ends early or is cancelled, you can immediately turn to your list, pick a task and get it done. This small productivity enhancer will help you fill these times effectively and get a lot more work finished in a given day.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”