Write a to-do list
Taking five minutes to jot down a to-do list every day is critical, but don’t just make it a list of tasks, says Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Put the short-term goals for your day at the bottom and write a “stretch goal” for what you want to accomplish over the next day, week, or month at the top. “It pushes you to think about your deepest priorities,” Duhigg says. When you have five minutes later in the day, revisit your long-term goal. If your recent tasks haven’t been getting you any closer to it, you might want to reassess how you’ll spend the rest of your day, he says. Here are sneaky reasons you don’t finish your to do list.
Do some dusting
Keeping a list of tasks you can do in five minutes (or 10 or 15) is an easy way to make sure you’re prepped with ideas when you have a bit of downtime, says Laura Stack, productivity speaker and author of Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. One of her go-to chores: dusting. “I have an awards shelf of things I’ve been given over the years and keep Pledge wipes on hand, so if I’m on hold at least five minutes, I just dust the shelf,” she says.