Read an article
Keep a folder of articles you’ve wanted to read, then pull one out when you find yourself with extra time. “When you find a link, don’t read it—just print it out,” Stack says. “When you have time, peruse an article for a while instead of using ‘real time’ during the work day.”
Talk to people around you
Instead of shuffling notes before a meeting starts, ask coworkers around you what their weekend plans are. “The most effective teams tend to be the ones that have psychological safety, which often comes from learning how to pick up on each other’s nonverbal cues,” Duhigg says. “Learning how to listen better and how to show your listening is a critical aspect.” If you’re waiting in line, chat with the person behind you—Chevy Chase made friends with Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels while the two were standing in line for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Duhigg points out.
Clean out files
Five minutes is just enough time to clean out a filing folder. Stack keeps an orange folder sticking the opposite way in her filing cabinet to mark the last folder she went through, and when she’s on hold, she’ll go back to that spot. On the flip side, you can also add papers you’ve been meaning to file. “You can make a big dent in a file pile in five minutes,” Stack says.