Have you ever been stuck somewhere?
School pick up line, the end of an extracurricular activity or even moments while your kids’ are playing at the playground.
When I used to teach elementary school, I was amazed how much time was lost in transitions. The time it takes to move 30 children from place to place is amazing. From walking down the hallway to going out to the playground, precious learning minutes are squandered with each step.
Daily life isn’t much different. There always seems to be pockets of time here and there throughout the day. They don’t seem really useable on the surface. I mean what tasks can you really accomplish in five or even ten minutes.
But what happens when we add all of those little pockets of time up? Let’s take five minutes extra per a day. In one year, those little five minutes add up to 20 hours!
Now imagine how many pockets of 5 minutes you have each day. For me, I can think of three or four times a day when I have spare minutes. Instead of just randomly glancing at your phone, what if you found a productive task that you could do instead. Something that grew your business, creativity or just was plain relaxing (self-care counts too).
Think about how much more productive you could be.
Suddenly Stephen King’s idea of reading in sips and swallows comes to mind. The concept is that you can get a lot more reading done when it’s done in little chunks. Instead of stressing about reading an entire book in one sitting, read a chapter here and a paragraph there. Over time, those sips and swallows add up to completing the entire book.
But what if I used my sips and swallows on tasks to grow my business instead of reading. Suddenly, the five minutes I found here and there could be spent more effectively.
I had an Etsy shop friend who did just that to grow her social media presence. She would write her Instagram posts in the school pick up line. Every day at 3 p.m. she’d share something on Instagram. Over time her presence grew on the platform. Mainly because of her consistency to show up. And all it took were those 5 minutes and a little pre-planning.
But as great as tackling small business tasks throughout the day sounds, I suspect it’s harder said than done.
My concern is that instead of actually working on the tasks, I would probably spend my five minutes figuring out what to do. That wouldn’t be very efficient.
So, I’ve put together a list of five minute daily tasks that you can do to grow your business. There’s even a free printable – sized for your planner or purse. Keep it with you.
I’ve divided the tasks into four categories – Tasks to Grow your Shop, Tasks to Get Social, Tasks to Get Organized and Tasks Just for You. Each of these five minute tasks help you and your business grow in different ways.
Choose the ones that you like the best and have the tools to do. (Some require mobile apps that you might not have on your phone.)
Then the next time you find yourself with a little bit of extra time, work on one of them. You’ll be surprised how much faster your business grows.
Tasks to Grow your Shop
Draft an Email to your Mailing List
Always looking for time to connect with your mailing list? Take five minutes and start drafting your next email.
Most email marketing services have an app for your mobile device. And if that wasn’t good enough, you can even use a saved template for easy publishing. Just add your information, review and schedule.
Find Blog Post Photos
For me, the task that holds up publishing new blog posts the most is looking for photos. It can be tedious to search for the perfect image that fits my blog post.
Save some time by searching your stock photo site or other blogging photo resource for the perfect photo. Save it to a folder to download it later. Many services even offer mobile apps to make it easier to browse their databases.
Create a New Product Listing
Do you have a new product that you can’t wait to get into your shop? Use your product listing template and update the product details for your new masterpiece. Save as a draft and you can update the photos later when you’re ready to introduce it to your shop.
Propose a Guest Post
Guest posting on other related blogs and websites is a great way to get your business out there. You probably have lots of ideas for guest posts, but haven’t had a chance to contact potential blogs or pitch your writing ideas.
Once you find a blog that fits your brand, send them some post ideas that you’d like to write. There’s usually a guest posting form on their website. If you can’t find anything, though, don’t worry. You can always email them directly with your request.
Brainstorm New Product Ideas
Never have time to brainstorm new product ideas? Use those five minutes and write down all of those creations that are on your mind.
I carry a mini sketchbook in my purse for these exact moments. Write down ideas, dreams or even draw what they’ll look like. It’s also a great creative outlet.
Add Business Contacts to LinkedIn
Although I’ve gotten better at attending networking events, I don’t always follow up with the contacts that I meet. To make this process easier, add the business contact information into LinkedIn for the people that you hope to meet again. This helps grow your network and business.
Brainstorm Blog Post Ideas
As important as brainstorming new product ideas is, also consider keeping a list of blog post ideas. I tend to get my best ideas when I have a few quiet moments. So if the lightbulb goes off, write down your idea.
When you write down your blog post idea, also think about what product it will help promote. That will save you time later when considering whether to write the blog post or not.
Reply to a Customer
If you have a shop that sells products, you probably receive at least a couple of customer inquiry emails each day. Although I try to respond quickly, I’m often interrupted with other business tasks.
These inquiry emails are really important, though. They serve as leads to potential sales. So you want to respond to them as quickly as you can in hopes to make more sales.
Luckily, if you have templates created for your communication, responding to customers can be super quick. Just insert the template and fill in their specific information.
Tasks to Get Social
Share something about your Business on Social Media
Of all the 5 minute tasks, my favorite is sharing on social media. If I have my materials ready, a social media post usually takes me about five minutes to write and send.
Check here for quick tips for posting on social media for your business.
Post a relevant article on Facebook or Linked In
Read something fantastic this morning and can’t wait to share it with your followers? Take your five minutes and post the article on Facebook, Linked In or even Twitter. Social media is all about sharing. Directing your audience to great content will build trust with your business.
Comment on Social Media Posts
One way to grow your social media presence is by commenting on others’ social media posts. Many people are so concerned about getting their own posts out that they forget this step.
Scroll through your social media feed and write a comment (or two) on posts that intrigue you. Make sure that your comment is insightful and sparks conversation.
Follow New People on Social Media
Discovering new faces on social media also helps build your reach. Find at least three new people to follow every day and your business’ social media following will grow naturally.
And don’t worry if the person you followed doesn’t follow you back. Other people that follow them notice that you followed that person. Many times they will follow you to broaden their reach.
Create a New Pin
The Pinterest mobile app is my friend for keeping up with this site engine. You can even create a new pin on the go. I recommend making the pin earlier and sending it to your phone. Then you can load it and link to the correct website.
You can also create a pin using an app for creating social media posts. From the app you can select the photo, drop in a template, add your text overlay and save. Then add your new pin to Pinterest.
Comment on a Facebook Group Post
One of my favorite ways to get social online is through Facebook Groups. It’s a great way to interact with others and make new contacts in the online business community.
To make these connections, though, you need to participate in the group. It’s not enough to just sit on the sidelines and watch. Scroll through the group’s feed and see how you can add to the conversation. Over time, you’ll get recognized in the group for your expertise and make new friends.
Tasks to Get Organized
Clean your Desk
I don’t usually have an extra five minutes at home, but when I do, I clean my desk. I am not always the most organized person in the world, so my papers go everywhere.
Spend a few minutes and organize your desk. Throw out old paperwork, put back pens and pencils and sort the new mail. Once I can see my surface again, I dust. It’s amazing how much dust settles. No wonder I sneeze a lot.
Update your To Do List
My favorite part about keeping a to do list is crossing off the items once they’re completed. Something about physically knocking items off my list motivates me to want to accomplish more.
Take a few minutes to update your to do list. Cross off items, add new ones and look beyond your current week. Making sure your to do list is up to date will help you stay on top of important tasks and be more productive.
Go through your Business Cards
Business cards have a tendency to pile up and get shoved into a corner. Having business cards themselves isn’t very helpful unless you develop relationships with the contacts on them.
Sort through your business cards and decide which contacts you would like to build a further relationship with. Add their information into Linked In or connect with them on another social media platform. Be sure to make a note about how you met them. This can help later on if you want to contact them.
Once you have their information safely stored away, consider sending them a quick message. Let them know how wonderful it was to meet them and how you hope to work together in the future. This short message goes a long way to building a relationship down the road.
Unsubscribe from Newsletters
If your inbox is cluttered with newsletters and sales announcements that you can’t remember when you subscribed, it might be time to unsubscribe.
Sign up for Unroll.me to unsubscribe from unwanted emails. You can also combine your favorite subscriptions into one email to make things even more efficient.
Clean out your Purse (or Diaper Bag)
I find the bigger my purse gets, the more I try to cram into it. From mini coloring books for the kids (or me) to expired coupons I couldn’t find when I needed them, there is an assortment of things at the bottom.
Take your five minutes and clean out your purse. You’d be amazed at what you might find. Sometimes, I feel like it’s Christmas. I recently unearthed a Batmobile Hot Wheels car that had been missing for months. And my favorite notepad I use to write the grocery list on.
And while you’re at it, clean out your wallet too. I file business receipts, throw out expired coupons and find money. It’s quite productive.
Tasks Just for You
Send a Positive Email
When I was a kid and had an extra five minutes, I used to take some of my “happy” stationery and write a quick note to a friend. I had established a network of pen pals all over the world and loved writing them snail mail. I’d keep a roll of stamps in my desk and quickly pop a happy note into the mail.
Although most people have left snail mail behind (although, if you enjoy writing snail mail, check this out), you can use the same idea with email. Send a positive email to someone special or important in your life. A favorite relative, your child’s teacher, a long lost friend.
Whomever you choose, showing someone that you’re thinking of them is sure to brighten their day. No one enjoys opening their email inbox and only finding work emails or sales announcements.
Spread some joy with a positive email. I usually make it a goal to send one or two a day. It’s amazing how the process brightens my day too.
Listen to a TED Talk
It turns out that even TED understands the need for snack sized inspiration.
They’ve developed a series of 3 minute TED talks for those moments when you need a pick me up and have little time. The talks range from remembering your manners to learning about Saturn. Perfect for a shorter school pick up line.
Spark your Creativity
If you own a creative business, you know the importance to practicing your creativity every day. Sadly, making time to develop your creativity might not be a priority when there are other business tasks to complete.
Rediscover your creativity in shorter spurts by having some creative activities ready to go. You could color in a mini adult coloring book, sketch a new idea in your pocket notepad or even practice your calligraphy.
Some other ideas is to create a mini mind map, write a list of 10 (many people aim for 100, but you only have five minutes) or just think about nothing for awhile. Making your mind a blank space is a great way to get your creativity moving.
If you need even more ideas on the go, check out this Spark Creativity box. Keep it in your purse and try a card when you need inspiration.
Read a Book
As an avid reader, I’m always looking for quiet moments to read some sips and swallows. Carry a book around and get in a paragraph or two while you wait. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but those paragraphs add up.
Relax with a Cup of Coffee
This idea partners with the act of doing nothing. I enjoy doing nothing with a cup of coffee. Some of my favorite days at school pick up is me with a freshly brewed coffee to enjoy. I will purposefully get there early just to relax with my cup of coffee and let my mind think about nothing..
Write in your Journal
Journal writing is another way to increase your productivity and spark creativity. Whether you create a decorative journal with pretty typography or a simple journal with basic prompts to answer, the act of getting ideas onto paper can rejuvenate your brain in a whole new way.
Return a Phone Call
Have a list of phone calls you’ve been meaning to make? Not all phone calls can be short (especially if you might be put on hold), but choose one that you think can be completed quickly and dial away. If you make one a day for a week, that’s five phone calls completed by the end of the week.
Walk around the Block
Getting exercise is one of my favorite ways to spend an extra five minutes. Movement refreshes your thoughts and makes us feel alive. If you aren’t near a “block”, try walking down to the street corner. Distance is less important than moving around.
Tell a Friend you Miss Them
This is related to sending a positive email. Take the time to let a friend know how much you miss them or are thinking about them. I love sending a few unexpected text messages just to say hi or write an email with a quick hello.
Even though we might not be able to see our friends that often, maintaining strong connections over the years is important to our health. We bolster these connections with short, thoughtful reminders showing we care. It’s a great way to use your time positively.
Upload Recent Photos
Photos are the bane of my organization success. For some reason, no matter what I try, I can’t seem to get them in any sort of order – let alone printed and framed.
To stay on top of my photos, I use my five minutes to upload them to my cloud service, delete the terrible ones (like when someone wasn’t looking) and decide which ones I want printed.
Shutterfly also offers services for photo slackers like myself. You can send them up to 800 photos to make a photo book for you. Something that can be done in about five minutes if you’re organized.
Or they have a Simple Path album where they insert the photos into the photo book for you. If you have your photos organized by theme or event, this is an easy way to make an album without a lot of hassle.
Find your Next Book to Read
When I got my teaching degree, I discovered the good readers always know what they’re going to read next. Although I taught this idea in the classroom with my students, I’ve found it also applies to my own reading.
If you aren’t sure what your next book selection would be, start searching before you finish your current read. Being prepared means that you won’t lose precious reading time in between books.
Looking for your next read? Some places to look for recommendations are Good Reads, Facebook Groups or your favorite authors. Some of my best choices have come from Instagram and the people I follow on there.
You can even keep a running list of books to read so you always know what to grab next. Use your five minutes to source the book instead. Reserve it at the library, order from Amazon or find it used. Just be ready with your next reading selection.
Do a Quick Guided Meditation
If you need to feel refreshed, try a quick meditation to refocus yourself. YouTube has amazing videos with different guided meditations. Or for on the go mediations, try the Let’s Meditate App. This free mobile app gives you lots of different meditations to download and try.
Five minutes might not sound like a lot of time, but they add up after awhile. It’s amazing how many tasks we can accomplish in these short bits of time.
As a busy mom and business owner, I’ve used my five minutes more and more productively over the years. Figuring out the tasks that I’m really good at doing on the go has helped.
If you’re ready to use your extra five minutes to grow your business, choose one or two tasks from the list that you know you can do easily. Then, get started. Try those tasks for a week and see the results. You’ll probably be surprised that certain areas of your business have started growing.