Using Spare Time: What Can You Do in 10 Minutes?

Imagine you have a scheduled appointment or phone call in 10 minutes (let’s assume that you’re fully prepped for the appointment – or it’s not the type of thing that requires advanced work). 10 minutes is not enough time to tackle a major project, but still enough time to accomplish some small task. The question is: what will that task be?

When I have a window of spare time, I typically pull up Google Reader and scan through a couple of posts. It’s productive, because I’d want to read those posts at some point later.  However, sometimes I’ll keep longer posts marked as unread if I don’t want to get sucked in to a “think” piece.

What about you? Will you click over to Facebook or Twitter and see what your friends are up to? Open a desk drawer and give it a quick refresh? Or start that big project and return to it later?

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Susan Johnston is a freelance writer/blogger who has contributed to publications including The Boston Globe,’s blog,, and Yahoo! HotJobs. Her own blog,, covers tips on productivity, brainstorming, and more for fellow writers.


  1. Sam Dalton on the 2nd July

    I’ll usually do very similar things: twitter, google reader (most likely), and tidy up my desk a bit. Sometimes I’ll try and clear up my inbox as well, sorting and replying to anything that hasn’t been dealt with yet.

    The hard part is not doing all these things when I really don’t have any spare time, and should be working!

  2. Ren Atkins on the 2nd July

    Regular ‘braindumps’ into my carry-everywhere notebook allow me to keep a list of the teeny tiny jobs that aren’t urgent enough to stop work for, but which can be accomplished when I have a few free moments. It’s very satisfying to use a few spare minutes productively!

  3. I would check my emails. That would be my best option.


  4. Robert Dyson on the 3rd July

    I’ll read a few pages in whatever book I’m reading, knock out an email or two, read a couple of articles on Google Reader, or review my todo lists on Remember The Milk.

    Or play Plants vs Zombies.

  5. Kyle W. on the 4th July

    I find Google Reader immensely helpful. I tried converting over and use Twitter for my news and blog updates but it didn’t seem to work as well as I hoped. Google Reader serves as the main source of information.

  6. mushroom on the 6th July

    Facebook > Google Reader > opened tabs in browser > Twitter
    This is my path.

  7. Dashiva on the 21st July

    Power Sleep is a good Option, if you are tired..

  8. bubba phills on the 23rd June

    10 minutes?! heck, that’s enought time to ‘blast off’ ain’t it?

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