Hack Your Productivity with These 5-Minute Tasks

Health & Wellness

The secret to getting more done every day is to make the moments in between work for you.

I had no idea how much time I was wasting until I started taking inventory of what I was actually doing with the minutes and hours in each day. Sometimes I’d hand thirty minutes over to investigating who Harry Styles’ new songs were about, and other days I’d organize my books by color to avoid opening the mail that had been sitting on my counter for a week (or more).

We have plenty of noble reasons to avoid doing the things we know are most pressing, and these kinds of excuses are the most dangerous because they hide under the mask of productivity.

Once I realized all of this, I got to work figuring out how to hack my tendency to procrastinate, and the answer I found was deceptively simple. To make better use of my time and get back on track when I’m tempted to procrastinate, I need to allow myself space to take advantage of small breaks. This allows me to meet myself where I’m at and give my brain a mental reset before it starts to drift.

We all have pockets of space within our days that can be used more effectively, whether for getting refocused on work tasks or for life management or to take care of ourselves. I keep a list of things I can do in a short period of time, so when I’m early for a meeting, waiting for the water to boil, or waiting for my oil to be changed, I can be more intentional with my time. Sometimes the right choice is to meditate for five minutes. Other times, it’s taking care of work that needs to be handled.

The key to using these micro-moments is to be in touch with what is triggering you to procrastinate in the first place, whether it’s that you’re overwhelmed or feeling disconnected or are distracted by the clutter in your space. 

The key to using these micro-moments is to be in touch with what is triggering you to procrastinate in the first place, whether it’s that you’re overwhelmed or feeling disconnected or are distracted by the clutter in your space. 

I’ve created five categories for you to easily identify what you need in the moment, so you can focus on a shortlist of universal tasks that can be done in a brief period of time. Sometimes all we need to move forward is an incremental reset.

5-minute tasks to complete when you’re…

Feeling the need to reset.

  • Meditate
  • Drink water
  • Practice aromatherapy
  • Write a short journal entry
  • Stand up and stretch
  • Go for a walk around the block
  • Wash your face

Overwhelmed with work.

  • Make a list of everything you have to do
  • Return a phone call or email
  • Pick one task that can be delegated to someone else
  • Delete or achieve emails that do not require action
  • Begin the task you’ve been putting off the longest

Wanting to connect with someone.

  • Text someone you care about to tell them how much they mean to you
  • Make lunch plans with someone you’ve missed
  • Invite someone you’ve met and liked out for coffee
  • Write a list of the people that you’ve enjoyed spending time with
  • Catch up with people who fill you up on social media

Wanting to declutter your space.

  • Recycle and reuse empty containers in drawers
  • Wrap cords neatly
  • Take out the garbage and recycling
  • Clean out one drawer you use daily
  • Take inventory of your closet and flag a few things for donation or mending
  • Wipe down the countertops in your kitchen or bathroom

Overwhelmed with life.

  • Make a grocery list
  • Make a meal plan for the next day or week
  • Make an appointment you’ve been meaning to schedule
  • Check your bank account
  • Read through your mail
  • Send a thank-you note

Add the tasks that resonate with you to your digital notebook or download a free printable template (shown below) to set on your desk, hang on your fridge, or add into your planner. Create your own list and start to enjoy the feeling of putting yourself and your needs first. 

To download a free 5-minute task list template (pictured below), click here.

BY Kate Arends - January 13, 2020

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January 14, 2020 4:02 am

This is so useful Kate thank you!! I really needed to find out why I was procrastinating on so many things and by reading this I realized I was overwhelmed.

January 14, 2020 7:46 pm

Love this post! I’m definitely going to try some of these tips!!


January 16, 2020 12:11 pm

Such great advice!! I do a lot of these, but never in a moment of needing to gain my productivity. Definitely trying these out!

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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.