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Sometimes you need to just stop your work and take a deep breath. Like when you have a problem that’s pretty serious. It could be a job problem or it could be a family problem. It could be a money problem or a health problem, or any combination of these that are causing you to just stress out and feel like nothing is going right. That’s why taking a deep breath and taking even just a few minutes out can really help boost your productivity. How about taking ten minutes?
Ten minutes isn’t really a very long time. It’s less time than it takes to play a quarter in a pro football game. You can listen to 2½ songs on the radio in 10 minutes. It’s even less time than it takes you to read your daily e-mails. In other words, it’s just a few minutes, but oh how great it is to have such an opportunity to increase your productivity, save money, build relationships, and move forward in that brief time period. And most importantly, feel better!
What You Can Do in 10 Minutes
If you try some of these ideas, I think you’ll agree that taking 10 minutes could wind up being the most productive 10 minutes of the day, starting today!
Start by doing one thing on your “to do” list right now
Your list is on your desk somewhere, isn’t it? And you’ve been meaning to get started, haven’t you? Is there any better time to start than right now? Better yet, pick the thing you most dislike from your list (you know, the one you keep putting off). Getting it over and done with will help you move on to better things.
Clean up and organize the top of your desk
There’s a messy pile somewhere, isn’t there? You have always realized how your desk makes you look and feel so disorganized, and how many times have you looked for something and couldn’t find it? Now is the time you can return to the land of the orderly and look as if you have total control of such a mundane task.
As an added bonus, you’re likely to hear a few compliments and be seen as someone who actually has the control and organization that an orderly desk can feature…always a good thing.
Pick one monthly expense to reduce or eliminate
So you’ve tracked your expenses and put together a budget, but you can still cut back some of those expenses to fund that debt repayment, retirement or savings funds, emergency fund, or any special goal. Take 10 minutes to prepare a homemade lunch to bring to work, call to negotiate your monthly rate with a service provider, or cancel your magazine subscription now that you’re planning to swing by the library and read for free. It’s guaranteed that every time you save on another expense, you’ll feel a new sense of accomplishment.
Craft a money-saving grocery list
Scan the weekly ad from your local supermarket (online if you want to save a few seconds) to find the real bargains and make notes on your shopping list. Buy in bulk when it makes sense and add in coupons (don’t forget digital coupons) and discounts for spectacular savings. Grab your loyalty card and tuck it into your wallet so it’s always handy.
Plan your financial goals for the next month, year, and five years
Grab a piece of scratch paper and just do it. Goals may change over time, but it helps to look at the big picture to get an idea of what you’re working towards. Break your goals down into manageable steps, and post them in your workspace, on your fridge, or wherever you’ll see them for a constant reminder of your focus.
Start a savings jar at home for your small change and $1 bills
This one even a kid can do and in fact, it’s a project for the whole family. Each day, add your loose change to the pot and you’ll be shocked at how quickly it will add up! Tuck it away into savings and use it for one of your goals that you’ve been hoping to accomplish.
Check your credit score and credit report
Using sites like wallethub.com, annualcreditreport.com, creditkarma.com, or even benefits from one of your credit cards, you can get your free credit information so that you will be up-to-date on it. Correct any errors you may find and if your score is low, take steps to improve it.
Post an ad to sell some unwanted items
Declutter your home while you earn some extra money to add to your savings or use for a special treat. You know you want to do it and have just been ignoring it forever!
Call your Mom and Dad
This one reminds me of the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” and it’s something we just never can do often enough!
Tell them that you love them for absolutely no reason at all. You have a million reasons to tell them, but a random call will mean the world to them.
Make a new “to do” list that reflects new priorities
Make sure you plan to spend your time on what’s truly important. Plans are made to be revised and today is your day to take another look at your changing priorities, isn’t it?
Set up an impromptu 10-minute meeting with your boss
If you are worried or simply want to have a heart-to-heart about your work and/or performance, then reach out and chat with the one person who may have the fate of your career in their hands.
Keep it short (10 minutes or less) and keep it to the point to find out how you’re progressing and use the feedback to make a bigger, better impression. If you’re self-employed, meet with your most important client and talk to them.
Get to know a colleague better and build a team
Spend 10 minutes making it clear how much you want to work with that teammate and make them a key part of your network.
Review your résumé with a trusted friend for feedback
When did you last take a look at your résumé? Having someone else’s eyes look it over will pinpoint ways to improve it. And don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it.
Send a happy e-mail to a friend or relative
We all complain about the bad things we hear, read, and trip over every day, don’t we? What about spreading a little good news? Do it on a break and you’ll be glad you got around to such a simple and forgotten item. Bonus points if it’s a handwritten note instead.
Take 10 minutes to relax, center, and re-energize. It will make you more productive and less stressed. It doesn’t have to involve a zen master or any religious leader, meditation is just your private 10-minute timeout!
Call or meet with the most successful person you know
Every successful person loves to tell you how they did it and how you can, too. Pick their brain! You will find they are more than willing to share their secrets.
Put together a bag of food to donate to the food bank or old clothes to donate to a worthy charity
Help your friends and neighbors or a charity, and clean your closets at the same time. You may even get a tax deduction too, but more importantly, you’ll be fulfilling your role as a human being and you will feel better about things after you do it.
Finish that simple home task
Getting some simple thing like tightening the screws on that shaky doorknob or washing the shower curtain done and crossing it off your list will give you a sense of accomplishment. It will make your home a nicer place to be.
Plan a healthy meal
Stop looking around the pantry and refrigerator at 6 pm and not having a decent meal to prepare. Plan a meal in advance…do it now and stick to it. Try to use what you have in your pantry, but after that, check what’s on sale at the supermarket this week. Make something new, delicious, and good for you. And stop stressing about what’s for dinner tonight.
It’s always a good idea to break things down into manageable segments when you are trying to do anything and taking the 10-minute approach is just one way to do it. It helps you to break up the monotony and keeps you productive.
Don’t have a spare 10 minutes? How about setting your morning alarm just a few minutes (10?) earlier than usual and you’ll get a jump on the day.
Do you have any other 10-minute ideas that can change your world? Try it and let me know how it made you feel and what you accomplished!