1. Expand Your Network. Patti Rowlson recommends that if you have fifteen minutes to spare you use that time to expand your network. She indicates that you should do the following:
- Grab all of the business cards you’ve been given at events or that you’ve gathered as you come into contact with others throughout the day.
- Look for these people on LinkedIn and add them to your network.
- Delete the non-personal ‘note’ that LinkedIn sends out with each invitation to connect and add something personal.
Now you can network on LinkedIn with the people from whom you’ve collected business cards.
2. Get Fit. Get fit in fifteen minutes with CrossFit. Crossfit is a hard-core, military-style workout that uses equipment such as medicine balls, kettlebells, sandbags and barbells and involves pushing, pulling, and squatting. Although the workouts are short, they’re tough and effective. Expect to sweat buckets.
3. Declutter. Marla Cilley is the Fly Lady. She writes a blog—FlyLady.net–filled with advice to help people with housekeeping. The core of her organizational technique is the idea that you can conquer clutter in just fifteen minutes a day. She offers five tools to help you do this, including the 27-Fling Boogie, the Hot-Spot Fire Drill, and the Five Minute Room Rescue.
5. Get a Harvard-Quality Liberal Education. This is something I’ve already written about on this blog: you can get a Harvard Quality Liberal Education in just fifteen minutes a day.
Charles W. Eliot was the president of Harvard University for forty years, from 1869 to 1909. He believed that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained in one year by spending 15 minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf.
Eliot made good on his statement and he put together “the Harvard Classics”, which contain what Eliot considered to be the world’s most important written legacies. He also created a plan so that the most important segments of these works could be read by the average person in a year by reading for fifteen minutes a day.
6. Read the Bible. I found a plan online for reading the Bible from cover to cover in one year by reading for fifteen minutes a day. Here it is.
7. Have “You” Time. For fifteen minutes do something just for you which raises your energy level instead of draining your energy away. This can be reading a great novel, writing in your journal, or giving yourself a dance break.
8. Strengthen Your Relationships. If you have an extra fifteen minutes use them to email a friend or call your sister. Better yet, call your grandmother (grandmothers love it when you call them). You can also use the fifteen minutes to arrange a coffee or lunch meeting with someone you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.
9. Fix Something That’s Broken. Fifteen minutes is enough time to fix something that’s broken, or at least contact someone who can fix it. Here are two examples:
- You can change the light bulb in the closet that burned out a week ago; or
- Sew on that button that came loose on your favorite jacket.
If you’ve been meaning to call a plumber to fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen sink, use the fifteen minutes to set up an appointment that will work well with your schedule.
10. Start Writing a Blog Post. You might not be able to write a blog post in fifteen minutes, but you can at least get started. Then, later when you have more time, it will be easier to finish something you’ve already started than it would be to start from scratch.
11. Do Some Honest Introspection. Spend fifteen minutes honestly evaluating your career, your work –life balance, your relationships, and the progress that you’re making on achieving your goals. Ask yourself questions such as the following:
- Are you heading in the right direction?
- Is there any area of your life that you’ve been neglecting?
- Are you getting everything you need?
12. Update Your Resume. Adam Baker from the blog “Man v. Debt” indicates that if you find yourself with fifteen extra minutes you should use that time to update your résumé. Do things like the following:
- Make sure that your job history is up to date.
- Read over your job descriptions and see if you can improve how you describe your job responsibilities and achievements.
- Update your references.
Having an updated résumé on hand will allow you to take advantage of any sudden opportunities that may present themselves.
13. Move a Goal Forward. Joan Bolker is the author of “Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day”. She admits that she used that title because it’s catchy, and that it’s unlikely that you’ll actually finish a dissertation at that speed. However, she adds that a mere fifteen minutes a day is better than not working on your dissertation at all.
Use that same advice on any goal that you’ve set for yourself. If you can work on your goal for more than fifteen minutes a day, that would be ideal. But if all you have are fifteen minutes, put that time to use in order to move your goal along. Making slow progress is always better than making no progress at all.
14. Take a Power Nap. Sara C. Mednick, PhD, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life says the following about power naps:
“You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.”
So if you find yourself with fifteen minutes on your hands, use them to take a nap.
15. Meditate. The benefits of meditation have been well documented: stress relief; rejuvenation; better sleep; improved memory and concentration; and so on. Fifteen minutes of meditation a day can do wonders.
You can make great improvements to your life by using the scraps of time: fifteen minutes left over here, and fifteen minutes found over there. The next time you find yourself with an extra fifteen minutes, look over the points above and put the time to good use.