6 productive things to do when you have 10 minutes


By Brenna Lofquist, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

I was looking through some of Heinz Marketing’s older blog content to see if there was anything I could repurpose or update and I stumbled across a blog post of Matt’s entitled Eight things to do when you have 10 minutes to kill – it’s actually so old now that we don’t have it on our website. His post was a mix of work related items, things to refresh your mind, and things like calling your mom.

I thought I’d put my spin on it and make it more relatable for work since I’m always looking for ways to improve productivity and get the most out of my day. Quite often I find myself wishing there was more time in the day to accomplish my to-do list both at work and outside of work.

I’m sure everyone has experienced that awkward break in between meetings, whether one ended early or someone was trying to give you a break during a day full of meetings – either way, I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. To be honest, I didn’t use to take advantage of this time for work related tasks and instead would check my social media or just browse the internet – it was my way of clearing my head or “relaxing” before my next meeting. But then I realized time is money and decided I should take advantage of that time. Here are some things I like to do during those awkward 10-20-minute breaks during my work day.

  1. Tactical admin tasks

This can be lots of things, especially depending on your role but, for someone like me this would be things like scheduling meetings, updating my calendar, tidying up open documents and/or web browsers. I tend to have many tabs open at once, sometimes for reminders but other times I just don’t close them and then get overwhelmed, so I’ll go through them and often be reminded of tasks to add to my to-do list or close them out to keep my computer screen more organized.

These types of tasks usually don’t require much brain power, so they are the perfect thing to do when you have a few minutes to spare.

  1. Create and/or update to-do lists

You might be one of those people who creates their to-do list first thing in the morning or the last thing before leaving for the day however, if you haven’t created one – this would be the perfect time!

I don’t have a consistent process of when I create my to-do list and it’s usually an ongoing, spans across multiple days type of to-do list so, this is the perfect time for me to review what’s left and add any new things that have popped up during the day. Sometimes when it gets out of hand, with scribbles and notes everywhere, I’ll take this time to start a fresh to-do list and copy over any important items from the previous one.

  1. Marketing ops tasks

This won’t apply to everyone but, you can likely relate with another expertise or a specific platform that you work in regularly. For me, this is likely a marketing automation platform – we use Marketo internally, but I also work in others, like HubSpot, for clients.

There is a plethora of mindless, small tasks I could complete in this time that relate to marketing ops but here are a few to give you an idea: upload a list, merge duplicates, check on an email campaign, or make edits to an upcoming email or newsletter.

Again – simple things that don’t require much brain power and something to check off your to-do list!

  1. Begin a document

At Heinz Marketing we utilize frameworks and templates as a starting point for certain documents and there are a few sections that remain consistent for one client (i.e., target audience, objectives, etc.). This is the perfect time to get started, that way when you are ready, you don’t have to waste your time plugging in all the less important details and you can get started on the meaty part without hesitation!

This is key for me because there have been times where I am in the groove – whether I just got out a meeting with the client or had a discussion with my teammates about the project – and can feel my creative juices flowing so I’d rather not spend my time plugging in mindless details and get right to it. Some could probably argue that you can save those details for later but, I like to have it done before to ensure I’m in the right mindset and have all the details mapped out correctly.

  1. Respond to emails/clean up your inbox

This is probably a very popular one for most people – it’s a quick and easy thing to read through emails, delete any junk, reply to anything that doesn’t require a long response or much thought, categorize or bucket emails into folders, etc. I’ll also take this time to read subscription emails and save blog posts or resources that I want to go back to. I’m not a zero-inbox type of person but when I can, I’ll move emails that don’t require action on my part into a folder. I have folders for each active client as well as a few others like blogs/resources and internal. If I can clear out my emails for that day, I call that a win!

  1. Non-work related

I know I said I would keep this focused on work related tasks and productivity but, I also think it’s important to take breaks and step away from work so you can refresh your mind and not get burned out.

Take a quick walk, if you can, or get up and grab a drink of water. Some people might like to check their personal email or social media to get their minds completely off work. Take a minute to stand up and stretch, this helps you to relax and prepare for the rest of your day!

What things do you do during those awkward 10-minute breaks?