If you sat down to write an opera right now, that would be a daunting task. But if you dedicated five minutes a day to writing a few notes of an opera, the goal would be far less intimidating, and eventually you would complete it.
That’s the beauty and power of “Five-Minute Tasks.”
Five-Minute Tasks are the basis for much of your effectiveness not only during actual travel time, but anytime, anywhere you have a few minutes between interruptions, appointments, and urgent priorities. They are just what they sound like: self-contained tasks you can pick up, understand, and accomplish within five minutes (OK, perhaps some will need ten).
Tasks that require special equipment or reference to specialized sources of information generally don’t qualify as Five-Minute Tasks because they are not self-contained. However, modern digital equipment vastly increases the variety of tasks you can complete on the spur-of-the-moment.
Sample Five-Minute Tasks include:
Texting and calling specific individuals regarding specific issues,
Routine writing assignments,
Thinking over situations you have previously studied,
Making decisions between alternative choices you have previously researched,
Making notes on your just completed appointment,
Boning up on details for your next appointment,
and so forth.
You can create a list of Five-Minute Tasks by breaking down your regular tasks, projects, and goals into bite-sized chunks you can easily do whenever and wherever you wish. Once you have a larger responsibility understood and planned, the Five-Minute Tasks can almost create themselves out of simple, routine, highly specific items you’ll need to complete as you make progress toward the larger goal.
Five-Minute Tasks not only keep you productive, they keep you flexible. You can take a break from one of these task almost whenever you want. You have only to finish the task currently in front of you to be free, with no loose ends to hamper you from doing whatever you wish. Even better, you can choose — from among all your Five-Minute Tasks — the one that best suits your mood, capacities, or available resources at the moment.
These benefits give Five-Minute Tasks significant advantages over longer tasks, for which you may need 15 to 30 minutes just to set up, and during which you cannot afford to quit or take a break for fear of losing your place or having to gear up, re-think, and possibly re-do much of what you have already accomplished.
Once you begin to look for ways to break down your work into Five-Minute Tasks, you will see plenty of possibilities, more than enough to greatly increase your daily productivity.
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