55 productive things you can do in 5 minutes

A few weeks ago I wrote on BabyCenter about my struggle to make the shift from long, uninterrupted stretches of time to the staccato’d life of motherhood.

Over time, I’ve gotten much better at finding ways to be productive in small windows of time. The fact of the matter is – you can get much more crossed off your list in 5 minutes than you might think.

Here are 55 thought starters for you.

Make a dent on your closet. Start by getting rid of dry cleaner bags and orphan hangers. If you don’t believe me that you can make a dent in 5 minutes, watch this video & pay particular attention at the :55 mark.

Call your MD and schedule your annual check-up.

Fold lingering laundry. Just be sure to set your timer – somehow folding this way unleashes your inner “beat the clock” competitor.

Pay bills online.

Make a menu plan using Buttoned Up’s free printable for the next two or three days.

Dash off a thank you note, address it and put it in your “to post” pile.

Tackle a junk drawer. If you haven’t touched it in 12 months, get rid of it.

Write down your top priorities for the day or week ahead and schedule them.

While cooking something on the stove that doesn’t require constant monitoring, wash down the counter and/or any dishes you’ve used in prepping a meal.

Test all the pens in your bag or on your desk. If you find a pen that has no ink, toss it out.

Tell 2 people you appreciate them and why.

Make one phone call you have been avoiding making.

Delete unused or rarely used apps off your iPhone — or delete apps that are chronic time-wasters for you.

Toss/recycle your junk mail.

Cancel one reoccurring subscription you don’t use – whether it’s a magazine, club membership, or a digital subscription.

Toss or recycle any Tupperware with missing or misshapen lids that no longer fit.

Grab a stack of papers on your desk. Touch each paper once – toss the junk and file what you can before five minutes is up.

Take all of the trash out of your car and toss.

Fill up your car with gas.

Make your bed. The hospital corners way, like Sarah…or simply by throwing a duvet cover on.

Take a walk to clear your head. Turn your phone’s wireless off & go “off the grid.”

Make a gratitude list. Isn’t this one from blogger Whitney English adorable?

Switch paper subscriptions to digital.

Map your errands on an Errand.pad before running them so that you get this week’s done more efficiently.

Get on the do not mail list via Updater.

Edit what’s on your kitchen counters. Get rid of unnecessary or seldom-used equipment. How many times are you really going to use that ice cream maker? Make space for the essentials.

Call Vietnam Veterans to schedule a pick up of items you want to donate, from clothes to furniture. OR take all items slated for the donation bin and put them in the trunk of your car.

Pick up the dry cleaning.

Micro-volunteer online via Sparked.

Practice 3-3-6 breathing. breathe in through your nose for three seconds, hold for three seconds and exhale for six seconds. Deep breathing has been shown to alleviate stress, energize your body, and regulate emotions – all things that will make you more productive.

Throw your arms around a loved one like you really, really mean it. Studies show that folks who are regularly hugged by their close friends and family have reduced heart rates, lower blood pressure, increased nerve activity and more upbeat moods. Consider it an apple for your limbic system. Plus if you do it first thing in the morning, researchers say it will keep you buoyant throughout the day, which means you’ll get more done. Sounds like a win-win to us!

Make some ghee. Throw four sticks of butter in a saucepan on high heat. Boil until it reaches approximately 240 degrees Fahrenheit (or when it smells like croissants baking). Pour through cheesecloth into a canning jar. Store in a pantry.

Empty the dishwasher. Yes, you can do this in less than 5 minutes — and put everything away.

Empty the junk from your purse or briefcase. No, you don’t need that mangled granola bar that’s been languishing at the bottom for three weeks. Detangle earphones and put them in a compartment where they are contained and protected.

Have you ever pinched a garden hose? The pressure will build behind the pinch point until the hose stretches – or bursts. Clutter pinch points are areas you need to pay attention to, like the mail pile or your desk, in order to feel organized.

Get rid of expired medications – ideally drop them off for recycling at your local pharmacy. If you have questions, the website SafeguardMyMeds is a terrific resource.

If you have little ones, take a few seconds to restock your diaper bag. That way the next time you want to head out, you’re ready to roll.

If your computer’s desktop is littered with files and folders, take a few minutes to delete or file documents. That way the next time your turn on your computer you’ll be greeted with a background picture you can actually see rather than a snapshot of chaos.

This makes some people nervous. But honestly, if you haven’t read an email in 14 days – the chances that you will ever get to it are slim. Do yourself a favor and delete. If you’re too nervous, move all unread emails to a “holding pen” folder so that they are at least out of your main inbox stream.

Unsubscribe to any e-newsletter you get but don’t read or want.

Pick one small folder of un-named photos on your hard drive. Delete unflattering pictures or duplicates. Name the remaining files and the file folder.

Back up your files to a virtual folder.

Sign up for an organizational bootcamp, like Buttoned Up’s photo organization bootcamp.

Organize the contents of one bureau drawer. Don’t think about the whole bureau, just pick one to focus on, set your egg timer and go.

It happens – papers from school, the mail pile, and pretty much everything else seem to migrate to the kitchen counters (or table). Roll up your sleeves and grab all the paper clutter that has accumulated on your kitchen counter. Toss the junk and move the rest of the pile to your desk.

Vacuum one room.

You don’t need hours to make a difference in a bathroom. Simply grab a sponge, dampen it and wipe down a bathroom counter top with it.

Swap out hand towels in your bathrooms. Aren’t these hand towels I found on Etsy bright & cheery?

Transfer $5 into your savings account.

Sketch a filing name structure for your hard drive in a notebook. How could you organize your files so that you always knew where to find them.

Fill out a goal sheet and set a date by which you will have accomplished it.

Sometimes it is the simple things in life, like showers, that clear buzzing heads and help you get in the right frame of mind to tackle a project or the day.

Whip up a batch of homemade all-purpose cleaning solution. LINK: http://getbuttonedup.com/2012/04/16/tool-free-printable-cleaning-labels/

Input key school or extracurricular activities dates into your master family calendar.

Identify 3 to-do’s that you can delegate, who you can delegate to, and a date & time you can delegate the task effectively. Schedule it.