Three steps for taking your time back

Three steps for taking your time back.

How to use those 30-minute gaps between meetings


It’s time to take back those gaps between meetings Image: Thinkstock

It’s time to take back those gaps between meetings Image: Thinkstock


Automated scheduling platforms have had unintended consequences on our time: Meetings are often scheduled with 30-minute gaps scattered throughout our day. The systems that were developed to improve our efficiency are, in fact, killing our productivity. We have literally handed over control of what is on our daily calendar, who we meet with Monday morning and in what order or cadence we go about our work day. It is time to take back control — at least where we can.

We don’t often pay attention to the gaps sandwiched between two meetings. They are there for us if we choose to use them. Writing them off as a waste of time is a missed opportunity. Here’s how to take some of that time back:

1. Take a few minutes at the start of each day to identify the gaps in your schedule.

2. Schedule what you want to accomplish in each gap right on your calendar. This can be anything from lower-value work that needs to get done (such as expense reports) to larger, finite tasks that you’ve been dreading (such as outlining your next presentation).

3. Hold yourself accountable. At the end of the day, look back on your 30-minute tasks and note which ones you’ve accomplished.

These small spaces of time are also good for the kind of work you want to come back to and reflect on, like writing an article, or a creative pursuit. So stop looking at those 30-minute gaps in your day as a waste of time. They may be the key to turbocharging your productivity.

Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015


Previously published in The Irish Times.


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