Top-Shelf Tip No. 54:

"The key is in not spending time, but in investing it."

Stephen R. Covey

10 Ways To Maximize Your Time In Between Meetings

If you typically spend a good portion of your day in meetings, you might find yourself struggling to find time to accomplish your work. If you've noticed an uptick in the number of meetings on your calendar, you're not alone. In the 1960s, executives spent less than 10 hours a week in meetings. Today, it's an average of 23 hours.

While many people fritter away valuable time between meetings, you can use the time wisely and be more productive. In an article for WasingtonPost.com, writing consultant Kevin R. Dickinson says you can do 10 smart things while you're in between meetings, whether you have five minutes or an hour. We share his 10 tips in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Don't multitask. It's tempting to do as much work as possible, but multitasking reduces your productivity by as much as 40 percent. Stick to the task at hand.

2. Prepare for the meeting. If you play an active role in the upcoming meeting, take time to prepare. Review your notes, revise meeting objectives and consider if you want the team to take a particular action at the end. When you're prepared, your role will go smoother and will hopefully make for a more efficient meeting.

3. Reassess your to-do list. Did a meeting throw your day off course? Dickinson suggests reordering your projects in order of importance and scheduling your remaining time to get the most important work done first.

4. Organize your email. Rather than using precious time between meetings to answer emails, it's better to organize your inbox. File messages and delete anything you don't need. The goal is to have a tidy inbox waiting for you for end-of-day follow-ups.

5. Clean your digital space. Take a few minutes to close any programs, windows or tabs you no longer need. Dickinson says you could also organize your desktop clutter and move files to the appropriate folder.

6. Clean your actual space. A well-organized workspace promotes focus and mental clarity, so it's worth using some time in between meetings to tidy up. File paperwork, take your coffee mug to the sink and erase old projects on your whiteboard.

7. Read. Take your mind off the day's hustle and bustle by enjoying a magazine article or a chapter in a book you are reading. This can help rejuvenate your mental reserves for the upcoming meeting.

8. Take a walk. If you can get outside for a stroll, sunshine and fresh air can improve your mood and stave off the afternoon slump. Walking also reduces tension and increases oxygen in your blood.

9. Just breathe. Take a few quiet minutes of mindfulness to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and other stress-induced illnesses. Breathing exercises trigger a relaxed state in your brain. All you need is 10 minutes to reap the benefits.

10. Head to the water cooler. Drink a glass of water and take a few minutes to chat with colleagues. Staying hydrated prevents mental fatigue and socializing helps us grow and maintain bonds.

The next time you find your calendar jam-packed, try the tips above to make the most of a busy day.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Kevin R. Dickinson has been an independent writing consultant since 2011. During that time, he's worked as an educator, editor, journalist and researcher.

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