When smaller bits of unexpected time present themselves, it's all too easy to get sucked into email or worse, scrolling your personal social media feed. Keep a running list of non-urgent tasks that take about 15 to 20 minutes to accomplish. Here are a few that you can add to get ahead when you're lucky enough to win a little extra time in the day.

  • Add a networking event to your calendar. Search and sign up for networking events in your area. You can discover plenty through Eventbrite and Meetup.org, but you can also bookmark specific organizations you're interested in.
  • Take an educational break. Watch a TED Talk on a subject that inspires you and your work. By design, they're no more than 18 minutes. You can do this even while eating lunch or commuting (by train, bus, etc.).
  • Take an online class. Classes are everywhere online. Check out Google's free online academy, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera.  
  • Follow up. Keep a list of follow-ups that you need to make, and use the downtime to reach out. Boomerang for Gmail can be a handy tool, as it reminds you to reach out again.