In our lives, we all spend time waiting, being bored, or wasting time. Waiting in the carpool line, when dinner is cooking, or while on hold. Scrolling through social media accounts and watching endless YouTube videos. This isn’t a very productive way to spend our time. Those little blocks of time can really add up and there are plenty of tiny tasks we can do instead. In this article, you’ll find a list of productive things to do at home when you only have a few minutes.
My hope is that this list of productive things will give you some inspiration and encouragement to find new ways to use that downtime. Your future self will thank you for getting these little things done and over time you’ll notice just much you can accomplish.
What do you mean “Extra Time”?
There are often short periods of time in our days when we can’t necessarily start a big task, but we can find something to do that doesn’t take too much time. You can use these small chunks of time better, and get more done.
We are all so busy, where are we supposed to find this allusive “extra time”. When I say, extra time, I mean those little times during the day when you are waiting or honestly, just bored at home. Are we using our time wisely? I have noticed that there are often little slivers of time each day that I could actually get a few small tasks done. Once I realized that I could check lots of things off my to-do lists just by doing a few little tasks here and there, I started to look for more ways to fit these little tasks in my day.
I find the best time for me to clean up the kitchen is when I’m waiting for dinner to cook. This works especially well when you have to stay in the kitchen to stir or watch the food you are cooking. There are so many other things you can do while waiting for dinner to cook you’ll find those ideas in my list below.
Sitting in carpool is my favorite time to review our meal plan, look over my to-do list or post an Instagram post for my business. Sometimes I would go through my phone and clean out old emails or photos. All of these things were pretty simple and I could do them while enjoying music while I sit in my car.
At home, I usually fold laundry while watching the latest episode of my favorite show or YouTube channel. I would wipe down the bathroom when the kids were in the tub or tidy the living room while waiting for the kids to be ready to leave for school.
Finding productive tasks to do during downtimes doesn’t mean that you never get to just rest. One of the best things you can do when you have some downtime is to take care of yourself. You will see those ideas in this post too.
The best productive things you can do at home
Little tasks in the Kitchen
- Look for new recipes. I sometimes get in a recipe rut and want to mix things up. I enjoy using some free time to look through Pinterest or a cookbook for a new meal to try.
- Wash dishes – Rather than just standing there waiting for a pot of water to boil, it is the perfect time to wash up some of the dishes you used to prepare dinner.
- Write a grocery list – I like to take a few minutes to look through the fridge and add items to my grocery list.
- Vacuum or sweep the floor – Take a few minutes to vacuum one room in your home.
- Clean out your junk drawer
- Empty the dishwasher
- Empty garbage cans
- Wipe down counters
- Wipe down the kitchen cabinets
- Clean microwave or toaster – when was the last time you cleaned these small appliances?
- Wipe down Refrigerator and dishwasher
- Clean off stovetop
- Clean trash cans – When was the last time you washed out your actual garbage can? They can get so dirty but they only take a few minutes to wipe down.
Little tasks to do in the Bathroom
I often have a few minutes of downtime while I wait for my hair curler or straightener to heat up. This is the perfect amount of time to get a few things cleaned up in my bathroom. When our kids were little I would clean the bathroom while the kids were in the tub. This way I could keep an eye on them but also get some important things done in the bathroom.
- Quickly scrub and wipe your toilet – this is one of those tasks that we avoid because it just feel like it’s going to take a lot of time when in reality it only takes a few seconds to wipe down the toilet and scrub out the bowl. I like to do this right after I get ready in the morning.
- Scrub down the shower walls – I love to do this while I’m taking a shower. I have a little brush that I keep in the shower that is filled with vinegar and liquid dawn. It only takes a minute to give the shower a quick scrub.
- Wipe down bathroom counters
- Wash a mirror
- Refill paper products
- Shake out the bath mats and vacuum
- Wipe down the bottles in your shower – they get pretty gross!
- Take down your shower curtain to wash
- Wipe down the walls around the toilet (trust me, this doesn’t get done enough)
More Quick Tasks to do Around the House
- Tidy up one room – grab a basket walk around the room picking up anything that doesn’t belong in that room. Put those items away
- Order a birthday present
- Clean out your purse/wallet
- Practice a new skill – Maybe you have recently started sewing or learning a foreign language. Using 5 minutes here and there is one of the best ways to get in some extra practice.
- Watch part of an online course you are taking. Many online courses have short lessons that don’t take a long time to watch.
- Clean up data on your phone – the old contacts, emails, or photos on your phone.
- Review your habit tracker to see how much progress you are making.
- Sweep off the porch
- Clean off your tv or computer screen
- Wipe down the front door
- Wipe off handles and light switches
- Put in a load of laundry
- Dust lights/fans in one room
- Vacuum couch and chairs
- Wipe down dining chairs
- Dust the ceilings
- Wipe baseboards in 1 room
- Water your house plants
- Wipe dust off leaves of plants
- Fold 1 load of laundry
- Put away 1 load of laundry (because we all need a reminder to actually put away the clean clothes!)
- Declutter 1 drawer or shelf – Taking time to tidy one small space
- Review your meal plan
- Make your bed
- Put shoes and coats away
- Change sheets
- Vacuum stairs
Productive Things to do When you are Bored in the Office
- Wipe down desk
- Write a thank-you note
- Call your best friend
- Email a colleague and say thank you or share positive feedback
- Text a family member
- Dust a bookcase
- Unsubscribe from unwanted emails
- Update your social media profiles
- Update your computer/phone software
- Clean up your digital files
- Back up your computer
- Go through your mail – toss all unnecessary papers and envelopes
- Shred paperwork
- File paperwork – It’s a good habit to deal with paperwork right when it comes into the house. If you struggle to do this take a few minutes to sort through the mail, throw away garbage and file any paperwork that you are done with.
- Wipe off keyboard and mouse – If you work on a computer your keyboard and mouse are often overlooked when you’re cleaning. Take a few seconds, flip over your keyboard and gently tap it so all of the crumbs and dust fall out. Wipe off the keyboards and mouse with a damp cloth.
- Wipe down your phone – You’ll be surprised just how dirty your phone can get. It only takes a few seconds to clean it off.
Small Self-care Tasks
You don’t have to just clean up during your downtime. Here are some other ways you can take a few minutes for yourself. Taking time for even just a few minutes of self care is good for your mental health and will refresh you to manage the rest of your day.
- Drink a glass of water
- Go for a walk outside
- Read a good book or listen to an audiobook
- Take a relaxing shower – this is a great way to “reset” if you’re having a rough day
- Watch a Ted Talk (Here are a few good ones!)
- Do a sudoku puzzle
- Start a new hobby
- Do a short Yoga Practice (Yoga with Adrienne has a great _______)
- Create a vision board
- Listen to a few of your favorite songs
- Close your eyes and do a short meditation
- Do a brain dump
There are plenty of productive things to do at home. Even if you only have a few minutes. The great thing about using these little blocks of time is that you’ll often be surprised just how fast you can do a few important tasks. These little tasks add up and you’ll find that over time you’ve actually accomplished a lot. Sometimes I find that I’m able to get started on a project that I’ve been putting off.