Awkward Amounts of Time? Use the “5 Minute Queue”


As any parent will tell you…if you have an active family, free time is at a premium. Now more than ever, families are constantly on the go.  It’s no wonder there are so many time management books and workshops. We are all just trying to get the most of out the hours in the day. You need to get creative!

Sometimes your schedule just isn’t optimal for getting tasks done. Have you ever experienced that “awkward amount of idle time”?  It’s usually sitting in your car, in a lobby, or in some uncomfortable bleachers while your child is at practice or lessons.

Sometimes as the parent (and chauffeur)…well, you’re a little bit stuck waiting around. It’s such a short period of time that you can’t actually run a useful errand.  Do you just end up scrolling through social media as your “to do” list inevitably grows?  

All that time adds up!

As a parent of active children, I found that my afternoons were full of awkward amounts of time. But as a business owner and a parent, I couldn’t afford to sit idly for an hour several times a week.  For my family, I calculated that we spent at least 12 hours a week on our kids’ extra curricular activities! Sometimes even more. I would end up working late after the kids went to bed to make up the time, or getting up extra early in the day (eating into my exercise time).

That’s when I created my “5 Minute Queue”.

As my day went along, if I had tasks that would only take me about 5 minutes to complete, could be completed from a phone/tablet/laptop, and didn’t require a lot of thought, decision-making, or research, then I saved them into a “5 Minute Queue”.

Things like:

  • Pay bills online
  • Register for activities or classes
  • Online purchases that don’t require research
  • Update calendar items
  • Clean up photos on my phone
  • Digitize the bills/documents from the day using a PDF scanner app on my phone
  • Respond to simple emails (both business and personal)
  • Call to make appointments (doctor, dentist, house maintenance)
  • RSVP to invitations

And so on. Then, in the late afternoon, when I was driving my kids around, I would have my “5 Minute Queue” all ready to go. I found it easy to watch the practice or lessons and then spend 10 minutes here and there going through my 5 Minute tasks. Some days, I only got a few done. Other days, I completed quite a bit.

Other times, I used the 30-60 minutes for planning and reorganization sessions. I’d go through my to-do list, and re-prioritize my plan for the next day or week. Maybe I would spend it on meal planning for the month, so I no longer had to think about the dreaded question “what’s for dinner.

If you have an active schedule that includes awkward chunks of time, try planning ahead of time what easy tasks can be done away from your desk in 5 minutes or less… either in the car, in a waiting room, on the sidelines, or in a lobby. Try saving those tasks for your idle waiting times, and you may find that you can be more productive than you think. 

What are your tricks for maximizing your time? I’d love to hear from you.



  1. I read this article almost a week ago, and it has stayed with me. I’m actually trying to slow down and be still at times, to get better acquainted and more comfortable with silence in my day. Still, my lists grow longer and I write more of them if I don’t keep up with them. I’ve tried what you describe, and have done just that, caught up completely in just a day or two. It’s given me a chance to dig deeper and identify the barriers, name what was slowing me down from completion: difficult conversation, major inconvenience, lack of motivation, fatigue.
    I arrived 15 minutes early to a destination yesterday, sat in my car in silence and sent 2 emails. It was lovely! And no joke, I was early for my Monday Centering Prayer & Meditation group, 30 minutes of shared silence!
    Thanks Christine!

    • Hi Meg, that’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s nice to have a time where you CAN’T work on big projects, but can just handle small administrative tasks & emails, and it feels great to cross them off your list 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.