People often complain about not having enough time, but really we just waste bits and piece in little ways. There’s the 10 minutes waiting at the gas station, either to get to the pump or while filling up. Or the 20 minutes spent hitting the snooze button 5 times. The unexpected 15 minutes your colleague is late for a meeting (or you are early). The time between ordering takeout and its delivery – set the table and then throw in a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher. Or the time you spend waiting for a return phone call. I use that time to make short calls of my own, and the person I’m calling usually appreciates the brevity of the call because they are busy too.

As Charles Caleb Colton says, “Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces and which most men throw away.”

If you have an extra 15 or even 5 minutes, you can jot down ideas on a pad of paper or your smart phone for later reference, schedule an overdue doctor’s appointment, catch up on some key emails. When I go through my emails, the first thing I do is flag the important ones, and the next thing I do is delete all the unimportant ones. Then I go back and attack the flagged messages one by one. I often check my emails on my iPhone while waiting in line at the grocery store or for a colleague. Then I have an idea of what I’ll need to tackle when I get back to my office.

Tonight while taking a walk, I managed to map out in my mind a talk I’ll be giving in a few weeks. While it’s just in my head at this point, having allowed myself the walk and the time to think through what I want to accomplish, I know that creating my outline and talking points will take far less time now.

Here’s an exercise for you: map out exactly how you spend your time each day, in 15 minute increments. From the time you alarm goes off to the time you get up, take your shower, have your coffee, read the newspaper – whatever your morning routine – all the way through getting the kids settled after school and everyone to bed at night. Where do you lose bits and pieces of time? How do you use them when you suddenly realize you have 5 minutes you hadn’t anticipated? Let me know. I’m sure others will appreciate your suggestions!