What Can You Do in 15 Minutes?

15 minutes

It’s only 15 minutes.

Do you ever find yourself stuck waiting? Using that “wait” time constructively, in the doctor’s waiting room or the carpool lane can go a long way to getting you more organized. We are so busy these days that it’s a good strategy to take advantage of the spare minutes that we spend waiting. By taking advantage of this “free” time spent waiting when you can’t do anything else anyway.

Next time you grab your keys to head out the door take along a few things to better use your “waiting” time. And get something crossed off your to-do list.

A Dozen Things You Can Do To Be More Organized

Menu Planning.

You can plan a week’s worth of meals in minutes. Think of what is in your freezer or your pantry that you could begin to plan a meal around. Browse a cook book for a new idea, add a family favorite or two and don’t forget to plan one night of leftovers.

Shopping List.

Using your menu plan, not make a list of the ingredients you will need to pick up at the store. Take it one step further and swing by the store to pick up what’s needed on the way home.

Make Doctors Appointments.

While parked in your car, pick up your phone to make appointments. It is a great way to cross this task off your list. You may be put on hold by the receptionist – think of it as multi-tasking, waiting for two things at once.

Answer Emails.

Use today’s technology to lighten your load of correspondence. By responding to those quick emails, you can keep current and keep one more thing off your to-do list.

Write a To-Do list.

15 minutes of concentrating about what is a important for you can clarify your priorities. Write down three things you want or need to accomplish by the end of the day and plan how you will accomplish them.

Pay Bills.

If you pay your bills on line it’s a snap to do it on your phone while waiting, or bring along your check book and a book of stamps and you will be able to cross this task off your list. You can even drop your payments in the mail before you even enter your house.


Save articles from newspapers or magazines by ripping them out and stashing them in a file folder. Instead of letting them pile up on the kitchen counter, keep them in your car for times just like this.

Calendar Planning.

Focus on your calendar, whether it’s a planner or your smart phone. Put all your extracurricular activities, birthdays, parties, appointments, and other events into your calendar. You’ll be more organized with everything in one location.

Thank You Notes.

Revive the art of the hand written note. Take the time to get the thank you notes written, addressed, and stamped and you’ll be on your way to perfect manners in fifteen minutes flat.

Catch up With a Friend.

Sometimes the small things get pushed aside because we are so busy. Whether it is by phone or a quick email or text, spend 15 minutes catching up with a friend without the distractions of home and the family.

Plan a Date Night.

Once all the calls, lists and reading is done, then reward yourself by planning some fun! Think of some ways that you can spend some quality time with your spouse or family. Make dinner reservations, book tickets, reserve a babysitter all while you sit waiting.

Take a Nap.

Sometimes a little shut eye is the best thing for you. 15 minutes of down time can help you be your best for the rest of the day.

It is not possible for you to accomplish all these quick tasks while waiting. But by getting one or two done regularly you will free up some time at the office or home where you really could use the extra fifteen minutes.

About Us

Basic Organization is a professional home organizing company based in Centreville, Virginia serving families, busy professionals, seniors and home-based business owners in the Washington DC area. Our passion is helping people achieve peace and simplicity in their lives by organizing homes, routines and lifestyles. Our team of personal organizers will help you regain control of your environment by helping to organize the living and storage areas of your home, including the garage, kitchen, basement, office, bedrooms and closets.

About Janet

A Certified Professional Organizer, and a published contributor of the book Get Organized Today, Janet Schiesl is the owner of Basic Organization--a leading professional home organizing services company in Northern Virginia. A personal organizer since 2005, Janet loves using her experience as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at the areas of a home differently. Recognized as the 2016 Washington DC Area Organizer of the Year by NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals where she served as president, Janet specializes in managing large organizing projects and working one-on-one with clients who need help organizing their home or office. Contact Janet at 571-265-1303 or click to schedule a discovery call to find out what Janet and her team can organize for you!


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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. TaskRabbit RoundUp: All the Little Things Add Up on May 20, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    […] start scratching items off your list, it can quickly get out of control. Luckily, Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization has some great advice! Janet recommends using “waiting” time as an opportunity to take care of […]

  2. Sara Skillen on February 11, 2019 at 8:49 am

    So funny – as I’m reading this I’m sitting at the vet’s office with my lab waiting for her to be seen. 🙂 Since I knew I would be waiting I made a plan to read other colleagues’ blog posts! Love all of your ideas – there are lots of opportunity to be productive with down time if we get creative.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 11, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Sarah, don’t you think the trick is the planning before you leave the house. If you know that you are going to have down time and you have planned in advance it doesn’t have to be time wasted.

  3. Seana Turner on February 11, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I wrote a post like this once about “Ten Terrific Minutes.” It really is amazing what you can do in a brief period of time. Recently I’ve become convinced that the best way to use your small bits of time is consistently, as in every day. If you have 15 minutes a day, and do the same activity during this time each day, it will add up to amazing results. For example, you might decide to clean out a drawer in your home. Just one drawer. If you do that each day, your home will be transformed in a matter of weeks. Great post!

    • Janet Schiesl on February 11, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks Seana. I work at recognizing when I have those brief periods of time that I can be productive. What worked for me is being intentional about when I turn the TV on. If it’s off then I don’t get waylaid into wasting time. I agree that small steps or projects can go far in the long run.

  4. Linda Samuels on February 11, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Fifteen minutes is more time than we think. And many small organizing tasks can be done in that period, as you so wonderfully articulated. While I love “mastering the minutes,” one of the things I also like to do while I’m waiting is to not engage in a task. I use it instead to breathe, to observe, and to see what’s going on around me. I think that in the age of digital, phone-connectedness-everything, we’ve unlearned how to just be.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 11, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Oh I need to work on this! I tend to read when I’m “waiting”. I’ll use the kindle app on my phone, so I always have my book with me. But you are right. It’s not good to always be connected. “Just Be”!

  5. Sabrina Quairoli on February 11, 2019 at 11:41 am

    I found that going through coupons or working on blog posts while waiting for my daughter’s dance class to end worked great. It was a weekly event and I could consistently do it. Love multitasking this way! Thanks for the other tips.

  6. Janet Barclay on February 11, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    One of the things I like about my smartphone is that I can work on a few of these tasks even if I don’t think to bring something with me to do while I’m waiting.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 14, 2019 at 9:09 am

      Janet –
      It seems that everyone who commented likes using their smartphone to get things done. The world is moving at a crazy fast pace.

  7. Toni on February 11, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    I recently added the kindle app to my phone so that I always have a book to read instead of scrolling my phone. Those 15 minutes of downtime really add up.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 14, 2019 at 9:06 am

      Toni –
      I love to read on my phone when I have a few minute. In no time I finish a book.

  8. Janet Schiesl on February 11, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks Sabrina. Linda also commented about the time “waiting”. It’s great to have a specific task that you do at a specific time you know you’ll be waiting. I joined a gym a block from where my son took Taekwondo lessons. I used to workout while he was in class.

  9. Nancy Haworth on February 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Great post and video about the ways you can make the most of short time pockets such as waiting in carpool or for an appointment. Smartphones make it so much easier to stay productive during these times.

    • Janet Schiesl on February 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Hi Nancy –
      I agree. All those little things don’t have to wait until I get home or back to my office. What would we do without technology?

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