I've heard students (grad and undergrad) say the following more often than I expect: I just have this awkward 30 minute break between classes, which is not really enough time to get anything done.
I beg your pardon?
Here are five ideas for making use of between-class time:
- Read. Always bring backup reading. People are late, classes start late, classes end early, you're waiting for office hours, etc. Chances are, if you're a student of any kind there is something that you need to read that hasn't been read. If it's a big book you don't want to lug around, photocopy a few pages, the trees will forgive you. This can be useful for breaks from 5 minutes up to 45 minutes.
- Brainstorm. On a piece of paper or your computer, brainstorm solutions or strategies for one problem that is on your plate write now. Often, the tasks that sit on our lists the longest are there not because of any incompetency on our part or our system's but simply because they are hard, and thus are psychologically avoided. Take advantage of this short time to just list as many ideas regarding strategies to overcoming a problem as possible. If your brainstorm produces next actions, all the better, but they don't have to. I find that the definitive end to the brainstorming session makes dealing with ugly projects a lot easier.
- Start on one homework assignment. For science-y types that have problem sets. Start on one 1 problem. Start is the key. If you get stuck, start on another. Don't worry about finishing. For humanities or social scientists with papers due, start on an outline. I've found that even if I haven't finished doing the background research, guessing what the outline could look like really helps form ideas.
- Nap. College students have no problem sleeping through classes. But try sleeping in between classes. This is a 2 in 1 productivity secret because it 1) Refreshes you for the rest of the day and 2) Lets you stay awake during class so you don't have to spend extra time re-learning concepts that were explained in class in the first place. Class is not a convenient place to sleep anyways, the library is much quieter. In addition, sleeping during class surely doesn't give you bonus points with the prof that you might need to cash in later.
- Do your Weekly Review. Obviously if you're not GTDing, you should start, and if you're GTDing but not weekly reviewing you should start (see here and here). The key to the weekly review is doing it at the same time consistently, every week, which makes a class schedule the perfect structure for fitting in a 30 minute to 1 hour weekly review; just write it into the hard landscape of your calendar every week like another class. Money.