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6 Tips for Better Time Management

Learn how to make time to smell the roses.

Time-Based, To-Do List

"Create a to-do list that includes how much time you'll spend on each item on the list," says Moland. Lists are always helpful, but when you add how much time each task should take, it helps prioritize how you go about the tasks. When you prioritize tasks you naturally focus on those that you can do immediately.

Let Your Computer Help

Technology helped get you into the time bind in the first place, so use it to help get you out. Try some of the many personal scheduling software programs that allow you to keep a calendar, "to-do' lists, and phone and address books on your computer.

 

"It's not enough to be efficient anymore," said Jasper. "The goal here is to use the technology to get rid of all the paper in your life. I can't stress enough how important this is."

 

Much of organizing, these experts say, comes from streamlining your life. The more clutter you have in your life -- phone numbers on slips of paper, business cards in notebooks, a desk piled high with calendars and lists -- the more likely you are to waste time trying to stay organized and on top of things,

Multitask

Is there a more overused buzzword today? We all combine several activities into one all the time. Some multitasking is dangerous. Talk on the phone while driving and your chances of being involved in a traffic accident rise dramatically. That being said, lots of activities can be effectively and safely combined. Listen to books on tape while commuting. When you watch television, pay your bills.

 

"Women are better able to multitask than men," said Moland. "Even if both partners work full time, the woman usually is able to still think about the children's schedule, the home, the meals. Men are better able to focus in on one task at a time -- and women can learn from this at times."

Don't Be a Perfectionist

There's nothing wrong with being ordinary. Perfectionism, otherwise known as paying excessive attention to every detail, important or not, is a kind of procrastination.

 

"Set rational goals for yourself," says Jasper. "It's a fine thing to strive to be your best. It's counter productive to try to be the very best."

 

Setting unattainable expectations of yourself just adds stress to your life, Kemp explains.

Reward Yourself

Finally, don't let any progress, however small, go unrewarded.

 

"Use your time diary to make decisions about how you want to organize your time better," said Jasper. "As you make progress in prioritizing and saying 'no,' let yourself enjoy that. It doesn't have to be a big reward, maybe it can be as simple as spending some time by yourself or getting a massage. It's important to acknowledge and enjoy your success."

 

John Casey is a freelance lifestyle, health, and science writer in New York City.

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Reviewed on July 24, 2006

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