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Time Management

Ever wonder why some people seem to get everything done on their "to do" list while other people never seem to get past the first few items? The difference is in how they have learned to manage their time. Time is the only thing that everyone has in common. It doesn't matter how rich or how poor you are, or what level of education you have achieved. Everyone has the same amount of time allotted to them; it's how they choose to spend it that makes the difference.

If your time-management skills need some improving, consider taking a time management seminar, or buy a good book on the subject. You have two choices in life: learn how to manage your time, or sit around and have your time manage you.

Many people underestimate how long tasks will actually take to accomplish. If you are habitually late for work, time yourself in the morning. Look at the clock when you wake up, and look again when you are ready to leave for work. How long did it take for you to get ready? Again, look at the clock just before you leave home, and then check the time when you get to your job. How long did it take you to get there? At work, use this tool to help you during the day. Time your lunch hour and coffee or cigarette breaks. How much time do you actually spend on your breaks? By writing down your times on a note pad, you'll get a grasp of where all the time goes. Knowing, instead of guessing or estimating, will allow you to plan your schedule more effectively.

Cultivate a single-minded focus on the job at hand. If you feel unable to get work finished, it may be that you are too easily distracted from your goals. One way to work around this is to allot a specific block of time to complete a task. For instance, if you have to fill out some paperwork, set aside one hour to do it. During that time, do not answer the phone. If a co-worker disrupts you, explain that you are busy, and that you will get back to him or her shortly. As you develop your focus, you'll find that you can accomplish a lot more in less time.

Every minute of your time is useful. While sitting in the doctor's waiting room for forty-five minutes, don't read a magazine. Instead, use the time to pay your bills, write that letter you've been meaning to send, or organize your schedule and make lists of things you need to do. To save even more time, structure your activities so that you complete them in the most effective way. For instance, if your dry-cleaner is near the doctor's office, use the opportunity to save yourself a separate trip. This requires a few minutes a day of planning ahead. Ask yourself: Is there anything else on my list that I can accomplish when I go to _______. After a week of practicing this skill, you'll become adept at making the most of your time.

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