How Not to Overbook Yourself

Sometimes it seems like your career, your family, your friends and even your home demand an ever-increasing chunk of your time. Yes, from time-to-time we all wish there were more hours in the day. But the 24-hour allotment is standard issue. How do we make the most of it, strike a balance between work and life, and not overbook ourselves?

istock_000005556837xsmall.jpgTime management expert Judy Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-Mail in the Morning says we need to be smarter about how we deal with those 24 hours. Rather than trying to squeeze more into an already overloaded schedule, step back and consider your priorities.

5 Tips to Regain Control of Your Time

1. Prioritize. Yes, you hear this everywhere, but have you taken the time to consider your current schedule in light of your priorities? If your schedule completely revolves around work, but you have little time left for your family, then your true #1 priority is work. Is that what you want? If not, reprioritize your schedule to align with what’s most important to you.

2. Learn to say no. Not all requests for your time are worthy of your attention. If you take on too much at work or at home, simply begin to say “no.” This little word empowers all who master it.

3. Remember and apply Pareto’s Law, otherwise known as the 80/20 Principle. Simply put, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. Are you focusing on the 80% (tasks that keep you busy, but provide little return) or on the 20% that will bring you results and satisfaction? At work and at home, ask yourself, “Which 20% of my activities bring 80% of my desired outcomes?

4. We get more accomplished when we’re under deadline pressure, according to another well-known law, this one credited to Parkinson. This law states that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relationship to the time allotted for its completion. Use this to your advantage by setting deadlines for yourself, shortening your available work time to leave more time for other activities.

5. Structure your day. Keeping in mind everything said thus far, as well as your own creative internal rhythm, structure your day. If you’re at peak performance level in the morning, schedule blocks of uninterrupted time to accomplish your most creative tasks. Don’t waste your best performance time chatting with co-workers, reading e-mail, or if you can help it – sitting in meetings.

Slowing down and regaining control of our lives is something we address with our coaching and self-improvement resources here at When your life seems to demand too much of you, don’t give in. Slow down. Check your priorities and regain control of your time.

Thanks to Tip Diva for including this post in the Carnival of Tips, and to Improved Life for featuring this post in the Carnival of Improving Life.

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