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How to Take Control of Your Time

6 Ways to Use Your Time Better

Modern life is a heavily calendared landscape, filled with activities and obligations that all compete for our time. Too often, we automatically offer help and make commitments, even when we are stretched to our limits. Here are some ways you can take control of your time, so you can approach every day with a more productive and positive attitude.

Avoid multitasking. Many people take pride in their ability to focus on several things at once. In reality, however, research has shown that multitasking undermines our productivity, causing us to use our time less efficiently. Do your best to perform only one task at a time, giving it your full attention. This will help you conquer deadlines more efficiently without having to correct mistakes that inevitably occur when you're focused on too many things at once.

Be your own consultant. Sometimes it helps to take an outsider's point of view when determining the best way to utilize your time. Try pretending you are a consultant who has been hired to track and account for every minute of your day. Think about how you might optimize your performance by cutting out less important tasks and prioritizing the things that matter most. Many times, it's easier to make changes when you've assumed an outsider's perspective.

Get comfortable saying no. If you honestly assess what you need to accomplish every day, you will be less likely to take on extra obligations. For many people, however, it's not always so easy to say no, when someone asks them for help. Give yourself permission to decline a request when it will interfere with your priorities. Explain that you have a full plate and can't afford to over-commit. It may cause anxiety at first; but, things will get easier once you get used to exercising your right to say no.

Carve out text and email time. According to a study out of University of California-Irvine, it takes the average person about 20 minutes to regain focus and momentum following an interruption. When you continuously check your email, text messages or social media, you make yourself less efficient, reducing the value of your time. Try setting specific times when you will allow yourself to disengage from a project and embrace distractions. This will help you get more value from every minute, while increasing your chances of achieving flow .

Set aside time for rest and rejuvenation. If you're struggling with a busy schedule, you may feel you don't have time to slow down and take a break. When we sacrifice sleep and downtime, however, we tend to become less productive during our work hours. According to studies , poor sleep results in billions of dollars in lost productivity every year. Make sure you get seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, so you can be at your best both physically and mentally. You should also set aside time to rest, meditate or go for walk, since research has linked this sort of activity with increased productivity and creativity.

Plan ahead. At the end of each week, find a quiet spot and sit down for about 15 minutes to plot out the week ahead. Write down the most important things that you need to accomplish, while leaving room for unexpected issues that are almost certain to arise. If the week looks to be overwhelming, consider eliminating or postponing the least important activities and projects. This will make it easier for you to hit the ground running, when Monday rolls around and your week begins again.

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