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1. Keep a calendar

One of the most under appreciated things I received in high school was a daily calendar from my school. At the time I didn't think it was important, but it was used as your hall pass so everybody brought them with them. I actually used it, and I wrote down the day's homework. Today, I have a different method, but with similar purpose. I have a plain calendar printed from the computer that I use to schedule my time. I project at least 3 days in advance, and have items written in far in advance, such as due dates and goals. The most important aspect is that I block out a certain number of hours that I plan to dedicate to a specific project, and I stick to my limits.

2. Use a time tracker

Nothing helps you realize you are wasting time like a clock staring at you, wasting away the hours. I actually find it a bit intimidating, so I have a program that runs in the toolbar out of my constant sight, but within easy reach. Keep track of your time. You can use a program that calculates it for you, use a spreadsheet and log the hours after each task, or use pen and paper to keep track. Whatever works for you, do it for everything. I even keep track of time that I spend doing things I cannot bill for, such as emailing and twitter time.

3. Spend time planning

I usually spend half an hour each Sunday/Monday to plan the week. I don't waste a lot of time doing it, but using my calendar I find it is very helpful to have a general plan of action. 30 minutes of planning probably saves me 3 hours of wasted time a week, and that is a net profit of time. It also helps you to anchor your week by starting with a short period of reflection. Its amazing how easy it is to lose track of what is most important, and this time also great for prioritizing your tasks.

4. Plan for flexibility

I plan to work 8 hours a day, but I block out only 6 hours with specific tasks and some days even less. That is because I don't always know if a task will take me 2 hours or 3 hours, but in reality it might take 4. Planning flexibility is the key, and not planning all of your time will help to keep you from getting overwhelmed and stressed.

5. Get into regular habits

The key of everything here is to have a regular routine. I spend a lot of time on new projects, so I have to find ways to regulate how I deal with new projects as well as projects that are in progress. I have to stop myself when its time to quit, and spend time planning. A routine will make you better able to predict your work load, plan into the future, and help you when you are ready for a vacation.

Following these five simple tricks to improving your time management will help you to take control of your time. May you do more, in less time!

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