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4/24/2012

You've heard it your whole life: Make a list to get organized. Well, for as long as you can remember, you've written list upon list but somehow you still aren't able to keep it all straight. You need to learn some time management secrets. While everyone likes to believe they can beat the clock, there are only 24 hours in a day. Here's a few ways to make sure you're using all of them to the fullest.

It all starts with a plan.

You can't expect to have a productive day without knowing what you want to accomplish. Without a plan, you'll spend half your day trying to figure out what it is that you need to get done. (Psst, this is where that to-do list comes into play.)

Priorities, Priorities
But, really, what deserves to make your list, anyway? All tasks are certainly not created equal. Rate your projects on a scale of 1 to 5. If the task doesn't rate at least a 3, then it just doesn't make today's list. For example, color-coding your sock drawer won't score as high as taking kitty to the vet.

A clean desk makes a clear mind.
What good is it to have a to-do list if you can't find it? Studies have shown that if your desk looks like a tornado just came through, you'll spend an average of one and a half hours a day looking for things you need-that's seven and a half hours a week! You know what that means? Cleaning your desk should be #1 on today's list.

Feed your brain.
Think you can squeeze in one more thing if you skip lunch today? Studies show that skipping lunch actually makes you less productive. Think about it. When you do the same thing for hours on end, you'll discover that you're not just imagining that you're reading the same sentence over and over again-you really are! A lunch break, even a short one, gives your brain a rest and allows you to take a fresh look at the same task. Like it or not, people are not machines and we need to take breaks to remain sharp.

One thing at a time.
There is a difference between multi-tasking and obsessing about how much you have to do. Really. The best way to accomplish hundreds of projects? Stay focused on the task at hand instead of obsessing about how much you have to do. You are only capable of doing one thing at a time, so you may as well let yourself off the hook for not being superhuman.

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