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Do these situations ring an unpleasant bell?

*Feel like there's too much work and very little time?
*Have forgotten meetings, missed deadlines or late project deliverables?
*Stressed and burnt out?
*Have difficulty sleeping because you keep thinking of incomplete tasks?
*Want to note down something important but can't find the elusive planner in the stack of paper, files and other sundry stuff on your table?
*Whether you are a rising teamleader, a hassled manager, self-employed or an ultra-busy executive, here are a few tips to help you manage your time for a simpler, more organised and peaceful life.

Identify your time stealers and minimise them

*Unorganised tasks
*Weak delegation
*Unplanned meetings
*Passage chit chat
*Multiple tea/ coffee breaks
*Restroom chatter
*Cigarette breaks
*Wasting time waiting for others
*Unnecessary trips to the printer
*Indecision and procrastination
*Tools to manage time

~ To-do listsYou can have a daily to-do list and also a master to-do list that helps you track your ongoing tasks that do not find any place in your daily to-do lists.

~ MS Outlook You can view your schedule using any of these views: month, week or day. Outlook provides various features like e-mail, calendar, tasks, contacts, journal, notes and folder lists to help you plan your time. You can also create your very own calendar by using MS Word. Customise the template, make multiple copies and bind them.

~ Paper calendar
You can use the month view for an overview of the entire month. The week view will help if you have lots of meetings/ appointments and also need to maintain notes or mark out the events right in front of you.

~ Electronic planner
Many people these days are increasingly using their mobiles/ organisers/ palmtops as their personal assistants. Payal Neeraj* couldn't agree more, "In fact, mobiles are so handy that these days my loyal friend reminds me of my 4 pm meeting everyday. My colleagues no longer crib at having to constantly send me reminder text messages!"

~ A-Z tabs
These are a huge help in saving and tracking addresses, phone numbers, instant messaging addresses etc. You can again customise these by making small notes against the names of the people with whom you interact frequently.

You can have a separate planner to keep in mind your goals, values, books to read, movies to watch or buy, things to purchase, shares to invest in, birthday and anniversary reminders. Though the uses can be multiple, the purpose is singular -- to keep mess out of your life, and open the doors for organised schedules and reminders so that you don't miss anything important that may cause you regrets later on.

Some tips to manage your time better
*Plan your tomorrow, today: Reduce the mess and disorder around you and most importantly, in your mind. It takes you 10 minutes to jot down your tasks, but will save you lot of trouble, time and embarrassment in case you forget something important.
*Focus on time and effect coordinates: Record the time taken by your usual tasks everyday. Do not forget to log time honestly for all the breaks you have taken during the day.
*Review your to-do list regularly: Study your planner after a week of recording time spent on your everyday activities.
*Say no to unplanned, impromptu work: It can be difficult to say no, but it is necessary if you want to complete your scheduled tasks. Being a do-gooder doesn't always reap rewards. It mostly makes your days longer and more tiring!
*Don't bite off more than you can chew: Do not clutter your calendar with things that are not important. Do not over plan and end up doing only half of the scheduled tasks.
*Follow the 80:20 principle: Make sure at least 20 per cent of tasks deliver 80 per cent results.
*Make lists based on the urgency of tasks. Such as: Pending, Urgent, Important, Urgent and important
*Decide the start and cutoff time for tasks: Estimate the time you will take to complete a task and stick to it.

An old saying aptly highlights the importance of time management: "Lost wealth may be replaced by hard work, lost knowledge by study, lost health by care and medicine, but lost time is gone forever!" So use your time wisely!