November is definitely a month in which we pay attention to time: we enjoy less sunshine each day, and the end of Daylight Saving Time makes the diminished sunshine even more obvious. As we do our best to cope with seemingly shorter days, it’s a good time to work on making the most of our time. What’s your favorite way to tame time? Here are some of mine:
1. Plan each day. Invest 15 to 30 minutes planning and preparing for the next day. You’ll save yourself time you might have otherwise spent rushing to do things at the last minute or hunting for things you need to get out the door. You may even save yourself from forgetting an important appointment or task.
2. Keep a master to-do list. Carry something with you (a small notebook, your planner, your phone) to jot down ideas and things to do as you think of them. Rather than being tempted to do something right away because you may forget (or worse, actually forgetting) you can confidently record the item and do it at a more convenient time. Review this list during your daily planning time and schedule items as appropriate.
3. Create a realistic daily to-do list. If you end each day with a frustratingly long list of things you didn’t have time for, you may need to adjust your expectations. You might want to pare you list down to no more than five items and see if focus on and commitment to just those few items improves your productivity.
4. Prioritize your tasks. Ask yourself, “If I can only get one thing done today, what must it be?” and then get rolling. Work on the most important thing and take it as far as you can before starting on the next task. Throughout the day, ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing I should be doing right now?” to make sure you’re on track.
5. Learn to say “no.” Take control of your life instead of letting others control it –identify what’s important to you and live your life around those things. If you agree to take on obligations you resent or for which you don’t have time, you’re not going to be of help to anyone, and you’ll take away room for the things that enrich your life.
6. Control interruptions. We often interrupt ourselves more than other people interrupt us. Pay attention to how often you use the telephone, television, internet, email, etc. as ways to procrastinate. Identify specific times during the day to give those items your attention, and spend the rest of your day doing whatever you determined was important for the day.
7. Identify small steps. Break projects and large, time-consuming activities into smaller tasks. This will help overcome any sense of overwhelm you may otherwise experience and give you a feeling of accomplishment as you chip away at the more manageable steps.
8. Maximize your peak energy time. Work on difficult or unpleasant tasks when you’re most alert. You’ll make the most of that mental horsepower and prevent yourself from spinning your wheels trying to work on a challenging task when you’re mentally tired.
9. Set a timer. If you are having trouble getting started on something, set a timer for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Tell yourself you’ll only work on the troublesome item until the timer goes off, and don’t allow yourself to work on anything else during that time. Once you get started, you may find yourself willing to keep at it until the dreaded task is completed.
10. Take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting some physical activity can improve your ability to focus and stay on task. Taking breaks, especially those that allow you to move around, will also help. Following a healthy lifestyle will allow you to work more efficiently, which will give you more time to enjoy the things you love to do.

Author's Bio: 

From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.