Are you too busy to enjoy life?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Are you too busy to enjoy life?
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Are you a NETTEL? This acronym, coined by market researchers to describe people struggling with crazy-busy lives, stands for: not enough time to enjoy life.

These 10 tried-and-true tips can help you to find a little bit more time for yourself on even the most hectic day.

1. Break it down: When faced with a huge task, as the saying goes, "Take one bite of the elephant at a time" — do one thing at a time, do it well, and move onto the next. Don't waste time by panicking over what you have to do, or haven't done yet.

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2. Plug time leaks: Fill in those little leftover moments of time with something constructive. When you're stuck in traffic or kept waiting for an appointment, listen to your iPod or a talking book, read a magazine, plan a menu.

3. Clean up as you go: If you spend 10 minutes every day looking for your keys, work files, bills or lost earrings, you waste more than 60 hours a year. Remember what your mother told you, "A place for everything, and everything in its place."

4. Work out what you're worth: Calculate your hourly wage. Then, perhaps you can pay someone less than your rate to do the time-consuming chores you hate most. That way, you'll have more time to either do the work that pays you more, or just chill.

5. Don't say "yes" straight away: When you're asked to do something you don't have to time to do, train yourself to say, "I need 24 hours to think it over — I'll get back to you." When you call back to say no, suggest someone who may be able to do the job instead. That two-letter word "No" is the single most important time-management tool you have.

6. Shorten your "to-do" list: According to Forbes magazine, the most effective managers identify only three top priorities every day. Try it. Your self-esteem gets a big boost when you repeatedly cross off all three tasks, day after day. Anything more than three is a bonus.

7. Write a "don't do" list as well: This should include any tasks you can delegate, anything that you do just to please others, and any job that really doesn't matter much. Ask yourself: "What's the worst that can happen if I don't do this?" If the answer is "Not much" — don't do it.

8. Pick your peaks: Are you a day person or a night person? Everyone has a biological clock and certain times of day when we are most alert, and other times when we're not. Schedule routine chores and low-priority jobs for your "down time".

9. Jump in: The most insidious thing about procrastination is that the job gets bigger and harder and scarier the longer you keep putting it off. Once started, most people are surprised to find it doesn't take that long after all.

Related: The meltdown-free guide to time management

10. "Stop when you're hot," Ernest Hemingway said: In other words, stop a task at a point when you've achieved something, rather than in the middle of a problem. It's much easier to return to it.

Your say: Do you have any time for yourself? How do you make sure you have time for you?

Video: Stress-proof your morning

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