1. Shorten your workday by 30 minutes. I promise you’ll get more done than if you put in your usual nine to ten hours. That’s because committing to leave earlier gives you a deadline and forces you to eliminate the little time wasters that eat up your day.
2. Avoid multitasking. Recent studies show that it can take the brain twice as long to process each thing it’s working on when switching back and forth between activities. By learning to focus fully on one project at a time, you can regain the extra hour or two you crave.
3. Break the habit of total self-reliance. Insisting on doing everything yourself burdens you and prevents others from feeling valuable and needed. Delegate more at home and at work, and free your time for things you love and excel at.
4. Capture all your to-dos in one place. People who haphazardly write lists on stray notepads, Post its, and backs of envelopes waste time wondering what to do next and worrying they’re forgetting something. Chose only one tool (planner, Palm, notebook) to track everything you need to do, and prioritize from the top down. Start every morning with the most important item, not the many small, easy tasks. You can always squeeze the little things into the gaps. Conquering the big to-dos gives meaning to your day.
5. Schedule one purely joyful activity each week. Think of an activity – dancing, reading, playing guitar – that you haven’t done for a long time and that brings you instant happiness. Put it in your date book as a nonnegotiable appointment with yourself, and watch the quality of your life transform.