THE BLOG
02/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Ways To Take Back Your Time

Are you tired, worn out, overworked? Apparently, so many of us are that the week of January 26th has been declared National Take Back Your Time Week. According to their website, "Take Back Your Time" is a major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment." Alrighty then.

So just in case you've got enough energy to stand up and say, "I'm tired as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," here are a few ways you can keep your job, but still retain some space for the rest of your life -- which, according to my unofficial poll, will more than likely include: Nap, learn to make a mean martini, nap, spend time with your spouse and/or the kids, nap, see the latest hot movie and nap.

1. Build in downtime. At least once during the week, you should allow yourself the luxury of having a period of time when nothing is planned (personal or professional) and nothing needs to be accomplished. This includes errands, obligations, and household chores. Just do whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. Warning: If you are an overachieving type, just reading this may cause heart palpitations. Don't worry, you'll get over it.

2. Plan for and stick to "off-work zones." Determine what day, or times during a day, are off-limits for working. This means no e-mail, voicemail, cell phone, text messages, live chat or other clever technological inventions utilized for the purpose of productivity.
Meal breaks, days off and clearly-defined work hours are a good place to start.

3. Schedule your television time. According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day, which translates into 28 hours per week. That means that by the time most of us turn 65, we will have spent nine years in front of the tube. If you're contributing to that statistic -- stop it right now. Instead, choose three or four shows per week you enjoy the most, and schedule them in your calendar. If you make the TV you watch a purposeful activity, rather than an unconscious habit, you'll take back some of your valuable time.

4. Invest in cooking for the week. Rather than setting up to cook and clean up afterwards every night, try taking a chunk of time out of an evening or weekend and preparing at least five major meals for the upcoming week. You'll find that once you're in the groove, the cooking goes much faster.

5. Say no. Need I say more? If you're looking for some specific ways to decline graciously, check out my article on The Huffington Post.

Karen Leland is author of the recently released books Time Management In An Instant. She is the co-founder of Sterling Consulting Group. For questions, comments or to book Karen to speak at your next event, please e-mail kleland@scgtraining.com.

copyright © Karen Leland 2009. All Rights Reserved