Time Management

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I could not go to sleep last night — I was tossing and turning, ruminating over all the things I had to do today.  I finally got out of bed and made a list:

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Once I got it all out of my head and onto the paper, I could go to sleep!  πŸ™‚

 

I woke up this morning and took James on a nice 1.25-mile walk.  We walked for 25 minutes.

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The sun was just coming up when we left, and it was so relaxing to just WALK.  As a runner, sometimes I forget how pleasant walking can be.

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Maggie was left at home because her legs are too short to walk far distances. :)  It’s hard being a wiener dog sometimes.

 

Back at home, I made a lovely breakfast.  It was exactly what I was craving.

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I had two slices of whole wheat toast with organic blueberry jam and a Green Monster (1 cup almond breeze, 1 banana, 1 cup spinach, 1 tablespoon flax).

 

Time Management

 

When I revealed my three major life changes, a few of you commented that I should be writing a time management book, not a book about Operation Beautiful.  πŸ™‚

 

Juggling a 40-hour job, 20 hours of blogging, 3 night classes, book proposal writing, and marathon training taught me a LOT about time management.  I’m not saying that I always handled it perfectly — there were many, many night when I cried in my car or snapped at the Husband because I was overworked and tired.  I called Meghann with total emotional meltdowns more than once (she’s such a good friend).  But, as time went on, I got better and better at managing my time.

 

Here’s what I learned:

 

  • Understand that your schedule is your choice.  I can think of very few obligations (mostly all personal) that are not a choice.  Working long hours, studying for classes, and exercising…. they are all choices.  Everyone needs to work, but where you work is your choice.  Everyone should exercise, but no one is going to throw you in jail if you don’t!   Accepting my schedule was my own personal decision made it a lot easier. 

 

  • Worry about the acute emergencies and don’t stress about the long-term.  I quickly realized that I was wasting precious time and energy by obsessing about a huge test I had in two weeks.  There were things I needed to be doing RIGHT NOW, and worrying about something that wasn’t immediate made the situation worse. 

 

  • When it comes to exercise, do what you can.  When I started to go back to school, I had to re-examine my workout schedule and drop down from 5 – 6 days a week to 3 – 4 days a week.  Did I put on weight? No.  Did I lose endurance in running?  Only a small amount.  Did I feel guilty for working out less? No!  I was doing the best I could do, so why feel bad?  One of my life mottos is "don’t set yourself up to fail."  If your schedule changes, do the best you can do with fitness — it’s better than falling off the wagon completely.

 

  • Wake up early.  Really early.  I learned this summer to stop hitting the snooze button.  Why?  Well, trust me — those 30 extra minutes of sleep are probably not going to impact how rested you feel during the day, but 30 extra minutes in the morning does affect how productive you are.  I had to wake up early every weekday to study, blog, or workout before work.  It made a huge difference in my schedule to get up early and get moving.  Just do it!

 

  • Prioritize.  When you are doing a lot, there are moments when you realize that not everything you *want* to do is going to get done.  A perfect example for me was finals this summer.  I needed to study for Chemistry and Anatomy, but I only had about 15 hours of available studying time.  I was at risk of getting a "C" in Chemistry (which would’ve shot my chances of grad school), but when I computed my Anatomy grade, I realized that I was going to get a "B" in the class unless I epically failed the final, and an "A" required a perfect grade on the final.  So, I didn’t study for my Anatomy final and put all my energy into my Chem test.  Prioritizing isn’t the ideal solution, but sometimes it’s necessary.

 

What are your time management tips?  I always need new ones –  especially now!

{ 66 comments }

 

  • kirsten September 25, 2009, 5:08 am

    Great tips, thanks! I never allow myslef to 'run out' of any essentials- food or other, I keep a 'low on' list so I'm stocked at all times, it allows me to avoid last minute shopping trips!

  • cookinfanatic September 25, 2009, 5:11 am

    I am a big multi-tasker — helps me to get a lot done in little time (i.e. writin' a blog post in between cooking dinner, etc.) Also, planning your schedule is crucial for sure!

  • Andee (Runtolive) September 25, 2009, 5:17 am

    Thanks for all the tips! I totally agree about prioritizing, when you have so many things to do at once, there is no way you can do them all in one day. If that means some lesser important things has to fall behind so you can catch up on the more impending deadlines, you just have to accept that and move on. Can't wait to hear about the book πŸ™‚

  • chocolate covered Katie September 25, 2009, 5:17 am

    Hey Caitlin!

    I recently received an email from a reader with the sweetest things to say about your blog. She basically told me I HAD to check it out.

    I'm so glad she did :).

    Instant "google reader" subscription for sure!

    Love,
    Katie

  • inmytummy September 25, 2009, 5:20 am

    I have not yet perfected the art of time management. One day!

    WIll the book be just pictures kind of like the Post Secret books? Or are you not allowed to say?

  • christie, honoring health September 25, 2009, 5:21 am

    Great post, Caitlin!

    My life has been turned upside down lately since I have had to cut gluten from my diet. I have had to really work on my meal planning and preparing things in advance. It kind of got out of control and I realized that I was living so much in advanced planning mode that I wasn't living in the moment at all anymore. That is when I had to do some prioritizing and really figure out what was important and how to go about getting healthy, whole foods based meals on the table that didn't contain gluten. So my new plan, instead of cooking in advance all weekend, is to cook big batches at dinner time so that I have leftovers for the freezer. Like when I make a batch of chili, I will cook 8 or 16 servings instead of the usual 4 or 6. That won't take me any longer because I have to cook dinner anyway and it loads my freezer with good food that I can just grab and go.

    I'm learning to just roll with the punches and accept life's changes.

  • Mrs. LC September 25, 2009, 5:21 am

    I read an article recently that suggested taking small 5-10 minute breaks every hour (or whenever you decide) can actually increase productivity. It suggested we have the mindset that we need to go, go, go, get it all done, when in reality our work is much more focused and we get more done (and feel more sane!) if we implement small breaks.

    Also – take small breaks between different subject areas, even if it's just getting up and walking around your apartment. It can help with the mental transition of work on book, do physics homework, do A&P hw, blog, etc.

  • Kelly September 25, 2009, 5:24 am

    Thanks so much for the time management tips. I think you are so right about accepting that our schedules ARE our choices is the most important. I was thinking with you about regard to exercise this morning also. If you can fit it in, I have no excuses πŸ™‚ But I think you are right, better to fit it in 3 or 4 days a week than never at all.

  • VeggieGirl September 25, 2009, 5:25 am

    "I could not go to sleep last night — I was tossing and turning, ruminating over all the things I had to do today. I finally got out of bed and made a list."

    What are we, twins?? Haha SAME EXACT thing last night – I made a big list after tossing & turning in bed for about an hour, and then felt better about my schedule for today πŸ™‚

  • Sara September 25, 2009, 5:27 am

    My job is ALL about time management! I do my best work when I set deadlines — when something can be finished "whenever," it ends up on the back-burner. I set final deadlines, when everything for a certain project must be done, and mini-deadlines before that, when certain parts need to be completed. I kept to-do lists and a calendar. Everything gets written down so I don't have to think about what comes next! When every project has a deadline, I can prioritize. I haven't had to work overtime yet πŸ™‚

    I had a 40-hour/week job in college and that was TOUGH! I can imagine what you've been going through. I just used downtime at work to get my homework done, and I accepted that I was rarely going to be an A student!

  • Niki September 25, 2009, 5:32 am

    Thanks for sharing! I am having a hard time adjusting my life to school right now and still getting in all my "personal" stuff time like training, blogging, etc. I'm working on it though!!

  • Jessica September 25, 2009, 5:33 am

    Great advice! I always think the more I have to do, the more I actually get done because I don't waste time.

  • Anne P September 25, 2009, 5:33 am

    I totally do that too if I'm tossing and turning thinking of all the things I have to do. It's such a relief to have it written down and know you can stop worrying about forgetting something and just go to sleep!

  • Anonymous September 25, 2009, 5:36 am

    I am probably the worst person at managing time. I get ditracted really easily!

    Sorry I am a little late, but congrats on your three anouncement. I am sure you are going to do great with your future goals. Just make sure you have time to run πŸ˜‰

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 25, 2009, 5:36 am

    inmytummy – the book will be about half text and half photographs. i'll be putting out a call for photos and stories very very soon!!! i hope you participate since you are so funny πŸ™‚

  • Matt September 25, 2009, 5:37 am

    Haha I forgot to type in my name! That was me from the annonymous comment.

  • Deb September 25, 2009, 5:42 am

    Great post Caitlin. You have some really good pointers for time management. I think the best one you gave is getting up earlier. That has worked for me for quite some time. I get so much more accomplished with an extra 30-45 minutes each day before the rest of the world wakes up and put in their two cents worth of what I should do or need to be doing!!!

  • Rosey Rebecca September 25, 2009, 5:43 am

    Your tips helped me calm down A LOT. I freak out about school work that's due weeks in advance. My boyfriend tells me all the time to stop worrying about everything at once and just concentrate on the day. It helps me to think that by the middle of December, this semester will be part of my past and not that big of a deal. I tend to worry about things like the world is going to end (I have anxiety problems) and reading how other people cope with stress really helps me out so thanks for this post! I can't wait for your book! I'm definitely going to buy it!

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) September 25, 2009, 5:44 am

    Ah I totally agree with you on the sleep one! Hitting the snooze button just gets me in more trouble and I end up running late and stressed!

  • itsawrapteacher September 25, 2009, 5:48 am

    Great time management tips. With work, graduate school, and other commitments I make lists for my lists and LOVE post-its:)

  • mayct September 25, 2009, 5:49 am

    Lots of people swear by the tips in the book "Getting Things Done" by david allen.

  • J September 25, 2009, 5:55 am

    I love the five-minute rule. Anything that takes five minutes or less to do, I try to do right away–like washing a couple dishes, putting away folded laundry, etc. Getting the small things out of the way keeps them as small things and it also gives a feeling that you accomplished something, which is something that is very important for me personally. Even if everything else in my life is busy and out of control, it gives me one thing I can cross off my list and it's one less thing that contributes to my stress.

    And I can't take credit for the five-minute rule; I read about it on the blog The Happiness Project.

  • Maggie September 25, 2009, 5:57 am

    These tips are fabulous. I couldn't sleep last night (it's 6AM my time and I've been up for an hour… I went to bed after 1AM) – so I decided to just GET UP and be productive. I love early mornings. I get so much more done.

    I don't think I commented yesterday, but I am SO happy for you.

  • Meg C. September 25, 2009, 5:57 am

    THANK YOU for mentioning "choice." I constantly hear people complaining how busy they are and whining about things that they chose to include in their life. everyone is "busy". but we all choose how we spend our time and if something is important to us, we'll make time to do it.

    and yes i am very impressed at your time management skills!

  • seesaraheat September 25, 2009, 6:03 am

    I am a runner too but this year I walked a half marathon and it was such a different and neat experience!

    Your time management skills are fabulous! I need to adopt some of those πŸ™‚ I definitely agree with the getting up early thing though, it's amazing what I get off my "to do" list if I knock a few things out first thing.

    have a great weekend!

  • Steph September 25, 2009, 6:07 am

    I have to write everything down to feel organized and prepared too. This also helps me with time management. I'll break up the day into hours and fill each block in with what I would like to accomplish in that given time.

    Have a great day…hope you get everything crossed off your list!

  • MelissaNibbles September 25, 2009, 6:08 am

    Great tips! I agree that waking up early makes a huge difference. Even an extra hour can transform your entire day.

  • Jolene - EverydayFoodie September 25, 2009, 6:17 am

    Great tips Caitlin! I thought I managed a lot with full time work, 3 university classes, and a very busy social life – but wow girl, you are a crazy woman πŸ™‚ I don't know how you can do so much and not be exhausted in the morning and need more sleep! Good for you for being able to get up so early and accomplish all that you do!! You are one motivated young lady!!!

  • Katie September 25, 2009, 6:21 am

    Caitlin,
    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed this info this morning! I'm juggling so many things (grad school, PhD and fellowship applications, training for a 1/2 marathon, boyfriend, family, time for MYSELF) that I finally had a mini-breakdown last night! πŸ™ Your tips are awesome. I need to do/accept what I can and not worry about the rest! Now, I'm off to class! Thanks again…

  • Molls September 25, 2009, 6:22 am

    i so make to do list whenever i feel stressed because it helps put things in perspective and my relax a little!

    yeah i use to do the whole workout 4-5 days a week and now that grad school has started (and my 30 hours resturant/ ?? hours babysitting) i am left with almost no time for working out… it hasn't affected my weight but i am craving a good walk/etc..

  • Jenna September 25, 2009, 6:22 am

    great tips caitlin!
    i am so with you on writing out lists, they help me so much and i feel much more organized when i know what i have to do!
    jenna

  • Anne Marie September 25, 2009, 6:27 am

    I love the tips!! I agree with you about prioritizing!

  • Courtney September 25, 2009, 6:33 am

    I have a huge calendar on the kitchen table that I write everything on including my hub's schedule so we can see at a glance everything that is going on. I also make to-do lists with subcategories that include everything from study time to dog walks.
    Courtney
    Adventures in Tri-ing

  • greensandjeans September 25, 2009, 6:37 am

    Every month I make a big calendar and put down everything that needs to get done from big work things, to household things like paying the bills, and fun things like running races! The each week I fill in things more specifically. I am a big time list maker and I just make myself a to-do list for the week, or even for the day if a lot of things get done. Keeping the big picture in mind helps me make sure all the little details don't get lost in the shuffle!

  • Runeatrepeat September 25, 2009, 6:40 am

    Seriously, you are a machine! You did so much at the same time – time management was vital.

    I am a big "list maker", it makes me feel on top of things.

    One of my tips is answering emails right away. I used to read them with the intention to answer them later, but often forget. Now I am trying to answer them as soon as I read them.

  • Mellissa September 25, 2009, 6:41 am

    I am a constant over scheduler, and I learned how to say no. Juggling a full time job, full time grad school, a volunteer commitment last year nearly drove me over the edge but I started prioritizing and learned to say no.

    I tried to get as much sleep as possible, and plan as much as I could.

  • Emily @ Relishments September 25, 2009, 6:51 am

    Maybe I should get out of bed and make lists…I had way too much going on in my head last night to get to sleep…

    Thanks for the time management tips! Even though I'm not working, I really need to work on managing my time. There are too many days when all of a sudden the day is over and I haven't accomplished half the stuff I wanted!

  • Lizzy September 25, 2009, 6:51 am

    Great tips girl!

    the way i feel organized is by seriously writing out EVERYTHING that i need to do, whether it be long term or short term. I need to see it in front of me, even if i dont get it done that day! it just makes me feel better knowing that i have it written down, and that it'll get accomplished because i haven't forgotten about it

  • Julie @savvyeats September 25, 2009, 6:58 am

    I don't think I've commented yet about how excited I am for all your big life changes, and I'm looking forward to reading all about them!

    My time management tips:
    1. Serious to-do lists. I'm like you, if I don't have it written down, I can't sleep.

    2. Color-coded calendars=saviors.

    3. Have all your emails, blogs, etc sent to one account. I use Thunderbird — it collects all my emails (school email address, blog email address, etc) + the latest posts from all my favorite blogs!

  • Nicci@NiftyEats September 25, 2009, 7:01 am

    I practive time management by writing everythign down in a Excel spredasheeT. I try to break everythign down by hour.

  • brandi September 25, 2009, 7:05 am

    great tips. I do so much better when I have stuff written down, too.

  • Leah @ L4L September 25, 2009, 7:15 am

    Great post and great tips! The one thing I find that helps me with my time management is to actually be really organized. It helps keep the franticness down a bit! I have a day planner and use Google Calendar to the extreme and before I start a new class or project, I make sure I am completely prepared and organized to minimize any hiccups I may have in the road along the way!

  • Food Makes Fun Fuel September 25, 2009, 7:15 am

    Those are great tips! I definitely agree with getting up early. I feel so unaccomplished if I sleep in

  • K from ksgoodeats September 25, 2009, 7:26 am

    Poor Maggie! Sometimes I take pity on the Brat when I walk her and end up carrying her for a little while. My neighbors give me a hard time sometimes πŸ˜‰

  • skinnyrunner September 25, 2009, 7:47 am

    writing lists in order of priority and importance always works for me.
    my brother has a mini weiner dog who walks like 100 ft and then is done!

  • Susan September 25, 2009, 7:50 am

    Wonderful post! All great tips. I worked THREE jobs while going to university full-time in my last year, so time management was something I became a bit of an expert with! Prioritizing was key for me, some things were just not worth the stress and energy and got neglected for the things that were. Focusing on the immediate tasks that needed to be done helped too. I'm not good at multi-tasking – having too many projects on my plate at once just makes me feel overwhelemed! So I would focus on one thing at a time, and just hammer them out in successive order. Focusing on one thing at a time also tricked me into thinking I had less to do πŸ˜‰

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance September 25, 2009, 7:56 am

    I have to agree, you are GREAT AT TIME MANAGEMENT and "balancing" everything! That is great, espically for your age (no insult there at all)…..as I didn't learn that until I had my daughter and was FORCED too! =) Laura

    http://findingahealthybalance.wordpress.com/

  • Internal Peace September 25, 2009, 8:00 am

    These are great tips! Thanks for the reminders! I wasn't very good at organizing my time in grad school and became miserable and too tired/stressed. But it's over now, and I'm thankful for that.

  • Brie (The Fit Bride) September 25, 2009, 8:04 am

    My mom always tells me, "Just take it one day at a time and put one foot in front of the other" when life gets crazy. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with what I have to do that I panic, but when I think of this I always remember to break things down into smaller steps and it seems much more manageable.

  • Ali September 25, 2009, 8:07 am

    Great post, Cailtin! I needed to read that part about not feeling bad about cutting back on workouts.

    With working full time, part-time, being in grad school part-time and being a full-time fur-mommy, and blogging: I have had a little less time on my hands for working out. I am still managing to get in 5-6 workouts a week, but the are shorter.

    Anyhow, I make a calendar at the beginning of the week and schedule everything that needs to get done. When I visually see it in my office and in my day planner, I tend to stick to the plan.

  • jack+alli September 25, 2009, 8:09 am

    i think it was the dr. oz show that talked about making a to-list when tossing and turning at night, that way it's out of your head and you can fall asleep. great advise!
    organization is helpful. i try not to let the clean laundry pile up, when i fold them, just take a few minutes to put them away. same with dishes, mail, etc. having neat surroundings at least brings a sense of order and takes the stress down a notch.
    alos, when i cook, i make extra so we can have leftovers during the busy week nights when i dont have the time to make something new.
    tivo! πŸ™‚ that way i can still watch my favorite shows when i have the time!
    yikes, this is getting long. one last thing is i make a list at the beginning of the day of everything i need/want to do and approx. how long it will take me to do it, then i know where i have any free time πŸ™‚
    thank you for your tips! i need to remember this one: "Worry about the acute emergencies and don't stress about the long-term"

  • Heather September 25, 2009, 8:24 am

    I really love your tips! I am struggling right now with "getting everything done." I need to start waking up earlier every day – I think then extra 30 minutes of sleep would be better spent doing something else.

    Something I do to stay organized is trying to plan my meals for the week – and doing as much meal prep as I can on Sunday. Makes putting together dinner/breakfasts so much easier!

  • Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 25, 2009, 8:32 am

    I'm with you on the prioritizing. That'd be my biggest time management tip. I'm an OCD list maker–but, naturally, there's a method to my madness. I always make my lists in an order of what NEEDS to get done first. This way, when the list doesn't get entirely checked off–which happens so often. I don't feel terrible. I'll also make a list of what has to get done that day… and then a side list of more long-term to-dos that I can dig into if productivity is on my side that day…

    I don't know why I'm doling out the advice! It seems you've mastered the art of prioritization pretty well!

  • Morgan (lifeafterbagels) September 25, 2009, 8:36 am

    My biggest tip, and not totally mastered by myself – be realistic about what you can fit in your day. If you make yourself a huge to do list, and then don't get it done you'll feel like crap about it. If you realistically think about what you can get done, and then check it all off, it feels amazing.

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) September 25, 2009, 8:38 am

    Time management has always been tough for me. Last semester, I worked full-time, took 4 classes at night and planned a wedding. It felt nearly impossible. I think what really helped me is planning. Which you seem to be great at. I used google calendar and outlook reminders to help keep me on track! I thrive on being busy, now that I'm only working and not going to school I'm going crazy!!!

  • BOBBI McCORMICK September 25, 2009, 8:41 am

    Those are some great tips!

    I agree with waking up early that really helps!!

    My best tips is spend 2 hours on Sunday ssome where quite, park, library, planning out your entire week (meals, workouts, socail, and work) minute for minute and even if things come up no worries you got it all down on paper!

  • Nicol September 25, 2009, 9:08 am

    Thank you for all of the great tips! I am so impressed by your ability to manage so many things at once. I often feel overwhelmed by all of the jobs on my plate. You've been juggling so much more than I have. I'm going to start using your time management tips.

  • Running, kind of. September 25, 2009, 9:11 am

    That is some good info!

    I have set out for marathon training a few times but time hardly allows the long runs with a pre schooler, full time job,full time grad student, and a hubby who is always gone with the Army. But now I finally finished grad school (HOOORAY!) and with some adjusting and time management I am ready to begin my marathon training this fall!!!

    Great job!!
    amanda

  • Samantha~ September 25, 2009, 9:38 am

    I always have to remember that I cannot do everything. If i need help, I need to ask for it, even though I don't want too.

  • Amber (Girl with the red hair) September 25, 2009, 9:55 am

    This post came at the PERFECT time for me after not working out this morning.

    I just recently started my fourth, and final (thank god) year of school again and now I'm working two jobs, going to school full-time, blogging about 5-10 hours a week and training for my third half-marathon. I've been SWAMPED and it's been hard!

    I got up every morning this week at 5 am to run and lift weights. This morning I was *supposed* to go swimming but I just couldn't get myself out of bed! I have been feeling SO guilty all morning but this post REMINDED me that sometimes you just can't fit it all in and it's OK to cut back on exercise. I still worked out FOUR times this week already, which is more than a lot of people can say!

    Thanks for such a great useful post!!

    One of my time management tricks is actually NOT to multitask. I find that if I'm: reading blogs, watching TV AND trying to get an assignment done it takes me THREE TIMES as long to finish the assignment. So now I just shut off the computer and TV, get the work done, and then take a 30 minute break to catch up on blogs!

    Whew, sorry for the long comment! Have a great day!

  • mayapamela525 September 25, 2009, 10:09 am

    Such good tips on time management–I especially liked teh one on prioritizing with the example of the anatomy test. I can be a bit of a perfectionist, but keeping in mind what truly needs your attention is important to consider, thanks!

    americangourmande.wordpress.com

  • Jenny Vester September 25, 2009, 1:11 pm

    Awesome tips! I might use some of those since my life is crazy hectic right now.
    I'm useless with time management πŸ™
    I have a really terrible way of dealing with stress from workload, if I have an exam to do or a report to hand in or something and I'm stressed out about it, I don't do it at ALL. I try not to think about it by not doing it, which, in turn, creates MORE stress :S
    So thankyou for posting your tips, I think I'll test them out.

    I like how you wrote out a list of things that needed to be done because you couldn't sleep with it all running through your mind.
    I do that all the time, I find it hard to switch my brain off, so I write out everything that's on my mind. Works great!
    πŸ˜€

  • RunToTheFinish September 25, 2009, 6:36 pm

    I feel bad that I don't always comment even though I do read…you just have a lot of comments!

    anywho…time management is a big thing for me and I very much think having a concrete list of what needs to get done helps and then like you said getting started early! I also love to get started on something tough then take a break…I think the standard 9-5 job doesn't work because people just can't be truly 100% on task without a small break

  • Meg September 25, 2009, 7:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing those tips, Caitlin! I need them now more than ever.

  • Michael September 26, 2009, 3:01 pm

    The problem a lot of office woprkers have is arriving at work, opening their inbox and the start of their day has been influenced by what lurks in amongst those emails?

    The problem is they probably already had some other priorities that slipped because they opened their inbox.

    By β€œWorking Smart” you open to your Calendar. You can more effectively focus on your priorities and make better decisions when you go to their inbox.

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