Time Management Tips for the Old Busy

Have you caught Microsoft's ad campaign for Hotmail? Apparently, the "new busy" is some sort of smarter, more effective work style that involves sleep learning and using Hotmail.

That's great, but there are plenty of us old busy still out here looking for ways to streamline our day that don't involve making animal-shaped pancakes. I've got some help in the form of a slew of quick, simple suggestions for better managing your time.

Lifehack recently published a list of 20 quick tips for better time management. Some are smart, some are obvious, some are clever. Read the article for the whole list, or check out my favorites:

Assign a time limit to each task. Don't just make a to-do list; be sure to write down when each should be complete, or how much time to dedicate to the chore.

Learn to say "no." This advice is just as valid for Ben Stiller's movie career as it is for your own day at work: You don't have to say yes to everything that lands on your desk. Learn the art of pushing back, saying no, delegating, and getting help.

Track your time. Have you ever noticed that you can end up spending all afternoon on a project that should have lasted 30 minutes, with little to show for it? Track your time with a timer or software. (You can even capitalize on your time tracking by performing a simple time audit.)

Block distractions. Turn off your IM, e-mail, and anything else that routinely randomizes you through the day. We've told you many times that you're more effective when you shut off your e-mail and single-task.

Buffer your activities. Don't schedule back to back activities. Indeed, you might want to schedule 45 or 50 minute meetings to give you time to collect your thoughts, record notes, and travel between meetings.