How to Make the Most of 5:00-9:00 PM, Part 2 of 2, By Laura Stack, MBA, CSP

laura-stack4Click here to read Part 1.

Below, you’ll find some things to look for as red flags in your life, and some suggestions on how to tackle them.

• The Internet: Do you sit down at the computer to check your e-mail and end up spending an hour aimlessly surfing the internet?

The Fix: Limit e-mail checking to just that. If you want to surf, go ahead – just do it after the rest of your “home” work is done.

• Continuing the Workday: Do you have a habit of bringing the office home?

The Fix: Do it, if you must. But consider the value of your time and the things you are sacrificing to continue the workday. If you have to work at home, have a schedule and a plan of exactly what you need to accomplish.

• Dinner Plans: Does it take twenty minutes of staring into the fridge to figure out what’s for dinner?

The Fix: Take an hour on Sunday and plan 3-5 meals for the week. Even if that means planning for take-out, know what you’re having ahead of time. If you can, cook a meal or two over the weekend and reheat them during the week to save time.

• Kid Wrangling: Are you spending a ton of time making sure homework is done or working on kid-infrastructure like coordinating the carpool and extra-curricular activities?

The Fix: Get a plan – and a calendar. Hang a desk-sized calendar in a prominent spot, and use it for the family’s master schedule. As for the kid-wrangling and homework: get a routine going and block off time to do homework or other structured activities.

• Chores: Are you working all day and then coming home to work another few hours to catch up on the housework?

The Fix: Don’t feel obligated to do it all, or even most of it. Aim for one or two “large” tasks and a couple of small ones each evening. A little each night will go a long way for the whole week and give you more free time on the weekend.

What can I do that will have a positive effect on my life?

So many of the most personally rewarding things in life really do take very little time. You just need to make them a priority. With your newly-efficient schedule, you can now work in 20 minutes of exercise, an hour to read a good book, or 45 minutes to sit down with loved ones and catch up over a real dinner. It doesn’t take much, but the results can be tremendous.

What is my “perfect” schedule? There isn’t one. Be flexible. Go with what works. And don’t be afraid to adjust as necessary.

© 2009 Laura Stack. Laura Stack is a personal productivity expert, author, and professional speaker who helps busy workers Leave the Office Earlier® with Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. She is the president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in high-stress organizations. Since 1992, Laura has presented keynotes and seminars on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in today’s workplaces. She is the bestselling author of three works published by Broadway Books: The Exhaustion Cure (2008), Find More Time (2006) and Leave the Office Earlier (2004). Laura is a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, and Day-Timers®, Inc and has been featured on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and the New York Times. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Sunoco, KPMG, Nationwide, and 3M. To have Laura speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401. Visit to sign up for her free monthly productivity newsletter.

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