You can't change the number of hours in a day, but you can fill them more efficiently, with less stress and mental effort. You've likely heard this before, and perhaps your past efforts at time management have been, well, a waste of time. But most people's attempts to increase productivity get derailed by two virtues of modern living: technology and options. Today's onslaught of tech – smartphones, iPads, search engines, social media – is fragmenting our attention spans, gumming our mental gears with useless facts, and turning us into surface-level thinkers. At the same time, all the communication choices we have today – email, IM, text, Skype, or Gmail chat – are thwarting efficiency. But we don't have to give up technology to regain control. "You need to set expectations of yourself and other people," says Daniel Markovitz, a blogger on time management for the 'Harvard Business Review.' "You need to say, 'Here's the Bat Phone number. Use it if there's an emergency. Otherwise, leave me alone to do my job.'" Here, eight ways to manage time.
Prep the night before.
While it's important to get a good night's sleep, the time just before bed is ideal for getting your thoughts together for the next day – and not just because it lessens what you have to do tomorrow. Scans of sleeping people show our brains work on solving problems when we're not awake, so reviewing a little work before bed helps imprint on your brain exactly what needs to be solved. "We've all had that aha moment in the shower the next morning," says Creswell. "That's because you've let the unconscious mind operate organically on the imprinted information." But avoid overly stressful projects before bed, which may cause you to toss and turn with worry. And don't work on anything with a screen within an hour of bed: Studies show the blue light in screens can lead to fitful sleep.
Credit: Getty Images