Communities That Care | Resolve to make more time this year

People are running ragged these days. The average American is working 20 percent more hours and has more than 30 percent less free time than their parents did. Distractions, disruptions and unnecessary tasks consume 40 percent of an eight-hour workday.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Make adding more guilt-free time for yourself one of your New Year’s resolutions. Here’s my five-day plan to gaining an extra hour each day:

Day 1 (Monday)

• Clean out your filing cabinet to make filing much faster and easier.

• Get rid of that junk mail pile. Be ruthless and just toss anything not important. Promise yourself to tackle the mail as it comes in. This will take only minutes versus the hour it might take to go through a huge pile.Then take a few minutes to remove yourself from the junk mail lists at


• Go to bed and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Day 2 (Tuesday)

• Get to work and stop procrastinating. Turn off the phone and the email and dive in to your work. You’ll be amazed at what you can finish before lunch if you set your mind to it. You’ll be out enjoying a round of golf, a bike ride or whatever pleases you in no time!

• Try checking your email only twice a day. Do one of three things with the email: reply, delegate or delete. Avoid having more than eight to 10 emails in your inbox at any given time.

• Go to bed and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Day 3 (Wednesday)

• Stop being part of the statistic that says Americans lose up to 150 hours each year looking for lost items. Get organized today!

• Start by spending just 15 minutes a day sorting through a drawer, a section of the basement, or whatever.

• Combine your errands into a block of time in one day versus stretching out multiple stops over several days.

• Go to bed and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Day 4 (Thursday)

• Hire someone to do the jobs you don’t enjoy or aren’t worth your time. Maybe it’s someone to clean the house, mow the yard, do your filing, wash the car; I think you get the picture.

• Encourage your children to pick up their own toys and put them away. What a novel idea!

• Encourage your spouse to pick up his or her own dirty clothes, dirty dishes, shoes and other personal items and put them away. Another novel idea!

• Go to bed and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Day 5 (Friday)

• Order dinner in. Save yourself from setting the table, cooking dinner, and doing the dishes. The evening will truly be yours.

• Go to bed and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Make 2013 the year you stop running yourself in circles. Make it the year you relax and start enjoying some guilt free time for yourself.