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Only 24 Hours in a Day: Overbooking Time

There are only 24 hours in a day. We know it. You know it. So why do our day planners sometimes look as if there are 72 hours in a day? We all fall victim to overbooking from time to time.

Whether you use To-Do lists, day planners, electronic schedulers, or throw darts at a dartboard marked with client names, whatever plan you use to schedule your day needs to have a healthy dose of reality. A sure sign you've fallen victim to overbooking is when you consistently move projects from day to day. If half your To-Do list moves from Monday, to Tuesday, to . . . all the way to Friday, you're trying to do too much in one day—or you're procrastinating (covered in the very next section!).

When planning your day, it's wise to be ambitious. Erica consistently aims high. Her planner is chock full, but she knows if she never has to go to "Plan B," operates on all cylinders, and isn't interrupted by too many phone calls, she can "nail" her list. Does this happen every day? No, but that's why they call it life. Ambition is fine. Insanity is not.

Look at your list and ask yourself, if all the stars and planets are in alignment, if you never go to Plan B, and all of the rest of it, can you really achieve the list? If the answer is no, it's time to rein in your schedule. Why? For one thing, you may find yourself making promises to clients and sales calls you can't keep. You may miss deadlines; you may fail to return the calls you need to and so on. For another, overbooking builds into it a sense of failure. "I didn't do everything I planned to do." It may also, looking at a too-full schedule, induce anxiety, or make you feel under the gun constantly. It's not good for your psyche. Type-A personalities may thrive on this, but use caution for both your health and your sanity.

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