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Stop Overscheduling Yourself

Wondering why you agreed to take the dog to the vet, drive the kids to see Santa, and whip up cookies for your preschooler's holiday party on the same day? If you're prone to overcommitting yourself, you're not alone! What to do if your schedule tends to run over:

Don't get caught up in the moment. When someone calls to ask you to cover the carpool shift next week, don't respond right away. "Say you need time to check your schedule," says Tracy Lyn Moland, author of Mom Management. That extra five minutes to look at your calendar could save you two hours next week.

Imagine tomorrow is today. "When you book an appointment for next Wednesday, imagine that it's happening today," says Gal Zauberman, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and coauthor of a recent study on ways people overcommit their time. You're busy now, no doubt, and that should help you focus on how busy you're likely to be next week.

Be real. Accept that most things take longer than we expect. A half-hour errand really lasts more than an hour when you factor in wrangling your child into his car seat, driving there, and parking (and that's if all goes smoothly!). So keep that in mind when you're packing stuff into your day.

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