What is the one thing we all want more of, but cannot buy it, earn it, or save it? The one thing that when it passes us by, it can never ever be regained? Time!

No matter who we are, or what we do, we only have 1440 minutes in a day. We all start our days with those same elusive 86,400 seconds and spend vastly different ways of enjoying or squandering it.

Time is a mystery, and if I don’t figure out a way to manage it, time will manage me.

How do I manage my time?

The only way I know how is to diligently work from a plan. Without a plan I become disorganized and distracted. To keep me on track and on time, I adhere to some of the pointers below, and am adding in new ones to take my plan to the next level.

This is the plan that works best for me and I am most productive when I follow it:

1) Start my day by 6 AM so I can take advantage of the early morning hours, my favorite time of the day.

2) Schedule workouts, meditation, journaling and learning a new tool into my calendar every day and do these in the early AM hours.

3) NEW: Schedule my lunch and a 15-minute afternoon break for a walk outside or a nice cup of tea. I find mini-breaks serve as fuel for the soul and get me more energized and productive than if I powered through lunch.

4) NEW: Schedule my calendar and To Do list the day before. Schedule the time to work on your schedule.

5) NEW: Plan a regimented but fluid schedule down to every ½ hour task. Schedule all calls and meetings and don’t be late…or this will have a snowball effect.

5) NEW: Avoid distractions — Don’t turn on Facebook/Twitter on mobile devices unless on a break or it’s scheduled time. I LOVE social media, but it can be a time thief if I allow it. I can easily spend countless hours on social media. I schedule time for social media. Same with emails… It’s OK to have emails turned off while focusing on other tasks. I absolutely turn off the notification beeps.

6) Adhere to my version of Zero Inbox rules. My version is not an inbox that has zero emails, rather it’s one that adheres to a zero unread inbox. This adapted system works well for me and is a daily goal. I read each email, file, flag, delete or add a task to those that can’t be answered immediately or require research.

7) NEW: Set reminders and alarms for all tasks. My brain cannot remember everything—nor should it be wasted trying to remember mundane to-dos—that’s what reminders and alarms are for.

8) Use time management tools like Chime, Slimtimer, Evernote, or Doodle to schedule meetings and keep track of tasks. There is a tool out there that is right for everyone—find yours.

9) Communicate my calendar. Artisan Creative proudly promotes a virtual work environment—for this to work well, we communicate regularly via AIM, Zoom or Skype. Therefore we set our status on our AIM to communicate our availability or lack of ….In a meeting, OTP, DND

10) I am not perfect and occasionally fall off the plan. I’ve learned to forgive myself, and quickly course correct so I am back on track.

Katty Douraghy, President, Artisan Creative