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The Times of Your Life: Tools and Tips to Structure and Manage Time:

(ARA) - As colder weather sets in and the days grow shorter, it is a time for getting down to business, back to school and putting our noses to the grindstone. With all of this comes the need for structure. Sometimes it is natural, sometimes we need help. Here are some tips and tools to help make the transition successful.

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

An important part of making the most of everyday is simply getting up on time, which becomes even more difficult as the days grow shorter. A reliable alarm clock is a must for every member of the family. "Since everybody wakes up in a different way, there are a wide variety of alarm designs to fit every wake-up routine," says Steve Horovitz, general manager of the clock division at the Chaney Instrument Company, a leading U.S. clock company which markets Acu-Rite alarm clocks. There are simple alarms that have big, easy-to-read numbers for those who have a hard time seeing in the morning and clock radios for those who like to wake up gently to music.

Key-wound alarms like the Evermore are great for traditionalists who find the gentle tic-tock of a key-wound alarm soothing and the bell ring just loud enough. And then there are very loud alarms, like the Alert that has a 90- to 100-decibel buzzer, for those who need to be shaken from their beds. Acu-Rite's Legato has a built-in night light for a little light in the room at night. The Verve has a hidden night-glo dial that is easy to read in the dark and easy-to-grip setting knobs on the back for those whose fingers are not so nimble.

Family Time

Get organized as a family. According to the publication "Time Management and Family Issues," being disorganized actually wastes time. Being disorganized as a family can compound the problem. Looking for missing pieces of paper or keys or books takes away from productive time. But disorganization is not necessarily genetic. Anyone can decide to become organized.

Make a schedule as a family. Spend time thinking about what needs to get done today, or this week. What are the deadlines? According to "Time Management and Family Issues," making time to create a schedule will save you time in the end. Then prioritize. Make a to-do list and rank the items according to importance. This will help to sort out the very important tasks from the minor ones.

Teach your children about the importance of scheduling time by including them in the process of setting family goals, priorities, and timetables for necessary tasks such as homework and practice as well as play time and extracurricular activities. Then teach them how to match the timetables to calendars and clocks of their own.

The experts at organizedhome.com recommend taming "morning madness" by creating a "launch pad" or dedicated space for each member of the family where they can keep their "out-the-door" essentials such as lunchboxes, homework, library books, car keys, etc. An empty shelf or just a plastic bin works well for each person to have a place to store all the items they need to leave the house in the morning. Have an alarm in the staging area that is set to alert everyone in the house that it is time to get ready to leave.

Get the whole family in synch. Designate one clock in the house as the clock that keeps the "official" time. Try an Atomix clock. These clocks keep perfect time and self-adjust to the right time according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology every day. They even self-adjust for daylight-saving time twice a year. So, when that time comes, you know that you have one clock in the house that has the right time and one less task to perform.

Learn to say "no." According to "Time Management and Family Issues," this is the single most important thing a busy person can do to make the best use of their time. We are all asked to do many more things than we could ever have time for. It is important to be selective.

For more information about clocks that will help keep you on track, visit www.chaneyinstrument.com. For more tips on organizing your time visit the following Web sites: organizedhome.com; ivillage.com; iamnext.com; embark.com; monster.com; family.org.

Courtesy of ARA Content

SIDEBAR:

More Get Out of Bed Tips:

* Set the clock as far away from your bed as possible so you have to get up to turn it off.

* Rotate alarms so that you don't get used to and sleep through the wake-up call.

* Have multiple clocks set to go off within five minutes of each other.

* Set the alarm to radio static or to music you hate, as loud as possible.

More managing your time tips:

* Plan ahead. You must be able to create a schedule and also implement it. Be sure to include day-to-day realities of work, family and other responsibilities.

* Schedule leisure activities. Create holistic plans which encompass your whole life rather than just your working hours. You may learn something about your work-to-home ratio and make some adjustments.



* Break big jobs into manageable chunks. Large jobs are intimidating, and we have a tendency to put them off. If we break them up, we get them done with a lot less stress.

* Keep track of your progress. Every project requires a schedule or timetable listing the major tasks and priorities.

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