“What’s old is new again.” How many times have you heard that? When you think in terms of not having enough hours in the day or admitting you’re spread too thin, there’s nothing new or old about those perceptions. This summer may feel the same as this time last year (or 12 years ago) and before you can blink—school, homework and football are back on your planner. Where does the time go?

Priority awareness is the biggest mind shift you can have in today’s non-stop pace. Sometimes our habits that keep us in rhythm with juggling so many things—like getting up early, fixing lunches the night before or working with a calendar—disappear for a million different reasons. Why do we stop doing things that work? This usually happens because something “better” comes along and we think old school is just “old.” Rethink and revisit the following proven ideas to handle what life is throwing at you:

  • Schedule it. While most of us make appointments with other people, we rarely put ourselves on our own calendar. Never underestimate the power of an appointment with yourself. Block off time, write it in ink and don’t cancel or postpone on yourself. Just like on an airplane, put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You’re no good to those you love if your energy is drained and emptied.
  • “96.” Pareto’s Principle states that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In most cases, 80 percent of the work you need to do can be completed in 20 percent of the time. An eight-hour work day is 96 minutes. What could you accomplish if you had 96 minutes to focus on your “priority list?” You might not need more hours if you could use the hours you have more wisely.
  • Let others know. Interruptions are a major killer in your focus to finish (or start). Let coworkers, staff and family know you’re tied up and when you’ll be able to be reached. Be proactive in focusing on your priority list versus responding to someone else’s emergency. “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.” Good mantra.
  • Bust your hump day. Consider Wednesday as the day you “bust it out” and become the Energizer Bunny. Alter your normal routine by getting to work earlier or staying later than usual. Or by getting up earlier or going to bed later than normal. By doing this, your perspective of time shifts. Consider doing this once a week until you get caught up with the work hanging over your head.

Being productive means having solid focus skills in place. It’s having control over what you do next. Choose between priority over task and important over trivial. Replace the words “old” and “new” with “current” and “proven.” There’s nothing old school about that. It’s that simple.