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As a business leader, there are constant and competing demands for your time. Your days are overscheduled. Your to-do list seems to never end. And don’t even think about the perpetual pile of follow-ups. Here’s the question: Is this the way work has to be in the 21st century?

Absolutely not. I have spent years trying various approaches, learning from my successes and failures, and refining how I manage my time. Based on this experience, there are definite things you can do to take control of your schedule, increase your productivity, and achieve a reasonable work-life balance.

1. Divide and conquer your daily schedule.

Creating some degree of equilibrium between your personal and professional life boils down to how you manage your schedule. Take control of your days by establishing a routine, with set times for specific tasks.

As an underwriter, I have adopted a “divide and conquer” approach for my schedule. My responsibilities largely fall into one of two categories. One involves reviewing and making decisions on cases my underwriters have prepared – I must review and authorize the risks based on their analyses. My second main responsibility is focused on delivering on our commitments to clients. If there are losses, I need to understand the liability and determine the plan of action.

2. Detox digitally.

Technology improves our lives in so many ways. New gadgets and apps help us solve problems and accomplish more in less time, but they also blur the lines between work and personal time. Be strategic in how you use technology by undergoing a three-step digital detox.

3. Make time for reflection.

It’s not unusual to wrap up a busy workday and wonder where the time went. To better understand how much time different responsibilities take and identify opportunities for efficiencies, try keeping a journal.

Allocate 15 minutes at the end of the day to write about what you did and how you felt. Research shows that employees who spent more time reflecting on their work performed about 23 percent better than their counterparts who did not. Once you understand where your time is going, be ruthless about what should get your attention and what should not.

4. Prioritize vacation time.

Leaders (particularly entrepreneurs) are notorious for their dedication and ambitious work schedules. The most important thing you can do to improve your productivity and work-life balance is to take time away from work. Don’t worry if you cannot afford to take a weeklong vacation; taking occasional days away to completely unplug from work can help you feel rested and recharged when you return to the office.

Read the full story at The Good Men Project