Even those of us who don't stand a chance of getting up at 5 a.m. can still increase our productivity by picking up Cut to the Chase. Stuart R. Levine, author of the bestseller The Six Fundamentals of Success, has compiled 100 immensely practical ways to speed up, be more direct, meet smarter and find the elusive work/life balance. Fortunately you won't have to spend much time digesting the tips; you can read each one in less than 120 seconds, which is the amount of time Levine suggests for most daily interactions. Instead of hanging out in doorways engaging in time-consuming chatter, you can get in and get out without rehashing last night's episode of Lost. Then teach others to do the same, by hanging a no loitering sign if necessary. Start reclaiming your time by getting clear about your purpose, whether in work projects or life, and quit multitasking so you can focus. The advice for work centers are creating and maintaining structure. Don't have a meeting without an agenda walk out if there's not one. Get to work on time, spend the first 20 minutes organizing your day and reclaim your weekend by tying up all loose ends before leaving on Friday.

You'll feel the weight lift when you quit worrying about consensus and start teaching others how to use your time. The last page includes a Cut to the Chase Calendar with sample tips that will get your 2007 off to a fast, productive start.

Stephanie Gerber is a marketing executive in Louisville.

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