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OK, we said there were four sneaking time bandits we wanted to highlight. But we want to squeeze one more onto the list here to illustrate a point. Pushing one more thing onto the agenda is exactly what this brazen time bandit requires.

Overactivity, the close cousin of overcommitment, is the most obvious time bandit around. "We've just got to make this work," we say as we hurriedly make new arrangements and move things around in our date book, as if it were an unexpected guest looking for a place to sleep.

Allow us to make a fundamental point that may be just what you need to hear to keep this one from robbing you blind. If your family car has become a taxicab for running kids to church activities, school events and children's sporting events, realize that you don't have to do it all. Nowhere is it written that to be a good parent you have to sign your children up for everything and spend all your free time shuttling them around and attending each and every event.

Examine what you might drop from your list. Hold a family meeting to talk about what regaining this time would mean to all of you.Don't feel guilty about trimming the activity list using your own good judgment.

Steal Your Time Back
• None of these will steal your time unless you decide to do nothing about them. What choices can you make to steal back your time? The following questions can help you get started:
• Has technology deluded you into thinking you're saving time for your marriage when just the opposite is happening? If so, how?
• When are you most likely to become impatient and why? Can you think of a time when your impatience actually ended up costing you more time than you thought it might save you? What can you learn from that incident?
• What have you done to bring closure to unfinished business in your own life? You can no longer wonder how you got so busy. Own up to the choices you've made, or the time bandits will keep ripping you off. Don't let them. Regain the moments together you've been missing. 

Les Parrott, Ph.D., and Leslie Parrott, ED.D., are authors of several award-winning books. Visit them online at www.RealRelationships.com.

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