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Seven steps to better time management
1. Make a list. It sounds obvious, but writing down what you need to get done each day/week will help you focus. Look at your 'today' tasks - do they really need to be done by the end of the day? Could you delegate any tasks to colleagues, your partner or the kids?
2. Got a bill to pay, an unpleasant call to make or a looming deadline? Don't put it off. Procrastination is a common response to stress - but tidying up papers isn't the answer. As Professor Palmer says: "Procrastination or displacement behaviour temporarily helps your stress levels go down, but what happens to your stress levels an hour or two later, when you realise you've lost all that valuable time?"
3. Break up a big project into small chunks you can do over several days. Set yourself small achievable goals and you'll end each day on a high rather than panicking at the last minute.
4. Speak up when you're feeling swamped. If you know you're going to miss a deadline, inform relevant people as soon as possible and suggest alternatives - for example, bringing more people on to the project or extending the deadline.
5. Schedule some 'you' time. If your calendar is swamped with meetings, book a few 'lunch meetings' with yourself. Get away from your desk, so colleagues can't drop by. If home is stressful, arrange for someone to watch the kids for an hour (return the favour another time). Going for a walk is an hour well spent if you return to the home or office refreshed.
6. Set early deadlines. If you rely on others to meet deadlines, set them several days in advance where possible. Unexpected things happen - sickness, train delays, home emergencies. Build in some contingency time so that the smallest thing doesn't end up sending you over the edge.
7. Got so much to do, you don't know where to start? Take a few deep breaths or make a cup of tea. Taking yourself away for a minute or two will give you chance to order your thoughts and sit down with a calm head, ready to plan the order in which to tackle tasks.
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