One of the biggest problems faced by many people in today’s fast-paced society is time management. There’s always something else you need to do, somewhere else you need to be, and an endless list of distractions getting in your way. One of the most critical steps in managing your time more effectively is setting priorities that help you weigh each task against its ability to help you in the long run.

Rank your priorities

Plenty of people think they know exactly what their priorities are. They might list it as, “Religion, family, work,” or, “Friends, family, job.” Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, those aren’t the things that are actually taking priority in their lives. Often, work edges the other two right out. In other cases, procrastination might lead to more time spent on leisure tasks than on the ones that are really important. Take the time to sit down and actually rank your priorities, including listing them in detail. Don’t just say, “family.” Include, “Quality time with family,” or “Making sure to take my son to his karate class each week.” It’s not just, “Work.” It’s finishing that important project, digging in and meeting your sales goals for the week, or accomplishing a certain number of tasks throughout the day. To really understand your priorities, you have to get specific.

See how your written priorities line up with your actual time usage

How many hours did you spend randomly browsing the internet at work today? Did you check your email a couple of times, or did you skim over your inbox every twenty minutes or so in the hopes that the contents had changed? Write down where you’re actually spending your time, and be conscious of deviations from your stated task. If you spent ten minutes checking your email and twenty working on a project, that’s not thirty spent on the project. Be honest with yourself! In this case, you aren’t being held accountable to anyone else. Instead, you’re learning how to be accountable to yourself and to see what your priorities really are.

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There’s an app for that

There are a number of fantastic apps on the market that will improve and monitor your time management success. Check out Listastic, which allows you to easily make lists and keep them on you all the time. No more forgetting your To Do list on your desk when you’re out of the office or making it to the grocery store without your grocery list–well, unless you’ve forgotten your phone. Then there’s, which is designed to issue reminders about the most important goals in your life and give you the tools you need to succeed. RescueTime tracks the amount of time you spend on each app when you open up your browser and will deliver regular reports, letting you know when you’ve spent too much time browsing and not enough time working. Focus Booster allows you to set a timer and really focus in on the task at hand for a given period of time instead of allowing yourself to get distracted. Whatever motivation strategy you need, you’ll find there’s an app that will work for you.

If you’re looking for more strategies to help you manage your time more effectively, visit GSDTips regularly. We know there are plenty of distractions sucking your energy and attention away from the things that really matter each day, and we want to see you succeed. Setting priorities and sticking to them can be a challenge, but when you really dig in, you can see your success increase exponentially. You know what you’re able to accomplish when you’re distracted. What could you do if your full potential were unlocked and you were able to focus on the priorities that matter most?

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