posted May 30, 2017


Make Time for Your Priorities

by Malia James, CPA, Staff Associate II

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. That’s it. Twenty-four hours and not one minute more. We know this, however for many of us (myself included) it is a struggle to fit everything on our to-do list into those finite 24 hours. There is a seemingly endless supply of demands on our time and it can easily become overwhelming to think of everything to be done. For this reason time management is a critical skill to master. The following are five tips that can help bring order to your chaotic schedule.

1. Identify your priorities

Take some time, perhaps on your drive to and from work this week, thinking through the people, activities, or interests that are most important to you. It could be family, friends, work, school, exercising, eating healthy, or a hobby. Once you’ve identified these items then take a moment to rank them in order of importance. As you review the items on your list, you’ll probably notice there is common theme among them.All of these people or activities are most likely things that you really enjoy. You feel more balanced and satisfied when you have time for them. This brings us to the next tip – schedule time for your priorities.

2. Schedule time for your priorities

Stephen Covey is famously quoted as saying “Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.” Since time is our most limited resource, we must be intentional in how we spend it. Being proactive in planning how to spend your time ensures that your top priorities won’t get pushed aside by items that ranked lower on your priority list. If you identify that your top priority is spending time with your family, intentionally set aside time for this during the week. Schedule one night each week when everyone is home together for dinner. Maybe you’d prefer a weekly date night with your spouse or game night with your kids. Whatever it is, put it on the calendar so it doesn’t get forgotten or rescheduled. It doesn’t mean your schedule can’t change, but it does make it easier for you to say no when opportunities for non-priorities pop up.

3. Learn to say “No” to non-priorities

Choosing to focus on your priorities often requires sacrificing time spent on things that fall lower on your priority list. Saying “no” is difficult for many people, but it is also one of the most important skills we can learn. Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” When you’ve identified your priorities and scheduled time for them, it becomes easier to decide when and how often your schedule can accommodate non-priority activities.

4. Be cognizant of time-wasting activities

While technology can certainly boost productivity, it can also be one of the biggest drains on our productivity. Hours each week can be wasted by scrolling through Facebook or watching videos on YouTube. Be aware of how much time during the week is spent on social media or in front of the television and think through ways to intentionally re-direct some of that time towards your priorities.

5. Focus on one task at a time

It can be easy to become overwhelmed when you think of everything on your to-do list at once. Focusing on one task at a time, however, makes the list seem less daunting. Try to accomplish items with upcoming deadlines first. Once you’ve accomplished those two or three items at the top of your list, everything else you check of your list is a bonus!

If time is our most limited resource, then it is also our most important. By identifying your priorities and scheduling time for them you can proactively take control of your schedule and intentionally make time for the things that are most important to you.

The content of these pages is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C. tries to provide content that is true and accurate as of the date of writing; however, we give no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, or applicability of any of the contents.