“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”
- Dallin H. Oaks

Often you fail because you do not try. Sometimes you do not try because you were busy doing other things. Later you end up with regret. This has something to do with setting the priorities right in your life. Most of the times you end up not doing things stating the lack of time. There are world leaders with so much on their plate but still managed to write great books and do other things. Did they have more than 24 hours a day or more than 7 days a week? No. They knew their game — to set the right priorities in life.

I had a big problem with this in my early days, just after college. I was not aware of how I should be spending my time so that I be where I want to be. But over the years, through reading and a bit of own research and experience I have understood a simple way of setting your priorities in your life. I must admit that these are my goals and I am still pretty much work in progress!

Watch how you spend your time

You would be astounded to see how much time you waste everyday doing random useless things. What might seem like a second of fun will consume long hours from your time in a day. If you closely keep a watch on your daily routine you’ll see that you have a strong tendency to get distracted. It can be your mobile phone, social network, your co-workers, your friends and relatives. Choose a typical day and list out all the activities that you do and the time you spend doing them. This will give you a clear idea on how and where you are spending more time.

In a normal day there are so many activities that we do, some of which we never remember at the end of the day. Try creating an excel sheet listing out all your activities since morning and account for the last 24 hours. It is never easy. So many minutes and hours are spent in being unproductive. Give a careful thought to how and where you are spending your time.

Factor in your goals

Now bring in your goals to the equation. Can be your short term or long term goals. I believe that your long term goal is a cumulative effect of many short term goals. But that is for another post another day. Once you bring in your goals into the picture, compare what you are currently doing to what you should be doing to achieve your goals. Are you happy with what you are doing in order to achieve your goal? It can be anything, learning to be better at coding or just to be smarter.

Sit back and think about the most important areas of your life — career, relationships, health, personal development etc. Rate each of these at a scale of 1–10, 1 being not important at all and 10 being very important. Note that depending on what stage of your life you presently are, the priorities can be different. Now look back at your life and decide how well you are doing in these areas. Rate your efforts in the same scale. If there is a huge difference between the priority of your goal and your effort, something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

Rework on your priorities

Now that you have a pretty good idea where your life is headed to, take control of it. Decide what is it that you need to do to fix the situation and stick to it. Keep reminding yourself how important it is for you to achieve what you have planned for different areas of your life. Every time you start out to do something, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Is what I am about to do leading me to my goal?
  2. If not what else should I be doing now?

If the answer to first question is ‘yes’ then continue doing it. If it is ‘no’, then ask the second question and do what is required.

To be or not to be. . . social?

In your social life it is very easy to find unproductive things to do. Though I firmly believe that you need your family and friends, you should not give up anything for them. Next time you set out for the engagement party of your distant relative living at a distant place whom you haven’t met in three years only because its a family tradition, think again. All the time you spend there never comes back. If you are planning to attend an interview over the weekend, it makes more sense to prepare for it rather than go for a wedding or birthday party. One may argue that social gatherings are essential in life and I do agree, but timing is key.

You are evaluated based on your achievements in your life, not on the number of events you attend. Next time you attend an event, you don’t want to be embarrassed when someone talks about your achievements right? Little sacrifice now can lead you to awesome results later. And if the people around you really care for you, they’ll understand if you are absent for a couple of occasions. Take care of yourself first, because only you can bring a change in your life!

Everything is important. Just that some things are more important than others.