“After working with hundreds of professionals, managing four children, a husband and a business, I’ve learned that prioritizing can save people a lot of grief and help them make a lot of money.” ~Jinnie Cristerna

Time is the only thing that is equally distributed to everyone on the planet. Regardless of your gender, race, or income, everyone has 525,600 minutes (or 8,760 hours) each year to do whatever he or she chooses.

With that said, what you choose to do with the time you have and how you choose to use it, is completely up to you. Below are two ways that are proven to help you focus on what’s important and redirect people who may want to steal some of your minutes for their own. Yes, I said steal because time is one thing you will NOT get back!

So let’s begin with a general understanding of time management. Time management is so much more than just “managing your time.” It is about how well you manage yourself in relation to the time you’ve been given. The best way to do that is to set priorities and take responsibility for them.

As you begin to set priorities, it’s important to understand two basic time management concepts: the “80/20 rule” and the “Urgent/Important Matrix.” Let’s begin with the 80/20 rule. This is known as Pareto’s Principle, which states that 80% of your results come from only 20% of what you do.

You can actually apply the 80/20 rule to most parts of your life. If you take time to analyze what you’re spending your time on, you will begin to see that 80% of the results you’ve gotten have come from 20% of what you’ve done.

Moving on to the Urgent/Important Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Principle, we begin to gain even more insight into how important it is to be both efficient and effective if you are going to master your time.

A lot of people spend inordinate amounts of time putting out fires and dealing with crisis. However, in order to be effective and achieve your goals, you have to spend time doing things that are important and not just urgent. The matrix can be helpful in distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important.

  • Important: These are activities that lead to you achieving your goals and have the greatest impact on your life.
  • Urgent: These activities demand immediate attention, but are often associated with someone else’s goals rather than our own.

Since people are naturally drawn to urgent activities, this matrix can help overcome that tendency and focus on what is truly important.

The Urgent/Important Matrix:

  • Urgent and Important: Activities in this area relate to dealing with critical issues as they arise and meeting significant commitments. Perform these duties now.
  • Important, But Not Urgent: These success-oriented tasks are critical to achieving goals. Plan to do these tasks next.
  • Urgent, But Not Important:These chores do not move you forward toward your own goals. Manage by delaying them, cutting them short, and rejecting requests from others. Postpone these chores.
  • Not Urgent and Not Important: These trivial interruptions are just a distraction, and should be avoided if possible. However, be careful not to mislabel things like time with family and recreational activities as not important. Avoid these distractions altogether.

As hard as you may try to stick with the matrix, you will always have someone with an “important” request that needs immediate attention. And, as Murphy’s Law would dictate, it will conflict with your goals. Besides, even if you wanted to help them, you may not have the time and it can hard to tell them “No.”

If you have a hard time telling people “No,” today’s your lucky day! Believe it or not, there is a way to say no to someone and frame it positively. In fact, there’s more than one. Here’s three of them.

1) Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses. This helps the listener to better understand your position. Example: “I can’t right now because I have another project that is due by 5 pm today.”

2) Say yes, give your reasoning for not doing so, and provide an alternative solution. Example: “Yes, I would love to help you by filing this paperwork, but I do not have time until tomorrow morning.”

3) Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no. Example: “I understand that you need to have this paperwork filed immediately, but I will not be able to file it for you.”

Being able to set boundaries for yourself and others is key to managing your time and achieving your goals in your personal and professional life. Taking a few minutes on the front end to identify what is important will save you a ton of time on the back end. With all of that extra time, you may be able to regularly carve out large chunks of peaceful bliss.

With love and light I wish you pleasant journeys.

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achiever’s Therapist,” is the resident therapist for JetMag.com, a self-help author, and the owner of International High Achievers. You can learn more about her work at www.HighAchiever.net, connect with her on Facebook, or visit her author’s page on Amazon.com.