Does it ever feel like there is never enough time in the day? Are you always rushing and feeling stressed? Do you believe that you are not accomplishing what you hoped? Better priority management may be the solution. I don’t believe anyone manages time. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, but some are better than others at managing their priorities to allow the important things get done each day.

Marcus “Dr. Respect” Gentry teaches we must “protect, organize, and prioritize our time.” If you feel time slipping away from you, it’s likely you are missing at least one of those elements.

We all have the same amount of time in a day, but what matters is how we choose to use it. If you often find yourself doing things you really don’t want to do, or spending time with people who take more than they give, then you need to work on better protecting your time. Your time is your gift to spend; you can spend it wisely, or you can waste it. It’s your choice. However, one thing you can’t do is get a refund.

In life, we all have do things we don’t really want to be doing, but when that happens, it should be in furtherance of a bigger goal. For example, maybe you don’t want to go to work today, but you want that paycheck at the end of the week.

However, there are things that we do that just aren’t important, don’t lead to anything, and waste our time. Can you think of any activities that fall into that category for you? The average American watches an average of five hours of television each day. How is that for a time waster?

When I first got my computer, one of the things I unwisely spent my time on was computer games. I don’t mean an occasional game here or there—I’m talking about an addiction, an obsession—playing solitaire until two in the morning. If I didn’t get that under control, I would have not only been wasting my time, but I would have been wasting my life.

When it comes to protecting my time, I have three general categories. The first category is for making progress toward my work and life goals. This generally involves helping people in some way, generating more clientele, and increasing my revenue streams. My goal is to eventually hire out all those necessary jobs that I don’t love to do so that I can focus all my time on the work I’m passionate about. Until then, I try to get these unavoidable tasks done as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

The second category involves spending time with people I care about—those people who nurture me. I protect time for the special man in my life, my sons, my extended family, and my friends. There are some people that I avoid when I am protecting my time; they are the ones who generally take more than they give. If you have people like that in your life that you can’t cut ties with, at least minimize the time you give to these people.

The third category is for activities that bring me pleasure, whether I do these things alone or with others. Whenever I need some relaxation, I like to read a book, watch a movie, horseback ride, canoe, ski, swim, or walk in the woods. Protect your time so you get to do the things that bring you joy.

Organizing your time requires having a good priority management system. Don’t wait for the deadline before starting something. Make a plan and implement systems to take charge of your time instead of letting your schedule being in charge of you.

Did you know that the average person’s mind wanders around seven to eight times a minute? Developing good work habits, such as maintaining a laser-like focus until the job is done, is critical for effective time organization.

Prioritizing your time is all about deciding what are your priorities. My three categories—goal-oriented actions, time with important people, and time doing enjoyable activities—don’t necessarily prioritize in that order. I know that when I spend too much time working, I start to feel on edge and tense. This is generally a strong indicator that I need to switch my focus to one of the other areas. A person cannot be in control of their time if all they do is goal-oriented activity. Balance is necessary for good priority management, time management and a healthy lifestyle.

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