Sorting Out Priorities: A Guide for College Students

Updated By Staff Writer on June 26, 2020

As a child, you had dreams of grandeur about when you’d finally be old enough to buy whatever you wanted, drive a car, and control your own life. But of course, the older you get, the more complicated life becomes. Responsibilities come at you from every direction, demanding your attention. This would be OK if you weren’t limited to 24-hour days. But there’s simply not enough time in the day to take care of every priority. The key is learning to sort through the backlog and take care of the most important things first, while letting some nonessential things fall to the wayside. The following tips may help you sort through the demands on your time and identify priorities you need to handle first.

Set Life Goals

  What do you hope to accomplish in life? Do you want a family? Do you want to get a college degree? Do you want a successful career? How about getting involved in your community or mastering a hobby? In the future, what do you want to be known for? Write down your life goals. After you’ve identified these goals, mark the absolute most important goal with a 1. Mark the second most important goal with a 2, and so forth.

Identify Your Priorities

  With your life goals established, now you can better prioritize your time and efforts. Is your brain feeling a little crowded with all the tasks you need to complete? Jot all these tasks down. Then, go through each item and identify which life goal each task falls under. For example, attending all your child’s soccer games might fall under your goal of “Build good relationships with my family.” Completing an extra project at work could be listed under your goal to “Get a promotion.” To the left of each item on your task list, write the number that corresponds with the relevant life goal from your first list. When you’ve numbered every item on your task list, you’ve now sorted out your most important tasks. Complete all the 1 tasks first, then the 2’s, and so on.

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Let Go of Less Important Tasks

  Even with these lists, you won’t be able to get to everything all the time. Let go of tasks that interfere with higher-priority items. This may mean you don’t have time to meet your boss after work for drinks because you’re taking your son to soccer practice. Or, maybe you’ll have to decline an invitation to a friend’s party so you can study for that midterm coming up. Your sacrifices will be well worth the gains you’ll get for focusing on what’s most important. We hope these tips help you sort out your busy days, making your days more doable than stressful. When the question comes down to family, work, school, and other life goals, you’ll know how to best prioritize your tasks and use your time. What’s your go-to method for managing tasks?