The 80/20 Rule
An old rule of thumb states that 20 percent of your efforts will yield 80 percent of your results. You should always look for those actions that create the most results. Make them your priority [source: Leland/Bailey].
Focusing on priorities is a big part of good time management. First, you need to define what those priorities are. Start with the big picture: Where do you want to go in your life and your career? Also consider your values. What's important and meaningful to you? Next, think about what you can do this month, this week, and even as soon as tomorrow, to make progress toward those goals.
However, setting priorities requires more than just applying an A, B or C rating to a given task. It means regularly reviewing your mission and long-term goals. To this end, management guru Stephen R. Covey points out that time management requires both a clock and a compass. The clock is how we use our time. The compass represents the sense of mission that should be pointing us toward where we want to go [source: Covey]. Will the things you are doing or planning to do pay off by moving you closer to your goals?
To stay focused, write down your priorities. Keep the list with you. And always be selective -- don't make everything a priority.