Sorting Out Priorities: A Guide for College Students


By Manda Perkins Published on September 13, 2018

Who wouldn’t do anything to have the responsibilities of a 5-year-old again? What happened to the dreams of grandeur when you were finally old enough to buy whatever you wanted, drive a car, or have a bit more say in how you went about your life day-to-day?

The problem is that the older you get, the more complicated life becomes. Responsibilities come at you from every direction, demanding your attention. It wouldn’t be a problem if you weren’t limited to 24 hour days. 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, and then other expendable things fall to the wayside. The following tips may help you sort through the backlog of responsibilities and identify priorities you need to take care of.

Set Life Goals

What is it that you hope to accomplish in life? Do you want a family, have a successful career, or get a degree? How about becoming involved in your community or mastering a hobby?

Sit down and identify what is most important in life for you, then rank those items in order of importance.

Is family more important than work? Is your mortgage more important than a new motorcycle? From a general standpoint, what do you want to be known for in the future? Identify those priorities and rank them in importance with a number. Mark the absolute most important with a 1. Mark the second most important with a 2, and so on and so forth. Make the last category “miscellaneous.”

Use Goals to Identify Priorities

Is your brain feeling a little crowded with all the tasks that need to be completed? Jot all of those tasks down. Then, go through each item and identify which life goal that tasks falls under. For example, taking your children to soccer practice might fall under your goal of “having a good relationship with my family.” Picking up something for your boss could be listed under your goal to “get a promotion.” To the left of each item on the list, write the number that corresponds with that life goal you made in the first list. Once you’ve numbered every item on the list, you’ll have sorted out the most important tasks. Complete all of the 1’s first, then the 2’s, and so on.

Let Go of Less Important Tasks

You won’t be able to get to everything all the time. Let go of tasks that interfere with higher priority items. It may mean that 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 have to decline an invitation to a friend’s party so you can study for that midterm coming up. The sacrifice will be well worth the gains you’ll get for focusing on what’s most important.

We hope these tips will help you sort out those busy days, making them more doable than they are stressful. That way when the question comes down to family, work, and school, you’ll know how to best prioritize your life according to your goals.

What is your go-to method for managing tasks? Tell us in the comments below!