How would you like to be able to prioritize the truly important things in life - your family, your health and your personal dreams?

Like most of us, you probably answered 'yes' to this question. Just as likely, your mind began chattering away with a number of excuses about why you simply can't do more than you already are.

There are only 24 hours in the day, after all. I'm not a time traveler. I'm doing the very best I can with what I've got.

I know all the excuses... I've used most of them myself. But the simple fact remains that if you are not focusing your time and energy on the important things, instead of the seemingly urgent things, then you are quite literally wasting your life away.

We all are to some degree, actually. Whenever we do mindless, useless tasks, we are wasting our life away. Those moments are irretrievable, gone, kaput, vanished forever into the void of the past.

Television wastes time. The World Wide Web wastes time. The phone and email waste time. Gossip wastes time. You just wasted 10 seconds reading about wasteful ways of using up time.

Yes, really.

How many times have you said, or heard someone else say something like: "Well, I'd love to do that [exercise, take up a hobby, volunteer, etc] if I had more time, but I'm just so busy right now." I'm guessing we've all said it at least once, and heard it more times than we care to count.

The problem is this: Busy-ness is rarely, if ever time well spent. It's not productive. Being busy is being unfocused and being unfocused causes you to spend more time and energy than you actually need when trying to get something done.

I'd like to share an interesting exercise that can demonstrate my point.

Get a sharp knife, a spoon and a cardboard box. Grab the spoon and try and poke a hole in the cardboard box. Try it a few times and see how you do. If you don't make a hole in the box, that's okay. Now grab the sharp knife and try and poke a hole in the box. Pretty easy right?

Busy is being the spoon. Productive is being the knife. Focus on what you need to get done and do it.

So how do you go about it? The first is to take a long, honest look at the things you do and the things that frequently get pushed off (probably because you're "too busy").

Do you love to play the guitar, but never get around to it?

Maybe you've always wanted to spend more time with your kids, but work just keeps you so darn busy?

It's possible that donating your time at a local shelter has been something you've wanted to do for your whole life, but there are just aren't enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.

Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. At the top of the left side, write the word "Important" and at the top of the right side write the word "Unimportant". Now get busy writing down all the things you currently do and the things you wish you did and classify them as one or the other.

Next, identify which of the items in both lists you consider to be urgent by putting a capital 'U' beside it. When you're done you will have the beginnings of a system to prioritize how you spend your time.

The most important time you spend will be on the things that are Important but not Urgent. These are the things you do because you love them. They are the things you do that are forward looking and are strategic, either in your life or your business.

Anything that is non-important and non-urgent should be, for the most part, removed from your life.

So, get focused on the important tasks. Stop wasting time (and your life).

Be the knife.

Author's Bio: 

Paul Keetch is a writer, marketing and business coach and founder of the free monthly membership website Claim your weekly coaching membership absolutely free right now.