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You go to bed every night thinking of the things that remain unaccomplished. You know of fires that are still burning. Worse still, you also know of fires that would have started by the time you wake you up. Fires of unaccomplishments –  in your personal life, at home, with your spouse, with your kids, with your finances and with your dreams.

You’re so busy fighting fires at work, you don’t realize your own backyard is ablaze.

One of the most effective ways of doing more of what you really want to do – practice your hobbies, pursue your passions, follow your dreams – is to take a long hard look at what I call the Priorities Vs. Fooling Ratio. How many minutes do you really spend every hour actively addressing your priorities?

Here is a simple exercise to find out what the Priorities Vs. Fooling Ratio looks like for you. Starting at the hour you wake up and going all the way till you fall asleep, keep a running count every hour of the minutes you spend on your priorities and the minutes you don’t spend on your priorities.

A simple stop-watch will do the trick. Turn it on when you get into your priority zone, turn it off when you get out of your priority zone.

Your definition of priorities will change from hour to hour – and it will be a reflection not only of what you currently do for a living, but also what your personal and professional dreams and aspirations are. Listen to your heart – that inner voice inside you always knows what your real priorities are.

For example, you might spend the first hour of the day exercising, meditating or praying. You might then spend the first couple of hours at work working on the next actions on key projects. You might also spend the last hour before sleeping reading a book, writing a journal or conversing with your spouse.

You could also spend the first hour of the day lazing around, watching TV or reading a newspaper. You could spend the first couple of hours at work checking emails, having water cooler conversations with colleagues and updating your Facebook wall. And you could spend the last hour before sleeping cuddled up with your tablet or smartphone in the busy-ness of meaningless pursuits.

Priorities Vs. Fooling Around =

Minutes spent every hour accomplishing your most important things / Minutes spent every hour spent fooling around

At the end of every hour, add up the minutes you spent on your priorities. Also add up the minutes you spent fooling around. With 60 minutes in a hour, the best you can get to is 60 – if all you do is going after the demons that matter most. Call them what you will – the most important things, high value activities, big-hairy-audicious goals. On the flip side, you choose while away the entire hour and be stuck with a 0 for that hour.

Keep a progressive track of how good you are getting the game – every hour, every day, week over week. Tracking this number every hour is a good yardstick to measure how good you are at the game of accomplishing your life’s most important priorities. You will also find hours during the day when the number takes a nosedive for you – and these will correspond to the areas in your life that need a radical makeover.

As you get better at not fooling around, you will not need a stopwatch any longer. You will instinctively work on your most important priorities by the hour.

Of course, you can choose to fabricate the Priorities Vs. Fooling number, making you feel like you are very busy. Or you could choose to ignore what the number reports. You could also choose to stop tracking it. In any case, you’d be deceiving yourself. You would be killing the messenger, when all you need is to take a long, hard look at your own life and the activities and schedules that make it up.

When will you accomplish your life’s most important goals? When will you reach your dreams? When will you realize your passions?

What’s your number?

Are you really focusing on getting your life priorities addressed – or are you just fooling around?