That little piece of advice was given to me as a young college student during freshman orientation and it has stayed with me until today. It has helped me to organize my priorities in life as well as manage my time effectively. As I’ve grown older I have come to realize that time management is one of the most important life skills that any person can master. It is also hard to find good advice that everybody can use when it comes to time management.

However, I have noticed that most of the people I know who seem to have their lives in order have held on to three principles. Regardless of their careers, or stage of life, these three directives have helped them to stay focused and make the best use of their time.

Choose schedules over deadlines.

Punctuality is a big issue in the professional world, but as anybody who has ever tried working with a partner in another time zone will tell you, it’s not everything. Hitting those deadlines consistently doesn’t have to be stressful or overly time consuming if you have assembled a realistic schedule and adhered to it. For most people, sticking to the schedule is the hard part. George Carlin, Steven King, and even Barack Obama all maintained strict daily schedules that let them squeeze the most out of each day. Learn to create routines and reliable schedules in your life to get the most out of your time.

Eat the head first.

We all have tasks that we must do each day that we’d rather avoid. Often we leave them until the end of the day, run out of steam, and let them pike up. When designing your schedule, allow time in the beginning of your day for these unpleasant tasks. If they are simple, housekeeping tasks you can consider delegating them to somebody else. Many busy moms have a house cleaner come in once a week to mop floors and wash windows; time-consuming tasks that need to be done but aren’t enjoyable and can be done by almost anybody. This frees up time for tasks that need personal attention. When you leave these tasks until later in the day you simply don’t have the willpower to get them done.

Multitasking is a myth.

Most successful people have become masters at one thing or another. Mastery requires a single-minded focus. That same mindset can transfer into any are of your life. Whether you are trying to make your marriage work or reworking a logo design, learn to tune out the distractions and give that task you complete focus until it is done. Not only will you finish chores quickly, but you will make fewer mistakes along the way.