A few years ago, I found myself feeling completely overwhelmed by my mounting todo list. Endless meetings to attend, emails awaiting a response, plus my own work to complete, and oh yeah this thing called a personal life would be nice to have.
I had taken a promotion requiring me to move overseas and added a lot of new responsibilities. If you’ve ever moved or taken on a new job, you know either of these are stressful enough on their own. Trying to do both at once in a foreign country is exponentially more stressful. I knew I needed to do something different.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with plenty of apps and techniques to boost my productivity. All in the hopes that I could save a bit more time, add more value, and in general, reduce a bit of the stress associated with deadlines.
According to Statista, I’m not alone, as more than 76% of smartphone users have some sort of productivity app on their phones. Add the constantly evolving list of time-saving techniques, and it’s clear we’re all searching for ways to get ahead of our todo lists and take back control of our time.
I found no matter what I tried, it never seemed to be enough. Sure, I found ways to manage projects better, efficiently juggle a busy schedule, and create more focus in my day. But I was only saving minutes, or hours at best, when I needed to be saving days.
I decided to reflect both on the various tools I had been using to be more productive as well as how those more successful than myself manage their time.
I came to two conclusions 1) most productivity trends tend to focus on how to get work done while 2) truly successful people focus on what work should get done.
I knew then if I wanted to take back control of my time, I needed to double down on prioritizing what was on my backlog.
Early on, I realized this is much easier said than done. It’s easy to prioritize between what’s critical and not so critical. And there are plenty of tools to help you make those decisions.