Time Management Designed for the Digital Age

The statement „To-do lists are a waste of time” could sound quite provocative.

However, it might be worthwhile to start questioning what most people still do, even though these tools and the whole mind-set are more than 30 years old and go way back into the Industrial Age. Even almost every modern email and calendar software and almost every so called “productivity” App for smartphones still tries to push us into using to-do lists and many other Industrial Age tools for that matter.

We live and work though in the Digital Age. Our work environment today is completely different. Our time management tools and work habits ought to be completely different as well.

One needs to keep in mind the implications of that statement “To-do lists are a waste of time”. The by far biggest to-do list people have today is their email inbox. I have met people with up to 60.000 emails in their inbox and I have actually seen only very few people that do not use their inbox as a to-do list, even though that is what I strongly recommend.
By the way marking an email as unread, flagging it or moving it into a task pad just creates another to-do list and is what I would call “sweeping the dirt under another carpet”.

However, I would argue at the end the only important question to ask is: “Are you experiencing POWER, FULFILLMENT and EASE regardless of what and how much there is to do for you?”
If the answer is yes, well, fine keep organizing yourself the same way as you are doing it now. Even though the answer might not be yes anymore as your work load grows even bigger and as you move up in your career and responsibilities or as you are getting closer to that fiscal year end again.

If the answer is NO, than I would recommend to start questioning not only one’s tools but one’s behaviors and mind set as well. Only a fundamental mind shift and transformation will cause a long lasting behavioral change.

Also, sometimes people argue that their way of doing things works just perfectly fine for them, but if you ask their colleagues, their clients, friends and family members, for them it does not work at all, because of…
•    all the chaos
•    the execution of tasks unnecessarily in emergency mode
•    all the loose ends
•    the waiting until the last minute
•    the promises not kept
•    being late
•    all the unanswered communications
•    the “non-productive busyness”

And because of all the stress and that loss of productivity that comes with it.
In that case I would also strongly recommend to stop clinging to practices and tools from an old age.


By Wolfgang Reck