Photograph by Robert Daly — Getty Images/OJO Images RF
By Ratmir Timashev
May 12, 2016

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you create balance in your professional life? is written by Ratmir Timashev, CEO of Veeam.

While businesses leaders and career advisors today often preach the importance of work-life balance, many workers, especially in the tech industry, wear their long work weeks as a badge of honor. As the CEO of an enterprise technology company, I sympathize. My daily to-do list seems like it has no end, but I also know that it does not have to be this way.

I am a firm believer in the need to move quickly, especially as a technology company. While “getting it right” with a new product is more important than “being first,” there’s no denying that bringing a product to market ahead of the competition can help a great deal, as does improving the product quickly based on responses from users. To move quickly as an organization, individuals need to work smarter, not necessarily faster or harder. Doing that requires the ability to prioritize, which in my opinion is an absolutely critical skill for any boss or employee to possess. In an age of endless distractions from the inbox, it is imperative to regain focus and prioritize the work that actually matters.

At the beginning of each work day, I make a list of the three most important things I need to accomplish before the day is done. Just three, not 53. By limiting my focus, I make my day more manageable and can actually accomplish something. It’s better to finish a small number of projects than to finish 20% of two dozen projects. As a morning person, I am often able to complete my list by lunch time, which frees me up to address any urgent items or emergencies that bubble up over the course of a given day. And, on the fortunate days where there is nothing urgent to look at, I have the time to do higher-order tasks and think strategically about long-term goals, not just jump from item to item and email to email.

It is very easy to let work consume our lives. This is detrimental in many different ways, not to mention that it ultimately lowers the quality of your work and your productivity. This is why I value prioritization. It is the simplest way to ensure that your time is well spent and that your goals are accomplished.

It is also an incredibly useful time management tool, one that gives you time back that you would otherwise have wasted, unproductively, in the office. As a result, I have more time to spend with my family, which is the most important time there is.

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