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Feeling overwhelmed is like placing yourself in a pressure cooker — there’s always a boiling point. Laura Stack, productivity expert and author of What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do, identifies two seemingly helpful areas that may be preventing you from organizing your life around tasks that really matter.

Reset your to-do list. Many people confuse activity with productivity when creating their to-do lists. Rather than doing things in order of appearance, Stack believes in creating checklists categorized by levels of urgency.

“Say you do nine out of 10 things on your list, but the one you didn’t do was the most important,” Stack says. “Doing more is overrated. You need to reduce, reduce, reduce.”

Reduce gadget dependency. Avoiding timewasters can be instrumental in becoming much more productive. Procrastination will have you leaving work every day feeling dissatisfied rather than with a sense of accomplishment, and, for Stack, the biggest time-wasters can be technology. “The blinking light on your phone, the buzz you got from an incoming text, the beep from a new e-mail” — these distractions have almost become “an addiction,” she says. It requires self-discipline to distance yourself from these external disruptions.

Think of it as a battle between two competing voices, she suggests. “Are you going to open [a document] and start working on your important report, or are you going to open your browser and check your Facebook?”

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