“What’s the ONE Thing you can do?” This one simple question asked by Gary Keller in his book, The ONE Thing, forced me to re-think what my top priority is and what I should spend at least half of my time on. This question can be applied to my relationships, my personal development, my job, and also to this blog. This question is very simple, yet very powerful.
I like to know for certain that my day’s been productive. Every day in the evening, I evaluate this. How? I check to see if I managed to do three MITs that day. If the answer is yes, then I know I’ve had a productive day. What are MITs? They are Most Important Tasks. Why MITs? Why three? You’ll find the answers to all of these questions below.
Each of you probably has a todo list. I’m sure that you have a lot of tasks there–more than you are able to process in a day. It doesn’t matter what methodology you use to manage your tasks, it’s simply not possible to do everything in one day! At some point, you have to choose what’s most important for a given day.
I deal with this challenge by defining three of my most important tasks for the day (MIT). I have a list of tasks that I need to do in a given week (I create this list every Friday; there will be a separate blog post about this). This list has a maximum of 20 elements, so choosing the right tasks for the day is not that hard. I scan that list searching for tasks that fulfil the criteria below:
- I have to do it in a given day – I try to avoid situations where I have to do something on a given date, but sometimes I have such tasks. They will be chosen as MITs.
- I want to do it because I want to see progress on a project – I like to see that things are moving in the right direction, and that I am closer to finishing the project.
- Someone is waiting for me to finish a task and I do not want to hinder that person.
- I want to do the task because I like it and it will be a pleasure to work on it (like writing a blog post :).
- The task is part of a bigger project and I know that I need to finish it by a given deadline.
- The task is quick and I know that I can finish it even if my day is very busy (for example, call someone, which is something I can do between meetings).
I’ve noticed that three MITs per day is an optimal number. Usually I can commit to finishing that number of tasks. If I chose more, I would risk not being able to finish them, and I would have to postpone them to the next day. If that happens, the tasks really start to pile up.
A lot of times, I’m tempted to mark more than three tasks as MITs because I consider a lot of tasks to be important. Then I try to remind myself of my rule, which states that if everything is the most important, then in reality nothing is! It’s up to me to choose what is really important on a given day.
To summarize, every day in the morning I have a list of tasks I want to do first. It looks like this:
In practice, I try to finish these tasks as early as possible, starting my day with them. Some time ago I wrote about how my mornings look. I work on my MITs before 9AM, using the Pomodoro technique. If I manage to complete all my MITs in the morning, the rest of the day is much calmer. I have a lot of energy for other things that I want to do. I know that the most important things are done. And it’s a great feeling to know that I’ve had a productive day!
How do you choose your tasks for the day? How do you know what to do next? Let me know how you deal with this!