Sometimes it feels like a 4-letter word, doesn’t it?
The pressure we put on ourselves to increase our productivity only turns to head-on-desk frustration when we can’t cross all 4,357 things off our list like we had planned.
But there is a way to deal with this.
It’s all about the MITs – your Most Important Tasks
One of the best things I’ve ever done for my productivity is to choose 1-3 MITs for each day, and work primarily on them. This practice helps me focus, which helps me get more done with less stress.
When you choose a true MIT, it means that you’re paying attention to what’s on your list and WHY it’s there to begin with. It means that you are making intentional choices, not just working in reactive mode. You know your priorities.
Not to mention, when you cross an MIT off your list, it’s SO satisfying!
But what happens when everything on the list is screaming out to get done? How do you choose your MITs?
Identify what’s truly important
It’s easy to pick little things from a to-do list because we can get them done fairly quickly with not a lot of effort. And honestly, sometimes I do that when I’m really stuck, just to get the momentum flowing.
The problem with that strategy, though, is that if you always pick the little things, the easy things, or the things that pop up unexpectedly, that’s a really good way to procrastinate and not do the harder things that truly need your attention.
Know the difference between Urgent vs. Important
If you have a long list of things to choose from, how do you know what’s important and what’s just urgent? Easy. Of all the things on your list, which will have the biggest impact on your business or your life? Which will have the largest benefit once you finish it, or the most severe consequence if it doesn’t get done?
Everything on your list will fall into one of these four categories:
- Urgent/Not Important
- Not urgent/Important
- Not urgent/Not important
Here’s a simple exercise to help you differentiate between them:
- Take a blank piece of paper. (or download the PDF in my free content library)
- Draw a line down the middle of the page, and a horizontal line across the page – making four sections in a 2×2 grid.
- Give each of the four sections one of the category labels above
- Take every item on your list and think about which category it fits into, then write them in the appropriate sections.
Your #1 priorities are the items you’ve written in the Urgent/Important section.
- Priority #2 items are in the Not Urgent/Important section.
- Priority #3items are in the Urgent/Not Important section.
- And things in the Not Urgent/Not Important category don’t really need to be done at all (unless they’re things you enjoy and you have the extra time).
This practice will make it crystal clear what your MITs are, and help you decide what’s important when you’re really not sure.
How to pick your #1 MIT when you have more than one
Once you’ve gone through the above exercise, there are bound to be times when you have a few MITs, and it’s hard to decide between them.
So where do you start?
If all the items fit the criteria for being an MIT, then it doesn’t matter a whole lot which one you start with. Just pick one. Trust your gut, pick one, and get to work.
Handling the rest of the tasks on your list
As things come up, add them to the sections on your 2×2 grid. As you finish your MITs, you then have other things that will become new MITs, so move them around in the grid as needed. The other things that aren’t important can be done when you have time, or dropped off the list altogether. Letting things go that are dragging you down is incredibly freeing.
So that’s my secret to staying productive. Identify the MITs, block out distractions, and do the work.
Want some help identifying your MITs and organizing your productivity systems? I’ve just opened up a few spots for new coaching clients. Click here to learn more and schedule an intro call. I’d love to work with you!