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zen habits: Purpose Your Day: Most Important Task (MIT)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Purpose Your Day: Most Important Task (MIT)

I've mentioned this briefly in my morning routine, but I thought I'd explain a little bit more about MITs - Most Important Tasks. It's not an original concept, but one that I use on a daily basis and that has helped me out tremendously.

It's very simple: your MIT is the task you most want or need to get done today. In my case, I've tweaked it a bit so that I have three MITs -- the three things I must accomplish today. Do I get a lot more done than three things? Of course. But the idea is that no matter what else I do today, these are the things I want to be sure of doing. So, the MIT is the first thing I do each day, right after I have a glass of water to wake me up.

And here's the key to the MITs for me: at least one of the MITs should be related to one of my goals. While the other two can be work stuff (and usually are), one must be a goal next-action. This ensures that I am doing something to move my goals forward that day.

And that makes all the difference in the world. Each day, I've done something to make my dreams come true. It's built into my morning routine: set a next-action to accomplish for one of my goals. And so it happens each day, automatically.

Another key: do your MITs first thing in the morning, either at home or when you first get to work. If you put them off to later, you will get busy and run out of time to do them. Get them out of the way, and the rest of the day is gravy!

It's such a small thing to implement, and yet I'm raving about it like it's a huge revelation. But it is. Sometimes small things can make big differences. I highly recommend you give it a go.

See also:


Anonymous said...

Leo, this is so true of many things. They may be obvious, they may seem to be easy, but the real trick is about actually focusing on them and doing them! That's why I love to read about your MIT. I find that I am sometimes doing what you are suggesting right here, but not really consistently and definitely not every day. Reading about it in your article once again makes me aware of the power of this MIT concept. I'll be working on implementing this tip more consistently. Thanks!


Leo said...

gtdfrk, thanks for the comment! I know what you mean about being consistent with these habits every day. I have a hard time with that myself sometimes, but the key is to just pick it up where you left off if you drop it for awhile. Don't get discouraged and keep on going!

Anonymous said...

A very useful post.

A most extreme form of the MITs would be the legendary The "Not Insane" To-Do List: See: http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/005701.php


Leo said...

Hi Pascal, thanks for the nice comment. If it's of some use for people, I'm happy! The link to the no insane to-do list doesn't seem to work for me, but I remember it. Basically a very, very simplified to-do list. Love it.

Brice Family said...

Have you ever thought about doing your MITs at night?

Leo said...

Excellent question, Naomi. I don't have a problem with doing MITs at night -- ultimately, when you do them is a personal choice that depends on what works best for you. The main thing is just to get them done, and to give your day some purpose.

For me, however, mornings are best. I used to be a night owl, but I was always too tired at night to really be productive. I've found that waking early and getting my MITs done in the morning (when I seem to have more energy) is really best for me - it starts my day with great momentum and everything else I get done is gravy. If I wait until the end of the day, it leaves more pressure and I feel like I'm running behind. It's best to get it over with and move on from there! At least, that's my experience -- but if the night hours work better for you, go for it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post! The concept reminded me of Brian Tracy's "Eat That Frog", a book about getting those things done that are most important to us. Doing it first thing in the morning is definitely the way to go for me.

Leo said...

Thanks Lyman. I haven't read "Eat That Frog" yet, but I've heard a lot about it and plan to read and review it soon, as it sounds right up my alley. Getting the tough things, or the important things(either or both), out of the way early makes a huge difference in my day. I'm not able to do it every day, but I try to do it most days.