Sometimes you can be busy all day, but still not know what you actually accomplished, especially if you’re just reacting to external demands.
Whether your too-long to-do list is self-imposed or forced on you by others, you likely won’t reach the end of the list each day. But there is a way to make sure you’ve accomplished something that day that makes a real difference to you.
To ensure you’re moving forward in your goals, even when life fills up your to-do list with demands, it helps to focus on a few important things you want to accomplish each day, and be determined not to let anything else get in the way of those.
Pick 2-5 things to do today to move yourself forward on your goals, so you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile. These are called MIT’s. Your Most Important Tasks for the day.
Put them in a computer file. Or better yet, write them down on paper or an index card, so you can mark them off as you get them done.
Make those your priorities for that day, even though other things will need to be done too. Countless distractions and tasks will assert themselves and demand your time, but you can deal with those and still get your MIT’s done, so you have tangible evidence of what you accomplished that day, and you can feel good knowing you’ve done the things that make a difference for you.
You can add in more things after they’re done, and there will be other items on your list, but it’s best to keep your priority or MIT list small, so you can achieve it consistently. You will never get to everything on your whole list, but you’ll have prioritized not just what’s urgent or makes the most noise, but what is of value to you and will make your life better — today, tomorrow, and into the future.
Ed Gandia, a business-building coach for writers, summarized in his newsletter how he uses this approach. “…Once I have those goal-based tasks on paper, I add additional tasks I need to complete that day. But then I take things one step further: I highlight the 3 tasks that I MUST complete that day.
I call these my most important tasks (or MIT’s for short). They’re tasks that are essential to making progress in my business and personal life. (italics mine)
They’re not necessarily urgent tasks. But they’re always important. They’re things that I want to commit to completing that day, no matter what happens.
In other words, these are tasks that, once completed, will ensure that I have a productive and fulfilling day… even if I don’t complete anything else on my list.”
I like the idea of highlighting these three tasks, so they’ll stand out in the sea of our overwhelming to do lists. I usually circle the items instead. Do whatever works for you.
Gandia also strongly suggests doing these MIT’s first so they get done before other things get in the way. If you do, it will likely energize you to keep going. But most importantly, you’ve done what matters most to you.
I also like that he uses these MIT’s to accomplish goals in both his personal and professional life, so we don’t necessarily have to neglect one aspect of life for another.
If anyone has every seen my ongoing lists of goals and the steps for accomplishing them, they know my ambitions usually far exceed what I’m able to actually do in a given day. But if I do my 2-5 MIT’s for the day, I’ve done something worthwhile and tangible, moved forward with my goals, and made some progress on my list.
It helps to have a record of the small forward steps I’ve made on my longer term goals, so when my goals still seem far away, I can look at my list and see that I really am getting there, however slowly and incrementally.
And if I keep my focus on what’s most important, I’ll probably get some of the other things done too. I also might decide at the end of the week or month that some of those things that didn’t get highlighted aren’t really even necessary.
So for today one of my MIT’s was to publish this post, because my writing, my business, and my readers, are important to me. And unlike with some MIT’s that only we know about, I have a public record that I accomplished at least one of my goals for today!
So, what are your MIT’s for today? How will you feel when you’ve done them?