Do you begin each day with an impossibly long to-do list? Are you regularly frustrated or overwhelmed by the number of work projects, personal tasks, and reminders you’re required to tackle or think about on a given day? If so, there’s a good chance you would benefit from implementing the Most Important Task (MIT) strategy into your life.
Read on to explore the MIT strategy, learn how to identify your MITs, review best practices when using this task-planning method, and discover how you can successfully track and achieve your MITs in Fellow.
- What are Most Important Tasks (MITs)?
- How to identify your MITs
- Our best practices to help you achieve your MITs
- How to track and achieve your MITs in Fellow
What are Most Important Tasks (MITs)?
When your to-do list is long, there are usually one to three key tasks that are more important than the rest! Your MITs are critical action items that will provide you with the most immediate and significant results. Humans only have so much time and energy each day, so we must focus on the tasks that will move us closer to our objectives. For this reason, your MITs should be kept as a separate to-do list from your general list.
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How to identify your MITs
- Identify tasks that have a high ROI
- Identify tasks with short deadlines
- Identify tasks that align with your long-term goals
1Identify tasks that have a high ROI
Don’t treat all tasks as equal. Identify which tasks carry the highest value. These will often be your MITs. Ask yourself each day, “What are the tasks that, if I finished today, would make a huge difference in my work and personal life?” Jot these down and begin working through them first thing each morning. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your stress levels decrease and your productivity increases when you implement an effective method of prioritization.
2Identify tasks with short deadlines
If you think about it, deadlines can actually help us take control of our work! Deadlines help us achieve shared goals and keep complex, multistep projects on track to succeed. Any task that is considered a high priority for your team or has a tight deadline should be an MIT. If the item is due in 24 hours or less, do yourself a favor and add it to your list of MITs before other tasks.
3Identify tasks that align with your long-term goals
It may feel easiest to complete the quickest or most convenient tasks, but your MITs should regularly align with your long-term objectives. Pinpoint where you hope to be one week, one month, and one year from now. When selecting tasks as MITs, determine whether each item will help you achieve your highest potential.
Don’t stress too much if some MITs don’t directly help you with your objectives. It’s not a step backward if urgent deadlines force you to add a few MITs that don’t go hand-in-hand with your goals to your list. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Our best practices to help you achieve your MITs
- Determine your productive hours
- Use a goal-tracking tool
- Take breaks
- Follow a routine
- Put your devices on Do Not Disturb
- Declutter your workspace
1Determine your productive hours
Some of us feel most productive early in the morning after a workout and a strong cup of coffee. Others may feel sluggish when they wake up but kick into high gear later in the afternoon.
Don’t force yourself to complete your hardest or longest tasks when you’re feeling unmotivated! Instead, determine the times of the day you’re most productive and create a routine that helps you to achieve your MITs. Plan tasks according to your peak energy levels. For example, if you know you’re often drained after team meetings, use the time following meetings to complete quick administrative tasks or reply to emails. On the other hand, if you feel motivated after one-on-ones with your manager, take advantage of that momentum to work on high-priority projects.
2Use a goal-tracking tool
There are a variety of easy-to-use goal-tracking tools that can help you identify, plan for, and work toward your goals. If you’re having a hard time completing your MITs, try implementing a digital solution.
Fellow is the best tool for hosting productive meetings, recording key decisions, and—you guessed it—working towards goals. Our tool can simplify your goal setting by making it easy to identify and work on your objectives and key results (OKRs), track progress, and keep everyone on your team up-to-date. Fellow even lets you share your goals with colleagues across departments so everyone can easily collaborate on large projects.
When you have a busy day, you may feel inclined to work for many hours without a true break. What if we told you that taking frequent breaks will keep you engaged in your work and enable you to complete high-priority tasks with fewer errors? Concentration is your ultimate productivity weapon when completing MITs, so work in sprints that allow you to work with purpose. For example, if you notice you’re able to stay productive for one hour at your desk before you get restless, don’t force yourself to continue. Take a short break to recharge your brain. Avoid mindless scrolling on social media or going down Internet rabbit holes during your breaks. Instead, take five to fifteen minutes to do something active like walking or stretching your body, drinking water, or eating a healthy snack.
Check out our blog post on how to implement the Pomodoro Technique to learn how to break your habit of multitasking by using frequent short breaks during your workday.
4Follow a routine
Implementing structure to your workday will give you a sense of control and help you work towards completing your MITs faster. In addition to productivity benefits, following a routine can lead to better mental health, more time to relax, and better emotional well-being. Implementing a routine of working through your MITs during your most productive hours will eliminate the need to consider what you must do next to reach your goals.
5Put your devices on Do Not Disturb
When you return to a task after looking at your phone, you lose precious working time by having to refamiliarize yourself with the material. Unnecessary distractions may also cause mental fatigue and lead to context switching, which will only hurt your productivity in the long run. There’s nothing quite as distracting as noisy email, text, and messaging notifications when you’re trying to get some work done. During your dedicated MIT time, put your devices on Do Not Disturb to mute sounds, stop vibration, and block other visual disturbances.
6Declutter your workspace
A messy desk can lead to a messy life. Take a minute or two each day to declutter your physical workspace so you aren’t distracted by dirty dishes, unopened mail, and other items while you’re working. Once a week or so, set aside time to declutter your digital workspace, too. Clear your desktop of random files, organize your inboxes, unsubscribe from email newsletters that you no longer find helpful, and remove any apps that you no longer use.
How to track and achieve your MITs in Fellow
Using our Streams feature, you can create a digital notepad with a list of action items, ideas, and notes that will help you plan out and work toward your MITs. Create an MIT Stream to organize your workload and gain clarity on what needs to be done next. In this section, identify your top MITs for the upcoming days or week and add any additional resources or details that will help you get started. Plus, you can share your Stream with other team members to gain feedback on your MITs.
Plus, you can try out our free weekly planner to help you effectively plan your weekly tasks!
Most of us spend too much time focusing on unimportant tasks. If you have a hard time identifying action items that align with your long-term goals, look no further than MITs.
Prioritizing a few critical action items and checking them off is a great first step to building excellent habits. Before you know it, your small wins will turn into major milestones that make every aspect of your life easier and lead you closer to the person you want to be.