Saturday, January 23, 2010

Getting those ducks in a row... Step 3

Over the next week or two, I am taking some time to talk about planning. If you missed it, check out my last few posts on choosing a planner that's right for you & making a to-list for home and work.

Now on to the next step:

3. Identify the MIT's* (Most Important Things) :
Now that you have a list of what needs to be done, its time to think through what the "Most Important Things" (as Tsh from calls them) to do are. Basically these are the few things from your to do list (she recommends only having three) that are the most important to get done. If nothing else happens, these will.

This is a popular strategy utilized in all time management systems. One of my favorites is in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" where Stephen Covey says everything we do fits into one of four quadrants:
  1. urgent and important
  2. not urgent and important
  3. urgent and not important
  4. not urgent and not important
We need to be identifying which quadrant everything on our list is in. Is doing my laundry urgent and important? Well this depends on how long it has been since I last did laundry and how much clothing we have left to wear. Where does answering the phone fall? Typically we treat the phone as urgent- we answer it as soon as it rings. But actually we have a great thing today called Caller ID which can help us determine if answering the phone is an urgent need or not. The trick here is too look at that To Do list and think through where everything fits.

See this is where most of us fail in our productivity endeavors. We just start with the top of the list, or whatever we think should be first, and sporadically follow our to do list. But though I inevitably need to do everything on my list, there are things that are more important than others. By picking these things out, I am mindful all day of what I need to carve time out for.

Even though I pick these MIT's, that does not necessarily mean these are the things I begin doing and I wont touch the rest of the list till they are done. Sometimes there are more urgent tasks that have to be done, or just easier stuff I can knock out quickly. But since I have already identified these MIT's, each time I complete a task and get ready to start another I am reminded of my important thing that needs to be done.

I use Simple Mom's Daily Docket each day, which has a space for these MIT's on it. I highly recommend the docket, it is fabulous! I use a paper clip and put it right in my planner. You could stick it on the fridge, on your desk, or wherever really.

So, I challenge you today to label each of your tasks on that to do list. Don't be afraid this will take forever, it really will only take a minute or two! Then set aside your MIT's for the day... now go and be productive!

Up Next: The Big Goals

Now I want to know, do any of you currently do something like this? Does this whole idea appeal to you or make you want to punch me in the face?? haha! Do tell!!!

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