Getting the RIGHT things done

March 2, 2017

Do you struggle getting the right things done? Do you find yourself playing catch up because you poured too much of your peak energy into something that could have waited? It happens to many creatives. You could use M.I.T. to be more productive.

What does it stand for?

M.I.T. stands for Most Important Task. On his Pinkcast, Dan Pink explains how it works: “It’s really simple . . . at the beginning of the day, figure out what’s the most important thing you have to do that day. That’s your MIT. Write it down and here’s the thing: do that first.” 

Yes, actually do that thing first

The word priority literally means prior thing (singular) or first thing. In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown reminds us that the word priority only recently became plural. These days we say priorities, but think about how difficult it is to do many things first. You will need to pick one thing and go with it. This is why M.I.T. is useful.

By doing the most important thing first, you ensure that it gets accomplished without distractions. It has to get done, no matter what. And because you’re committed to setting a “no fly zone,” you are more likely to follow through. (Amy Porterfield uses the term “no-fly zone” and “tiger time” in her writing about staying focused for online course creation. This simply means your phone ringer is off, you’re disconnected from Facebook, you’re not replying to texts. You’re in the zone. You arrange your commitments so you’re unreachable for a defined period.)

M.I.T. values your best self

Creating content requires energy. It requires your best self.

Your worst self is the tired, irritable, spent person who needs to recharge before she can do her best work again. Have you been there before? Your batteries are drained, yet there’s still a priority on your plate? This is a result of saving the most important thing to do lastNot recommended.

To be a committed content creator, you have to know yourself and know when you’re most likely to get stuff done. Here are some statements you might resonate with:

  • You need to make good, deep stuff (not shallow, meaningless work)
  • You need to be able to spend time with people and not work all the time (you need margin)
  • You need to stop living in emergency mode 
  • You need to start following through your goals

A daily practice of M.I.T. can provide the system you need to maintain the balance in the margin in your life to get your work done, but still spend time with family.

Here’s how to use M.I.T.

  1. Identify at the beginning of the day—or the night before—exactly what’s going to propel yourself further the most during that day.
  2. Only focus on that one thing until it’s done. You can’t move on to anything else!

For me, I have to do my writing, videos, audio, and creative work before lunch if I want it to be the best it can be. I try to save web work, meetings, and etc for my afternoons. These tasks re-energize me when my body starts getting sluggish.

What you could do first

  1. Record a quick video
  2. Make the podcast you’ve been putting off
  3. Reach your daily word count or video count

This is an insanely simple productivity tool you should try. I write M.I.T. on a notecard and pin it to my corkboard. It feels great to be able to take this down halfway through the day knowing I used my time effectively.

What strategies do you use to get things done?

This idea originated from Leo Babauta, founder of Zen Habits.