MITs: A Simple Way to Be More Productive

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Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

If the idea of learning a productivity system like Getting Things Done is keeping you from being more productive, here is a simple practice that requires nothing more than reading this pretty-short blog post. The best part: it will instantly make you more productive, every day.

Most Important Tasks (MITs) is a simple idea that (I think) was first outlined on the Zen Habits blog. At the beginning of each day, sit down and write down the two or three things you must do that day. No matter what else you do that day, get those things done.

Three seems like a small number, but if you strive to accomplish at least three things, you will have done something besides just putting out fires. And working from a short list of MITs is a lot easier than working from the huge lists you probably have in your practice management software or your GTD system. That helps you to be more productive.

You can write down more than three things — I have five today. But make sure you can realistically complete all the tasks during your day. Don’t put down “draft motion for summary judgment” if you haven’t even started it yet and it isn’t due for a week. That’s probably not a must-do-today task, and it is too big a task for one day, anyway. Try something like “draft statement of facts” instead.

If you like, you can put together your MITs the night before. That is what I do, actually. I spend a few minutes looking at my inbox, reviewing our project management software, seeing what is coming due in Remember the Milk, and checking my calendar. Then I write down my MITs for the next day. I do it at night because it helps me get to sleep if I know I already have done my planning for the next day.

If you finish all your MITs, you obviously are not done for the day, but you should feel better knowing you have already had a fairly productive day. So if you finish, go back to your to-do lists or inbox and pick another task or three to try to complete before you are finished for the day.

I even do MITs for the weekend, although I let my kids help with that. So things like “go to the Pumphouse Creamery for ice cream” and “build a fairy house” usually end up on our weekend MITs.

You can write down your MITs on whatever you want. I usually use a little notebook or index card, but a work plan or TeuxDeux works well, too. Just put them on something you will carry with you throughout the day.

Setting aside a few minutes every day to put your MITs down on paper will make you more productive. And knowing what’s most important every day will probably lower your stress level a bit, too.

Featured image: “Close up shot of filled check boxes with red pen” from Shutterstock.

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  • Leslie

    As a product specialist I wholeheartedly agree that selecting and implementing three MITs daily keeps us productive. Your readers may be interested in reading more from Leo Babauta, the writer of the Zen Habits blog. Babauta’s book, Zen to Done, distills down David Allen’s somewhat complicated techniques from Getting Things Done. Here’s the link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Zen-To-Done-Ultimate-Productivity-ebook/dp/B001970HQU.
    The book is definitely worth reading.