Monday, February 25, 2008

What is Your Most Important Task

Today is in our Youth Staff meeting I took my staff through this document. Michael e-mailed this to me the other day and thought It was very good.

Most Important Tasks (MITs)At the start of each day (or the night before) highlight the three or four most important things you have to do in the coming day. Do them first. If you get nothing else accomplished aside from your MITs, you’ve still had a pretty productive day.

Inbox ZeroDecide
what to do with every email you get, the moment you read it. If there’s something you need to do, either do it or add it to your to-do list and delete or file the email. If it’s something you need for reference, file it. Empty your email inbox every day.

Wake Up Earlier
Add a productive hour to your day by getting up an hour earlier — before everyone else starts imposing on your time.

Eat the Frog
Do your most unpleasant task first. Based on the saying that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a frog, the day can only get better from then on.

80/20 Rule
(Pareto Principle)Generally speaking, the 80/20 Principle says that most of our results come from a small portion of our actual work, and conversely, that we spend most of our energy doing things that aren’t ultimately all that important. Figure out which part of your work has the greatest results and focus as much of your energy as you can on that part.

Time Boxing
Assign a set amount of time per day to work on a task or project. Focus entirely on that one thing during that time. Don’t worry about finishing it, just worry about giving that amount of undivided attention to the project. (Variation: fixed goals. For example, you don’t get up until you’ve written 1,000 words, or processed 10 orders, or whatever.)

Batch Process
Do all your similar tasks together. For example, don’t deal with emails sporadically throughout the day; instead, set aside an hour to go through your email inbox and respond to emails. Do the same with voice mail, phone calls, responding to letters, filing, and so on — any routine, repetitive tasks.

Time Log
Lawyers have to track everything they do in the day and how long they do it so they can bill their clients and remain accountable. You need to be accountable to yourself, so keep track of how much time you really spend on the things that are important to you by tracking your time.

Write It Down
Don’t rely on your memory as your system. Write down the things you need to do, your schedule, anything you might need to refer to, and every passing thought so you can relax, knowing you won’t forget. Use your brain for thinking, use paper or your computer for keeping track of stuff.

We like to think of ourselves as great multitaskers, but we aren’t. What we do when we multitask is devote tiny slices of time to several tasks in rapid succession. Since it takes more than a few minutes (research suggests as long as 20) to really get into a task, we end up working worse and more slowly than if we devoted longer blocks of time to each task, worked until it was done, and moved on to the next one.

Clutter is anything that’s out of place and in the way. It’s not necessarily neatness — someone can have a rigorously neat workspace and not be able to get anything done. It’s being able to access what you need, when you need it, without breaking the flow of your work to find it. Figure out what is “clutter” in your working and living spaces, and fix that.

To-Don’t List
A list of things not to do — useful for keeping track of habits that lead you to be unproductive, like playing online flash games.

Learning to say “no” — to new commitments, to interruptions, to anything — is one of the most valuable skills you can develop to keep you focused on your own commitments and give you time to work on them.

Regularly go through your existing commitments and get rid of anything that is either not helping you advance your own goals or is a regular “sink” of time or energy.

Tell yourself you will work on a project or task, and only that project or task, for a set amount of time. Set a timer (use a kitchen timer, or use a countdown timer on your computer), and plug away at your work. When the timer goes off, you’re done — move on to the next project or task.

1 comment:

KELLY said...

Wow, that's a great post, Brian. Having ADD - this is a list I will print out and apply to my crazy life! Thanks!

BTW, Chase is already recruiting all his friends for Beach Retreat this summer! :0