You should look for work less, gain more from your most important tasks rather than vice versa.
Are you a busy person who has a lot of tasks to do? And do you believe that you are really good with multi-task, the more tasks you have, the better you can perform?
If you say “YES” with these questions, well, I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is you have a great potential working ability that you can afford the huge amount of works as your ability to do multi-tasks. So it helps you to work more effectively and create bigger results compared to others who don’t have that much energy as you.
But the bad news is, the multi-tasks reduce your ability to work effectively on important tasks. And instead of you can create the 10/10 result when you just focus on the most important task. You will create just the “OK result” when you need to do two or three tasks at the same time.
There are so many negative impacts that have been found by researchers when we do multi-task, such as “lack of focus, memory impairment, increase stress level,…”.
It is good when your intention is can create as many values as you can, but instead of trying to do multi-tasks that bring more problems for you.
Why you don’t try to do “task to task” effectively?
And if you can be multi-task with 16 things to do in a day (with 8 hours of working), and mean roughly 30 minutes for each task. How about you can try to do just do 6 tasks a day and make it in 6 hours that create the same impact when you work on 16 tasks in 8 hours?
It heard more good, right?
Yes, it’s not a joke, actually, you can do it. When you choose the right way to approach and have your own MITs (Most Important Tasks) list. You can achieve your best while you need to do the less.
What is the meaning of MITs?
So if this is the first time you hear about MITs, this technique basically means that you will have a list of your “Most Important Tasks” that you need to do every day. And normally, it is limited to around 2–3 important tasks a day, which will help you to make the best performance.
I get this concept a few years ago when I read the book “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman. In his book, he defines that
A Most Important Task (MIT) is a critical task that will create the most significant results. Every day, create a list of two or three MITs, and focus on getting them done as soon as possible. Keep this list separate from your general to-do list.
Before, my To-do list daily always full of activities, and I feel happy and excited when seeing so many activities that I can fill up in my daily plan.
Because at that time, I think that being multi-tasks meant productivity. But I was wrong, being multi-tasks actually lose my focus on the things that make sense.
Being multitask doesn’t equal to being more productive. It just mean you don’t know what is your focus.
It likes the rule 80/20 Parento when we see what works for us in life. In reality, 80% of what we achieve in a day just comes from 20% of the tasks we did. And if you can choose the right tasks to work on, just a few are enough to fulfill your day.
So how to make your MITs technique really work for us?
This is the question that I asked myself a lot at the beginning of my journey to transform from a “multi-tasks person” to be a “focused person” by applying the MITs technique.
After 3 years apply it roughly, finally, I figure out what are the three main steps that I can use to create a really effective schedule for myself by using this MITs technique.
3 years is a long journey, I know, to figure out how it works effectively for us, but it is worthy.
1. Write down all tasks you think important to do in a day
If you are a multi-tasks person for years, this is the most important step that you need to do immediately. And there are several reasons for this action:
- Your mind will be exhausted and overthinking when you always have full of tasks you need to do in your mind. So write it out.
- You can’t always remember all the tasks (even you think you have the best memory in the world). Don’t risk your important tasks with your memory.
- When you write out, you will find out that many tasks don’t really necessary for you to do. But when you just use your mind to remember, you will feel all of them are important.
2. Using the Self-Elicitation process to select the top 2–3 most important tasks to focus on.
The next step is having your own “self-elicitation” process to choose which tasks are really important for you to achieve in your day.
The “self-elicitation” process is a process where you create and self-answer what you think are the most important tasks that if you don’t complete, you will waste your day. And you can start your “Self-Elicitation” process by asking yourself these simple questions every morning when you wake up or the night before
- Firstly, what are the most important 2–3 tasks I MUST complete today?
- Secondly, what are the tasks that if I can complete as soon as possible (ASAP), I will create a huge difference for my work/my life?
- Thirdly, what are the tasks that if I can’t complete today, I will feel regret and make me feel I waste my day?
By answering these questions carefully and clearly, you can figure out for you 2–3 the most important tasks that already can make 80% of your day when you complete it.
3. Setting your own deadline for MITs
This final step will make you feel full of power and enthusiasm to start your day. Because you know that you are having a strict deadline to achieve your MIT.
The reason is when we have a deadline, we become more energetic to work on our goals. And let remind yourself about the goals you did in your life. How did you work when you know the deadline and when you don’t know the deadline?
It is totally different, right?
At least in the amount of effort that you put in it. Because when you know that you have a deadline. You tend to spend more effort working on it while if you don’t have a deadline. You feel like you still have a lot of free time and can keep your tasks up to the next day.
And this is one of the biggest reasons why so many people fail to achieve their goals. Because they can’t complete the things they need to complete when they have unlimited time for the deadline.
And a tip that I used in setting my deadline is Parkinson’s Law.
This law is found in the famous essay in “The Economist” in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, based on the experience he has when working in the British Civil Service.
In his essay, Parkinson said,
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
If something must be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year.
If something must be done next week, it’ll be done next week. And if something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow.”
So it means that if you believe you must complete something in a specific time, you totally will achieve it. And what you believe about your ability will decide how you work on your tasks and create your own deadline.
For me, my own deadline for MITs is 10:30 a.m every morning. It means that I will make sure to complete all the most 2–3 important tasks I need to do on this day before this time.
Then, I have the rest of my day to feel free to work on the tasks that are less important for me.
The most benefit of this deadline is I feel so fresh and comfortable after 10:30 a.m every day. Because I know that I have already completed the toughest parts of my day. And I am extremely focused on my MITs when I wake up as I know that I just have a limited time to complete the tasks that I need to do.
I know that many of you when reading this article will think that you can do things better when being multi-tasks, as you did it for years and it is still going well in your work and life.
But I have a stronger belief that you can create even better results when you can just focus on a few important tasks a day.
As you can see the successful people in the world, such as Warren Buffet, Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg,…who just focus on a few things they did, but make them be the best at doing this thing.
This is the reason why they become so successful in their life.
In the same way, when you can control your days to just focus on the most important tasks first and complete them properly. You are in the process to create greater results and make your day to be more effective.
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