Everyday – Three Choices
Every morning when I get into my office, I have a choice between three options:
- I can dive directly into my email inbox and get lost in others’ priorities.
- I can work on what I traditionally call my 3 ‘M.I.T.s’ – my ‘most important tasks’.
- I can carve out the initial time for my ‘M.I.P.s’ – my ‘most important practices’.
The easiest but least productive option is option 1. It’s so easy to pop open email and start firing off responses and answering questions and barking orders.
I’ve been training myself to select option 2: M.I.T.s – Most Important Tasks. I forget where I first heard this little acronym, but it’s a powerful habit. When you have a thousand different items on your to-do list, take out a blank sheet of paper and write down three items that are the most important items on that to-do list.
In truth, it hardly matters if these three tasks are the most important. Having three clear items on a big white piece of paper will help you get traction.
That’s a great practice, but I’ve had an epiphany.
Most Important Practices
While email urgency falls firmly into the ‘urgent, not important’ category (check out Stephen Covey’s time management quadrant), Most Important Tasks also smack of urgency.
Of course, as the name implies, they aren’t just urgent, but also important.
The problem is that they put you in the ‘urgent’ mode, and those vitally important yet not urgent practices get squeezed out.
Most sales, marketing, or leadership roles require some kind of thought work. Writing, planning, developing key relationships, and establishing goals and direction are all necessary for long term growth.
Those activities can only be supported by having a set of practices that keep them in the forefront.
When those practices are relegated to the end of the work day when all the urgencies are done, those practices never actually happen.
But when those practices are tackled with discipline during the first part of the day, the urgencies all seem to get taken care of as they would any other day. We lose nothing by prioritizing the ‘important, not urgent’ practices first.
M.I.P.s vs. M.I.T.s
I believe we owe it to ourselves and our overall work to spend time on the Most Important Practices first. Writing, making sales calls, and developing thought leadership projects have to happen when our brains are best equipped for them and before our days get obliterated by urgencies.
We can then move on to the Most Important Tasks with some email tossed in.
What Do You Do First?
What works for you?
How do you start your day so that you are your most productive?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments…