Along with never-ending anxiety, feeling overwhelmed seems to be the norm the days. You’d think that spending so much more time at home would help us get (and stay) on top of things, but that’s definitely not the case for a lot of people. (If you’re someone who quarancleaned early on and now have Pinterest-worthy closets and pantries, this may not apply to you—unless that’s what you were doing instead of getting your other work done.)
In an article on SmartBrief, Dr. Naphtali Hoff—author of “Becoming the New Boss”—recommends starting our to-do lists with our most important tasks (MITs). “These could be ‘one-off tasks that can be achieved in a single time block…or may span several days,” he writes. “If you don’t put the top priorities into your calendar first, all of the other demands will clutter your time and mental bandwidth.”
So how do you know which of your tasks are the true MITs? To find out, Hoff says you should ask yourself these six questions:
Look at what you need to accomplish, and figure out which of the things would make the biggest difference for you, if you accomplished them today.
Determine what kind of return-on-investment you are getting from doing each item on your list. “To be truly successful, everything that we do must have a value attached to it,” Hoff writes. “While ‘value’ is not always cut and dry, it should be fairly obvious as to which behaviors will predictably provide the biggest benefits.”
You have goals. What tasks on your to-do list will help you accomplish them? Those are the MITs, Hoff says.
If there’s something on your list that you can’t stop thinking about, or that you’ve had on your mind for a particularly long time, Hoff says it’s probably an MIT.
Chances are, if you’ve been thinking about a particular task for a long time, it’s probably because you’ve been putting it off. “Some of the MITs are the things that we push off the longest,” Hoff writes. “Maybe they’re a bit challenging. Or risky. Something that will push us outside our comfort zones. If you’ve been delaying for these reasons, it’s time to jump in.”
This may seem counterintuitive, but according to Hoff, “perhaps the work itself is not super important but can open the way for you to do the most important work.” He gives the example of delegating a small project that will help free up time in your schedule for critical tasks that you may not otherwise have a chance to tackle.