Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The daily task plan: how to pick your MITs

I’ve written before about the benefit of making a short daily list of high-priority tasks that you will aim to do in addition to your regular work and before other items on your master to-do list.  This type of list is sometimes referred to as a “Most Important Task” list (MIT).   

In that original post, I gave a short list of criteria to help you pick your MITs.  Since then, I’ve added a few more, so an update is due. 

Three criteria by way of Captain Obvious

Tasks related to your high-priority work.


  • Drafting the discussion for a paper.
  • Finalizing arrangements for the conference you are organizing. 
  • Revising the PowerPoint slide deck for next week’s talk.

Tasks that have a "hard" external deadline of today.


  • Today is the last day to submit the application for a leadership program.
  • Your VISA bill is due today and you don’t want your credit rating to suffer by being late.

Tasks that you have promised someone you will do by today.


  • Bake brownies for the first-grade class.
  • Send comments on the manuscript.
  • Really, anything you have promised to do, and there is no longer time to renegotiate your agreement.

Two criteria that are not so obvious.

Tasks that start a chain of events leading to an important outcome later.


  • Sending your travel expense to get reimbursement more quickly so that you can minimize credit card interest 
  • Starting the IRB application process at the beginning of a project, even though approval will not be needed for several months.
  • Emailing your friend in North Dakota to see if she will be there when you visit the area in 3 months.

Tasks that will prevent the need to do something else over and over in the future. 


  • I recently took the time to research, install and set up the Calendly app, which allows my coaching clients to set up sessions on their own. Now I save the time I used to spend going back and forth by email to find times to meet and then creating outlook invites and zoom links.  I’m so happy!
  • Taking the time to delegate a task to someone else so that you don’t have to do it anymore.

One criteria that may be controversial, but I stand by it!

Tasks you have been putting off that you are so stressed about you don’t think you can focus on anything else. 

  • Once I do such a task, I can peacefully move on to the "real" important stuff.
  • The risk: Using as an excuse to do a series of tasks that are small or easy that you are not stressed about so that you never get to the rest of the MIT’s.
  • The rule:  You only get to put one of these in the MIT list per day!