Nothing beats getting ready for bed at night and feeling like you had a pretty successful day? This probably doesn’t happen by luck, you have to carefully plan your day and be proactive about getting things done.

Most of us go into each day with good intentions, but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with many different responsibilities, get distracted, and start procrastinating. It’s challenging to move forward with reaching your professional and personal goals when you’re constantly juggling a never-ending to-do list. One solution I’ve found that can be helpful is the MIT time management strategy.

We all have only 24 hours each day, but this time management strategy can help you optimize what you have and make more progress. Here’s how it works.

What is the MIT Time Management Strategy?

MIT is a strategy I recently heard about that stands for ‘most important tasks’. Here’s a quote by Mark Twain that is so true:

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Your MITs shouldn’t be random tasks but rather specific action steps that help move you closer to a goal. It’s important to realize that every task on your to-do list is not important or a priority right now. As you plan your week, start to set intentions to regain control of your time and your day. Instead of just letting the day happen to you, you can go in with clear intentions and actionable steps that help you get the results you want.

Why the MIT Strategy is Important

With the MIT time management strategy, you strip down all your little, tedious or more insignificant tasks and just focus on prioritizing your top 2-3 tasks for the day. You may have tried doing this before without even knowing that the MIT strategy was an official thing.

This is a great strategy for anyone who finds themselves falling off track each day and getting further and further from their goals. If you often feel like time is flying by and with each passing day and month, you’re not getting enough done, it’s time to refine your efforts with the MIT strategy.

How to Use the MIT Time Management Strategy Effectively

Starting with 3 most important tasks is a good idea but you also want to consider your existing schedule and what your priorities are. Some people only focus on one or two tasks for the day but they may be more time-consuming or large-scale action steps.

Personally, I like to have two MITs for the day: one for work and professional goals and the other for more personal goals or long-term dreams. For me, it’s important not to get stuck in the daily grind too much and get so caught up in work that I forget to build a life I love.

Granted, I enjoy my work and find it fun, but there are also other areas of my life that I want to work on. I usually set annual goals but I also like to set quarterly and monthly goals based on my long-term vision. This helps me better outline what my MITs will be. It’s exciting because if you have 3 MITs per day, that’s 15 important things you can get done during the weekdays and 21 things if you count all 7 days.

At that rate, you definitely won’t be feeling stagnant, overwhelmed or behind in many areas of your life anymore. Here are some additional tips to help you use the MIT time management strategy more effectively.

Set Your Goal and Work Backwards

Determine whether you want to set annual, quarterly, or monthly goals or all three. Whatever you decide, realize that habits and action steps are the key to reaching your goals. Being consistent each day will help you get results and there’s where your daily MITs can come in handy.

For example, if I say I want a new freelance client, some of my daily MITs may involve researching prospects, sending pitches, and updating my portfolio. Your MITs should be like micro-goals that contribute to your larger goal.

Check Your Availability

When you can work on your most important tasks each day? If you don’t put them on the calendar and make sure you have availability, nothing will get done and you may just feel like you wasted time again during the day.

Personally, I like to tackle my most important tasks early on in the day. That way, if and when something comes up, I already have my main priorities taken care of. You can plan and schedule as much as you like, but no one knows what the day will unfold and plans change all the time.

By getting things accomplished early, I can ensure I’m making consistent progress.

Watch Out For Distractions

Set a plan for how you’ll handle distractions each day since they will pop up and affect your MIT time management strategy. One thing I like to do it audit my schedule by tracking my time and activities to see when and where distractions creep in. Maybe you already know what your biggest distractions are, but doing this can help you uncover even more.

Once you know what your distractions are, get ahead of the game by avoiding them before they even occur. Put your phone in the other room when you start to focus on an important task. Block social media sites or delete apps to stay focused. Tell your kids and spouse which time fo day you need uninterrupted time to focus on your goals.

Try to stay focused on prioritizing your MITs first before you add anything else. I know it can be challenging, but it’s important to avoid shiny object syndrome and start getting off track. 

Track Your Progress

How closer will you be to reaching your goals after an entire week of following the MIT strategy? What about a month or a year? It’s seriously that powerful so be sure to track your progress so you can tweak your action steps and hold yourself accountable.

You can track your progress by reviewing goals at the end of each week, using a planner, or sharing updates with an accountability partner. Make sure you reassess what you think is important from week to week and make changes where you see fit.

Overall, the MIT time management strategy is simple yet highly effective. Each of us only has 168 hours each week. It’s too easy to get caught up with non-important tasks that eat away at your time. With MIT, you can bring things back to the basics and do more of what matters.