The over scheduling syndrome versus the MIT strategy

Have you ever found yourself motivated in the morning, writing thousands of items on your to do list, feeling ready to tackle the day but ended up doing only half at most ? At the end of the day, you know you have been productive, strictly speaking, because you got some things done. However, you might not feel 100% happy about yourself. Deep down you know that you did not do everything, and you went for the easiest tasks first. If that sounds familiar, maybe you suffer from the symptom of over scheduling.

I used to be that kind of person : the one having a written and an online to do list at least as long as my arm. Every day I would add and cross items off them without any real logical strategy. I would just do the most recent and easiest things first, and feel rather accomplished at the end of my day.

But that was not a genuine feeling of accomplishment. In the back of my head, I would always think about those items stuck on my list forever, such as making a scrapbook or writing a novel. (I know, way too broad to be on a simple daily to do list… Little did I know at the time that it is better to break tasks down to work toward your goals).

Then, being the productivity freak that I am, I stumbled upon several articles praising the benefits of the MIT technique. Nothing to do with the school, it is in fact an acronym for “Most Important Task” of the day.

This new productivity technique, I have to say, has revolutionized my way of organizing my day and apprehending tasks. So let me share my discovery and experience with it.

Actually, it is pretty straightforward. Instead of waking up and spending your first half hour or hour planning your day and listing all the things you have to get done, you should learn to prioritize over what I like to call the “to do listing” frenzy.

The day before, or first thing in the morning, while sipping on a cup of joe or tea, select one to three items maximum that you definitely need to get done. Even if it is the most simple task such as doing a laundry or something a little bit more time consuming or complex, like writing an article. By having a to do list that is short but prioritized, you will not give your tomorrow self the opportunity to choose from the easiest, quickest tasks to do.

As Mark Twain said, eat a frog in the morning. Start your day with the truly important items, and chances are you will be done with it by noon. The result ? Not only will this help you work toward your goals, this will also leave you in a better, more positive mental state because you will feel good about yourself. Not “I did something on my list today” good, but “I actually got something that needed to be done today” good. See the difference ? It is massive. You will have been truly productive, it is not just going to be a mere illusion provided by the achievement of some random, easy tasks like you used to.

Trust me, that is quite a satisfactory feeling. And again, a proof that less is more sometimes. Downsizing your prioritizes could end up making you more productive and happy, as well as giving you more free time !

Originally published at on August 6, 2016.