One productivity habit that works

Several times I've read in productivity blogs about having a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the day. It's a list that should be done every day, at the start of the day, or at the end of the previous day. And many times I read this and thought it was nonsense, that I didn't need to do this to get work done, that it's something an obsessive person would do.

There have been times in my life when I've been able to do great work, and not have any habits in place to support my productivity. I would just go to the office and work. And this gives results sometimes, maybe for a period of time, but it's bound to fail. Working like this, you don't really know when you're going to feel like not doing anything, or when you're going to burn out, or it just may not be sustainable for a long period of time.

I've also experienced times when I don't feel like doing anything, when I spend most of the time surfing the web, "reading" articles (more like scrolling through), and generally wasting my time.

This tends to be more of a problem when working from home. It's really easy to just not work, there are so many distractions. So when I noticed that some days I just couldn't make myself work for two hours straight, I decided to try a few things to improve my productivity.

One of the things I tried that really surprised me in terms of the results I got, was this habit of having a daily list of the 3 most important tasks I needed to do each day. I noticed that when I started doing this, I'd really try to complete all of the tasks, because the list was right there, and I knew that I could do all of the tasks in the list. Moreover, it's a great feeling to finish all 3, and then know that I don't need to do anything else, because I've already done what's most important for that day, I can relax a little, and maybe work at a calmer pace.

So I strongly recommend you try this habit, even if you think it's stupid or not worth it, I say you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The way I do it is I write the list at the start of the day, and I think of the things I would be proud to have completed by the end of that day, that if I look back at that day and see that I finished those three things, I'd feel like I did good, like it was a day well spent. But you can also try to write the list at the end of the day, planning for the next day, and this way you can just get up in the morning and start cranking. This is another important thing, which is to always try to do your most important tasks at the start of your day, that way even if later in the day your energy levels go down a bit, you know you'll have progress made first thing in the morning.

Bonus habit

Another great thing that you can do in combination with your MIT list, is to use something like the pomodoro technique. Basically you set a timer for 25 minutes, then you focus all your attention on one single task, and avoid any other distraction or task until the time is up, and then take a 5 minute break. Repeat that four times, and then take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes. This gives you a real productivity boost, since the best work you'll ever be able to do will come when you're completely focused on one single activity. And it's really powerful to know that you can use this technique to get focused.

It helps if you spend some time analyzing your tasks to actually know what you need to work on, and break the work into manageable tasks that you can do with more clarity, better than trying to work on a gigantic project all at once.

Great, so there you have it, a couple of habits that will bring your productivity to the next level, guaranteed. Have a daily list of your 3 MIT, and use the pomodoro technique to go through your list. You'll never look back. This couple of habits is basically all you need to accomplish some serious work, and avoid burning out in the process.