Step 1: Spend 30 minutes scanning email and responding to urgent items.
Step 2: Turn off email and other distractions. Focus for 2-3 hours on completing your “Most Important Task.”
Step 4: Devote the post-lunch day to taking care of ongoing tasks and other “reactionary work” that requires less mental stamina.
Although tackling hard work first seems like a no-brainer, I did have to alter the model a bit for it to work for me, which made me realize that this approach really depends on your personality. For some, it may be an easy switch that will exponentially increase productivity, but for others, it might cause extra stress.
Is the “Most Important Task” First approach right for you? It depends on a few factors:
Are you more focused and energetic in the morning?
Doing your “Most Important Task” first assumes that you’re most focused first thing in the morning. The idea is to shift this big task to the time when your mental powers are at their height. If you’re naturally inclined to be more focused later in the day, this model might not work for you. You’ll want to calibrate your MIT time to your natural creative rhythms.
How much does “inbox zero” matter to you?
If having an empty inbox is really high on your priority list, you may want to sit this one out. The goal here is to harness your mental clarity to get a tough task done, but if it’s going to stress you out more to ignore your inbox for the first few hours of the day, you’ll probably want to stick with your current approach.
Can you stop when you need to?
When we’re on a roll with a big task, most of us tend to want to keep at it until it’s done. If you start a project late in the day, you can always just stay late to get it done. But if you start at 9 AM, you probably won’t want to work straight through normal business hours, ignoring other pressing concerns. In short, you have to be disciplined about your stop time.
One variation that works well for some creatives is blocking out morning MIT time, then doing an afternoon interval of less creative work, followed by a return to the morning’s MIT output for review and revisions.