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Most Important Tasks (MIT) Smart List

manning999 says:
Thanks to this tip re: dueBefore:now

I've been able to make a Smart List that shows what Most Important Task (MIT) I should be focusing on in the here and now. MITs are high priority tasks, usually work-related, that would consume more than 15 minutes of effort. I tag these with na (next action) to indicate that they must be done, and that they're not tasks I should someday do or maybe do.

I try to schedule up to 3 MITs for the day. If I can do more, that's a bonus, but is not demanded at the start of the day. This is in keeping with the simple productivity, less is more, approach promoted by the Zen Habits blog ( Jamming more big tasks might lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed to start the day with, which is stressful, and would force me to multitask, which is proven to be impossible.

I schedule each MIT with a time that I expect to be begin working on it. So, if my MITs for today are

1. Develop code.
2. Debug code.
3. Release code.

I might schedule the tasks as (using Smart Add syntax):

Develop code. ^tod@9a !1 #na @@Work =3 hours
Debug code. ^tod@1p !1 #na @@Work =1 hour
Release code. ^tod@2p !1 #na @@Work =30 minutes

Then, a Smart List I'll call "MIT" set up as

dueBefore:now AND priority:1 AND tag:na AND location:@Work AND timeEstimate:"> 15 minutes"

would show the MIT I should be working on RIGHT NOW. If there are more than one MIT shown, either I'm falling behind or I have to check off the earlier MIT if it is truly completed.

The due date/time would actually be interpreted as the time to BEGIN working on the task in order for this to be effective for me.

Finally, this Smart List can be selected in different views such as the iGoogle gadget or the RTM sidebar in Firefox for a dashboard to what MIT you should be focusing on, nothing else.
Posted at 5:45pm on September 24, 2009
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