Today’s Most Important Tasks

Mamas are busy. And by default, we’re multi-taskers. There’s no other way we can do a load of laundry and pay bills and buy groceries and make dinner and spend quality time with our kids.

But I’d say the number one enemy of productivity in a mom’s life – especially when she has very small children at home – is trying to do too much.

Photo by Lizhenry

Don’t get me wrong – we have more than tons to do, and I for one have never accomplished everything I’d ever need to do in one day. But that’s the very reason why trying to do too much will set us up for failure. To put it bluntly, if we think we’ll successfully check off a 20-item to-do list within 24 hours, we’re kidding ourselves.

Life happens. We want to organize our kids’ clothes, but then our husbands will need such-and-such done for his work project. We hope to get the weeding done, but our neighbor’s mom just died, and it’s really more important to bring her a meal (remember – relationships are more important than to-do lists).

For my sanity, for my clarity, for my goal-oriented self, I’ve employed the concept of Most Important Tasks.

It’s not a new concept, and it’s almost too simple to need explanation. But it’s been revolutionary in my life.

I make my daily to-do list, and I keep my scratch pad visible and easy to reach so that I can jot things down as they come to me (both these things are part of my Home Management Notebook). But at the top of my day’s page in my Notebook, above my to-do list and menu agenda and even Scripture memory – are my Most Important Tasks.

My MITs are my top three things I want to accomplish that day. If nothing else gets done, I’d say my day was a success if those three things happen. They usually pertain to my home management job, but often they focus on a personal habit I’m working on. For example, my MITs today are:

  1. read my Bible for 15 minutes.
  2. wash, dry, fold, and put up one load of laundry.
  3. spend quality time with my husband and kiddos.

The first task is personal and aimed towards a habit – I’m trying to reinvigorate my daily habit of reading the Bible (set aside on the shelf of sporadic-ness since my son was born four months ago). The second item is purely home management – we’ve gotta have clothes to wear. And the third one is important for the relationships that matter most to me – my in-laws just left this morning after almost a month of visiting, and I know my family’s a bit sad. We need some good together time.

I’ll focus on these three things, knowing I’ve got much more to do than just these. But now that I’m focusing my energy on these three things, so I’ll feel really accomplished when they happen. When I finish these things and get some things checked off on my day’s to-do list, then that’s an added bonus. What a great day!

I should clarify that my MITs are already part of my to-do list. They’re not a separate entity – otherwise, it just becomes an additional to-do list. For example, here’s today’s to-do list:

  1. read Bible for 15 minutes
  2. finish organizing craft cabinet
  3. talk to Mom?
  4. finish one load of laundry
  5. declutter desk
  6. spend time as a family – picnic?
  7. collate receipts to update April’s budget
  8. work on e-book
  9. write two blog posts
  10. make grocery list

In short, my MITs are the three top things on my 10-item to-do list.

I’m speaking of all this regarding productivity, but that’s not the only definition of a good day. I’m a list maker, but it is essential not to worship my day’s list. As I said, life happens. When those three MITs don’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. I just wake up and start a new day.

Application Time

So, my first essential item in my Home Management Notebook is my MIT list. I write them down every day on my Daily Docket. If you already have some sort of home management journal, would adding MITs help you? Or would they add more stress?

If you don’t yet have a notebook, I’d encourage you to start with this. You don’t even need a notebook or journal yet – just grab a piece of paper, write down three (or two, or four, or whatever is best for you) MITs and put them somewhere visible. Even if you make a to-do list, add a separate list of MITs. Try it out for a week, and see how it works for your productivity, your attitude, and your energy level.

• Next up in Home Management Notebooks: What’s on your day’s docket?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. wow, I love your number 1. I haven’t been reading here long enough to know that about you. 🙂 What a nice surprise.

    Monica’s last blog post..Help Compassion with just a click (this is a sticky post; newer posts below)

  2. This is a great idea and one I’m going to try – thanks!

    Blessed’s last blog post..Comfort Food

  3. @Monica – Yep, that’s definitely me. 😉

    @Blessed – Let me know if/how it works out for you!

  4. I am going to try this. I easily get overwhelmed by the huge list of things I “have” to do each day. If I allow myself to be okay with getting the three MITs done I am sure I will end up accomplishing much more. Great idea!

  5. I try to apply MIT’s to my housework too — if I do nothing else, I at least want to make the bed, wash dishes, and take out the trash. At least it takes care of the basics!

    Rachel’s last blog post..The Clothesline

  6. @Leslie – Yes, it really helps curb that “overwhelming” feeling I get a lot. In fact, I really need it today!

    @Rachel – Good idea. I’ll have to think about what my specific three MITs are for cleaning!

  7. I LOVE your site! You have awakened my inner organizer again. I missed it and felt overwhelmed with how far I have gotten off track. Thank you for all of your work. I really appreciate it.

  8. I used to do the same by highlighting some items on my ongoing To Do list / brain emptying list, but I like the idea to take the MIT’s out of it to see them even better… Thanks for the great tip!!

    Chloe’s last blog post…Martha Stewart’s blog

  9. I tried adding MITs to my list today and I loved it! I actually remembered to go to the post office! Great idea!

    Bridgette´s last blog post…Free Chick-fil-a!!

  10. I am so glad I found you! I actually have my own planner pages, etc but I am sick of it. I am so busy with online things that my house is really hurting AND I now HATE my planner. 🙁 Today, I decided that I simply must try a new system since mine no longer works for me. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your daily docket.. I just printed a few of them and am thinking I should get them printed and bound at Office Max or something. How perfect would that be? A spiral notebook of them… YUM!
    .-= Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog´s last blog ..Blogging Basics: Comments =-.

    • Austin Slay says:

      That’s what I’m doing. I’m 24, a male in college… It’s going to be awesome using this. One sheet a day…. No biggie – Not if we are more productive!

  11. You pic link is broken 🙁

  12. Today’s Most Important Tasks

    Excellent, nice, easy to put in practice, good advice.


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  13. Austin Slay says:

    Hey hey! I appreciate your insight and addition. I can’t wait to print this out and start using it 😛

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