Ernest Hemingway, the famed American author, started every morning by writing.
He described his routine by saying, "I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write."
His routine, along with countless other authors, scientists, and artists, is actually a key strategy to complete things on your to-do list and make daily progress.
The Productivity Tip
The tip is straightforward: do the most important thing first each day.
Sounds simple, right? No one actually does it.
Hemingway produced an incredible amount of high-quality work during his career; if you work like Hemingway, and complete the most important thing first every day, you will surprise yourself with how much more you are able to get done every day.
Why Does It Work?
So much of our environment tells us that productivity just means getting more things done each day. That's not true. If you have read the article on task prioritization, you know that productivity is about getting important things done consistently. There are only a few things that are truly important.
If you do the most important thing first each day, then you will always get something important done. There have been so many days when I waste hours crossing off the 5th, 6th, or 7th most important tasks on my to-do list. Funny enough, I never get around to doing the most important thing.
You do not need to apply this strategy at the exact same time as Hemingway but start your day (whenever that may be) with the most important task.
Our willpower tends to be higher earlier in the day, and the deeper you get into the day, the more likely it is that unexpected tasks creep into your schedule. Furthermore, humans in general do not like having unfinished projects because it creates stress and unresolved tension. When we start something, we want to finish it.
Why Don't We Do It?
We tend to spend our day reacting to stimuli that surround us.
Ever since we started grade school, we were given assignments and told when to take our tests. At work, we are assigned due dates. At home, we have tasks or chores to finish. As a result, it becomes easy to spend our days responding to someone else's agenda rather than our own.
The important tasks, not emails, are the ones that push our dreams, creations, and businesses forward.
This does not mean we should ignore our responsibilities as employees or parents or citizens. We need some time and space in the day to respond to our own agenda, not someone else's.
What If I'm Not a Morning Person?
Previously, I have explored the differences between morning birds and night owls. It is a fun read, and I delve into the pros and cons of both personalities.
If you are a night owl, this strategy may not seem like it would work. But there is no one way to be successful. There are plenty of night owls who produce fantastic work. Every productive creator embraces the idea of protecting a "sacred" time each day when they could work on their own projects.
Doing the most important thing first each day is just another way of saying, "Give yourself time and space to work on what is important to you each day."
What do you think of this productivity tip? Let me know in the comments below!