Why do some people make huge strides in their careers and lives while others plug along slowly and make only gradual progress? It has to do with prioritization. Some people consistently identify and complete the most important task on their to-do list.

This level of consistent focus is at the core of fellow Inc. writer Justin Bariso's advice in his recent article, A Single Tip That Will Make 2017 Your Best Year of Work, Ever. Justin says, "Use every morning to focus on your Most Important Task (MIT)."

Any problem fix described as "simple" is enough of a hook for me. I'm a chronic over-complicator on a quest to find small solutions to the big challenges in my life and business. After reading Justin's advice, I took on his challenge to focus on my MIT -- as seen here in my latest Just One Thing video.

Like a lot of people, I have a running to-do list that is organized by category -- client, marketing, administrative, and personal tasks. To test this approach, I had first to go against my ingrained habit and figure out which of the items was, in fact, the most important. I asked myself -- which of these things is going to make the biggest difference in growing my business?

This wasn't as easy as it should have been. I had to spend a couple of minutes trying to figure out exactly what the necessary first step was. I believe this conundrum is at the heart of why we put off important tasks: When it comes to bigger, more important tasks, we're frequently not sure where to start.

For this to work for me, I had to break down big tasks into more actionable pieces. It required asking myself, what is the smallest possible first step I could take to get moving on this task? Once I was able to take that first step, the second becomes obvious and then the third and fourth and so on.

After three days of using Justin's most important task approach, here's what I discovered. Surprise! It worked. I made more and quicker progress in building a new service in my business than I'd imagined I could. But as simple as this approach is, it requires discipline. Discipline is especially tough for me when the pace of client work or family life picks up, or when anything drops into my day unexpectedly such as a call from daycare to come pick up a sick kid.

This approach to prioritizing your task list with an intense, primary focus on your most important task can work for you too. In fact, it's the only way any of us can make significant, rapid progress towards our goals. Consistently putting less important tasks further down on your to-do list will make a tremendous difference in your business growth, revenue, and engagement with clients and staff.

Published on: Jan 17, 2017