By Leo Babauta

In this webinar, I shared three key ideas to help us learn what our high-impact tasks are and I answered some great questions.

I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:

  1. Part I – My Talk: High-Impact Mornings. (See notes)
  2. Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions on creating time for low-urgency tasks, challenges we might face with high-impact tasks, how to deal with others in your home on the opposite sleep schedule, family crisis, tips for better productivity, our new course Habit Mastery, and more!

Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)

You can download this video here, or download just the audio. Or watch below.

Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):

High-Impact Mornings:

I’ve found, that for me, morning time is more valuable than night time. This may not be true for everybody. Waking 15 minutes early gives me time to meditate, write, do yoga or do something I might not have time for later in the day. It’s quiet time before my day gets going. For some, you may get more work done and be more productive in the evening, which is also great. You can take everything I am saying here and apply it to your last hour in the evening.

Waking early is great but not necessary. Whenever your first hour is, we can create a high-impact first hour.

Why does it matter at all?

I believe we are given the gift of a day. It may sound corny or trite, but the high-impact morning is about truly appreciating that gift. I want to make more of it than slipping into a habit of checking messages and reading emails. Because you have more ability to make conscious choices that first hour, I feel it is a really valuable hour. It can impact he rest of your day.

What are some things to do that can have a big impact on our days?

  1. Meditation. 5-10 minutes of meditation affects me, how I relate to others, and will influence their happiness throughout the day. Maybe they will be more kind and compassionate as well. There is no controlling that, but it is a possibility when you are mindful, compassionate and open-hearted in your relationships. This has a ripple effect.
  2. Exercise. Maybe you do yoga, pushups, or go for a run. That 10, 20, 30 minutes you do that can affect the energy and your focus you have throughout the day. It will also affect your life a year from now. There is a high probability that you will be healthier if you are not exercising now but start and continue through to next year, 5 years, 10 years.
    3. Work. I fortunately have many options on what to do and flexibility in my day for work. Because I have a lot of uncertainty in my day, I choose to narrow it down to the tasks that have the biggest impact on my business, on my revenues, my family, me personally, and my readers. For work, I like to choose the highest-impact task and do that first, as early as possible (ideally in the first hour). Then, the do the next most important thing in the second hour and so forth. This has a ripple effect as well. What is your high-impact task at work?

How do you know what is high-impact?

It is something you learn over time. You test it and learn.

  1. Picking urgent vs. important. We have to do urgent tasks. The more we can emphasize importance over urgency, the better over time. Urgent vs important is always a good question to ask. You may have heard of the Urgent/Important Quadrant or the Eisenhower Quadrant. How do you decide between high urgency/low importance and high importance/low urgency?
  1. Return on your time. Think about how much time something takes. Think about the amount of effort and the time spent doing a task. You can make a huge impact in 5 minutes (like meditation) or sending an email, that is a small time commitment but a big impact. You can see how much impact that has versus working all day with someone or something and having a very low impact. Now, if you had to choose between a high-impact all-day project versus a high-impact 5-minute task, I would prioritize the 5-minute one. If you can do 3-4 of the 5-minute tasks, that is a better return on your 20 minutes than if you are working on something all day with the same type of impact. Prioritize the things that don’t take much time but have a high impact. The return on your time is another metric to use.

  2. Pairing method. List 10 things and have them go head-to-head. No compare 1 versus 2. If one beats, 2, it gets a check mark. If 1 beats 3, it gets another check mark. If 1 versus 4, but 4 wins, then 4 gets a check mark. Go all the way to 10. Then do 2 versus 3, 2 versus 4, all the way to 10. The do 3 all the way to 10. Do that and at the end you will see which has the most amount of checks. Work in that order. This is more for people who have a really hard time prioritizing.

The idea is to try these systems to see what your high-impact tasks are and to understand them intuitively. By trying them out over the years, I have intuitively found out which are the highest-impact tasks.

Experiment with your tasks. Take the high-impact tasks and try to put some work in that first hour. If you have a bucket to fill up the first hour, make sure it counts. What kind of difference will those tasks make over a year?

Part II: Questions and Answers

You can download this video here, or download just the audio. Or watch below.

Questions answered in this video: