The same way you eat an elephant, of course! One bite at a time!
I mentioned the concept of “breaking things down into manageable pieces” in my last post and promised I’d go into more detail on that topic in this post. Since I aim to please, here’s how to manage all the little tasks that come with big projects: SMALL CHUNK IT!
Way back in my early years out of college, I was working as a software developer in a big corporation. My manager at the time was also a developer, although he had been doing it for almost 25 years…all the way back to the days of punch card systems. He was a brilliant man and I learned a lot from him.
One of the most important lessons I learned was a concept he called “successive decomposition.” In software development, this means you break things down into their smallest components or objects. It’s the basis for object-oriented software design, which is how most software is written today (at least the good software).
I’d never heard the term before, but I’ve never forgotten it since. I was able to immediately apply the concept to my software designs, but the real value came when I realized I could apply it to the regular, everyday tasks in my life.
Since successive decomposition isn’t very memorable or easy to say, I’ve changed the term for my personal use to “small chunking it.” It means the same thing, but it’s much more interesting and much less textbook-ie. Small chunking it means that you break projects and larger tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces. (This term is also used in software design nowadays, as well.)
When you have to chop down a forest, it’s hard to pick the first tree. My advice? Pick the closest one and start sawing! In business, that translates to the easiest task, which in most cases, is making a list of all the tasks that need to be done.
Getting and staying organized is critical to your success so use some sort of system like Google or Outlook Tasks, Excel or something that allows you to sort and assign due dates. Then take your most important project (you should have defined that after reading the last post) and start breaking it down into smaller chunks.
Create a task in your list for each chunk. Don’t worry about capturing all of them at once…you can add to the list over time. The next step is the most important: ONLY pick 2 or 3 tasks from the list and write them on a sticky note or your whiteboard. Work on only those tasks until you either finish them or you can’t work on them for some reason (e.g. you’re waiting to hear back from someone).
Once you complete a task, draw a line through it! It feels great to draw that line! It means you’ve accomplished something! Then pull another task from your list to replace the one you finished. Rinse and repeat.
Small chunking your projects will help you get started, will help you make progress, and will help you feel that sense of accomplishment that keeps you motivated and moving toward your goals. Using it in both your business and your personal life will make you more efficient and effective.
Spend 5 minutes right now, take your highest priority project, make a list of all the tasks you can think of, and then pick 2 or 3 that you can finish in the next couple of days. And remember to draw a line through them when they’re finished! Good luck!
Until next time!